Just one peek at the Beechwood NeuroRehab InSPIRE Program Facebook page and you will see that this is a group that likes to have fun. From a trip to the Philadelphia flower show, to taking in a Trenton Thunder game, to playing adaptive sports and games on the beautiful grounds at Beechwood, InSPIRE program members are truly living life to the fullest.
Established in February as part of Beechwood’s Structured Day Program, InSPIRE was designed as a complement to BNR’s Clubhouse, Supported Employment Programs, and Supported Education Programs. InSPIRE stands for Increasing Social Participation In Real-life Experiences, and utilizes a brain injury skills training/facilitation model to allow each person to participate to their maximum potential. It was developed to provide choice to its participants in terms of their productive daily activities.
“InSPIRE really gives individuals the opportunity to explore their recreational and leisure interests while building their social skills,” said Paige O’Sullivan, InSPIRE Program Manager. “It is also an opportunity for them to get out into the community and try new things and adapt things that they used to do in a different way to give them new experiences.”
O’Sullivan’s education and training prepped her for the opportunity to lead the InSPIRE Program. She earned a Master’s degree in Recreation Therapy and a Bachelor’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation, both from Temple University, and is also a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. In addition to her background, she brings a wide range of interests including hiking, camping, geo-caching, sports, recreational games, board games, and crafting.
“When I saw this position available I thought it was really cool that I could be at the start of a program and frame it the way that I and our team envisions it and try new ideas,” she said. “First and foremost we always make sure we are client-focused so we find ways to incorporate everyone’s interests and abilities into what we do.”
In addition to O’Sullivan, InSPIRE is led by two InSPIRE Program Coordinators: Hailey Glover, who has a dance background, and Megan Aslanian, a music therapist. There is also a group of Life Skills Trainers who help to aid clients in their participation.
There are currently 12 InSPIRE program members, but O’Sullivan says that number may jump to as high as 40 once the group is able to utilize their new space, which is currently under construction in Beechwood’s Stabler Center and expected to be ready this summer. Despite not having their own dedicated space just yet, the InSPIRE Program has certainly kept busy and has many future plans in the works, including expanded offerings for clients.
“Every day we try to do something physical, cognitive, social and recreational or artistic. When the full program starts we are going to have two programs running every hour so that gives people a choice,” said O’Sullivan. “I think that will be helpful for a lot of clients to feel like they have a say about what they are doing in their leisure time.”
While InSPIRE has proven to be beneficial for the dozen clients who are participating, O’Sullivan says it has been a rewarding experience for her as well.
“I love the clients that we have here. You really get connected to them and get to know their backgrounds, what they love, what they don’t like, their stories, how long they’ve been here,” she said. “It’s really interesting to see the different personalities and how they all work together.”
One thing the group has in common is a love for classic rock, which is often incorporated into their daily activities. O’Sullivan says plans are in the works to take the InSPIRE group to concerts, an adaptive surfing event, and maybe even an Eagles game. Be sure follow the InSPIRE Facebook page to see where they end up next! https://www.facebook.com/InSPIREBeechwood/