The Rationale and Benefits of Sport Participation for Youth of All Abilities



The Rationale and Benefits of Sport Participation for Youth of All Abilities


Two girls who use wheelchairs are dressed in colorful cycling shirts and helmets as they smile at the camera.
Two girls who use wheelchairs are dressed in colorful cycling shirts and helmets as they smile at the camera.

Play is to the child what thinking, planning, and blueprinting are to the adult, a trial universe in which conditions are simplified and methods exploratory, so that past failures can be thought through, expectations tested.

Erik Erikson, 1902-1994

Erikson was an American psychoanalyst specializing in child psychology. In his most influential work, Childhood and Society (1950), he divided the human life cycle into eight psychosocial stages of development. His later works deal with ethical concerns in the modern world (Friedman, 1999).

In 1996, the Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health documented research that indicated men and women of all ages and abilities can improve their quality of life through regular, moderate physical activity. The recently published 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans describe the types and amounts of physical activity that offer substantial health benefits to all Americans, including those with disabilities. These science-based guidelines were designed to help individuals with disabilities aged 6 and older improve their health through appropriate physical activity. Although there are public policies in place to safeguard the educational and civil rights of people with disabilities, individuals, particularly youth, face limited access to the range of activities, programs, and services that promote healthy living. Through access to well-researched information regarding conditions, methods of preventive health efforts, and participation in physical exercise and sports, the benefits for youth with disabilities are now being recognized (Wells, 1990).






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