A Guide to Therapeutic and Inclusive Recreation Programming in Arizona Schools

Youth, Families, & Community Members

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.

Coordinating Process, Practice, Policy, and Funding


Schools, providers and families work together to advance TIRP and the process involves a series of actions and steps that can be initiated by any member of a school community, including providers and families.


Comprehensive integration of TIRP in schools requires an interprofessional and collaborative approach throughout the school community to ensure access to quality meaningful programming before, during, and after school hours to include holiday and summer breaks.

Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists are qualified providers of recreational therapy and trained to design and implement TIRP in schools. Refer to nctrc.org for more information about recreational therapy professionals.


Recreational Therapy is a resource available to school administrators, teachers, families, and community providers to meet student’s functional goals through TIRP.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 300.34(c)(11) states recreation includes:

  • Assessment of leisure function
  • Therapeutic recreation services
  • Recreation programs in schools and community agencies
  • Leisure education


Creative use of available funding sources can be used for TIRP expenses to benefit students who have an individualized education plan, as well as the students who are not receiving specialized support services. Both school-based and non-school based funding sources can be used for expenses incurred from implementing therapeutic and inclusive recreation activities.

Engaging Collaborators with TIRP

Therapeutic and Inclusive Recreation Programming in Schools is a vital approach to promote student well-being. By engaging in enjoyable recreation before, during, and afterschool, students can develop a sense of belonging with peers and adults – enhancing social, emotional, and physical health, and academic performance. This guide was developed to advance access to quality TIRP in schools through advocacy and a shared commitment among schools, community providers, and families.

  • Families can advocate for access to TIRP by:
    • Connecting with school leaders to communicate the importance of therapeutic and inclusive recreation in their child’s education
    • Gaining awareness of diverse community resources
    • Gaining knowledge of existing policy and funding that supports access to TIRP in schools

Call to action: Schools, community providers, and families can all raise awareness of the value of TIRP and take action to advance integration in all schools.

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