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Through the Lens of a Camera: Exploring the Meaning of Competitive Sport Participation Among Youth Athletes with Disabilities

Semra Aytur, Patricia Jean Craig, Matt Frye, Mark Bonica, Sara Rainer, Laura Hapke, Matt McGilvray


This study explores the meaning of competitive sports participation among youth athletes with disabilities who are members of a sled hockey team affiliated with a community-based therapeutic recreation (TR) and adaptive sports organization. The study draws upon theories of Social Role Valorization and Perceived Freedom in Leisure, and employs the Socio-Ecological Model to (a) examine the role of adaptive sports programs as bridging organizations, mediating the space between individual capacities, collective identities, and valued social roles for youth with disabilities; and (b) identify barriers and enablers of participation. Photovoice was employed utilizing the template analytic method. Findings suggest that competitive sports participation: (1) facilitates identification with valued social roles, (2) supports outcomes associated with Perceived Freedom in Leisure, and (3) empowers youth with disabilities to discuss barriers and enablers to social inclusion. This study highlights the role of Photovoice as a tool for informing TR and adaptive sport practice, and facilitating

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Adaptive Sports; Participatory Action Research; Photovoice; Social Role Valorization; Socio-Ecological Model; Youth Athletes with Disabilities

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