Through the Lens of a Camera: Exploring the Meaning of Physical Activity Participation Among Youth with Disabilities Through Photovoice

Patti Craig, Ph.D., CTRS/L and Semra Aytur, PhD, MPH (University of New Hampshire), in partnership with Northeast Passage


Policy/Practice Implications:
Youth with disabilities face barriers to participation in athletics, particularly in after school settings - despite policies such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which aims to ensure that K-12 schools provide youth with disabilities opportunities to participate in physical activity and extracurricular athletics equal to those of their peers
As a result of limited sport opportunities for youth with disabilities, community-based therapeutic recreation and adaptive sports organizations have emerged to fill the gaps by providing a cost-effective alternative for schools

Project Description: This Photovoice study explores the meaning of physical activity participation and competitive sport experiences among youth athletes with disabilities.
Members of the Northeast Passage Wildcats Sled Hockey Team

Methods: Photovoice, semi-structured interviews, and focus groups were used to explore the meaning of sports participation from the perspective of youth with physical disabilities (n=8; ages 9-18).

Health Issues: Physical activity, positive youth development

I am at the skate park dropping into the bowl. I’m the only one in a wheelchair here. But it’s ok because when I’m here I am like everyone else. I watch the skateboarders and BMX’ers and try to make my chair do what they do. I can do the same things but I just do it in a different way.
— D.M.
I love playing basketball. I tried out for my school team but didn’t make it. I have to travel to CT to play on a wheelchair basketball team.
— C.H.
Grab a piece of chair.’ My coach always says this at the end of basketball practice. We all grab onto each other’s chairs and do a little chant.
— D.M.