M. Jean Keller, Ed.D., CTRS
University of North Texas
Cathi M. McMahan, Ph.D., CTRS
Arkansas Tech University
Ed Supina, CTRS (Deceased)
Larry Mildren, CTRS (Deceased)
In 1980, The Therapeutic Recreation Symposium for the Southwest was organized around a table in the den of Edward Supina's home in Mesquite, Texas. In attendance was Dr. Joe Teaff, then at Texas Women's University, Edward Supina, Recreation Therapy Director at Timberlawn Psychiatric Hospital in Dallas, and Larry J. Mildren, Recreation Therapy Program Supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Ed Supina writes, "After a wonderful evening meal prepared by my wife Ann, the three of us sat down and drafted the format for the Therapeutic Recreation Symposium for the Southwest, set the first slate of officers, selected Denton and TWU as the first hosts of the Symposium and each of us put in $500.00 each to get the plan up and running. My wife, Ann, volunteered to set up the first set of books for the Symposium, and in doing so, became the first Secretary and Treasurer. Larry Mildren became the Chair, I became the vice-chair, and Joe Teaff became the first Symposium coordinator." The first Symposium was in 1981 with an attendance of 34 people 10 speakers.
Dr. Jan Hodges recalls, “I have yet to miss a SYMPOSIUM--I missed an opening day twice-- once was a conflict with NRPA when I was President of NTRS, and the other was an ice storm which delayed me 8 hours after passing through DFW three times to four other meetings without going home. Ann actually met me and exchanged suitcases and paperwork for the meetings until the last flight-- we had decided to drive to New Mexico for the Symposium and take a four-day rest in a cabin in the mountains. The road closed due to ice for 8 hours, and we spent the time with the parents of one of my staff members who lived about four blocks off the road. There have been two years in which there was not a Symposium, both involved New Mexico. The first was on a rotation which we had set up to go from states in alpha order, and when it became New Mexico's time, they could not handle it (due to reorganizations and layoffs), and it was too late for someone else to step forward. The second time, we "teamed" with New Mexico PARD, and there was a significant difference in their State conference date and the time that we usually held the Symposium that we would have had two Symposiums in a four-month period of time, so under Larry's direction, even though Timberlawn was willing to take it on again we skipped that year."
From this beginning, TRSSW has grown into a nationally recognized organization presenting an opportunity for advanced professional development for therapeutic recreation personnel in the five-state region that includes Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
In 1987, the Executive Board of the Therapeutic Recreation Symposium for the Southwest set up a scholarship program that would provide educational assistance for undergraduate and graduate students majoring in therapeutic recreation. Previous to this, several smaller scholarships had been awarded, but no established plan had been developed. The TRSSW is the only regional symposium that dedicates proceeds from the annual event to aspiring scholars in therapeutic recreation at any of the colleges and universities in the region.