For the most part whenever someone asks me what I’m going to college for and I respond, they look as confused as I did when I first inquired about the profession. In fact, if you asked me five years ago what therapeutic recreation was, I would’ve just shrugged and shook my head in ignorance. Though, then unbeknownst to me, I had actually spent a considerable amount of time with a recreational therapist when I was younger.
You see, I’m a toe-walker. A severe toe-walker. So much so that by the age of 5, the habit had already caused a severe contraction of my Achilles tendon. I can’t tell you exactly how I developed the habit, but I can tell you that I cannot break it. Repetitive procedures throughout my toddler through grade school years of wearing casts, foot braces, orthopedic shoes and even attending therapy sessions showed little to no effect. I have been told on multiple occasions that if I don’t receive an open heel-cord Achilles lengthening operation, (which is not 100 percent guaranteed to correct my feet and will also immobilize me for approximately six weeks) that there is about a fifty percent chance my toe-walking will land me in a wheelchair by the time that I’m thirty.
Despite the expected long-term consequences of my habit, the therapist that I saw when I was younger never failed to put a smile on my face. She always told me that I walked higher than other kids because it was my way of flying and that I was that much more closer to touching the sky. The way she lifted my spirit inspired me to want to do the same. The only problem was, I had absolutely no clue what her profession was. That is until my freshman year in high school.
Career Day 2012 at the Philadelphia High School for Girls. A therapist by the name of Jeanine came in to speak to us. I happened upon her session by running into the nearest classroom with an open door to avoid my principal. That single event, played a huge role in deciding my future.
Everything she showed us, from the pictures of her helping children physically to her encouraging them emotionally, along with the description of the diverse work environments she was able to find employment in, ignited a sense of nostalgia in me. It took me right back to my days in therapy. That was when I knew that that was a feeling I wanted to help others experience. That was when I realized what I wanted to do for others for the rest of my life.
Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to do something in the many varieties of health professions. But, although I’m not exactly what you call faint of heart, if I have a choice whether or not I see blood, I’d really rather not. Of course I went through that phase in my tween years of wanting to be a lawyer but that was mostly only because of my fascination of the show Law and Order. My strong suit has always lied in helping and motivating others. During report card conferences in elementary through middle school, the only complaint I’d receive? I’d always help other people and neglect my own work. They say that you can tell a lot about a person’s future based off of their actions through the duration of their childhood and early adolescent years. Well that certainly holds true according to what my third grade teacher always complained about. So yes Mrs. Pupis, I am and will continue to help and encourage people, as I always have.