Rec Therapy Month Student Spotlight- Skylar Wheeler

February in National Recreational Therapy Month! Join us as we celebrate all month long and feature Recreational Therapy students and alumni.

Name: Skylar Wheeler

Graduation year: May 2021

Do you have any hobbies?
In my free time you will find me outdoors. I enjoy hiking and riding my bike. During the summer, you will find me at the beach surfing. However, more than anything, I love horseback riding. I am an avid equestrian and have been riding horses since age six.

What brought you to ECU?
Once I stepped foot onto ECU’s campus, it felt like home. ECU is a large university with a small home town feel. Everyone I met was incredibly welcoming and the supportive community of both the staff and students led me to my decision to attend. As a freshman, I discovered Recreational Therapy and I knew immediately that was the path I wanted to pursue.

Why do you want to enter the field of recreational therapy? 
I want to enter the field of Recreational Therapy because the work you perform as a Recreational Therapist goes far beyond the individual treatment sessions. As a future Recreational Therapist, I want to leave a lasting impression upon those I have the privilege to work with. It is not only about the interventions we conduct, it is about the smiles, leaps of faith, joy, laughter, challenges and successes we get to share with our clients. Recreational Therapy has enabled me to brighten the lives of others in their pursuit of happiness and success.

Tell us about your internship? 
I am currently completing my internship in the Psych Unit at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill.  I work specifically with patients in the Child Psych Unit and Behavioral Health Emergency Department. I find such joy working with these patients and witnessing their growth first-hand during my sessions with them.  The sessions are based upon exploring healthy coping skills through expressive arts, relaxation, leisure, goal setting, movement, mindfulness, etc. Working in this setting has been an absolute joy. Following my internship, I hope to continue working in a mental health setting.

What aspects of recreation​al therapy do you enjoy the most?
My most loved aspect of recreational therapy is the individualized treatment. I find it most enjoyable assisting clients by providing them with the tools and strategies to reach their personal goals.

What has been your favorite experience working in recreational therapy so far?
My favorite experience working in recreational therapy thus far has been witnessing the progression of the patients from their admission, observing their growth and seeing them off at discharge. It is rewarding knowing that I have assisted in their growth in bettering themselves from what they have attained to improve their lives outside of the hospital.

Do you have a favorite Rec Therapy course or professor?
One of my favorite Recreational Therapy courses was RCTX 3262 – RT Physical and Movement Interventions. This course allowed me to explore different physical interventions from Tai Chi to Wheelchair Rugby.  During class, I not only developed protocols for multiple interventions, I was able to take part in the interventions. As for professors, I cannot pick a favorite. All the RT professors are absolutely wonderful. Each professor is incredibly knowledgeable in various areas of the field and demonstrates such passion for the profession. Their support, encouragement and devotion to their students did not go unnoticed. I am incredibly grateful for the privilege to have learned under each of them.