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Feeling included -- kids with disabilities have their say in landmark study
Date:12/8/2010

The playground can be a daunting place for any kid trying to join in and be one of the gang. For kids with disabilities it's just as important to feel included, be accepted and valued particularly by their peers.

In a study to understand the perspectives of children with disabilities around inclusion in physical activities during free play, recreational sports and recess, Dr. Nancy Spencer-Cavaliere, an adapted physical activity expert, in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta, interviewed children with a range of disabilities about their thoughts on what made them feel included or rejected during these activities.

"Children were asked to theorize about other fictional children who are like them, so they didn't have to pour their hearts out initially if they didn't want to. So I'd start by saying, 'Imagine if you were'

"I found that as children theorized, they would float in and out of (describing things in the) first, second and third person. They wove their own experiences into those of the fictional child they were theorizing about. Final questions would ask, 'How about you? How would you feel?'"

Three themes emerged from the data: gaining entry to play; feeling like a legitimate participant, and having friends.

"Many children spoke about initiating play," says Spencer-Cavaliere, "and either being invited to play or asking to play and being rejected or not being invited or not being allowed. Making that initial step into a play environment is really a critical step for children."

One of the children gave an example of wanting to play freeze-tag, a game he enjoyed. "He asked to play and was rejected. He asked the teacher to help and the teacher did nothing. Eventually he walked away. 'It feels like you're treated like an insect,' he said.' So a major part of being included was being asked to take part, or another child saying, "Yes, you can play."

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Contact: Jane Hurly
jane.hurly@ualberta.ca
780-492-6821
University of Alberta - Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation
Source:Eurekalert

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