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The Meaning of Help in PE: Perceptions of Students with Physical Disabilities

Donna L. Goodwin

The purpose of this study was to describe the meaning of help in physical education as perceived by students with physical disabilities. The experiences of early, middle, and late elementary school aged students (n = 12) were captured using the phenomenological methods of individual and focus group interviews, field notes, and visual artifacts. The thematic analysis revealed that interactions were perceived as self-supporting or self-threatening. Self-supporting behaviors were instrumental, caring, or consensual in form, while self-threatening behaviors resulted in a loss of independence, concerns for self-esteem, or restricted participation. Participant responses to the helping behaviors became more complex with age. Instrumental and caring assistance emerged across all groups as did loss of independence and concerns for self-esteem. The older participants experienced restricted participation and consensual help. The implications of helping behavior on motivation and dependency states are discussed within the framework of threat to self-esteem theory.

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Daughters of Mothers With Multiple Sclerosis: Their Experiences of Play

Alison J. Jonzon and Donna L. Goodwin

The play experiences of daughters who were caregivers to their mothers with multiple sclerosis were described. The experiences of four Caucasian women aged 19–26 years were captured using the interpretive phenomenological methods of interviews, field notes, and artifacts. Family systems theory provided the conceptual framework for the study and facilitated the interpretation of the findings. The thematic analysis revealed three themes: (a) being a good daughter, (b) blurred relationship boundaries, and (c) encumbered play. Being a good daughter encompassed personal caregiving for their mothers. The associated guilt and worry was perceived to mature the participants beyond their years. Excessive caregiving exacerbated by limited social networks contributed to the blurring of mother-daughter relationships. Play, although restricted, provided a welcomed escape from caregiving responsibilities. Impoverished play experiences as caregivers were reported to negatively impact adult physical activity and recreation pursuits.

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Thinking Ethically About Professional Practice in Adapted Physical Activity

Donna L. Goodwin and Brenda Rossow-Kimball

There has been little critical exploration of the ethical issues that arise in professional practice common to adapted physical activity. We cannot avoid moral issues as we inevitably will act in ways that will negatively affect the well-being of others. We will make choices, which in our efforts to support others, may hurt by violating dignity or infringing on rights. The aim of this paper is to open a dialogue on what constitutes ethical practice in adapted physical activity. Ethical theories including principlism, virtue ethics, ethics of care, and relational ethics provide a platform for addressing questions of right and good and wrong and bad in the field of adapted physical activity. Unpacking of stories of professional practice (including sacred, secret, and cover stories) against the lived experiences of persons experiencing disability will create a knowledge landscape in adapted physical activity that is sensitive to ethical reflection.

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Physical Activity Experiences of Women Aging with Disabilities

Donna L. Goodwin and Scott G. Compton

This hermeneutic phenomenological study sought to understand the experiences of physical activity and aging with a disability. Six women with physical disabilities, including cerebral palsy (n = 2), acquired brain injury (n = 1), and spinal cord injury (n = 3), and between the ages of 22-37 years (mean age = 28 years) participated in the study. Their experiences were captured by way of semi-structured interviews. Each participant completed two interviews that were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. The thematic analysis revealed three themes: experiencing something normal, loss of physical freedom, and maintaining function through physical activity. Implications of the findings were discussed within the context of health promotion and Verbrugge and Jette’s (1994) socio-medical model of disablement.

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The Meaning of Summer Camp Experiences to Youths with Disabilities

Donna L. Goodwin and Kerri Staples

The purpose of the study was to capture the meaning of segregated summer camp experiences to youths with disabilities. The experiences of nine youths with physical, sensory, or behavioral disabilities between the ages of 14 and 19 were captured using the phenomenological methods of semistructured interviews, document review, and field notes. Mothers’ perceptions were also gathered. The thematic analysis revealed three themes: not alone, independence, and a chance to discover. Camp experiences provided a reprieve from perceptions of disability isolation often felt in their home communities. The campers experienced increased self-reliance, independence, and new understandings of their physical potential. The findings are discussed within the context of identity development and therapeutic landscapes.

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Physical Education for Students with Spina Bifida: Mothers’ Perspectives

Jihoun An and Donna L. Goodwin

This study described the meaning 7 mothers of children with spina bifida ascribed to their children’s physical education, the mothers’ roles in the schools, and the importance of the IEP in home and school communication. The stories of 4 mothers of elementary and 3 mothers of secondary aged children were gathered using the phenomenological methods of semistructured interviews, artifacts, and field notes. The thematic analysis revealed three themes: a good thing but …, connection to sports, and beyond the curriculum. The mothers valued their children’s participation in physical education and provided instrumental support to teachers and teaching associates. They also valued sport as an avenue for developing sport specific skills, which in turn enriched the school experience. The findings are discussed within the context of Peters’ (1996) model of disablement.

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“It’s Hard When People Try and Get Their Kids Away From Cole”: A Family’s Experiences of (In)dignity in Leisure Settings

Kassi A. Boyd and Donna L. Goodwin

The indignities imposed by the words and actions of strangers in public recreation facilities can deter families with children experiencing disability from using these spaces. An interpretative phenomenological analysis case study was conducted to gain an understanding of how a young family with a child with autism experiences dignity during family leisure. Three generations (parents, grandmother, and great grandmother) participated in audio-recorded semistructured and conversational interviews. The interviews, thematically analyzed and interpreted using the conceptual framework of relational ethics, depicted the family’s experiences of dignity: (a) living under a microscope; (b) “screw your microscope, we’re going anyway”; (c) emerging stories of belonging; and (d) retreating, feeling overlooked, and lamenting the future. The family members experienced both dignity-affirming and dignity-removing interactions during community family leisure. Dignity was cyclically maintained, temporarily lost, and regained again as family members (re)formulated perceptions of self-respect, rejected stereotypes, and built relationships.

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“My Child May Be Ready, but I Am Not”: Parents’ Experiences of Their Children’s Transition to Inclusive Fitness Settings

Bobbi-Jo Atchison and Donna L. Goodwin

Parents play an essential role in the transition from separate physical activity programs to inclusive settings for their children. The purpose of this study was to explore experiences of parents as they anticipate and prepare for their children experiencing disability to transition, understand strategies used to address transition, and gain insights into the supports important to families during transition. Using an interpretative phenomenological analysis research approach, semistructured one-on-one interviews were conducted with 8 parents whose children were undergoing the transition from separate to inclusive community fitness contexts. Four themes described the experiences of parents as they anticipated, prepared for, and supported their child to transition: My child may be ready, but I am not; fear of outside judgment; playing by their rules; and reframing our thinking. Using Schlossberg’s model, the tensions parents faced as they negotiated new roles, relationships, routines, and assumptions as they moved through the transition process were uncovered. The parents experienced transition alongside their children, providing insights for fitness and health-promotion professionals. Without preparation for transition, apprehensions and hesitancy may postpone or prevent their children’s transition to community programs.

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Inclusive Physical Education from the Perspective of Students with Physical Disabilities

Donna L. Goodwin and E. Jane Watkinson

The study describes the phenomenon of inclusive physical education from the perspective of students with disabilities. The experience of 9 elementary school-aged students with physical disabilities (6 males and 3 females with a mean age of 11 years, 1 month) was captured by way of focus group interviews, field notes, and participant drawings. The thematic analysis uncovered a persistent dichotomy in how the participants experienced physical education. Good days were revealed in the themes of sense of belonging, skillful participation, and sharing in the benefits. Bad days were overshadowed by negative feelings revealed in the themes of social isolation, questioned competence, and restricted participation. The students’ experiences were discussed within the conceptual framework of ecological perception and affordance theory (Gibson, 1977, 1979).

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Sand in the Shorts: Experiences of Moral Discomfort in Adapted Physical Activity Professional Practice

Amanda Ebert and Donna L. Goodwin

Adapted physical activity (APA) practitioners are encouraged to be reflexive practitioners, yet little is known about the moral dilemmas faced as they instruct inclusive physical activity or fitness programs. Professional landscape tensions may arise when diverse organizational demands, policies, traditions, and values merge. The study purpose was to explore how APA professionals experience and resolve moral discomfort in professional practice. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis, seven APA professionals completed one-on-one semistructured interviews. The conceptual framework of relational ethics facilitated deep engagement with the professionals’ stories of navigating the ethical minefields of their practice. Four themes were developed from the thematic interpretative phenomenological analysis: The ass(et) of vulnerability, Friends or friendly?We are fucked either way,” and Now what? Grappling with discomfort. The moral discomfort and strategies for resolution described by APA professionals highlighted the need for judgment-free pedagogical spaces where taken-for-granted practices can be contemplated and discussed.