Recreation professionals balance careers with new degree pathway

More than 30 recreation professionals from across Ontario — all with between three and 30 years of experience — will complete a degree pathway in Recreation and Leisure Studies in time for Fall Convocation.

“We are now at the midway point of a unique pilot program, which provides an opportunity to complete a Brock University Recreation and Leisure Studies (RECL) degree while working full time,” said RECL Department Chair Shalini Singh.

The blended learning model consists of both online and monthly in-person classes which take place at the Centennial College campus in Scarborough.

“Due to the experience and previous education these students have coming into the program, on average, we anticipate this degree to take up to 16 months for students to complete,” Singh said.

Launched last September, the program’s first cohort of students have a wide variety of experience working with municipal, not-for-profit and health-based agencies.

“The initial concept was brought to us by Jim Boduch, a recently retired program co-ordinator of the Recreation and Leisure Services (RLS) program at Centennial College,” said Michael Fawkes, RECL Undergraduate Academic Advisor.

“Mr. Boduch’s relationship with alumni of the RLS program was crucial in identifying the need for this type of program in Ontario.”

Prior to launching the degree pathway, representatives from Brock’s RECL program consulted with prospective students and stakeholders to assess the feasibility of an executive-style program for recreation professionals.

Through the consultation process, it was determined Brock would be an ideal partner for Centennial College in designing and delivering the program.

“Many of the participants who expressed interest in the degree pathway reside in the Greater Toronto Area,” Fawkes said. “To ensure the success of the program, it made sense to host the in-person classes on the Scarborough campus.”

The degree pathway offers courses in theory and research, as well as specialized courses in community and therapeutic recreation so that students may customize their learning based on their own professional aspirations.

“To become a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, professionals must meet specific degree requirements. This degree completion pathway offers these course pre-requisites,” Singh said. “In other circumstances, someone working for a non-profit organization or in municipal government may be looking to advance their career. Completing a degree is one way to help them achieve this goal.”

RECL pathway Lecturer Kyle Rich said the program includes a “fantastic group of professional with a wealth of experience.”

“The diverse perspectives these individuals bring to the class have allowed us to have informative discussions resulting in a unique learning experience for everyone involved,” he said.

“Brock’s online and in-class recreation pathway program works well with my busy career and family responsibilities,” said RECL degree pathway student Sandy Jackson. “The adult learning setting recognizes our professional experience, allowing us to expand our networks and gain valuable experience in the classroom.”

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