Pursuing a Bachelor of Arts
Specialization in Leisure Sciences
Recreation is more than sports – it’s the wellbeing of a community
A passion for community service led Meghan Wheeler to start a nonprofit, and Concordia helped boost her vision to a new level.
It was the best decision of my life
What led you to choose the Specialization in Recreation and Leisure Studies?
I’ve always liked helping people and giving back to the community. I knew that’s what I wanted to do for a living.
I started a non-profit for children in the Montreal borough of Verdun to help promote their interest in reading, and then realized that I didn’t have the skills to keep that up. That’s when I decided to pursue leisure studies at Concordia. It was the best decision of my life.
Tell us about your learning outside the classroom.
I’m working on a research project aimed at helping older adults access better services in the community. I’m the research assistant for the PERFORM Centre community connections program, which is part of the centre’s larger Healthy Living for Seniors initiative.
I’m also doing my internship — a requirement for the program — at a residence for older adults called Westmount One.
What lessons have you learned from these experiences?
I value being mentored by experts in the field of gerontological recreation. I appreciate learning about the realities of older adults living in a residence and their recreational needs. It allows me to use the skills and knowledge I learned in school to make a positive difference to people’s quality of life.
What made you realize that you want to work with older adults?
My dad’s a minister, so I’ve always had opportunities to interact with older adults. I knew there was a great need for programs for seniors to help combat loneliness and social isolation. I’m especially passionate about intergenerational programs that bring together older adults and youth.
How would you describe the program?
Individualized: since the class sizes are so small, the teachers get to know you. When I told my teachers I was interested in working with older adults, they were able to give me the opportunity to work as a research assistant and facilitator.
Hands-on: you have plenty of opportunities to go out into the community and learn. The material for our classes is often written by Canadians, so you get a local perspective on things. That means you learn what’s happening in your community right now — it’s relevant.
Where do you hope your degree will take you, career-wise?
I want to help design a program for a residence or a community centre. And I’m passionate about intergenerational projects.
Recreation and leisure studies is a really great program. People often think it’s only about sports, when really there’s so much more to it. There’s recreation in all aspects of life.