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Keith R. Johnston, Donna L. Goodwin and Jennifer Leo

Dignity, as an essential quality of being human, has been overlooked in exercise contexts. The aim of this interpretative phenomenological study was to understand the meaning of dignity and its importance to exercise participation. The experiences of 21 adults (11 women and 10 men) from 19 to 65 yr of age who experience disability, who attended a specialized community exercise facility, were gathered using the methods of focus-group and one-on-one interviews, visual images, and field notes. The thematic analysis revealed 4 themes: the comfort of feeling welcome, perceptions of otherness, negotiating public spaces, and lost autonomy. Dignity was subjectively understood and nurtured through the respect of others. Indignities occurred when enacted social and cultural norms brought dignity to consciousness through humiliation or removal of autonomy. The specialized exercise environment promoted self-worth and positive self-beliefs through shared life experiences and a norm of respect.

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Donna L. Goodwin, Lauren J. Lieberman, Keith Johnston and Jennifer Leo

The social meaning of a one-week residential summer sports camp to young people with visual impairments is described. The experiences of 13 youths (7 females and 6 males) with visual impairments (3 B1, 1 B2, and 9 B3) between 9 and 15 years of age were gathered using the phenomenological methods of focus groups, conversational interviews, and field notes. The thematic analysis revealed three themes: connected, reaching out, and resisting and acquiescing. Experiences of group membership and shared emotional connection to others with visual impairments surfaced in a supportive sport context although resistance to others’ assumptions of ability was evident. The theory of psychological sense of community (McMillan & Chivas, 1986) provided the conceptual framework for interpreting the findings.

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Donna Goodwin, Keith Johnston, Paul Gustafson, Melanie Elliott, Robin Thurmeier and Heather Kuttai

This study explored the social experience of wheelchair rugby from the perspective of the players. Eleven national level rugby players (10 males, 1 female with a mean age of 33 years) shared their experiences through the phenomenological methods of semistructured focus group interviews and artifacts. Three themes emerged from the thematic analysis (a) it’s okay to be a quad, (b) don’t tell us we can’t, and (c) the power of wheelchair rugby. The athletes identified with a shared sense of community and the membership, fulfillment of need, influence, and shared emotional connections they used to authentically express themselves through their sport. The implications of the findings were interpreted within the theoretical context of psychological sense of community.