Candace Ashton-Forrester, Ph.D., Professor

Candace Ashton-Forrester

Dr. Candace Ashton-Forrester joined the faculty at UNCW in August 2002. She has three degrees in the area of recreation and leisure, all with an emphasis in recreation therapy. She earned her PhD from the University of Illinois—her dissertation was titled “The role of leisure in the bereavement process of later-life widows.” She earned her BA from the University of Florida and her MS from Florida State University.

Prior entering graduate school and academia she was a recreation therapist for almost ten years in a variety of settings including infant stimulation, community mental health, domestic partner abuse, and long-term care. Prior to coming to UNCW, she taught therapeutic recreation at Longwood University, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and the University of Florida. In addition to her primary appointments in recreation or leisure departments/programs, she was also a faculty member with the Center for Recreation and Disability Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill and with the Institute on Aging at the University of Florida; and is currently on the Gerontology faculty at UNCW.

Dr. Ashton  has held numerous elected and appointed positions with the National Therapeutic Recreation Society, including President from 2001-2002; the American Therapeutic Recreation Association; the National Recreation and Park Association; and the National Consortium for Physical Education and Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities, the Recreational Therapy Foundation, ACCESS and Miracle League of Wilmington, the Ability Garden at the New Hanover County Arboretum, and the Wilmington Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.  She has received numerous awards and honors including the ATRA Scholarly Achievement Award, the NTRS Distinguished Service Award, and the, the University of Florida’s College of Health and Human Performance’s Distinguished Alumni Award. She is a Distinguished Fellow in and the 2018-19 President of the National Academy of Recreational Therapists, a Fellow in the American Leisure Academy; and a member of the Academy of Leisure Sciences.

Dr. Ashton is credentialed as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist by the National Council on Therapeutic Recreation Certification and as a licensed Recreational Therapist by the North Carolina Board of Recreational Therapy Licensure.

Dr. Asthon’s research has focused on leisure behavior and recreation therapy using a variety of social theories and research methods for studying healthy and frail older adults, bereavement in older women, older women and retirement, older women’s friendships, senior games and athletes, as well as wheelchair athletes, veterans and active duty military with disabilities, post gastric by-pass patients, and even Parrotheads. She has published over 35 refereed journal articles and 25 refereed abstracts, co-authored two books and eight book chapters. In addition she has given over 200 presentations at international, national, regional, and state meetings, and has received over 1.5 million dollars in external grant funding from such sources as the U.S. Department of Education and the Veterans Administration.

Dr. Ashton has served on the editorial boards of the Therapeutic Recreation Journal, the Annual in Therapeutic Recreation, the American Recreation Therapy Journal, and Health Care for Women International. She is currently the co-editor of the Annual in Therapeutic Recreation.