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Handbook of Disability Sport & Exercise Psychology

Kelly P. Arbour-Nicitopoulos, Celina Shirazipour, and Krystn Orr

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“I’ve Had Bad Experiences With Team Sport”: Sport Participation, Peer Need-Thwarting, and Need-Supporting Behaviors Among Youth Identifying With Physical Disability

Krystn Orr, Katherine A. Tamminen, Shane N. Sweet, Jennifer R. Tomasone, and Kelly P. Arbour-Nicitopoulos

This study was guided by self-determination theory to explore the sport experiences of youth with a physical disability and the role of peers within this context. Interviews were conducted with eight youths using a relational mapping technique and analyzed using a deductive thematic approach. Sport peers were broadly defined by the youth as individuals from a large age range and of all abilities. Youth perceived their sport peers to have dynamic roles throughout their participation in sport. The perceived roles of these sport peers included supporting and thwarting basic psychological needs, and influencing the youths’ processing of sport internalization. Findings focus on the complexity of peer need-thwarting and need-supporting interactions in sport for youth with physical disabilities. Overall, peers have a multifaceted role in the sport experiences of youth identifying with a physical disability and may, in some cases, thwart youths’ basic psychological needs.

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The Value of Incorporating Inclusive Sports in Schools: An Exploration of Unified Sport Experiences

Roxy Helliker O’Rourke, Krystn Orr, Rebecca Renwick, F. Virginia Wright, James Noronha, Kirsten Bobbie, and Kelly P. Arbour-Nicitopoulos

School sports programs intentionally created for students with and without disabilities may increase social participation of students with intellectual disabilities (IDs). Special Olympics Unified Sports is one program where students with and without ID participate on one team. Guided by a critical realist paradigm, this study explored the perceptions of students with and without ID and coaches of in-school Unified Sports. Interviews were conducted with 21 youths (12 with ID) and 14 coaches. Thematic analysis resulted in four developed themes (identified is outdated language): Inclusion—Is it aweor a “they?” Roles and Responsibilities, Educational Context for Inclusion, and Buy-In. Findings suggest students with and without ID and coaches value the inclusive nature of Unified Sports. Future research should explore training for coaches on inclusive practices (e.g., language), and optimal methods for consistent training (e.g., use of training manuals) to foster the philosophy of inclusion within school sports.

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Exploring the Relationship Between Quality and Quantity of Physical Activity Participation in Community-Based Exercise Programs for Persons With Physical Disabilities

Laura C. Koch, Shane N. Sweet, Kristiann E. Man, Kelly P. Arbour-Nicitopoulos, Krystn Orr, Andrea Bundon, Amy E. Latimer-Cheung, and Jennifer R. Tomasone

Community-based exercise programs for persons with disabilities promote greater quantity of leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) participation among their members, perhaps because of the quality experiences fostered by the program. This study aimed to explore the relationship between quality and quantity of physical activity participation in the context of community-based exercise programming and the role that gender plays in this relationship. Adults with physical disabilities (N = 91; M age = 55, 49 men) from three community-based exercise programs across Canada completed a survey asking about quality participation (Measure of Experiential Aspects of Participation [MeEAP]) and LTPA. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the relationship between MeEAP scores and LTPA. Quality participation was not related to LTPA, even with gender included as a moderator. Men reported higher levels of LTPA and quality participation than women, highlighting gender differences that should be considered when researching and designing exercise programs for individuals with disabilities.

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Quality of Participation Experiences in Special Olympics Sports Programs

Kelly P. Arbour-Nicitopoulos, Natasha Bruno, Krystn Orr, Roxy O’Rourke, Virginia Wright, Rebecca Renwick, Kirsten Bobbie, and James Noronha

This cross-sectional study examined experiential elements facilitating quality sport experiences for youth (ages 12–24 years) in Special Olympics, and the associated influences of sport program and sociodemographic characteristics. A total of 451 athletes involved in the 2019 Special Olympics Youth Games completed a survey assessing elements of quality participation (autonomy, belongingness, challenge, engagement, mastery, and meaning). The t tests investigated whether athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities rated elements differently across Traditional and Unified Sport programs. Regression analyses explored whether sport program and sociodemographic characteristics were predictors of these elements. Youth reported high mean scores across the elements, with no significant differences between athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Traditional or Unified Sport. Athletes with no reported disability rated higher autonomy than those who reported disability (p = .01). Women tended to report greater engagement in sport than men (p = .07). Findings provide theoretical and practical insights into quality sport participation among youth in Special Olympics.

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A Scoping Review of Inclusive Out-of-School Time Physical Activity Programs for Children and Youth With Physical Disabilities

Kelly P. Arbour-Nicitopoulos, Viviane Grassmann, Krystn Orr, Amy C. McPherson, Guy E. Faulkner, and F. Virginia Wright

The objective of this study was to comprehensively evaluate inclusive out-of-school time physical activity programs for children/youth with physical disabilities. A search of the published literature was conducted and augmented by international expertise. A quality appraisal was conducted; only studies with quality ratings ≥60% informed our best practice recommendations. Seventeen studies were included using qualitative (n = 9), quantitative (n = 5), or mixed (n = 3) designs. Programs had a diversity of age groups, group sizes, and durations. Most programs were recreational level, involving both genders. Rehabilitation staff were the most common leaders. Outcomes focused on social skills/relationships, physical skill development, and psychological well-being, with overall positive effects shown in these areas. The best practice recommendations are consistent with an abilities-based approach emphasizing common group goals and interests; cooperative activities; mastery-oriented, individualized instruction; and developmentally appropriate, challenging activities. Results indicate that inclusive out-of-school time physical activity programs are important for positive psychosocial and physical skill development of children/youth with physical disabilities.