18 SES 07, Students with Special Needs in Sport and Physical Education Settings
This paper presents the results of a study attempting to investigate which factors might encourage and / or discourage a group of wheelchair basketball players in their decision to take up and continue with athletic activity. The key question is "What are the personal and environmental factors that affect the choice to start and then continue to play sports?".
The general literature has for some time highlighted the positive relationship between sport and well-being, (Lundqvist 2011; Bloodworth 2012), a positive relationship also confirmed by investigations dealing specifically with athletes with disabilities. Participating in sports is an opportunity to improve different dimensions of personal well-being, in the physical, psychological and relational spheres (Blauwet and Willick, 2012; Brăgaru et al. 2001; Martin Ginis et al. 2010), easing the transition to adulthood of people with disabilities.
However, statistics (ISTAT 2013) tell us that the disabled population remains quite sedentary. If among able-bodied people, sportspeople number 47.7% to 52.3% non-sportspeople, among disabled people the number of athletes descends sharply to 11.3% versus 88.7% non-practicing, a gap also confirmed by the data relating to the specific context of basketball in Italy: the able-bodied athletes who practice this sport number 159 026 (FIP 2014), whereas disabled basketball players number 504 (FIPIC 2014).
These data are supported by the empirical evidence of some studies which have investigated the facilitators and barriers that influence participation in sport for the disabled. The work of Wu and Williams (2001), Rimmer et al. (2004), Kehn and Kroll (2009), and of Jaarsma et al. (2013) shows that still too often the practice of sport is complicated for disabled athletes by issues related to inadequate infrastructure, a lack of financial resources to pay for the sport and a lack of awareness of sporting opportunities for people with disabilities, as well as, at times, a lack of support from friends and family and low self-esteem. At the same time, the most important positive factors are:
- on a personal level: the experience of fun, the motivation to keep fit / maintain a good state of health, a taste for competition;
- on a contextual level: the support of family, partners, friends, colleagues, the good team climate experienced, the esteem of the coach / instructor.
In light of this literature review, we have adopted the ICF (International Classification of Functioning, WHO 2001) model as our theoretical framework. This looks at the health condition of a person and allows one to describe it by integrating personal characteristics (bodily functions and structures, activities and participation) with contextual factors (environmental and personal).
Motivating our research is the lack in Italy of empirical, survey-based evidence regarding facilitators and barriers for disabled athletes. In addition, the study represents an opportunity for the Italian Olympic Committee (CIP section of Veneto) to begin monitoring this issue in the region in question, with a view to redirecting social and sports policy for people with disabilities. Therefore, the main objectives of this study are:
- to get an overall picture of the facilitating and impeding factors that combine to define the sport of athletes with physical disabilities;
- to check whether there are differences at the environmental level between amputee athletes, athletes with paraplegia and those with or other types of physical impairment;
- to understand if and how the facilitating and impeding factors have changed over the course of the experience;
to collect operational proposals to promote sport for people with physical deficits.
Blauwet C., Willick S.E., (2012), The Paralympic Movement: using sports to promote health, disability rights, and social integration for athletes with disabilities, PM&R Journal, 4 (11), 851-6. Bloodworth, A., McNamee, M., Bailey, R., (2012). Sport, physical activity and well-being: an objectivist account. Sport, Education and Society, 17, 4, 497-514. Bragaru, M., Dekker, R., Geertzen, J.H.B., Dijkstra, P.U., (2011). Amputees and Sports: A Systematic Review. Sport Medicine, 41, 9, 721-40. Cohen, L.,Manion, L., Morrison K., (2011). Research methods in education. London: Routledge. Jaarsma E.A., Geertzen J.H.B., de Jong R., Dijkstra P.U., Dekker R., (2014). Barriers and facilitators of sports in Dutch Paralympic athletes: An explorative study, Scandinavian Journal of Medicine And Science in Sports. 24 (5), 830-6. Kehn, M., & Kroll, T. (2009). Staying physically active after spinal cord injury: A qualitativeexploration of barriers and facilitators to exercise participation. BMC Public Health 9, 168–78. Lundqvist, C. (2011). Well-being in competitive sports – The feel-good factor? A review of conceptual considerations of well-being, International review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 2, 109-27. Martin Ginis, K.A., Jetha, A., Mack, D.E., Hetz, S., (2010). Physical activity and subjective well-being among people with spinal cord injury: a meta-analysis, Spinal Cord. 48, 65-72. Rimmer J.H., Riley B., Wang E., Rauworth A., Jurkowski J., (2004). Physical activity participation among persons with disabilities: barriers and facilitators, American Journal of preventive medicine. 26, 419-25. Visentin S., When sport enhances the life project. Biographies of disabled atheletes read through the capability approach, Ecer 2014 – Porto. Wu S.K., Williams T., (2001). Factors influencing sport participation among athletes with spinal cord injury, Medicine and science in sports and exercise. 33 (2), 177-82.
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