Drum therapy

Randy Shaw teaches drumming to children as part of a therepeutic program. Photo courtesy of City of Asheville Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts Department

Therapeutic recreation program wins state award

Randy Shaw, director of therapeutic recreation at the Asheville Parks and Recreation Department, was not a drummer. Even so, he believed that drumming had the potential to help people with disabilities. “A light bulb turned on for me when … I started to facilitate drum groups and I saw smiles on people’s faces,” says Shaw. He started the Therapeutic Recreation and Drums program in 2013, and the program recently won the Best New Program award at the N.C. Recreation and Parks Association Conference.
TRAD classes use West African drums and instruments to promote health and wellness as well as therapeutic gains for people with disabilities. Classes take place at the West Asheville Recreation Center and at the Charles George VA Medical Center in Oteen.
TRAD classes are designed to improve self-expression, self-confidence and social skills for individuals with disabilities such as autism, ADHD and cerebral palsy. TRAD classes for veterans help provide stress management and community integration for previously hospitalized vets who suffer from psychological issues such as substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
“I get a tingling feeling when I get a kid who’s shy and reserved, and all of a sudden they open up and express how they feel,” says Shaw. “To see it in real life is powerful.”

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About Susan Foster
Freelance writer passionate about wellness and spirituality, clinical psychologist, avid hiker and reader. Follow me @susanjfosterphd

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