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Essential points for adopting an inclusive physical activity philosophy

This is an excerpt from Inclusive Physical Activity, Second Edition by Susan Kasser and Rebecca Lytle.


With Inclusive Physical Activity learn how to outline a systematic approach to planning and implementing appropriate programs for individuals of varying abilities.

Rationale for Inclusive Physical Activity

Different people have different views about exactly what inclusion involves and how beneficial it is. Support of inclusive physical activity often varies across contexts and participant groups. Some practitioners oppose inclusive physical activity programs in educational settings but support them in recreational and leisure venues. Others support inclusive physical activity in recreational or educational settings but promote nonintegrated sport opportunities, such as the Paralympics. Also, some parents of children with less significant ability differences might support inclusive physical education for their child but oppose it for other children. For many people, opinions on inclusive practices vary according to the abilities of the individuals participating and the particular contexts and circumstances existing.

Inclusive environments have been generally supported in physical education (Block, 2007), community fitness facilities (Rimmer, 1999; Riley, Rimmer, Wang, & Schiller, 2008), and other physical activity and sport programs (DePauw & Doll-Tepper, 2000). A rationale for adopting an inclusive physical activity philosophy includes the following essential points:

  • Resource redundancy. There are two primary concerns regarding the resource redundancy issue. First, offering separate physical activity programs means requiring additional resources, including personnel, financial support, and facilities. This overlap or duplication increases resource requirements. Second, when resources are allocated to traditional programs that are not inclusive, some participants may not be provided the opportunities they otherwise could be. Inclusive physical activity programming reduces resource redundancy and extends the breadth of physical activity experiences to everyone desiring such opportunities.
  • Instructional individualization. The concept of instructional individualization is based on the practice that only individuals with disabilities are given individualized instruction and instructional support, whereas those without disability labels are typically grouped together and considered homogeneous in ability. In fact, no two participants function at exactly the same level. For example, within a class of third-graders, one child might excel in math and another in reading. The same is true in physical activity. One person might have great flexibility and another excellent eye–hand coordination. An inclusive physical activity philosophy supports all individuals receiving the necessary support and accommodations to achieve personal participation goals, regardless of label or setting.
  • Breadth of benefits. The benefits of inclusive physical activity are far-reaching, both for children in school-based physical education programs and for children and adults in programs conducted outside school settings, such as community-based exercise or activity programs, leisure and recreational experiences, or sport arenas. For all involved, benefits include a greater respect for individual differences and for the unique experiences each participant brings to the program (figure 1.6).


Read more from Inclusive Physical Activity, Second Edition by Susan Kasser and Rebecca Lytle.


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