An evaluation of quality participation experiences in the inclusion resource team program for individuals who have an intellectual disability


Individuals who have an intellectual disability (ID) face several barriers to community recreation, including a lack of suitable programs and social support. To address these barriers, the City of Mississauga and Community Living Mississauga (Ontario) developed the Inclusion Resource Team (IRT) program. This pilot program involves a one-on-one service delivery model where adults who have an ID are given the opportunity to engage in any recreation program offered by the City with the support of an inclusion facilitator. This study explored the participation experiences of IRT participants, caregivers, and staff. Participants (n=4), caregivers (n=6) and staff (n=21) took part in semi-structured interviews or focus groups to obtain program provider and end-user perspectives. A deductive thematic analysis was conducted using the six building blocks of quality experiences (autonomy, belonging, challenge, engagement, mastery, meaning) and environmental conditions (social and physical environment, activity characteristics) adapted from the Quality Participation Framework. Positive program experiences were discussed regarding participants' enhanced sense of autonomy, challenge, mastery, and meaning. Mixed experiences, however, were discussed for belonging and engagement. These experiences were often influenced by activity type, program size, and perceived quality of one-on-one support provided. Specifically, individually-focused activities with small class sizes and positive relationships with knowledgeable staff fostered a greater sense of engagement and belonging. Results will be used to refine the IRT program to increase the quality of community recreation experiences among adults who have an ID. These findings can also be used by other municipalities to develop inclusive recreation opportunities that foster quality participation.