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Promoting social inclusion through Unified Sports for youth with intellectual disabilities: a five-nation study

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McConkey, Roy, Dowling, Sandra, Hassan, David and Menke, Sabine (2013) Promoting social inclusion through Unified Sports for youth with intellectual disabilities: a five-nation study. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 57 (10). pp. 923-935. [Journal article]

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DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2012.01587.x


Background Although the promotion of socialinclusion through sports has received increasedattention with other disadvantaged groups, this isnot the case for children and adults with intellectualdisability who experience marked social isolation.The study evaluated the outcomes from onesports programme with particular reference to theprocesses that were perceived to enhance socialinclusion.Method TheYouth Unified Sports programme ofSpecial Olympics combines players with intellectualdisabilities (called athletes) and those without intellectualdisabilities (called partners) of similar skilllevel in the same sports teams for training and competition.Alongside the development of sportingskills, the programme offers athletes a platform tosocialise with peers and to take part in the life oftheir community. Unified football and basketballteams from five countries – Germany, Hungary,Poland, Serbia and Ukraine – participated. Individualand group interviews were held with athletes,partners, coaches, parents and community leaders:totalling around 40 informants per country.Results Qualitative data analysis identified fourthematic processes that were perceived by informantsacross all countries and the two sports tofacilitate social inclusion of athletes. These were: (1)the personal development of athletes and partners;(2) the creation of inclusive and equal bonds; (3)the promotion of positive perceptions of athletes;and (4) building alliances within local communities.Conclusions Unified Sports does provide a vehiclefor promoting the social inclusion of people withintellectual disabilities that is theoretically crediblein terms of social capital scholarship and whichcontains lessons for advancing social inclusion inother contexts. Nonetheless, certain limitations areidentified that require further consideration toenhance athletes’ social inclusion in the widercommunity.

Item Type:Journal article
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Life and Health Sciences
Faculty of Life and Health Sciences > School of Nursing
Faculty of Life and Health Sciences > Ulster Sports Academy
Research Institutes and Groups:Institute of Nursing and Health Research
Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute
Institute of Nursing and Health Research > Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute > Centre for Sport in Society
ID Code:22813
Deposited By:Prof Roy McConkey
Deposited On:19 Jul 2012 10:05
Last Modified:25 Sep 2013 11:20

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