The Effects of Sport Participation on Individuals with Mental Retardation

in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly

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Katherine RiggenUniversity of New Orleans

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Dale UlrichIndiana University

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This study compared individuals with mental retardation participating in either a traditional segregated Special Olympic program or the new Unified Special Olympic program, which is integrated. The dependent variables of the study included self-perceptions of physical ability, social skills, and general self-worth. Actual physical abilities were also compared between the two groups. A control group not participating in sport programs was utilized. Self-perceptions were assessed with a modified version of the Perceived Competence Scale for Children (Harter, 1982). Cardiovascular fitness was estimated with the 1-mi run-walk (AAHPERD, 1984). Sport skills were assessed by use of a standard skills test routinely used for team placement by Special Olympics. Unified athletes demonstrated an increase in social self-perception, which remained unchanged in the traditional athletes. There were no significant increases found in self-perceptions of physical and general self-worth for either the traditional or Unified Special Olympic participants. Both the segregated and integrated basketball participants demonstrated significant increases in basketball skills but not in cardiovascular fitness.

Riggen is with the Department of Human Performance and Health Promotion, H. & P.E. Room 109, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA 70148. Ulrich is with the Department of Kinesiology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, 47407.

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