Leveling the Playing Field: Assessing Physical Literacy in Children and Youth with Physical Disabilities
Introduction: Research indicates that there are challenges associated with individuals with a disability acquiring mature movement patterns similar to their able-bodied peers (Capio, Sit & Abernethy, 2011), resulting in the notion that they are physically illiterate. Additionally, the benefits of physical literacy (PL) have not been comprehensively investigated in children/youth with disabilities, nor is there a reliable tool to assess PL in this population. Purpose: The main purpose of this research is to pilot a PL assessment tool for children/youth with physical disabilities. Methods: By modifying elements from Canadian Sport for Life’s Physical Literacy Assessment for Youth (PLAY), participants recruited from two recreation programs will take part in a pre- and post-test assessment using the amended tool. Lived experiences are also documented using semi-structured interviews. Results: Results indicate that everyone, regardless of ability, can be physically literate. Participants’ scores in individual PLAYSelf categories paralleled their ranking of PL as the most significant category of literacy. However, this was contradicted by ~70% of participants who testified to partaking in sedentary activities during their leisure time and reported limited participation in a wide range of physical activities. Conclusions: PL is an inclusive concept accessible to all and represents a unique journey for each person. The revised PL assessment tool represents the multidimensional facets of PL, but improvement is necessary to accommodate Paralympic or adapted sports/activities in the PLAYInventory questionnaire. Future research should look to comprehensively assess levels of physical literacy in individuals with any disability or exceptionality.