Utilizing knowledge translation to enhance quality participation in recreational sport programming for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities


Despite advancements in disability sport research, program providers are not always equipped with the knowledge and resources to ensure they are meeting the needs and participation priorities of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). To address these needs, our team partnered with Special Olympics Canada – the largest national organization dedicated to providing sport opportunities to persons with IDD – to encourage high-quality, evidence-based sport programming across Canada for children with IDD. Specifically, we engaged in an integrated knowledge translation process to apply and mobilize quality participation evidence to improve the sport experiences of children with IDD. Informed by the Knowledge-to-Action framework's eight-phase action cycle, we adapted the Canadian Disability Participation Project's Blueprint for Building Quality Participation to the Special Olympics Canada's context using evidence from a related systematic scoping review, and insights from provincial/territorial Youth Development Coordinators and program leader training materials. Succeeding this, we assessed the barriers and facilitators to the adapted quality participation knowledge tool from the perspectives of Youth Development Coordinators. Based on their feedback, two quality participation knowledge tools resulted: (1) the Special Olympics Canada Blueprint for program leader education and (2) the Special Olympics Canada Self-Reflection and Improvement Tool for program leader self-assessment. Data were collected using a variety of methods including expert consultation, focus groups, cross-sectional and Delphi surveys. Key lessons learned were determining the decision-makers, expectations, and timeline early on, utilizing the strengths of the stakeholders involved, seeking feedback at every phase, and remaining flexible, yet, committed to addressing the problem.