Anderson, Kevin Kalin; Ph.D.
Program of Education;
College of Human Development and Education; North Dakota State University
Participation and Children with Physical Disabilities: A Program Evaluation of a Physical Activity Curriculum for Children with Physical Disabilities in the Fargo Moorhead Area
Major Professor: Dr. Kathy Enger
The purpose of the study was to measure the impact of active participation in meaningful activity for children with physical disabilities. A needs assessment was conducted prior to creation of the research design. Findings of the needs assessment included the identification of children’s needs in the Fargo Moorhead community, a review of recreational mobility opportunities currently available in the community, and feedback from caregivers regarding the unique needs of each child and the quality of available opportunities. The following research questions were proposed to measure the impact of active participation: (a) What are children with physical disabilities able to do physically? (b) What do caregivers perceive that their children with physical disabilities are able to do physically? (c) What do children with physical disabilities perceive that they are able to do physically? (d) What is the level of progress children with physical disabilities can make while participating in a community-based recreation program? (e) How do the perceptions of physical activity correlate with actual performance?
A program evaluation of a local children’s fitness center, TNT Kid’s Fitness, was conducted in the summer of 2010 using a single-subject, multiple measures research design. Findings indicated that involvement in recreational mobility opportunities over a 9-week period did not result in physical activity change that was statistically significant. Caregivers, however, did perceive an increase in physical activity over the course of a 9-week session of physical activity. Additional findings suggest that there are other effects or variables that may significantly impact how children with physical disabilities benefit from participation in recreational mobility activities. Results of this study provide support for the belief that all children need physical activity, and children with physical disabilities need greater opportunities to participate in physical activity that are currently available in the local community and beyond.