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Impact of Inclusive Service-Learning Partnership on Mental Health Among Therapeutic Recreation College Students

Lyn Gorbett Litchke, Toni Watt, Christine Lynn Norton, Casey Finley


This study investigated the mental health implications of a service-learning partnership between therapeutic recreation (TR) college students and children/youth in a recreation inclusion program. Twenty-five TR students participated in 6-week inclusion program with a child/ youth partner with or without a disability. Resiliency results exhibited a directional increase (d<=.10) with three subscales significant in change for student’s ability to deal with: whatever comes my way (p < .029), seeing the humorous side of things (p < .035), and coping with stress (p < .029). Further analysis found significance that males (p = .045) and racial/ethnic minority participants (p = .021.) had reduced their stress scores. Enjoyment scores significantly increased (p < .001). Analysis of reflection notes revealed two main themes: (1) emotional contagion, and (2) reducing stress and anxiety. These themes relate to key aspects of resilience, which demonstrates the value of service-learning for TR college students and the therapeutic potential for mental health support. Practice and research implications of service learning for TR are presented.

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inclusion; mental health; recreation therapy; resilience; service-learning

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