On October 8, 1993, Mary Jean Erwin, then President of the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA), spoke to a group of certified therapeutic recreation specialists at the North Little Rock Veterans Administration Medical Center. Following this presentation, a group of peers began the process of planning an Arkansas ATRA Chapter Affiliate.
This initial meeting led to more and more meetings, mainly held at Arkansas Tech University, in Russellville. Tasks involved establishing the application process to become an ATRA Chapter Affiliate, deciding on the chapter's name, developing organizational structure, writing by-laws, determining membership fees, and creating an offical newsletter.
The Arkansas Therapeutic Recreation Society (ATRS) became an official ATRA Chapter Affiliate in March 1994 at the Mid Year Forum held in Indianapolis, IN. Initial officers were elected in October 1994 and consisted of the following members: Connie Jaros, Cheryl Frazier, Sandy Thomas, Greg Dockery and Cathi McMahan.
Today, the Arkansas Therapeutic Recreation Society continues to make progress as a state professional organization. Past boards of directors and the current board of directors are working hard for the state of Arkansas as well as the Recreation Therapy profession as a whole.
One of the major focus points for ATRS includes strong advocacy for inclusion of recreation therapy in community based and institution based settings. ATRS has developed committees and task forces committed to addressing the professional issues facing the recreation therapy clinicians, educators, and students in Arkansas. ATRS offers two opportunities annually for individuals to attend state conferences in order to promote the profession, allow for professional networking, and to acquire continuing education units (CEUs).
ATRS also sponsors worthwhile programs and events statewide, such as events including the Disabled Hunt in northeast Arkansas and the Little Rock Arts Festival. Each year is something different so if you have an event you would like ATRS to sponsor, chances are ATRS would like to sponsor it. An annual student scholarship is available students at an Arkansas university offering a degree in recreation therapy. ATRS also publishes a quarterly newsletter to inform its members of statewide and national trends in the profession.
Most recently, ATRS has developed this website to further insure that members are able to get the most up to date announcements concerning the profession as well as, local events information. Another modality for disseminating information is the establishment of a membership e-group for those ATRS members with current e-mail addresses, members are able to receive the most recent updates in their e-mail as they are available.
ATRS is a non-profit organization and is only able to function as long as its members support it. The board of directors is comprised of elected professional with CTRS credentials who work for ATRS on an entirely volunteer basis for the betterment fo the professional organization including the benefit fo the state recreation therapy professionals. In addition to the board, ATRS members truly make a difference by volunteering their time and energy to promote the profession and ATRS with the hopes of ensuring the best possible future for recreational therapy.