National Activity Professional Week –
Lighting the Way
By Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

The New Year signifies new beginnings. For the activity professional, it is a time to re-group and get organized after one of our busiest seasons. It is also the month to recognize our profession and communicate to others what it is we actually do. National Activity Professional’s Week, January 19th -25th, is the perfect time to educate others regarding who we are and what we do as the Activity Professional in our care communities. Many think our job is all fun and games and one just needs a cheerful personality for the job. But, we all know it is more than that. We have worked hard to become the “professional” in Activity Professional. We know it takes skill, education, and knowledge to call ourselves an Activity Professional.

The National Association for Activity Professionals has defined this year’s theme as Lighting the Way. This is a fitting theme which celebrates the individuals who work tirelessly to meet the needs of the older adults in our care communities. Visit the NAAP site to check out the NAPW Packet with ideas as to how to celebrate our week.

Here are some ideas to celebrate and communicate the value of what we do during NAPW:

1. Create and display a photo gallery of activities and outline their benefits in a common area or thoroughfare.
2. Plan an “Activity Open House”. Send out invitations and have display areas set up in your recreation room which emphasizes the value of therapeutic activities. Provide information regarding the benefits of activities and create displays with materials and photographs. Give out promotional items related to NAPW. Serve refreshments, decorate festively, and have door prizes.
3. Find some poems and writings about activities. Many of the activity sites have poems devoted to our work and efforts. My favorites are “The Activity Pest” and “Activities are…” Display them in common areas, send them to the families or read them at activity groups.
4. Request a Proclamation from the Mayor’s office. The proclamation is often printed with the township seal and looks very official. In some cases, a representative (even the Mayor themselves) may come out to present it to the community. This could be incorporated into a facility wide party or event. The proclamation can then be framed and displayed. To find out how to get a proclamation in your town, do an internet search for Mayoral Proclamation and your town or county. The township website should direct you to the correct link and suggested verbiage.
5. Create a video emphasizing the benefits of each activity. Utilize one of the more popular songs of the day and film residents, staff and families dancing to the music. Have them hold up signs outlining the various benefits of activities. Set the video up in the lobby on continuous play, with a poster, tri-board or printed materials explaining NAPW. Create posters and signs for display throughout the building.   NAAP has some free posters to print out from their site.
6. Conduct an “Activity Scavenger Hunt” or “Activity Bingo Card”. Create a game card for staff/residents/families to complete certain tasks. To get credit for the tasks, the activity staff needs to authorize the cards. Tasks may include escorting a resident to an activity, having a cup of coffee in the activity room, sitting and doing a 1-1 activity with a resident and other related, interdisciplinary activity tasks. After the game cards are completed, they are placed into a drawing. The drawing for a winner may be conducted at a party or reception at the end of the week.
7. Conduct an “Activity Trivia Game” which is similar to the scavenger hunt. Trivia questions can be related to your activity program, staff or the benefits of activities. Again, the completed game sheets are submitted, with possible winners being drawn daily.
8. Create an open mural where staff, families and residents can write their thoughts about activities. A large roll/sheet of white paper can be hung on a plain wall, with an attached marker on a string.
9. Plan an “Activity Olympics”. Each day of the week can offer various activities related to a particular activity domain. For example, Monday may be “Mental Aerobics Day”; while Tuesday may be “Let’s Get Physical Day”. Each day will focus on the various activities in that domain, with emphasis on the benefits. Interdisciplinary contests and challenges can be integrated into the program plan.
10. Celebrate as a department and with your professional peers. Have a luncheon or private celebration for your department.
And if you are going this alone – give yourself the gift of professional membership and affiliation. If you are not a member of your local or state or national activity association – treat yourself to a membership in honor of our week. Membership in professional organizations provides the Activity Professional with support, current information, state of the art resources and validation for the work that we do.