The Recreation Therapists of Indiana (RTI) arose out of a need for recreation therapy practitioners and recreation therapy educators in Indiana to have their own professional society. The impetus for forming RTI came about in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Prior to the formation of RTI there existed a special interest section within the Indiana Park and Recreation Association (IPRA) for those with interest in therapeutic recreation. The situation at the state level was similar to the arrangement at the national level with the National Therapeutic Recreation Society being a special interest group within the National Recreation and Park Association. Like their counterparts at the national level in the 1980s, recreation therapists in Indiana generally did not believe their interests were being fully served with their status as a section within a park and recreation association.
A Clinical Faculty had been formed in the 1980s by Professor David R. Austin to support the work of recreation therapists who provided clinical supervision for Indiana University students. Clinical Faculty also served as advisors to the IU curriculum. At the time, Austin coordinated the Therapeutic Recreation Program at IU. Those appointed as Clinical Faculty were master’s prepared recreation therapists, largely from Indianapolis and Bloomington. This group met two or three times per year with IU faculty. Particularly during the period of the late 1980s and early 1990s, members of the IU Therapeutic Recreation Clinical Faculty devoted much of the discussion time at their meetings to the topic of the need for a separate state-level professional organization for recreation therapists in Indiana.
By the time Mary Jean Erwin became President of the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) in 1993, the IU Clinical Faculty had decided they wished to seriously explore forming a state organization for recreation therapy professionals. Austin, who was then President-Elect of ATRA, arranged for IU to pay for Mary Jean Erwin to fly from Memphis to Indianapolis so that she might meet with the Clinical Faculty in order to discuss the benefits of forming a state organization that would become an ATRA chapter. A meeting was hosted by John Clampitt and his staff at LaRue Carter Hospital in Indianapolis. Following lunch at the LaRue Carter, Ms. Erwin met with around a dozen members of the Clinical Faculty. At the conclusion of the meeting those attending decided they should move forward with the formation of RTI.
IU Clinical Faculty members Cindy Ingles and Maureen Fleetwood took the lead in filing the necessary formal papers with the state of Indiana (personal communication, J. Clampitt, September 3, 2006). This was done on November 9, 1993. On November 15, 1993, RTI petitioned to the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) to become an ATRA Chapter. RTI was formally recognized as the 21st ATRA Chapter on December 10, 1993 (personal communication, ATRA Library/Archives/History Committee, 2006).
Cindy Ingles, of Bloomington, served as the initial RTI president during the organization’s first two years. When she relocated to another state, John Clampitt followed her as RTI president. Other members of the IU Clinical Faculty joined Clampitt in playing key roles during the formative years of RTI. For example, Dewey Norton of Indianapolis served as Treasurer for several years. Maureen Fleetwood, from Bloomington, also provided strong leadership, as did Vicki Scott, Fred Evers, Pam Eakin, and J’Annelle Kerr from Indianapolis.
These RTI pioneers were soon followed by a second wave of leaders that included Diane Baumann, Kim Clarke, Jim Quinn, Deb Getz, Bryan McCormick, Holly Talbott, and Heather Sedletzeck (personal communication, J. Clampitt, September 3, 2006). Of the individuals in the second wave, perhaps Diane Baumann and Kim Clarke’s contributions rise to the top. Baumann not only served as RTI president in 1999 but she chaired RTI Annual Conferences in Rochester in 1998, in Evansville in 1999, and in Nashville in 2000. From 1998 through 2000, Baumann chaired the RTI Legislative Committee where she was instrumental in establishing RTI as the only ATRA Chapter to employ a legislative counsel. Clarke likewise chaired three RTI Annual Conferences as well as serving as an RTI Board Member, Treasurer, President-Elect, and President.
As a result of the early efforts of these professionals RTI has become a vital organization. In 2000, RTI received ATRA’s “Chapter of the Year” Award. At its 10th anniversary celebration during the RTI Annual Conference in New Albany in 2003, David Austin provided a brief account of how RTI had begun, after which he helped blow out the candles on RTI’s “birthday cake.” It was a proud moment for all who had seen RTI become an outstanding organization in the space of a decade.
David R. Austin, Ph.D., CTRS
Prepared September 5, 2006