Skip to main content
A lava lamp on a table.

Helping kids power through participation

When it comes to the old saying “work hard, play hard,” the therapeutic recreation (TR) department at Holland Bloorview strives to find the perfect balance when helping a child through their rehabilitation journey.  

“The purpose of TR is to enable all individuals to achieve quality of life and optimal health through meaningful participation in recreation and leisure,” says Lizzy, a Therapeutic Recreational Specialist at the Continuing Complex Care unit. 

“TR recognizes the importance of the recreation experience and supports all individuals in having full access to and the freedom to choose recreation and leisure opportunities.”

The hospital’s TR staff works with both in- and out-patients to achieve their goals through hospital or community programs.

“Clients can be referred by a clinician or they can self-refer, which is something that's kind of unique in our service,” says Andrea, a Therapeutic Recreation Specialist for the day program.

“They have an intake appointment to discuss their goals, then we share resources we offer or others hosted in the city. We can do one-on-one sessions or in groups, and we also do home visits in the community which is unique about our hospital service.”

From focusing on sports and recreation—like sailing and camping—to improving social skills, or even helping a child learn to meal prep or use money, Holland Bloorview’s TR specialists and assistants work alongside Occupational Therapists, Speech Language Pathologist, Physical therapists, medical staff, life skill coaches, and youth facilitators to give each child their most meaningful and healthy futures.

Michelle, a Therapeutic Recreational Specialist in the Specialized Orthopedic and Development Rehab unit, adds: “It’s about supporting individuals during and after their inpatient rehab journey to improve

The Snoezlen Room and Cart

Holland Bloorview’s Snoezlen Room uses music, lighting effects, gentle vibrations, tactile sensations and aromatherapy to give clients a chance to relax or enjoy a unique sensory experience.  

“Clients of all abilities can access and control various aspects of the room, for example clients can activate switches to turn on sound effects or lights,” says Lizzy.

Clients can also experience the Snoezlen Room at bedside with the Foundation-funded Snoezlen Cart.

A multi-sensory experience, the cart has various components like lights, water, projections, and sounds, to help relax or elevate a client’s mood, while also helping them with their fine motor skills.

Toys like these hanging musical beads give client a sense of control in their environment, even for those with limited movement: even the tiniest finger wave will initiate the melody. 

Games like “Follow Your Nose” provide clients with a different sensory experience. In this game, clients sniff different canisters and guess the scent.

This mat is made up of removable textures to provide clients with a sensory experience related to touch. Made up of firm, squishy, and fluffy textures, the mat uses Velcro to add or remove pieces to accommodate a client, who for example, may not be fond of softer materials.

Pet Visiting

Some clients may be missing their four legged friends, so Holland Bloorview’s pet visiting program happens every week for inpatients. The pet volunteers have passed a behavior assessment to spend time with our inpatients.

Recreational Swimming

Clients also have opportunities to relax and exercise in one of Holland Bloorview’s pools. The pool has a number of unique features like warm water (33ºC), Snoezelen equipment, water chairs, and a ramp.

Adapted Sports Equipment

Adapted equipment allows kids to play many different sports, like sledge hockey (either on the ice or on the court), ride a tricycle, or even participate in wheelchair basketball. Equipment is available through the recreation equipment loan service, where families can rent equipment to try out at a home. It’s almost like a sport library.

“It’s a great way for kids and families to try out different pieces before they make a big purchase,” adds Andrea.



The TR department also offers: art programs in collaboration with the hospital’s Centre for the Arts, community outings to the mall or movies, cooking programs and meal prep lessons in the onsite kitchen, and opportunities to attend special events like musicals, bonfires, and potlucks. 

For more information on the programs and services, visit the Transitions, Recreation and Life Skills Community Services page.

Call to action Text
Support our therapeutic rec programs.
Donate Now