Our Learning Model

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Experiential Learning: 

The Recreation Project relies on experiential learning as the foundation of our programs. Simply put, experiential learning is the process of making meaning from direct experience—it is a learning process that uses a person’s whole mind and body.  By facilitating experiences in the forest and on the ropes course, participants are facing emotionally, physically, and cognitively challenging activities for therapeutic gain.

 

 

How Does Experiential Learning Work?

Instead of asking the youth in our programs to memorize principals or a list of facts, The Recreation Project facilitates practical learning.  For example, instead of telling the participants that, “it is important to trust one another”, TRP places them in situations where they need to trust others.  Instead of telling them that “they should believe in themselves”, TRP gives them opportunities to build their own self-confidence by accomplishing challenging or fearful activities throughout the program.

DSCN4317A central tenant of experiential learning is allowing consequences for decisions.  All activities at The Recreation Project are “Challenge by Choice”-which means each participant is allowed to make decisions about whether or not they would like engage in an activity.  A sense of ownership and personal accomplishment is gained through empowering the participants to face and overcome challenges by their own choice.

Building off the tenants of experiential learning, TRP utilizes adventure-based therapy as a healing tool for youth impacted by trauma and war in northern Uganda.

 

 

What is Adventure-Based Therapy?

Adventure-based therapy is a form of psychotherapy that incorporates outdoor adventure and risk-taking challenges to improve communication, build trust and self-belief, and ultimately overcome traumatic experiences. Additionally, adventure therapy improves interpersonal relatedness, which has been described as the most important factor for improving mental health. Ultimately, TRP has found this to be an extremely effective way of helping young people make positive changes.

Why is it Important for Uganda?

Northern Uganda is recovering from over twenty years of civil conflict and war with the Lord’s Resistance Army.  As a result, young people in this region were born into a conflict zone. Now, as the country rebuilds, Ugandan youth are faced with overcoming psychosocial and economic hardship to rebuild a peaceful society. Unfortunately, Western theories are often blindly imposed in post-conflict societies around the world and often cause damage when little or no attempt has been made to adapt the foreign approach.  In many cases, traditional talk therapy inadequately addresses a traumatic experience; which is largely a sensory-motor and emotional memory.  When people witness and experience intense violence and trauma, an intense counter-experience is often needed to make new associations and beliefs about life.

The Recreation Project is a psychosocial intervention that seeks to mitigate the negative impacts of armed conflict and provide opportunities for young people to believe in a better future.  Recreation plays an important role in youth development, yet scarce opportunity for recreation exists in northern Uganda.  At The Recreation Project, young people can face fears, overcome challenges, create social bonds, build new beliefs about themselves in a non-verbal, cooperative, and supportive environment.