Therapeutic Recreation restores, remediates, and rehabilitates independence for those in Asheville with disabling conditions

therapeutic recreation group photo on a baseball field

Asheville Parks & Recreation (APR)’s Therapeutic Recreation program began as a summer camp designed to meet the growing needs of the community in 2005. By 2023, it grew to serve 621 participants through year-round programs that include supper clubs, crafting, fitness, hiking, adaptive sports, parents’ nights out, movies, dances, cooking classes, field trips, camps, and more.



therapeutic recreation participants young children standing in front of bales of hayWhat is Therapeutic Recreation (TR)?

Therapeutic Recreation (TR) is a structured process designed to harness recreation and other activity-based interests to address the assessed needs of individuals with illnesses and/or disabling conditions, as a means to psychological and physical health, recovery, inclusion, and well-being. 

While TR is the field, recreational therapy is the practice. It is a treatment service designed to restore, remediate, and rehabilitate a person’s level of functioning and independence in life activities, promote health and wellness, and reduce or eliminate activity limitations and restrictions to participation in life situations caused by an illness or disabling condition.


APR’s Recreational Therapists

APR’s recreational therapists are practitioners in the field led by a qualified licensed professional provider. The TR team is ready to challenge the idea of what a person is told they “won’t be able to do” and provide life-enhancing experiences for people of all abilities to access high-quality recreational activities.


lori long in water with recreation program participantsLori Long, LRT, CTRS

TR Manager Lori Long is a Licensed Recreational Therapist in North Carolina and holds the national credential of Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. She began working in the field in 2005 following graduation from Western Carolina University with a bachelor’s degree in Recreational Therapy. 

Her career started in the activities department of a long-term care facility, later becoming part of nursing home administration. Lori joined the APR team in February 2011.

“I adore building relationships with our participants and their families,” she says. “Getting to watch our participants grow and develop over the years is my favorite!”

When she’s not at work, you’ll find Lori on basketball courts throughout the southeast, driving the “mom taxi” and cheering for the teams of her daughter, a talented athlete.


Kelly Sullivankelly sullivan

Program Leader Kelly Sullivan mentored in a special education classroom in high school before earning a bachelor’s degree in Parks and Recreation Management. After working with individuals experiencing disabling conditions intermittently throughout the United States, he joined APR’s TR team in 2022.

He says his favorite part of working in TR is finding creative ways to make any sport or program adaptable since the program’s main goal is to give everyone in the community an opportunity to participate.

“I’ll never forget announcing each of our folks as they stepped up to the plate at McCormick Field during TR Baseball,” according to Kelly. “It’s incredibly rewarding to help people of any ability succeed in sports and recreation programs.”

On weekends, he likes to find live music or go into the woods.


justyn traversJustyn Travers

Justyn Travers’ current work can be traced back to when he was 15 years-old and began volunteering in the special education classroom at his high school and with Special Olympics and working at a summer camp for children with disabling conditions.

While earning his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Lees-McRae College, he worked one-on-one with teens and adults on the autism spectrum. Following jobs at a group home for children with autism and as a teacher’s aide in the progressive education program, he joined APR in a part-time role involving summer camps and adaptive sports. 

In September 2021, Justyn became a full-time Program Leader for TR. Since then, he’s continued to implement and strengthen existing programs, provided behavior training to other program leaders, and advocated for disability awareness and basic sign language training for all staff.


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