The Empowerment Model: Turning Barriers into Possibilities


  • Thomas E. Moran
  • Danette C. Gibbs
  • Lauren Mernin


empowerment, community-based programs, barriers to participation, individuals with disabilities, physical activity


There are many barriers that participants with disabilities face when attempting to participate in community-based organized physical activity programs (e.g., sports). In this article, we briefly discuss specific barriers that inhibit one’s ability to successfully participate in community-based physical activity programs and present a model to overcome these barriers. The Empowerment Model, based on empowerment theory (Perkins & Zimmerman, 1995; Sadan, 1997; Zimmerman, 1995, 2000), is a training and implementation model designed specifically to address many of the identified barriers. The model is meant to empower four distinct, but interrelated parties: individuals with disabilities; parents; teachers/instructors; and community-based programs. The Demand-Response approach of the article identifies the barriers to successful participation and then discusses how a given element(s) of the Empowerment Model provides potential solutions to assist in turning these barriers into possibilities.  

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