Therapeutic Recreation

Therapeutic Recreation offers programs for children, teens and adults with disabilities. During this especially challenging time, we strive to continue being a resource for our community through virtual programming and other ways to support individuals and families.
COVID-19 Update: For the latest information, please refer to our FAQ.

Our Mission

We serve individuals with diagnoses that​ include Autism Spectrum disorder, ADD/ADHD, Down syndrome, learning disability, mild to profound intellectual disability, traumatic brain injury, hard of hearing, visual or physical disability.​ 

To provide programs and services to individuals with disabilities that will:
  • Enrich quality of life 
  • Meet community needs 
  • Enhance skill development
  • Leisure education and recreation participation 
  • Increase independence through individualized goals and objectives

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 Our Programs

​​​​Our program offerings vary throughout the year, so check our online registration system​ for current offerings or send us an email at PRTherapeuticRecreation@vbgov.com​​.  Stay connected and join our Facebook group.  

Join activities that are currently underway, but still accepting participants. 

Fall Virtual Programs

Art & Nature, Fitness, Games & Puzzles, Social Clubs, & Special Events

Explore our virtual programs and free resources designed for participants of all skill levels and abilities to keep them engaged, active, and connected with friends. Classes are offered for all ages and run 6-8 weeks including free programs and special events like Lunch Bunch, Social Hour, Lip Sync Battle, Bingo Bonanza, and Book Buddies! All activities are conducted via Zoom video conferencing and facilitated by program supervisors.






Social Hour | September 11 – October 30 
Friday 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Ages 14+ | This 8-week virtual "Social Hour" program provides the opportunity for participants to participate in a virtual environment to connect with their peers. Staff will facilitate social conversations and chats to allow participants to work on socialization skills while getting to engage with their peers who they haven't seen for a while. Discussion topics could range from leisure activities they have been doing during their time away from the program (activities), how they are dealing with the current situation, and interactive games will be played. • FREE






Lil’ Lunch Bunch | September 14 – October 5
Monday 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Ages 5-14 | This 4-week virtual program provides the opportunity for participants to participate in a virtual environment to connect with their peers during lunch as they would get to do in a cafeteria at school. The Supervisor (host) will facilitate social conversations and chats to allow participants to work on socialization skills while getting to engage with their peers. Discussion topics could range from leisure activities, school subjects covered that day, how they are dealing with the current situation, offer ideas of activities they can do at home, and interactive games can be played. The program offered on Monday afternoons. • FREE






Chair One Fitness | September 14 – October 23  
Mon., Wed., & Fri. 1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Ages 22+ | This virtual program is designed for individuals of all ability levels to engage in seated fitness activities to ensure they remain progressive in daily function. This program delivers a fun, musically driven, interactive, full-body workout that uplifts people through dance and fitness movements. It is a class for all abilities. Each participant will need to have access to a chair without wheels or a wheelchair with brakes. Instruction provided by a Certified Chair One Instructor. • $35





S’Cool Club | September 14 – November 4 
*Single program(s) $10 each OR Bundle program (all 5 days) $40
  • Juniors (ages 5–14) | Monday-Friday 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
  • Seniors (ages 15–21) | Monday-Friday 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Monday: The Arts | Tuesday: Move & Groove | Wednesday: Experiments @ Home | Thursday: Fit & Fun | Friday: Games & Puzzles

This virtual program series provides participants the opportunity to participate in fun after school activities in a safe, socially distant way. Participants can register for all days of the series or just ones that they are interested in - if interested in all days register for the S'Cool Club Bundle for a discount. Tuesdays will focus on exploring gross motor movement through both structured and free dances and exercises. Participants will follow a warm-up, learn skills performed while standing and seated, and develop their movement terminology. • $40




Virtual Ability Builders | September 14 – November 4
Monday & Wednesday • 9:30 a.m. –12:00 p.m. 
Ages 22+ | This virtual program is an opportunity for participants to work on developing and practicing new skills. Skills can include but are not limited to physical functioning (fine motor & gross motor skills), cognitive skills (such as brain teasers and puzzles), mental health and mindfulness, and social skills. The day would be made up of different classes with a 10-minute break in between. An example schedule = 9:30-10 Craft, 10:10-10:40 Leisure Ed, 10:50-11:20 Fitness, 11:30-12 Brain Games. Participants would not necessarily have individual goals being tracked for progress, but all activities will be goal-oriented and purposefully chosen. • $80




Wandering Wilderness | September 14 – November 11
Monday 5:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. 
Ages 12 + | This 8-week virtual "Nature" program provides the opportunity for participants to participate in a virtual environment to connect with their peers while learning about the vast natural areas Virginia Beach has to offer. Participants will engage with their peers while they gain knowledge about local waterways, green spaces, and parks. The host will provide video on the water (kayaking, paddle boarding), on trails, and in parks throughout Virginia Beach to give participants a guided tour and different perspective. The host will facilitate conversations to allow participants to work on socialization skills and discussion topics could range from parks that they have been to, outdoor adventures they have taken, or just gaining new activity ideas to take part in within our very own community. • $25




Lunch Bunch | September 15 – October 6 
Tuesday 12:00 p.m.–12:30 p.m.
Ages 22+ | This 4-week virtual program provides the opportunity for participants to participate in a virtual environment to connect with their peers during lunch as they would get to do in person. The Supervisor (host) will facilitate social conversations and chats to allow participants to work on socialization skills while getting to engage with their peers. Discussion topics could range from leisure activities, plans for the day, how they are dealing with the current situation, offer ideas of activities they can do at home, and interactive games can be played. The program offered on Tuesday afternoons. • FREE





Fit and Motion | September 15 – November 5 
Tuesday & Thursday 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Ages 10+ | This 8-week virtual Fitness Program takes place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30 p.m. to - 6:30 p.m. The program will cover strength and cardiovascular endurance training. The strength portions will be using mostly bodyweight exercises, but some weight exercises will be incorporated (supervisors will give alternatives if participants don’t have dumbbells or free weights). Program supervisors will be facilitating and leading the participants through the workouts at a steady introductory pace. Each workout will have coinciding visuals that can be emailed out to parents/guardians so participants can have a visual schedule to follow along with as well as the instructor video guide. • $48





Chair One Fitness | September 16 – October 22 
Wednesday & Thursday 5:30 p.m.–6:00 p.m.
Ages 13+ | This virtual program is designed for individuals of all ability levels to engage in seated fitness activities to ensure they remain progressive in daily function. This program delivers a fun, musically driven, interactive, full-body workout that uplifts people through dance and fitness movements. It is a class for all abilities. Each participant will need to have access to a chair without wheels or a wheelchair with brakes. Instruction provided by a Certified Chair One Instructor. • $25






Brain Busters | September 18 – November 16  
Friday 11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
This virtual program is designed for individuals of all ability levels to engage in a series of brain games. These activities can include but are not limited to riddles, brainteasers, memory games, rebus puzzles, virtual escape rooms, and game show questions. The program will be led through Zoom, allowing participants to interact with each other and staff throughout the session. The program will meet online once per week on Fridays. • $5




Art at Home: Let’s Draw | September 22 – October 27 
Tuesday • 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Ages 22+ | This program is an opportunity for individuals of varying abilities to engage in a series of drawing lessons and activities. The program will be led through Zoom, allowing participants to interact with each other and staff throughout the drawing process. The program will meet online once per week on Tuesdays. Each week, participants will need access to paper, a pencil, a good eraser, and coloring utensils of their choosing (e.g., crayons, markers, colored pencils, paint, etc.). • $15




Arts at Home: DIY Crafts | September 24 – October 29
Thursday 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. 
Ages 22+ | This program is an opportunity for individuals of all abilities to engage in a series of DIY (Do It Yourself) projects utilizing materials that may be found around the home. The program will be led through Zoom to allow for participants to interact with each other and staff throughout the creating process. The program will meet online once per week on Thursdays. The craft and needed supplies will be sent out through email prior to starting the session. • $15





Special Events

Lip Sync Battle | Friday, September 25 | 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. 
Ages 8+ | This free special event is family-focused and offers participants an opportunity for some friendly competition with their friends and family. During registration, families will be asked to "recommend" a song for the night's playlist. At the event, when their recommendation plays, they will lip-sync. Families are encouraged to get everyone involved in their act. Feel free to choreograph a dance/movement routine, rock out on our virtual "stage", or just sing along to your favorite song. • FREE





Bingo Bonanza | Friday, October 23 6:00 p.m.–7:30 p.m. 
Ages 5+ | This free special event is family-focused and offers participants the opportunity to enjoy a night of socializing while playing Bingo. The number of rounds played will depend on the number of registered participants. Each person who wishes to participate needs to register individually in order to receive the right number of bingo cards. The final round will be played using a "Build Your Own" Bingo Board that participants will make at the beginning of the program. • FREE





Book Buddies (ages 4–12) this event is Free 
*registration is for individual 30 min. sessions* 
  • Mondays September 14 – October 5 | 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., or 11 a.m. 
  • Tuesdays September 15 – October 6 | 6:30 p.m. 
  • Thursdays September 17— October 8 | 6:30 p.m.

The purpose of this program is to promote reading skills and reading aloud. Participants will be paired with a "buddy" and its owner. "Buddies" will be primarily dogs but occasionally may be a different pet. At the beginning of each Zoom session, the host will begin introductions and all readers and owners will introduce themselves. When it is time to read, participants will be put into individual breakout rooms with just their "Buddy" and the owner. The child will have 25 minutes to read a book or a part of a book to their buddy, showing pictures if they would like as well! The Buddy will remain on camera the whole time. If time allows, the owner and participant may chat for a bit about the story. If the date or time you are interested in is full please add to the waitlist, we are continually trying to find more volunteers to participate as buddies.





Therapeutic Recreation programs promote community recreation and are not intended to provide behavior therapy interventions, tools or techniques. Participants will be expected to manage their own behavior with minimal staff intervention and must have a desire to participate in programming. Participants requiring 1:1 assistance are welcome with their own assistant/attendant. (Assistant/attendant serves as a “volunteer” and must adhere to department volunteer policies/procedures; which will include completion of criminal background check).

 Our Staff

​​​​Therapeutic Recreation Programs employ full-time CTRS’s (Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists) and part-time paraprofessionals to implement programs and ser​vices. CTRS’s are professionals credentialed through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC). Part-time staff are paraprofessionals who assist participants during program activities, provide behavioral support and redirection, and assist supervisor with implementation of activities.

Meet Our Full-Time Staff:​

Shannon

Colleen Wittig, Recreation Services and Therapeutic Recreation Coordinator
Received a B.S. in Recreation and Leisure Science with a concentration in Therapeutic Recreation from Montclair State University.  Colleen has over 39 years of experience in the field of working with individuals with special needs, 28 of those years in the field of recreation. She is a speaker and trainer on topics such as Americans with Disabilities Act, Creating Naturally Inclusive Environments, Behavior Management, and specific disability awareness. Colleen is currently pursuing her certification as an ADA Coordinator.  Colleen enjoys spending her free time with her family, listening to Jimmy Buffett, fishing and playing golf.​

KathyKathy Williams, CTRS, Recreation Supervisor

Kathy graduated from Virginia Wesleyan College with a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation and Leisure Studies with a concentration in Therapeutic Recreation. She was born and raised in Virginia Beach and started working for Therapeutic Recreation Programs as a part time staff in 1985. She is actively involved with other organizations that include Virginia Beach 4-H Summer Youth Camp  Program, Virginia Recreation and Park Society (VRPS), and Southeast Recreation Therapy Symposium. In her free time, Kathy enjoys spending time with her family and friends, being outdoors and exploring new places.

BillBill Parker, CTRS, Recreation Specialist II

Bill has a Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation from Longwood College. He has over 20 years of experience working in community parks and recreation, with the majority in Therapeutic Recreation Programs. Bill gained invaluable experience through jobs in mental health/substance abuse and residential treatment settings prior to employment with the City of Virginia Beach. He is a certified instructor in the Mandt System and teaches staff the relational and technical skills of this curriculum.  Bill enjoys spending time with his wife and two children and watching baseball/fast pitch softball. 

caitlynCaitlyn Hall, CTRS, Recreation Specialist I​

​​Caitlyn is a graduate of Virginia Wesleyan College with a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation and Leisure studies with an emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation. She is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS). She has been working/volunteering with children with special needs since high school and found her passion for the field of TR while volunteering with the Around Town program and in her internship at Norfolk TR. She started as a volunteer with TR Programs and then held positions as both an activity assistant lea​der and leader. She is also currently certified as a Water Safety Instructor and enjoys working with participants in the TR Learn-to-Swim programs. When not working, she enjoys going to the beach, playing soccer, cheering for the Auburn Tigers and the Atlanta Braves, and spending time with family, friends, and her dogs Beau and Honey (or any dog really).​

CaseyCasey King, CTRS, Recreation Specialist I​

Casey has a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation and Leisure studies with an emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation from Virginia Wesleyan College. He is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. He has been working/volunteering with children with special needs since his freshman year of college. He got his passion for the profession from his mother who was a CTRS at VB Psych. He has a background of working in a behavioral health setting as well as community recreation. He has worked part-time for Therapeutic Recreation Programs in all of their programs and was an All Camp Leader for Camp Explore. When not working, he enjoys going to the beach, watching & playing baseball, golfing with his dad, traveling, and spending time with his family & friends.​

Ashley Optiz.jpgAshley Opitz, CTRS, Recreation Specialist I
Ashley is a graduate of Temple University with a Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation. She is currently pursuing her Master of Science in Recreational Therapy through Temple’s online program. She is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. She has been working/volunteering with individuals with disabilities since her freshman year of college, interned with the City of Virginia Beach Therapeutic Recreation Programs, and worked as an Activity Center Leader prior to her current position. Her passion for the field stems from a desire to help people reach their full potential – and what better way to do that than through recreation and leisure. She also has experience working in a nursing home and assisted living community. When not working, she enjoys going to the beach, engaging in arts projects, playing basketball, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

 Social Stories

Social Stories

Designed exclusively by our very own Therapeutic Recreation & Inclusion Specialist, Social Stories help to explain concepts like the Coronavirus to individuals with autism and early childhood age children and have garnered local and national attention from school systems and other organizations. Download, print, and share!


How Can I Stay Safe During the Coronavirus

I Can Exercise Safely Outside
earth day social story.png
A Social Story About Earth Day

TR Video

Contact Information

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Virginia Beach Parks and Rec. employee helps kids, people with disabilities understand COVID-19

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Upcoming Programs