We're a lot closer, we talk more": Family experiences following children and adolescents' participation in an adapted physical activity camp


Negative familial attitudes toward physical activity (PA) have been cited as a barrier to participation for children and adolescents living with a disability. In order to change these negative perceptions, it is important to learn about families' experiences following their child's participation in adapted PA programs. The purpose of this study was to examine family members' perspectives regarding family relationships as they relate to their child's participation in an adapted summer sport and physical activity camp. This study was informed by the social relational model of disability and Bowen's family systems theory. A collective case study was conducted with eleven families who had a child living with a disability who participated in an adapted PA summer camp. A focus group was conducted with each family and data were analyzed using reflexive thematic analysis. Themes included: (1) families saw the child living with a disability differently, (2) the child was confident discussing their disability with their family members, (3) parents felt comfortable allowing their child to be independent, (4) family members bonded through participating in PA together. Families also experienced frustration, worry, and strained family relationships after being unable to participate in the camp as a result of COVID-19. These findings can be used to help adapted PA practitioners address barriers to participation related to familial attitudes. This knowledge can enhance practitioners' ability to create programs that positively impact families.