Inclusive Community Leisure Services: Recommended Professional Practices and Barriers Encountered
Keywords:Barriers, Camps, Community Education, Community Recreation, Inclusion, Jewish Community Center, Recommended Professional Practices, Recreation, Survey, Therapeutic Recreation, YMCA
AbstractStatewide studies conducted throughout the United States during the past 2 decades focusing on community recreation programming for people with disabilities have found these services to be lacking. Confusion regarding programmatic responsibility, and a paucity of available inclusive recreation curricula, were pervasive among recreation agencies in the states studied. In this study, 484 community leisure service agencies were surveyed to determine if recommended professional practices for inclusive recreation programming were being implemented and by whom. This sample included parks and recreation departments, community education departments, YMCAs, YMCA camps, and Jewish Community Centers throughout Minnesota. The purpose of this study was to identify the barriers these agencies encountered and inclusive practices they employed. Analysis revealed no statistically significant differences in the manner with which agencies of different types, city size, or survey form (i.e., mail or telephone) responded to the survey questions. Concerning barriers to successful community recreation inclusion, agencies reported financial constraints (e.g., insufficient funds for hiring disability specialists, securing additional equipment) and staffing constraints (e.g., perceived staff skill deficiencies and participant-to-staff ratio inadequacies) as the two prevalent obstacles preventing the provision of inclusive programming. The most often cited "organizational" practices used to successfully include people with disabilities included collaborative program planning (e.g., agency staff work closely with family members in designing programs) and the use of marketing strategies to reach participants of varying abilities. "Programmatic" practices, which were cited more frequently than organizational practices, most often included the use of adaptations and the conducting of formative evaluations. These findings are then compared to previous statewide studies. Recommendations for future research studies complete the article.
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