Utilizing Knowledge Translation to Enhance Quality Participation in Recreational Sport Programming for Children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

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Bruno, Natasha
quality participation , quality experiences , intellectual disability , developmental disability , sport , knowledge translation
For children with an intellectual and developmental disability (IDD), meaningful inclusion in sport can lead to many physical and psychosocial benefits such as improved motor skills, self-esteem, and social skills. Accordingly, investigators have begun to explore the ways in which sport participation environments should be designed and programs be implemented to promote these valued outcomes for children with IDD. Despite advancements in disability sport research, program providers are not always equipped with the knowledge and resources to ensure they are meeting the needs and participation priorities of children with IDD. To address these needs, our team partnered with Special Olympics Canada – the largest national organization dedicated to providing sport opportunities to persons with IDD – to encourage high-quality, evidence-based sport programming across Canada for children with IDD. Specifically, we engaged in an integrated knowledge translation process to apply and mobilize quality participation evidence to improve the sport experiences of children with IDD participating in Special Olympics Canada Active Start (i.e., ages 2-6 years) and Fundamentals (i.e., ages 7-12 years) sport programs. Informed by the knowledge-to-action framework’s eight-phase action cycle, my thesis work adapted the Canadian Disability Participation Project’s Blueprint for Building Quality Participation to Special Olympics Canada’s context using evidence from a related systematic scoping review as well as insights from Special Olympics Canada provincial Youth Development Coordinators, and Active Start and FUNdamentals program leader training materials. Succeeding this, I assessed the perceived barriers and facilitators of the adapted quality participation knowledge tool from the perspectives of provincial Youth Development Coordinators. Based on their feedback, two quality participation knowledge tools resulted: (1) the Special Olympics Canada Blueprint for program leader education and (2) the Special Olympics Canada Special Olympics Canada Program Audit and Improvement Tool for program leader self-reflection. Key findings and lessons learned for adapting, assessing and tailoring knowledge are presented to guide future integrated knowledge translation partnerships. By elucidating the phases of the action cycle, we hope to encourage future initiatives geared towards translating knowledge into action in the field of disability and sport.
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