A Guide to Therapeutic and Inclusive Recreation Programming in Arizona Schools

Schools and Providers

Together, schools and providers can advance and support TIRP in schools.

Youth, Families, and Community Members

Youth, families, and community members can advocate for access to TIRP in schools.

What is therapeutic and inclusive recreation?

It is recreation-based activities designed to support the social, emotional, physical, and academic growth of all students. The activities are adaptable, student-centered, and engaging to promote and sustain engagement among all.

Why is integration of TIRP important?

  • Promotes inclusion
  • Builds positive relationships
  • Optimizes school and community resources
  • Fosters school connectedness and sense of belonging
  • Supports social and emotional health
  • Supports academic success
  • Fosters autonomy
  • Enhances leisure and recreation skills

Guiding Principles


Embraces the unique contextual characteristics of each student, school, and community.


Maximizes expertise of interprofessional instructional and supportive staff and community members to plan and implement inclusive activities.


Establishes positive shared experiences for all school staff, students, and families, fostering interaction and a commitment to learning.


Promotes choice and autonomy; empowering the voice of all learners to select and participate in a variety of activities.


Strategically advances social, emotional, physical and academic goals through purposeful and structured recreation-based activities.


Includes a continuum of scaffolded supports and supplementary activities to enhance inclusive engagement.


Uses wide-ranging spaces, time periods and resources to maximize access to inclusive activities at school and in the community.


Ensures sustained access to activities for all learners before, during and after school

Programming Components

  • Recreational therapy: Systematic and evidence-based interventions facilitated by a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) as a part of a student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP), 504 Plan, and the school’s inclusive practices and initiatives to promote physical, social, emotional, and intellectual health.
  • Activity-based learning: Play and recreation activities integrated into the academic learning environment to promote academic growth, social, and emotional health.
  • Recreation instruction: Recreation based classes (e.g., art, music, dance, physical education), facilitated recreation activities (recess, field day), and extra-curricular programs (e.g., clubs, sports, enrichment) implemented throughout the school day to develop skills and support well-being.
  • Play: Opportunities to enjoy self-determined and meaningful recreational activities before, during and after school.
Illustration: Large circle in the middle labeled Programing components. Four smaller circles are linked together around the larger circle. They read: Recreational Therapy, Activity Based Learning, Play and Recreation Instruction.
Exemplary therapeutic and inclusive recreation programming exists throughout the comprehensive school day, facilitated by a variety of professionals, and across all environments.

Want to know more?