Sarah Blech, City of Charlottesville
Sarah Blech, Manager of Therapeutic Programs, City of Charlottesville
Your job title is Manager of Therapeutic Programs. What, in your own words, would you say you do?
My job is to promote, administer and staff a recreation program for individuals with disabilities and seniors that focuses on healthy lifestyle choices, physical and social activities, and exposure to arts and culture. I also coordinate and manage VSA Charlottesville/Albemarle, a partnership that develops arts-based programs, activities and events for students and adults with disabilities. We are a member of the VSA Affiliate Network, a program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
What is the best part of your job?
Therapeutic recreation activities help build confidence and self-esteem, promote healthy coping skills and encourages independence, community involvement and inclusion. I see how this program has made a difference in people’s lives – that is the best part of my job.
The most difficult part?
There are so many more families and seniors who could benefit from our programs. Discovering the best way to connect with them is difficult.
How does your job most directly impact the average person?
Awareness and exposure. When individuals with disabilities are included in all aspects of the community, including recreation, people become aware of what they can offer and how their experiences are not so dissimilar from everyone else’s. A healthy community embraces diversity, and that includes people with disabilities.
What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the City?
In addition to four specialized therapeutic summer camps, TR and City Youth Recreation, in collaboration with two non-profits (Camping for All and Enrichment Alliance of Virginia) have expanded a pilot program in five city camps to include children with disabilities who can be successful in a typical camp with assistance from ‘inclusion mentors.’ Consequently, we are able to include more children with disabilities in the ‘camp experience.’ It’s been a great, interesting experience hiring staff, talking to families and meeting the kids.
What is a little-known fact about you?
I am left/right challenged. Do not stand next to me in a Zumba class.