Leisure Studies researchers receive national recognition

There was a time when recreation therapy, prescribed to individuals with disabilities, followed a medical model, focusing on reducing limitations and solving problems.

And then Colleen Hood brought a focus on the development of strengths and capacities into the approach, transforming the field of therapeutic recreation through her pioneering Leisure and Well-Being Model.

“The thrust of my research is learning how to engage in free time activities or experiences in a way that supports living well with disabilities or illness,” says the Brock University Professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies. “My work has shifted the focus from surviving to thriving.”

For this and other accomplishments in her decades-long career, the Canadian Association for Leisure Studies (CALS) has honoured Hood with its 2022 Leisure Scholar Award.

Hood is one of three Brock University recipients of CALS awards this year. Associate Professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies Kyle Rich has captured the Association’s Emerging Leisure Scholar Award, while research assistant Talia Ritondo (MA ’21) received the Marion Miller Award.

“These awards are a nice pat on the back for our researchers as well as Brock’s Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, which has a long history of being one of the predominant players in the recreation and leisure research world,” says Tim O’Connell, Professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies and former Department Chair.

In 2007, Hood and Cynthia Carruthers from the University of Nevada created the Leisure and Well-Being Model, which incorporated various interventions to build positive emotions and actions that will lead to the development of capacities necessary to “reach the ultimate goal of well-being,” say the researchers.

“It’s the first model that introduced the development of people’s capacities as a key area of focus for therapeutic recreation,” says Hood.

In his research, Rich focuses on rural sport and recreation, with a special emphasis on how sport and recreation policies affect diverse communities. He studies ways in which sport can engage communities in social inclusion, development and resilience.

“My research involves community members in the research process so that we can develop appropriate outcomes that will bring about change within communities,” says Rich.

With grants he received from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Rich is currently involved in two research projects.

One is examining how changes in policy at the provincial level impacts sport participation in different regions of the province. In collaboration with the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation and the Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation, Rich is also leading a series of knowledge translation activities focused on how public, private and civil society can work in partnership to support rural development and resiliency.

“Sport and recreation are experienced in different ways in different places,” says Rich. “Instead of thinking about how we get more people to participate in sport, we need to think about how we can develop opportunities that better reflect the communities they’re going to serve.”

Ritondo, a research assistant, was recognized for a paper arising out of her master’s thesis. Her research, supervised by Associate Professor of Sport Management Dawn Trussell, looked at how ‘intensive mothering’ can inhibit mothers with young children from participating in organized sport and ways research participants resisted being held back.

The theory of intensive mothering states that mothers are the central caregivers, using their time, energy and resources to put their children’s needs first.

“Resistance through participation can feel empowering and positive but returning to team sport after childbirth is rarely that simple,” says Ritondo. “Postpartum women may also reproduce elements of intensive mothering, like feelings of guilt for leaving their children or judgment of other mothers while engaging in team sport, making the return to team sport a very complex space to navigate.”

The Canadian Association for Leisure Studies consists of Canadian and international scholars and practitioners who share an interest in recreation and leisure research and the delivery of leisure services.

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