Pursing Passions with Adriela White, REHAB's New Recreational Therapist

Friday, March 8, 2024

After just a few weeks of volunteering at Camp ROCK, an outdoor recreation camp for youth on the autism spectrum, Adriela White knew that recreational therapy was her calling. What started as a fun way to spend her summers as a teen put her on the exciting and fulfilling path that led to joining Team REHAB.

Adriela is REHAB’s new recreational therapist and go-to resource for functional recreation activities that improve patients’ wellbeing. “Every day is a beautiful new adventure in rec therapy. Helping people take part in activities that they never thought possible because of their disabilities is an incredible experience for everyone involved,” Adriela shares.  

Rec therapy at REHAB is built on the idea that though life may look different post-recovery, everyone has the right to live full and meaningful lives. From gardening to surfing, the recreational therapy program incorporates patients’ passions into their recovery so they can continue to engage in activities that bring fulfillment to their lives. “During the initial rec therapy assessment, the patients and I set specific goals,” Adriela says, “and seeing the look on peoples’ faces when they achieve those goals is incredible! It’s all about empowering people–showing patients that while you may need a little help, you are capable.”

With her current patients, Adriela focuses on therapeutic activities like horticulture, crafts and adaptive sports. “One of my patients really loved cycling, but at that point in his recovery, he wasn’t able to ride a traditional bicycle. We brought out one of REHAB’s recumbent bikes that could support him and had an absolute blast riding around campus.” Adriela prioritizes adaptability, empathy and fun to have a great rec therapy session that fits patients’ abilities and prepares them for the lives they have to look forward to post-recovery. She shares, “Working in the raised garden beds practices motor skills, but it's also a tangible representation of what life can look like after REHAB–back working in your own garden–and that’s good for the soul.” 

In the future, Adriela hopes to integrate opportunities for outings in the community, more adaptive sports options and even drum circles into REHAB’s rec therapy programming. “Recreational therapy is a hope provider,” Adriela says, “I truly believe it’s what I've been called to do, and I feel right in my groove using the gifts I’ve been given to help our community at REHAB.”

Adriela can most often be found in the courtyard at REHAB’s Nuuanu campus, visiting patients or volunteering at adaptive sports events. If you see Adriela around campus, be sure to say “hello” and ask about her love of jewelry-making, ice cream and mushroom foraging!