Personal development of participants in special Olympics unified sports teams
Languages of publication
Purpose. This study aims to identify the impact of the Special Olympics’ Unified Sports program on the personal development of its participants. Methods. A qualitative method was used, which included gathering data by interviewing individual athletes and unified teams, by collecting individual personal histories and by use of connection charts from five European countries that participate in the Unified Sports program. A total of 221 data samples were recorded. Results. Athletes reported improvements in their abilities on the field as well as increased fitness and technical ability. They emphasized the importance of team-work and trust between athletes. Improvements in confidence, self-esteem and communication skills were also reported by athletes. Partners also reported a positive change in attitude towards people with intellectual disabilities. Friendships were a central and vital aspect of taking part in the teams. Friendships developed between athletes and partners. Athletes reported increased access to community “places” such as sports facilities and social venues. Conclusions. Unified Sports is an exciting initiative that holds much promise in transforming the life experiences of young athletes with intellectual disabilities. The impact of the Unified Sports program on the personal development of participants applies to all areas of human functioning - physical, mental and social. Our evaluation suggests that its concepts and modes of operations transcend national boundaries and cultures at least within a European context.
1 - 10 - 2012
01 - 11 - 2012
- 1. Kowalik S., Theory and practice of the impact on disabled people. In: Kowalik S. (ed.), Physical culture for people with disabilities [in Polish], GWP, Gdańsk 2009, 41-64.
- 2. Sherrill C., Adapted physical activity, recreation and sport. Crossdisciplinary and lifespan. McGraw-Hill, Boston 1998.
- 3. Patterson I., Pegg S., Serious leisure and people with intellectual disabilities: benefits and opportunities. LeisureStudies, 2009, 28 (4), 387-402, doi: 10.1080/0261436090 3071688.[Crossref]
- 4. Dattilo J., Inclusive leisure services. 2nd ed. State College PA, Venture 2002.
- 5. Driver B., Brown P., Peterson G.L., Benefits of leisure. State College PA, Venture 1991.
- 6. Greenwood C.M., Dzewaltowski D.A., French R., Selfefficacy and psychological well-being of wheelchair tennis participants and wheelchair non-tennis participants. Adapt Phys Activ Q, 1990, 7 (1), 12-21.
- 7. Blinde E.M., Taub D.E., Personal empowerment through sport and physical fitness activity: Perspectives from male college students with physical and sensory disabilities. J Sport Behav, 1999, 22 (2), 181-202.
- 8. Aitchison C., From leisure and disability to disability leisure: Developing data, definitions and discourses. DisabilSoc, 2003, 18 (7), 955-969, doi: 10.1080/0968759032000 127353.[Crossref]
- 9. Dłużewska-Martyniec W., Adapted physical activity of people with mental retardation. In: Kowalik S. (ed.), Physical culture for people with disabilities [in Polish]. GWP, Gdańsk 2009, 425-465.
- 10. Castagno K.S., Special Olympics Unified Sports: Changes in male athletes during a basketball season. Adapt PhysActiv Q, 2001, 18 (2), 193-206.
- 11. Norins J., Harada C., Brecklinghaus S., Inclusion of young people with intellectual disabilities in Europe through Special Olympics Unified Sports. Special Olympics International, Washington 2007.
- 12. McReynolds C., Koch L., Qualitative research designs. In: Bellini J., Rumrill P. (ed.), Research in Rehabilitation Counseling: A Guide to Design, Methodology, and Utilization. Charles C. Thomas, Springfield 1999, 151-173.
- 13. Niesz T., Koch L., Rumrill P.D., The empowerment of people with disabilities through qualitative research. Work, 2008, 31 (1), 113-125.[PubMed]
- 14. Riggen K., Ulrich D., The effects of sports participation on individuals with mental retardation. Adapt Phys ActivQ, 1993, 10 (1), 42-51.
- 15. Heller T., Hsieh K., Rimmer J.H., Attitudinal and psychosocial outcomes of a fitness and health education program on adults with Down syndrome. Am J MentRetard, 2004, 109 (2), 175-185.
- 16. Castagno K.S., A study of effects of an after school physical education program on self-concept of middle school EMR students. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, The University of Connecticut, Storrs 1991.
- 17. Tak-fai Lau J., Cheung C., Discriminatory attitudes to people with intellectual disability or mental health difficulty. Int Soc Work, 1999, 42 (4), 431-444, doi: 10.1177/002087289904200405.[Crossref]
- 18. Acton I.I., Zarbatany I., Interaction and performance within cooperative groups: effects on nonhandicapped students’ attitudes toward their mildly mentally retarded peers. Am J Ment Retard, 1988, 93 (1), 16-23.[PubMed]
- 19. Norins J., Parker R.C., Siperstein G.N., Impact of the Special Olympics World Games on the Attitudes of Youth in China. Available from: URL: http://www.specialolympics.org/uploadedFiles/LandingPage/WhatWeDo/Research_Studies_Desciption_Pages/ECNU%20final%20report.pdf [accessed March 2010].
- 20. Rees L., Spreen O., Harnadek M., Do attitudes towards persons with handicaps really shift over time? Comparison between 1975 and 1988. Ment Retard, 1991, 29 (2), 81-86.
- 21. Eigenbrood T., Retish P., Work experience employers’ attitudes regarding the employability of special education students. Career Dev Except Ind, 1988, 11 (1), 15-25, doi: 10.1177/088572888801100104.[Crossref]
- 22. McConkey R., McCormack B., Breaking Barriers: Educating people about disability. Souvenir Press, London 1983.
- 23. Arbour K.P., Latimer A.E., Martin Ginis K.A., Jung M.E., Moving beyond the stigma: The impression formation benefits of exercise for individuals with a physical disability. Adapt Phys Activ Q, 2007, 24 (2), 144-159.
- 24. Devine M., Wilhite B., The meaning of disability: Implications for inclusive leisure services for youth with and without disabilities. JPRA, 2000, 18 (3), 35-52.
- 25. Smith A.L., Peer relationships in physical activity contexts: A road less traveled in youth sport and exercise psychology research. Psychol Sport Exerc, 2003, 4 (1), 25-39, doi: 10.1016/S1469-0292(02)00015-8.[Crossref]
- 26. Seymour H., Reid G., Bloom G.A., Friendship in inclusive physical education. Adapt Phys Activ Q, 2009, 26 (3), 201-219.
- 27. Place K., Hodge S.R., Social inclusion of students with physical disabilities in general physical education: A behavioral analysis. Adapt Phys Activ Q, 2001, 18 (4), 389-404.
- 28. Spencer-Cavaliere N., Watkinson E.J., Inclusion understood from the perspectives of children with disability. Adapt Phys Activ Q, 2010, 27 (4), 275-293.
- 29. Giacobbi P.R., Stancil M., Hardin B., Bryant L., Physical activity and quality of life experienced by highly active individuals with physical disabilities. Adapt PhysActiv Q, 2008, 25 (3), 189-207.[PubMed]
- 30. Gutiérrez L.M., Working with women of color: An empowerment perspective. Soc Work, 1990, 35 (2), 149-153.
- 31. McWhirter E.H., Empowerment in counseling. J CounselDev, 1991, 69 (3), 222-227, doi: 10.1002/j.1556-6676. 1991.tb01491.x.[Crossref]
- 32. Block M.E., Obrusnikova I., Inclusion in physical education: A review of the literature from 1995-2005. AdaptPhys Activ Q, 2007, 24 (2), 103-124.
Publication order reference