Driving your passion and knowledge forward with Recreation & Expressive Arts Therapies

HMS offers and specializes in a variety of therapies disciplines that are integral to our education program that allow our students to access their environment, express their feelings and needs, and help them to experience life and learning more fully. One of these areas, Recreation and Expressive Arts Therapies, plays a critical role in maximizing each student’s ability to participate and enjoy recreational activities and to discover meaningful leisure options to enhance joy in their life.

Margo Pancoast, a senior Recreational Therapy student at Temple University, joined the HMS Recreation & Expressive Arts Therapy Department as a Student Intern during her recent spring semester. During Margo’s time with us here at school, Margo supported our recreation team by helping to create & lead activities for our students. Her active role at HMS allowed her to create meaningful relationships with our staff and students that she says has helped her to identify important qualities in being an impactful healthcare professional. Learn more about Margo, her experiences at HMS, and advice she would give to future like-minded students interested in pursuing an internship in this field.

Tell us more about yourself!
I am a senior at Temple University studying Recreational Therapy and will be graduating this May. I am from Devon, Pennsylvania, a small suburb outside of Philadelphia. I was introduced to Recreational Therapy from another student at Temple University during my freshman year. I was able to explore classes within the major and immediately knew I had found my passion! Before HMS, I completed my Junior fieldwork at Easterseals Early Intervention in North Philadelphia, where I worked with young students with developmental disabilities. Upon completing my junior internship, I knew I wanted to work with children, so when I found out about HMS from one of my professors, I knew it’d be a great match.

When you heard that you were to join the HMS School for this opportunity, what were you most looking forward to or looking to gain?
I was mostly looking forward to gaining a new experience working alongside individuals with Cerebral Palsy and young adults. I was also excited to expand my knowledge of assistive technology and adaptations that can help the students and residents live as independently as possible and increase their quality of life.

What was your favorite part about this experience?
My favorite part about this experience was creating and leading activities because this challenged both myself and the students. I found myself working through any barriers or challenges to adapt an activity for each classroom that initially I didn’t know how to overcome. Leading these activities in large and small groups pushed me out of my comfort zone. I became more confident and passionate about what interventions I was doing each week and the positive impacts they can have on each student.

What is the most unexpected or rewarding lesson learned that you’ll take with you?
The most rewarding experience was the strong therapeutic relationships I formed with the students and residents throughout my time at HMS. This was a unique experience for me; prior to HMS, I had never worked with students with Cerebral Palsy, so navigating how to effectively communicate and connect with them was one of the most rewarding experiences.

How do you envision yourself utilizing this newfound knowledge in your professional career endeavors or future studies?
This spring semester I have spent at HMS has taught me knowledge about how I want to be as a future healthcare professional. In my future graduate studies, I hope to be as amazing as the staff members here at HMS. The team at HMS is devoted to not only lifting up their clients every day, but advocating for them within the community as well. Wherever I may find myself in the future, during a new clinical fieldwork experience or career, I hope I can help advocate and strengthen the abilities of my clients during my time with them.

Why do you feel that it is valuable for more people to have experience working with students and young adults with disabilities?
In the US, one in four people has some form of a disability. Working with students and young adults living with disabilities is extremely valuable because everyone is more than likely to work with or encounter someone with a disability in their field of work and daily life. Gaining an understanding of how someone with a disability may access their wants and needs is crucial to supporting that person. My experience at HMS has strengthened my knowledge in things such as wheelchair etiquette, assistive technology, and advocacy. Having similar experiences can help us make all work environments and therapeutic interventions adaptable and inclusive to everyone.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in joining HMS for an internship experience?
Walk into HMS with an open mind and an open heart. This internship has taught me more than any other fieldwork or experience I have had before. I encourage anyone who is interested in growing as a person and as a future health professional to experience the environment and community HMS holds. The experiences you have here will leave you with endless knowledge and passion to drive you further into your future studies or career.

Thank you, Margo. We wish you the best of luck and hope to keep in touch!

Learn more about our Recreation & Expressive Arts Therapies Department and services at HMS here.