The Effect of an Outdoor Recreation Program on Individuals With Disabilities and their Family Members: A Case Study


  • Travis Dorsch Utah State University
  • K. Andrew R. Richards
  • Jessica Swain
  • Myles Maxey



Physical activity, Therapeutic recreation, Family systems theory, Grounded theory, APIE process


Efforts to understand physical activity and its potential effect on psychosocial well-being have been extensive (Blick et al., 2015; Folkins, 1976). Physical activity has been shown to improve psychological wellness, and benefits are enhanced when activities are performed outdoors (Boden & Hartig, 2003). Common Ground was established to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities through outdoor recreation. Informed by general and family systems theory, the present qualitative case study was designed to develop an in-depth understanding of Common Ground, an outdoor recreation program for individuals with disabilities. Results of three semi-structured focus groups offer a breadth of perspectives on the effect of Common Ground on program participants and their family members, and how outdoor recreation opportunities help reduce stereotypes, while empowering participants to realize their full potential. This work has the potential to inform therapeutic recreation research and enhance the provision of recreation services to individuals with disabilities. 

Author Biographies

K. Andrew R. Richards

K. Andrew R. Richards is an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Alabama. 

Jessica Swain

Jessica Swain is an undergraduate researcher in the Families in Sport Lab, Department of Family, Consumer, and Human Development, Utah State University. 

Myles Maxey

Myles Maxey is a graduate researcher in the Department of Family, Consumer, and Human Development, Utah State University. 





Regular Papers