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.
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.
Jennifer Leo and Donna L. Goodwin
Disability simulations have been used to provide postsecondary students with experiential learning opportunities in many disciplines including physical education. Critics (French, 1992) suggest that it is not possible to simulate disability experience and therefore question their efficacy. The purpose of this study was to interpret the meanings given to disability simulations by undergraduate students in physical education. A narrative research approach was employed to collect disability simulation stories from a convenience sample of 57 undergraduate students (41 female, 16 male) in a required physical education course. Their hand-written stories were transcribed and analyzed thematically to reveal three themes; thank goodness I don’t have a disability, I see things differently now, and I’m just not sure about all of this. The findings suggested that disability simulations may result in varied learning outcomes, including those which are unintended. Future research into the efficacy of disability simulations as a pedagogical tool is warranted.
Donna L. Goodwin and Amanda Ebert
Locating suitable, inclusive community physical activity programs for disabled children can be challenging for parents. The aim of this study was to uncover everyday hidden labor experienced by parents, as they sought inclusive physical activity opportunities for their children. Focus group interviews with eight families of youth aged 13–19 years were completed using an interpretative phenomenological case study research approach. Four themes, interpreted through the framework of relational ethics, captured their experiences: (a) inclusion is immensely effortful; (b) judged by their impairments, not their possibilities; (c) ongoing education needed to open doors and sustain participation; and (d) the guilt of staying home. Reliance on hidden parental labor highlighted an exclusion agenda in community, accentuated by ableist belief systems.
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.
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).
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.
Donna L. Goodwin, Joan Krohn and Arvid Kuhnle
This phenomenological case study sought to understand the wheelchair dance experiences of five children (ages 6-14 years) with spina bifida. The experiences of one boy and four girls were captured using the phenomenological methods of semistructured interviews, journals, visual artifacts, and field notes. The perspectives of their parents were also gathered. The dancer data and parent data were analyzed separately, revealing four common themes: unconditional acceptance, a dream comes true, beyond the wheelchair, and a stronger self. The experience of dancing from a wheelchair was interpreted and understood by reflecting upon the concepts of ableism, dualism, and the minded body.
Donna L. Goodwin, Robin Thurmeier and Paul Gustafson
The purpose of this study was to describe the metaphors of disability to which young people with physical disabilities felt they were exposed and the moderating influence of physical activity on the meanings ascribed to those metaphors. Fourteen participants (7 males, 7 females) with physical disabilities between the ages of 14 and 24 years participated in the study. Their experiences were captured by way of one-on-one audio taped semi-structured interviews and the use and interpretation of artifacts and field notes. Three themes emerged from the thematic analysis: don’t treat me differently, managing emotions, and physical activity balances perceptions. The implications of the findings are discussed within the context of stigma theory and the liminality of social indefinition.