Why are we doing this research?
Physical activity (PA) is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, yet accessible opportunities are slim for those with disabilities. PA is integral to children’s health, growth, fitness, and psychological wellbeing. Youth with disabilities are more susceptible to chronic physical and psychosocial health conditions than typically developing youth. However, these conditions are not inevitable and participation in regular PA can reduce the risk of and/or ameliorate many of these problems. Factors contributing to low levels of participation in PA by youth with disabilities are complex, but though to be due to environmental barriers, economic issues, social barriers, low self-esteem, and lack of information, transportation, trained staff, and a support system. The need for formal programs is of utmost importance for adolescents, as the number of available programs for youth declines with age, and adolescents are less likely to participate in inclusive environments due to social issues. An inclusive environment is one in which both typically developing youth and those with disabilities can participate. Social barriers are particularly important for adolescents, as cognitive development leads to increased awareness of differences in skills between typically developing children and those with disabilities.