Employee Heartbeat – Hope Through Recreation

Recreational Therapist Heidi Ross helps patients discover strength and independence

At Bethany Children’s Health Center, our employees truly are the heartbeat that drives the organization. Every day, through the care and service they provide, they live our mission of maximizing the potential of every child and exemplify our core values of compassion, integrity, excellence, service and stewardship.

We hope you enjoy getting to know our amazing employees through our Heartbeat profiles.

February is National Recreational Therapy Month, and we are highlighting the ways recreational therapy helps patients thrive and grow.

Recreation Therapist, Heidi Ross, has been making a meaningful impact at Bethany Children’s for almost five years, guiding patients through transformative leisure activities tailored to their individual needs..

“There is no typical day with my job! There is so much variety between the patients I serve and their leisure interests. I could play a card game in one session, shoot baskets in another, or go on a scavenger hunt in another,” Heidi says.

Recreational therapy isn’t just about fun. Each acitivity Heidi engages in with her patients is purposeful and goal-oriented.

“I do not play UNO just for the fun of it. We are working on visual scanning, fine motor skills, taking turns and more,” she explains. “Anything that impacts a person’s ability to participate in meaningful leisure is addressed in therapy. Recreational therapy is fun, but with a purpose.”

Sessions also help children and teens regain confidence and independence, which Heidi finds especially rewarding. When she is told by a patient that they don’t believe they can do a particular activity, she helps them realize that they can.

“Helping patients by adapting recreation and leisure opportunities to increase independence is very memorable, especially when I hear, ‘I can do this!’ from a patient. Seeing patients return to the activities they enjoy most or helping them discover strengths that allow them to lead healthy leisure lifestyles is the best!” she shares.

Because being active and enjoying recreational activities have always been important parts of Heidi’s life, discovering the career path of recreational therapy was inspiring.

“The thought of helping people become more independent in their leisure activities and using the things they enjoy most to motivate them to improve their functioning sounded like the absolute dream job,” she recalls.

Recreation doesn’t end for Heidi at work – she knows that enjoying recreational activities in her free time promotes a great quality of life for herself and her family. When she’s not working, you’ll find Heidi enjoying time outside, walking, hiking, playing board games, playing piano or making memories with her husband Daniel and children, Henry and Daisy.

“So often we get caught up in the obligations and stresses of the daily grind. Making sure I take a moment to check in and ensure I am taking care of myself by participating in what I enjoy most is essential to my overall health and wellbeing,” she says.

Fun Facts:

What did you want to be when you grew up? “Originally, a country music singer. Then a doctor. My plan was to make lots of money and buy my parents an RV.”

What’s something people might not know about you? “I was on an episode of House Hunters! In a way I am kind of a reality TV star.” 😉

What’s a recent accomplishment you are proud of? “I made the jump into grad school! Whoa! I’m halfway there!”

What three words would your best friend use to describe you? “I texted my best friend to answer this and she said, ‘Caring, extroverted, and adventurous.’”

Favorite sports/teams: Boomer Sooner!

Favorite TV show or movie: “Ted Lasso is my spirit animal. I also have watched Gilmore Girls too many times to count.”

Favorite food: “I take pictures of every soft pretzel I eat—they are just the best! I also enjoy a good cheeseburger!”

What’s on your bucket list?” I am obsessed with the 50 states and want to visit all of them! I have been to 34 of the 50! I have a shirt I wear every time I go to a new state. I am also working on taking my kids to as many National Parks as possible.”

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