This study provides insight into an inclusive program between Special Olympics (SO) and academy football (soccer) players in the United Kingdom from the perspectives of players and facilitators. Qualitative focus groups were conducted across 30 participants (six facilitators, 14 Premier League academy players, and 10 SO players). Focus groups compared stakeholders’ experiences of participating in a season-long inclusive football program. Three overarching higher order themes were generated, which highlighted positive outcomes from taking part. SO players provided endorsement for developing friendships and improving football skills, whereas academy players cited the positive impact that SO players had on their mood and motivation. Facilitators reflected on positive player outcomes and subsequent accomplishments. Overall, the findings indicated that this shared experience had psychosocial and football-specific benefits for everyone who participated. Facilitators indicated that these benefits could transition into everyday life but noted that there needs to be further considerations for future programs.
Melissa A. Fothergill, Danna Baik, Hannah M. Slater, and Pamela L. Graham
Rebecca Bassett-Gunter, Jennifer Tomasone, Amy Latimer-Cheung, Kelly Arbour-Nicitopoulos, Katerina Disimino, Victoria Larocca, Lauren Tristani, Kathleen Martin Ginis, Jennifer Leo, Leigh Vanderloo, Dave Sora, and Archie Allison
Parents of children and youth with disabilities (CYD) have expressed unique physical activity (PA) information needs. Community-based organizations (CBOs) require assistance to meet these needs. Guided by the Appraisal of Guidelines, Research and Evaluation II, this project established evidence-informed recommendations for developing PA information targeting families of CYD. This process involved a systematic scoping review to inform draft recommendations (k = 23), which were revised via a consensus meeting with researchers, knowledge users from CBOs, and families of CYD. Broader consultation with CBO knowledge users informed the final recommendations (k = 5) that fit within the following categories: (a) language and definitions, (b) program information, (c) benefits of PA, (d) barriers to PA, and (e) PA ideas and self-regulation tools. CBOs are encouraged to consider these recommendations when developing PA information for families of CYD. Future research will focus on the development of knowledge products to disseminate the recommendations to CBOs and support implementation.
Kwok Ng, Cindy Sit, Kelly Arbour-Nicitopoulos, Salomé Aubert, Heidi Stanish, Yeshayahu Hutzler, Diego Augusto Santos Silva, Mary-Grace Kang, José Francisco López-Gil, Eun-Young Lee, Piritta Asunta, Jurate Pozeriene, Piotr Kazimierz Urbański, Nicolas Aguilar-Farias, and John J. Reilly
This is an overview of the results from 14 countries or jurisdictions in a Global Matrix of Para Report Cards on physical activity (PA) of children and adolescents with disabilities. The methodology was based on the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance’s Global Matrix 4.0. Data were aligned with 10 indicators (Overall PA, Organized Sport, Active Play, Active Transport, Physical Fitness, Sedentary Behavior, Family & Peers, Schools, Community & Environment, and Government) to produce Para Report Cards. Subsequently, there were 139 grades; 45% were incomplete, particularly for Active Play, Physical Fitness, and Family & Peers. Collectively, Overall PA was graded the lowest (F), with Schools and Government the highest (C). Disability-specific surveillance and research gaps in PA were apparent in 14 countries or jurisdictions around the world. More coverage of PA data in Para Report Cards is needed to serve as an advocacy tool to promote PA among children and adolescents with disabilities.
Christina Esmann Fonvig, Jens Troelsen, Jan Christian Brønd, Sören Möller, and Anders Holsgaard-Larsen
Children and adolescents with cerebral palsy (CP) show a reduced physical activity (PA) level compared with their typically developed peers. This study aimed to identify potential predictors of objectively evaluated habitual PA using data from a national clinical registry—the Cerebral Palsy Follow-Up Program (CPFP)—and proxy-reported questionnaires. Data from the CPFP database showed that female sex was associated with a lower PA level. Additional questionnaire data revealed age, popliteal angle limitation, Pediatric Outcomes Data Collection Instrument–Sports and Physical Functioning Scale score, screen time, Functional Mobility Scale score at 50 m, and fatigue as predictors. The proposed models can be used for the prediction and early detection of the PA level and consequently for the potential improvement among ambulant/semiambulant individuals with CP. Further research should investigate the predictive impact of personal, social, and environmental factors on the PA level and the gap in PA levels between girls and boys.
Emma E. Schultz, Katerina Sergi, Gregg Twietmeyer, Nicolas M. Oreskovic, and Stamatis Agiovlasitis
Identifying factors that influence physical activity (PA) among individuals with Down syndrome is essential for PA promotion. Insight can be gained from guardians and health professionals. The purpose of this study was to explore the perspectives of guardians and health professionals on facilitators and barriers of PA in individuals with Down syndrome. Interviews were conducted with 11 guardians (five mothers, four fathers, and two legal guardians) and 11 professionals (four PA specialists, three physical therapists, and four occupational therapists). Grounded theory was applied. Barriers and facilitators fit the levels of the ecological model of health behavior: (a) intrapersonal (perceived rewards), (b) interpersonal (interaction), (c) community (availability of programs), (d) organizational (school systems), and (e) policy (education). Guardians and professionals agreed on the importance of enjoyment, interaction, and programs to promote PA. Differences between groups were identified at the organizational and policy levels. PA in persons with Down syndrome is influenced by interactions between individual and environmental factors.
Kelly P. Arbour-Nicitopoulos, Raktim Mitra, Ritu Sharma, and Sarah A. Moore
This study explored the association between socioecological factors and outdoor physical activity (PA) and play in children with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents (N = 133) completed a survey to report changes in their child’s outdoor PA and play during the pandemic (from prepandemic levels), and child, household, and neighborhood environment factors. Children with a PA-supporting parent and from multichild and White households had lower odds of reporting decreased outdoor PA. Children from multichild, higher income, married couple households and a PA-supporting parent had lower odds of decreased outdoor play. Living in neighborhoods with higher urbanization (i.e., high dwelling density, street intersections, and land-use mix) was associated with greater odds of decreased outdoor PA and play. Future research that uses larger and more representative samples of children with disabilities is needed to test for the multivariate effects of socioecological variables on outdoor PA and play.
Heidi Stanish, Samantha M. Ross, Byron Lai, Justin A. Haegele, Joonkoo Yun, and Sean Healy
The U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth has tracked 10 physical activity (PA) indicators common to the Active Healthy Kids Global Matrix since 2014. This article expands on the U.S. report cards by presenting PA indicator assessments among children and adolescents with disabilities. Grades for indicators were assigned based on a search of peer-reviewed articles presenting nationally representative data. The Global Matrix 3.0 benchmarks and grading framework guided the process. Grades for overall PA, sedentary behaviors, organized sports, and school were F, D+, D+, and D, respectively. Insufficient evidence existed to assign grades to the remaining six indicators. There is a need in the United States for targeted PA promotion strategies that are specific to children and adolescents with disabilities. Without a commitment to this effort across sectors and settings, the low grades identified in this para report card are expected to remain.
Brynn Adamson, Mina Woo, Toni Liechty, Chung-Yi Chiu, Nic Wyatt, Cailey Cranny, and Laura Rice
Lack of disability awareness of fitness professionals is a well-established barrier to exercise participation among people with disabilities that is likely related to the lack of disability awareness training for group fitness instructors. The purposes of this study were to develop, implement, and evaluate a disability awareness training for group fitness instructors. A 90-min video training and resource manual were developed. We recruited 10 group fitness instructors from one recreation center to participate. Participants completed baseline, posttraining, and 2-month follow-up testing on survey-based outcomes including disability attitudes, confidence in exercise adaptations, and training satisfaction. Participants’ confidence to adapt fitness classes was significantly improved; however, disability attitudes were high in the pretest and not significantly different posttraining. Semistructured interviews were conducted posttraining and revealed three themes: Formal disability training is needed, Managing inclusive class dynamics, and Training suggestions and satisfaction. This training demonstrated a feasible intervention for increasing disability awareness among community-based group fitness instructors.
Meredith Wekesser, Guilherme H. Costa, Piotr J. Pasik, and Karl Erickson
Adapted sport participation can have many positive benefits for adults with disabilities. However, one barrier to implementing successful adapted sport programs is lack of knowledgeable volunteers who understand accessibility and disability. In fact, little is known about volunteers’ experiences in adapted sport programs. The purpose of this study was to retrospectively examine experiences of able-bodied volunteers in an adapted sport program. A sample of 105 able-bodied volunteers (M age = 24.28 ± 1.93) completed an online qualitative survey to share their experiences. Data were analyzed using qualitative thematic analysis, and seven main themes were identified. Results showed that despite differences in initial motives for volunteering, involvement in an adapted sport program was transformative and, for some, life changing. Able-bodied volunteers experienced a wide range of benefits including deeper understanding and awareness of disability and inclusion in sport. Practical recommendations are provided for volunteer-based adapted sport program leaders.
Nima Dehghansai, Alia Mazhar, and Joseph Baker
Research pertaining to the experiences and motives of Paralympic athletes who transfer between sports is scant. This study aimed to address this gap through semistructured interviews with Canadian Paralympic coaches (n = 35) and athletes (n = 12). Three higher-order themes of “alternative to retirement,” “career extension,” and “compatibility” were identified. The subthemes of “psychobehavioral” and “physical and physiological” (from the higher-order theme of alternative to retirement) captured reasons leading to transfer, which are similar to reasons athletes may consider retirement. The subthemes of career extension—“better opportunities” and “beneficial outcomes”—shed light on factors that contributed to the withdrawal of negative experiences and reinforcement of positive outcomes associated with transferring sports. Last, compatibility had three subthemes of “resources,” “sport-specific,” and “communication,” which encapsulated factors athletes should consider prior to their transfer. In conclusion, the participants highlighted the importance of transparent and effective communication between athletes and sports to align and establish realistic expectations for everyone involved.