I am in Child and Youth Care Counselling at Mount Royal University, and I am wondering if there are any jobs/careers involving children with special needs and physical education? I enjoy sports and working with children and youth, so it would be great if I could be involved with both. I am not looking to become a phys ed. teacher, but some kind of combination of play and child care.
And if there are, do you know what requirements I would need in addition to my CYCC degree?
I think there are lots of opportunities to weave Child and Youth Care and play/sport together. Sometimes they might involve inventing new things, or sometimes they are distinct careers, but there are options that wouldn’t necessarily require much outside of a Child and Youth Care degree.
Many mental health programs are starting to recognize the value of physical activity as a mental health intervention. You might be able to propose running programming around this at a children’s mental health centre in conjunction with other duties. This likely wouldn’t require any other specialization.
Also, residential programming has a strong recreational component to it, so depending on the program there would certainly be many opportunities to weave that interest into your work (especially because sports can be a lower cost activity when budget can be an issue)
Getting into some of the more education being required options, there is always play therapy, which would require some specialized knowledge and education, but I’m pretty sure that ranges from workshops and certificates all the way up to dedicated schooling options depending on how much you wanted to immerse yourself into that world.
There is becoming certified as an outdoor educator. I know people who have taken all kinds of paths into that role, but it’s one of the spaces where there can be high overlap between Child and Youth Care work and outdoor education depending on your program and the young people you are working with.
There is becoming a child life specialist, which is another emerging field that works with children with health difficulties, which their professional organization is evolving to require a Master’s degree to practice in the field over the next few years.
And then there is my own personal passion which is social circus. Social circus is the practice of using the circus arts to encourage social and personal change in the young people who participate in the program. It’s an emerging field that is much more popular in Europe and the developing world than it is in North America (Though for the most part the US does seem to do a better job than Canada of having consistent social circus programming). While there is some work at the moment to start putting together the first social circus post-secondary degree in the EU, that is still a few years off. At the moment the requirements would be a strong background in circus arts, and some education on circus coaching, as well as the Child and Youth Care background that you are currently pursing (Many of the current social circus practitioners are circus artists who have developed their skills on the ground in terms of how to work with young people, and they often work in conjunction with mental health practitioners like social workers, doctors, occupational therapists etc. so there can be pathways into this work without a strong circus background working as part of an interdisciplinary team as well).
So, I don’t think that they are incompatible at all. There’s a lot of research going into creating therapeutic recreational and movement based programming. I think that it’s neat to see how trauma informed work and movement based work go together really nicely. I think that we are going to see more of this kind of work in the future, and in the meantime, it’s thinking a lot about how you can bring it into the work that you are already doing, because I guarantee you that there is a place for it somewhere in your work, even if it isn’t immediately obvious.
What a wonderful reply from Shay !
Another aspect of child and youth work and physical education is that providing that, along with all kinds of other activities in the context of the daily living situation is included in the competencies for child and youth work. Arts, crafts, sports – indoor and out – games, nature, community service, music, journalism, drama, play, etc. – all should be included in the ongoing lives of the children and youth and provided in a coordinated way with other disciplines represented in the setting. Special interests and skills on the part of the child and youth workers can be included in the daily programming. As valuable as formal 'departments' in an institution (e.g. recreation) are – when they are there – in many settings youth spend hours desultorily watching television.
Karen Vander Ven