The purpose of this qualitative study was to assess the effectiveness of a disability sport unit in shaping perceptions of disability. Data from interviews, observations, and documents were collected on 87 elementary-aged students, one physical education teacher, and one teaching intern. Comparisons were drawn between fifth graders engaged in a five-week disability sport unit to fourth graders participating in their standard physical education curriculum. Findings revealed differences in the way fourth and fifth graders came to view individuals with disabilities. The results support an analysis of curriculum development that underscores the significance of the social model in positively impacting constructions of disability. Recommendations include the use of disability sports in physical education as an effective strategy for educating students in game play, knowledge of the Paralympics, and the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in a variety of sporting venues.
Michelle Grenier, Karen Collins, and Steven Wright are with the University of New Hampshire. Catherine Kearns is with Main Street School, Exeter, New Hampshire.