Service Learning Paper

Service Learning Paper

Mackenzie Graham

RTH 200

Service Learning Paper

Working with the UP program this semester is a great introduction experience for Recreational Therapy.This volunteer work gave me the experience I needed to better understand how to work with the participant’s schedule, identify and assist the participant’s goals and dreams, and how to build a relationship with the participants. The experience gained with the UP participants will be similar to working with clients because my future clients will also have schedules and goals to identify and assist with. Working with clients will also require a relationship building phase, similar to my relationship building phase with the UP participants.

Overall, I would say that I have had a very positive experience working with the UP participants. I would say that my good experience stems from the fact that I always had them during times of leisure and fun, so I did not see them in classes or help with schoolwork. I was able to meet and work Ali, Casey and Sarah. I mostly worked with Sarah with a weekly Group X class at the Campus Recreation Center on Monday nights. Ali, Casey, and Sarah are all sweet and funny girls who seem to be enjoying their time here at Western Carolina. I loved getting to know each one of them and loved getting to see how they live here at college. In ways that I have grown from this experience, I have learned to be more patient when working with a participant during an activity and I have also learned to deal with uncomfortable situations that arise from attitudes and routine changes. I mostly worked with Sarah the whole semester, so I got a good observation on how she handled social situations and how she dealt with schedule changes. From my experience, it was often hard to motivate her when she had a negative attitude and it was also hard to calm her down if her schedule changed while I was with her.

I think that the overall experience of students in the Recreational Therapyprogram is positive, but it could be changed or improved in a few,small ways. First, I would have liked to see more resources available for RT nights. One of my suggestions for RT night was to go bowling in Reid gymnasium, but there was not a contact on how we could use the space or materials. Secondly, having a more flexible set of required hours would be helpful. For example, the requirement would be set to something like 8 to 12 hours. Although I did more than the required 10 hours for an Honors contract, having more of a flexible hour requirement could be seen as less of strict obligation. From my experience, some weeks were busier than others. I felt like during a few of my volunteer hours I was stressed because of the time obligation, which caused my mind to not in the appropriate place to give maximum attention to the participants. Overall, I would have liked to have had more RT related activities and leadership with older RT program students in my volunteer experience.

If I were to do anything differently with my experience, I would probably chose to attend more RT nights and to get to know more of the other UP participants. I loved getting to work with Sarah on a weekly basis, but expanding my circle with the other UP students and mixing it up with different activities might have benefited me more in the long run. I also would have wanted to work with other students in my class when it came to volunteer hours. I think pairing up for meals or leisure activities would have opened conversations more and allowed for students to be able to reflect together on an experience.

UP Program Journal – Honors Contract RTH 200

Ali Hale – Yoga at the CRC 5:30-6:15pm


On Thursday evening, I met Ali at the front of the CRC. This was my first meeting with her, but she walked right up to me like she already knew me. She started talking to me about her day and how excited she was for the weekend when she could see her parents and go to a concert. We went inside the CRC and up to Studio 2 and I helped her get her mat and blanket out. While we waited for the class to begin, we talked about how excited we were for the class and how relaxed we would feel afterwards. During the yoga class, Ali smiled and was laughing about the poses we had to do. I told her she was doing a good job with them. After the class, I helped her get her mat and blanket put away and then we walked downstairs to meet her next support for dinner. She told me she felt very relaxed and wanted to come to the class again. Overall, it was a nice and relaxing activity to do with Ali and we both enjoyed ourselves. She is very sweet and I look forward to hanging out with her again.

Sarah Hubbard – Trim N Tone at the CRC 5:15-6:15pm


On Monday evening, I met Sarah at the CRC for Trim N’ Tone. It is a Group X class offered to CRC members. She was just a little late because she was taking a nap and it was raining really hard, but we made it class on time. This was my first time with Sarah and in the Trim N’ Tone class. I helped her set up her work out station and we talked about her day. She is very talkative and funny. She told me about her busy day and all the homework she had to do. We had a good workout and she told me she felt really good afterwards. She cleaned up her station by herself and even helped me clean up mine a little by offering to take my weights back. Afterwards, I walked her over to the Café and waited until she found her next support. My friend was there waiting to eat dinner with me so Sarah got to meet her and make a new friend. Overall, she was very funny and I loved her personality very much. I could tell she had trouble with some of her social skills when it came to getting along with other girls in the class but she is friendly and only wants to talk to everyone.

Sarah Hubbard – Zumba at the CRC 6:30-7:30pm


On Tuesday night I met Sarah in the upstairs studio for Zumba class. She was full of energy and super excited to dance! I had trouble with Zumba and dancing with everyone, in fact, I was absolutely horrible at it. Sarah got worried that I wasn’t having fun, but I changed my attitude and made myself act goofy to make her laugh. I think she enjoyed the class a lot more once I started to act silly on purpose. She was being silly too and talked to other girls around us. Everyone was nice and friendly back to her and I could tell it made a difference on Sarah’s overall attitude. After Zumba, I walked over the UC with her so she could get some Chick Fila for dinner. She needed some help with the hot food so I got a bag for her to make things easier. She asked me to walk her back to her room in Blue Ridge and I was more than willing. Overall, it was a fun night and I could tell Sarah enjoyed herself. I feel that we get along and she enjoys exercise a lot so I look forward to working with her some more in Group X classes.

Sarah Hubbard – Trim N’ Tone at the CRC 5:15-6:15pm


On Monday evening, I met Sarah at the Campus Recreation Center for the Group X class Trim N’ Tone. This was our third meeting together, second meeting together for the class. She seemed to be more comfortable around me and we talked about how we saw each other the past weekend at Mountain Heritage Day. She was really excited to work out and exercise. Before the class started, she kept making comments about how skinny I was and that she wished she was like me. I assured her that it was about being healthy by eating the right foods and exercising regularly, not just the size of your clothing. My advice seemed to set right with her because she stayed positive and said she was really trying hard to be healthy. We laughed and joked throughout the class, so I feel like we are comfortable enough to call each other friends. After the class, she wanted me to walk her to her dorm so we could talk some more. We talked about how I could be her regular Trim N’ Tone buddy, so I look forward to more classes with her in the future. Through my experience with Sarah I have found that exercising is great way to make connections and learn about someone. It sets up a positive atmosphere because it’s a healthy activity and fun to do – for the most part (ha ha).

Sarah Hubbard – Trim N’ Tone at the CRC 5:15-6:15pm


Monday evening I met Sarah in the studio for our weekly Trim N’ Tone class. We talked about the crazy monsoon that was going on outside and how excited we were for the week to be over and to go home for Fall Break. As we set up our equipment, we both convinced ourselves to get heavier weights to try out. During our exercise routine we watched each other and jokingly sang along with the music that was playing. After we finished our exercise routine and helped each other clean up. I walked with her to the dining hall to meet her next support. Overall, I think Sarah is very sweet and she just wants to talk to everyone. Her roommate is in the Group X class with us and I have noticed some tension between the two. Sarah is very friendly and likes to talk to her, but her roommate seems annoyed by her talking. She is also very direct when she tells Sarah something and I think sometimes it hurts Sarah’s feelings. I don’t know how much of a relationship they have, but in front of me it is sometimes very tense. Hopefully, after Fall Break and the two have had some time apart, her roommate will be more open and friendly to Sarah.

Sarah Hubbard – Trim N’ Tone at the CRC 5:00-6:15pm


As part of our weekly routine, I met Sarah upstairs in the studio for our Trim N’ Tone class. There are only about 10 of us left sticking with the class so we are able to spread out with our equipment and also talk and get to know one another more. Sarah is friendly to the other people in the class and I act goofy with her when it comes to showing pictures and singing along with the songs the instructor plays. Sarah talked a lot about her weight and said that the doctor told her she was overweight for her age and size. I didn’t necessarily agree with this statement because she is rather small and looks fine but I told her that being healthy and exercising is more important than a number on a scale. I also told her that the important thing is how you feel about yourself at the end of the day. I encouraged her plans of eating healthier and exercising more. After our exercise class was over, we cleaned up our equipment and I walked her halfway to Blue Ridge.

Sarah Hubbard – Trim N’ Tone at the CRC 5:00-6:15pm


Sarah and I texted each other and confirmed that we were going to meet up in the studio for our weekly Trim N’ Tone class. She bounced in the studio happy and excited to get in a good workout. We set up our equipment and showed each other funny photos before class started. Marg, our instructor, encouraged us to go up in weights so we could start to see some improvement and challenge ourselves. I was happy to take her advice because I knew I could do it, but unfortunately Sarah grabbed a weight bar too heavy for her. In the beginning of her workout, she struggled with lifting it and I whispered over to her to go get another one. She looked worried but I reassured her that Marg would understand. After she went and exchanged bars, she continued her workout just fine. Going up a weight size might be good for Sarah so next time I will help her pick out one that she feels comfortable with. She has been using 9lbs so maybe a 12lbs will be a good jump for her. We joked and sang along to the songs and afterwards cleaned up our equipment and left. I walked with her to meet her next support for dinner at the Café.

Sarah Hubbard – Trim N’ Tone at the CRC 5:00-6:15 and Dinner 6:15-7:15pm


Sarah and I met each other to go to our weekly Trim N’ Tone class. We set up our equipment and talked about weights we would use in class. She complained about her arm hurting her the last workout session because it was an arm that she broke last December. Because I didn’t want her to hurt herself even more, I grabbed one of the smallest dumbbells (3lbs I think) for her to use on that particular arm. I also went and talked to our instructor Marg so she would know why Sarah was using a smaller weight. We had a decent workout and Sarah said she felt really good afterwards. She was supposed to go meet someone for dinner but they cancelled on her last minute so I invited her to eat with me. She didn’t really want to eat upstairs at the café and starting trying to act like she couldn’t go up there but I had to firmly explain to her that’s where I eat and that she could still use her DB to get up there. She ate a slice of pizza for dinner and 2 cookies. I encouraged her to eat something a little healthier like a salad or to visit the Home station like me but she insisted she eat pizza. I think Sarah struggles with making decisions a lot because she overthinks the situations and thinks about what others will think of her. She was very confused on what to eat for dinner and complained about not eating healthy after she was finished. I tried to talk about making small goals when it came to healthy food choices, but I feel that she hears that stuff from a lot of the other supports so she wasn’t really listening. I also noticed at dinner that she is somewhat awkward in particular social interactions. She had a lot of friends to say hi to at the Café but she still was a little apprehensive on what to say to a few.

Sarah Hubbard – Trim N’ Tone at the CRC 5:00-6:15pm


Sarah and I met up like every week for our Trim N’ Tone class. I feel like she is very comfortable with me and I would like to call her my friend. She was talking a lot about a boy who had been messaging her on Facebook and how she liked him but he stopped messaging her back. I told her not to think much about it and that boys were stupid. She agreed and laughed it off. We set up our equipment and prepared for a good workout. She started to complain about her arm during the workout and I told her not to overwork it. She already uses minimum weights for that arm and the instructor knows about it, so I didn’t know what else to tell her. I don’t want to be responsible for her making it worse by overlooking it, but a part of me feels like she uses it as an excuse to not do some of the exercise activities. I also told her to tell her parents so they could make doctor arrangements. I feel like for the most part we always have somewhat of a productive workout, even if she doesn’t push herself as hard as she could. I simply try to encourage her in funny ways throughout the class to get her to exercise better. After the gym, I walked her back to Blue Ridge and told her I would see her Thursday for Rec Therapy night.

Casey Schading – Leisure Activity 2:15-3:30pm


Today I decided to branch out from my normal routine from working out with Sarah and get to know Casey. My assigned shift with her included a leisure activity of her choice so I texted and asked what she wanted to do so I could plan/dress accordingly. She told me to meet her outside of Blue Ridge and that we could go to Starbucks and talk and get to know one another. Once I initially met her, we walked to Starbucks and she said that she didn’t want to do anything too crazy because it was so darn cold outside! We ordered hot chocolate and a cookie each, but since there were no seats she invited me to hang out in her room. We enjoyed our snacks and talked about the new Taylor Swift album. I showed Casey the new “Blank Space” video and we went on to talk about One Direction and other types of music artists we liked. We talked a little bit about boys and then she told me about her ex-boyfriend. She told me about crazy things he did and that she wanted to end her life because she was so upset. She hit me really fast with the comment I almost didn’t know how to respond. I felt out of place and I didn’t want to upset her so I just told that it was good that she found the help she needed and was here to share a Starbucks with me. She moved on from the topic like it was nothing, but I was careful about what I said about boys and relationships. After my time was up with her I told her to enjoy the evening and left. Overall, I really thought she was sweet and loved getting to know her.