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Title:School-based extracurricular activity participation of high school youth with disabilities
Author(s):Gibbons, Colleen
Director of Research:McBride, Brent A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):McBride, Brent A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Ebata, Aaron T.; Hardesty, Jennifer L.; Shogren, Karrie A.
Department / Program:Human & Community Development
Discipline:Human & Community Development
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Extracurricular Activities
Youth Programs
Abstract:The current study explored the participation of high school students with disabilities in school-based extracurricular programs. Survey data were collected from 71 high school youth from 10 different schools in East Central Illinois. Interviews were conducted with a subset of nine high participating students and nine low or non-participating students, followed by interviews with parents. Data were also collected from 150 coaches and youth leaders via an online survey. With respect to participation, student survey participants demonstrated no significant differences in activity participation by disability type, race, age, grade, or gender. Students participated in a range of activities, including prosocial, performance, team sports, school involvement, and academic clubs. Of the 71 students who completed the survey, 45.1% (n = 32) do not currently participate, 39.4% (n = 28) participate in one activity, and 15.5% (n = 11) participate in multiple extracurricular activities. Most students chose to participate based on interest in the particular activities, but most also experienced some form of barrier to their participation. In their interviews, student participants discussed societal participation barriers enacted by their school peers. Parents who were interviewed explained both societal and structural barriers, although more emphasis was placed on societal barriers, enacted not just by peers, but also coaches and activity leaders. Coach and leader data indicated that leaders recognize students encounter barriers to their participation, but often do not understand the ways in which their perceptions of disability shape some of the barriers students with disabilities encounter. In some instances, student participation was affected by family boundaries, and both impairments and societal barriers were cited by parents as they established family boundaries. Students’ reported roles in both extracurricular activities and within their families were relatively straightforward. Almost all students explained their roles without perceiving disability to be a major influence. This was not the case for parents, however, and many parents, specifically parents of children with more involved or visible disabilities, defined their roles in their children’s participation as being affected either by their children’s impairments or societal barriers, or both. While interview participants were selected based upon their level and range of participation, findings suggest that there are not substantive differences in the barriers experienced by students who are high participators, or students who are low participators. In general, students participate based upon their interests, and are facilitated in or discouraged from participating by parents based on established boundaries and roles. While there were differences among students with disabilities in their experiences of barriers, establishment of family boundaries, and acting of roles related to participation, distinctive patterns among students who were high participators and students who were low participators did not emerge. In this sense, participation was a situational experience for students with disabilities, with each student negotiating his or her disability identity as participation occurred. Implications for further research as well as implications for families and school settings are discussed.
Issue Date:2013-05-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Colleen M Gibbons
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-05-24
Date Deposited:2013-05

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