A snapshot of quality participation in physical activity for individuals with developmental disabilities: A photo-elicitation study


Not only do adults with disabilities have a right to participate, they have the right to quality participation: a participation experience that is perceived as satisfying, enjoyable and generates valued outcomes. Research has exclusively explored how quality participation is experienced for adults with physical disabilities. Six quality elements have emerged that contribute to a quality experience: autonomy, belongingness, challenge, engagement, meaning and mastery. The purpose of this study was to explore the subjective experience of participation to understand how a community-based physical activity program (CBPAPs) for adults with developmental disabilities foster quality participation. Eleven adults with developmental disabilities were given a disposable camera to take photos of their participation experience in a CBPAP. Participants discussed their photos in a semi-structured interview, which was analyzed using thematic analysis. Three strategies for fostering quality elements were discussed: positive social relationships, the role of a volunteer and the adaptability of the program. Participants described how developing and maintaining social relationships within their program fostered engagement and belongingness. Participants also discussed how their relationship with volunteers fostered the elements of mastery, engagement, challenge and belongingness. Finally, participants discussed the importance of the program being adaptable to suit their needs, which fostered mastery, engagement and challenge. This is the first study to investigate the subjective experience of CBPAP participation for individuals with developmental disabilities. Results highlight factors within a CBPAP important for fostering quality elements among individuals with developmental disabilities.