Recreational sport opportunities for youth with disabilities: Perspectives of recreation directors in New England
Authors: James MacGregor1, Deb Risisky2, Kevin McGinniss1
1 Department of Recreation, Tourism and Sport Management, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
2 Department of Public Health, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
James MacGregor, EdD
Department of Recreation, Tourism, and Sport Management
Southern Connecticut State University
501 Crescent Street
New Haven, CT 06514
James MacGregor, EdD, is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Recreation, Tourism, and Sport Management. His research areas include inclusion and recreation, disability studies, and sport leadership development.
Deb Risisky, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Public Health. Her research is in evaluation of adolescent health programs, youth violence, and educational success of youth.
Kevin McGinniss, EdD, is an Assistant Professor and Director of Sport Management in the Department of Recreation, Tourism, and Sport Management. His research is in intercollegiate athletics and disability sports.
Recreational Sport Opportunities for Youth with Disabilities
Purpose: Inclusive recreation practices are one of the most recognized means of providing recreational sport opportunities for youth with disabilities. Municipal recreation departments are responsible for ensuring opportunities to partake in youth sport programs. This study evaluates the extent to which recreation departments are providing inclusive recreational sport opportunities to individuals with disabilities.
Methods: This study employed a cross-sectional design mail survey to gather data from recreation directors across New England. The two dependent variables for this study are provision of inclusive services and perceived challenges to providing those services. The independent variables include director recreation/sport education, years as a director, and community size. Analysis included univariate, bivariate, and ANOVA for the quantitative data. Qualitative data were reviewed for commonalities.
Results: There were 136 respondents for a response rate of 34.8%. Most (85%) directors noted their agency provided some inclusive recreation. Areas of success included accessible facilities and accommodations/modifications. Areas of needed improvement included staff training and providing transportation for individuals with disabilities. The only significant factor was years as a Director (F=4.315; p=0.016). The multiple comparison test found statistical significance between those with the fewest years of experience (x̄=22.14) and highest experience (x̄=19.57). The top challenges in providing inclusive recreational sport was additional expense, and the lack of training for the provision of these services.
Conclusions: Without director support, inclusive recreation can be difficult to achieve. Director support, including making inclusion an agency priority, reflecting inclusion in the agency’s mission, and hiring practices was imperative to facilitating an inclusive recreation environment and program. Financial concerns and need for staff training are the biggest obstacles to providing inclusive recreational sport programming.
Applications in Sport: Training of recreation and youth sport staff members, including those that aspire to be directors, can have a great impact on opening opportunities for inclusive recreational sports. University academic recreation and sport management programs need to embed the principles and practices of inclusion into their curriculum. In-service training can be an important tool to increase inclusion offerings to the community, increasing the amount of staff members who can facilitate increased opportunities for inclusive recreational sport.(more…)