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Search for Best Practices in Inclusive Recreation: Preliminary Findings

Stuart J. Schleien, Kimberly D. Miller, Mary Shea

Abstract


In its adoption of a Position Statement Inclusion, the National Recreation and Park Association made a clear statement on the value of inclusive service delivery to participants with and without disabilities and the broader community. Numerous professional practices designed to facilitate inclusive community recreation have been developed, field tested, and disseminated. Despite major federal disability rights legislation and broad dissemination of these inclusive practices, they are not commonly practiced in most community recreation agencies. This article presents results of one key component of a comprehensive, qualitative research project designed to study best practices that result in inclusive and sustainable community recreation at administrative, programmatic, and consumer levels. The focus of this article is on administrative-level approaches used within agencies.

Through interviews with field leaders and reviews of published reports and relevant literature, a list of agencies perceived to be providing exemplary inclusive service delivery was generated. Criteria based on promising practices were established, and the sample agency group was fine-tuned to 15 agencies that represented a wide range of geographic regions and community sizes. Audio-recorded interviews were conducted with an administrator and/or inclusion facilitator at each agency using a semi-structured interview guide of concepts informed by a review of literature. Constant comparison methodology was used for data analysis.

The primary theme emerging from the data was that a cookie-cutter approach to inclusive service delivery did not exist. While promising practices were used in these agencies, the implementation and interpretation of these approaches varied widely. Practical implications of the findings include the need for: (a) administrative support demonstrated by connecting inclusion to the central mission of the agency and establishing and communicating inclusive service delivery as an agency priority, (b) hiring practices that include the designation of a CTRS as an inclusion facilitator with strong skills in bridge-building and communication, and hiring and training general recreation staff who endorse the inclusive culture of the agency, and (c) a budget that reflects inclusion by providing necessary supports and accommodations for participants with disabilities and capital improvement for increased physical access.?


Keywords


Administrative strategies, best practices, community recreation, inclusion, inclusive recreation, inclusive service delivery, promising practices

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