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


  • Semra Aytur University of New Hampshirre
  • Patricia Jean Craig University of New Hampshire
  • Matt Frye University of New Hampshire
  • Mark Bonica Univ of New Hampshire
  • Sara Rainer University of New Hampshire, Institute on Disability
  • Laura Hapke UNH, Dept of RMP
  • Matt McGilvray Northeast Passage, A Program of the Univ of NH



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


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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Author Biographies

Semra Aytur, University of New Hampshirre

Associate Professor, Dept of Health Management and Policy

Patricia Jean Craig, University of New Hampshire

Associate Professor in the Dept of Recreation Management and Policy

Matt Frye, University of New Hampshire

Clinical Assistant Professor, Dept of Recreaton Managment and Policy

Mark Bonica, Univ of New Hampshire

Assistant Professor in the Dept of Health Management and Policy

Sara Rainer, University of New Hampshire, Institute on Disability

Project Manager, NH Disability and Public Health Project

Laura Hapke, UNH, Dept of RMP

2nd year graduate student in Therapeutic Recreation Administration option

Matt McGilvray, Northeast Passage, A Program of the Univ of NH

Program Specialist in the Northeast Passage Competitive Sports Program





Special Issue: Therapeutic Recreation in a Digital World, Part II