All people, without or without disabilities, gain the same benefits from maintaining healthy, active lifestyles and suffer from the same health problems related to obesity.
Therefore, it’s essential that our schools focus on helping all students become active, maintain healthy weights, and prepare to be active adults. Reaching children with disabilities through the schools is vital because, as Lauren Lieberman and Cathy Houston-Wilson write in the second edition of Strategies for Inclusion (2009, p.1), "more than 93 percent of children with disabilities are included in public schools."
Lieberman and Houston-Wilson have dedicated their careers to helping physical educators include all students in the regular physical education curriculum. They have found that when good physical educators modify their curriculum to include all students, not only do the students with disabilities benefit, but students without disabilities do as well. The authors cite research showing that inclusive classes can help all students improve social skills and personal development to a greater degree than noninclusive classes.
“Sport is understood, respected, and practiced around the world; it is universal. Whether you are watching the Super Bowl or a game of wheelchair basketball, the common ground is that you are watching sport. Sport, to include disability sport, can be taught to students with and without disabilities in your physical education classes.”
— Dr. Davis
Dr. Ronald Davis echoes the value of inclusion. In the preface of his new book, Teaching Disability Sport: A Guide for Physical Educators (due out December 2010), he writes, "We need to create opportunities for students without disabilities to exercise and engage in activities that promote movement and social engagement and address health concerns. Students with disabilities need these opportunities for the same reasons and at the same frequency—that is, a minimum of 150 minutes per week (CDC, 1997). Learning to teach disability sport during your PETE programs enhances the likelihood that you will continue to do so as a teacher. Disability sport units will increase exercise frequency and help address health risk concerns facing all students, especially those with disabilities."
Once students with disabilities graduate from school they need to have opportunities to continue their active lifestyles as adults through enjoyable activities. Wheelchair sport offers one such avenue. As Vicky Goosey-Tolfrey, editor of Wheelchair Sport, writes, "Each year thousands of men and women become disabled due to an accident or illness and thereafter use wheelchairs for locomotion. The statistics tell us that there are approximately 1 to 2 million wheelchair users in the United States and approximately 1 to 2 million wheelchair users in Europe. This means that approximately 1 in every 200 people in the United States and Europe are in wheelchairs.” Tolfrey advocates for increased opportunities for wheelchair athletes to be recruited, nurtured, and developed within their respective sports. Wheelchair Sport provides coaches, teachers, physical trainers, sport scientists, rehabilitation practitioners, and wheelchair users the information to do just that.
Human Kinetics Publishers is dedicated to producing resources that promote physical activity for all people of all abilities. We are proud of the outstanding authors we work with and the beneficial resources we offer.