U of S researcher exploring rural opportunities for athletes with disabilities

College of Nursing Assistant Professor Janet McCabe has been awarded $7,500 from Special Olympics Canada to identify factors that influence participation of rural athletes with intellectual disabilities in Special Olympic programs.

"I have witnessed firsthand the benefits of Special Olympic programming for individuals, from a physical and mental health perspective," said McCabe. "Engagement in sport is more than simply being active, it provides participants with an opportunity to socialize, be mentored, develop independence, learn valuable life skills and be champions in their home communities."

Her project "Building Capacity in Rural Communities - Understanding Barriers to Sports Participation by Children and Youth with Intellectual Disabilities," is co-investigated with Laurie Hellsten-Bzovey and Laureen McIntyre in the College of Education.

"We are excited to be working alongside Janet and the great team of researchers from the University of Saskatchewan," said Abigail Frasz, youth development co-ordinator with Special Olympics Saskatchewan.  "We believe this research project will serve as a tool to better understand how we can make youth programs, as well as adult programs, more accessible in rural areas. The results, undoubtedly, will provide useful information for our program outlines."

The researchers on the project hope the information collected will give Special Olympics Canada an understanding of the unique needs of athletes and potential athletes living in rural areas, and identify the obstacles faced by athletes and their families in relation to participation.

"To educate these families on the many benefits of our sport programs, we need to first understand the barriers they face and which factors may be keeping them from becoming involved," said Frasz.  "We are looking forward to reviewing the data so we can begin to better our programs province-wide."


For more information, contact:

Jennifer Thoma

Media relations

University of Saskatchewan


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