Place, presence and participation: Disabled young people’s social inclusion through wheelchair basketball.

Authors: Laura Bates*, University of Auckland, Robin Kearns, University of Auckland, Penelope Carroll, Massey University, Karen Witten, Massey University
Topics: Disabilities
Keywords: Disability, social inclusion, wheelchair basketball, New Zealand
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Estherwood, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Concerns for disabled people’s participation and social inclusion in a range of life contexts are heightened for disabled young people, who are often marginalised on the basis of both their age and their disability. This paper investigates disabled young people’s participation and inclusion in places of recreational sports. We focus on a case study of the Auckland WheelStarz, New Zealand’s only youth-specific wheelchair basketball team. We situate the study at the intersection of geographies of disabilities and geographies of sports. It adopts a methodological approach aligned with the social model of disability, including semi-structured interviews with team members and team coordinators. Interviewees identified a number of challenges faced by young wheelchair basketball participants, as well as those associated with the provision of youth-oriented sports opportunities. Team members and coordinators also indicated that wheelchair basketball can have positive implications for disabled young people’s place-based experiences of participation and sense of belonging. Results highlight the need for greater societal awareness, acceptance and facilitation of opportunities for disabled young people to participate fully in recreational sports places and activities and, by extension, to enhance their overall wellbeing. The study allows us to conceptualise the potential for ‘adaptive’ sports to enable disabled young people’s social inclusion in daily life and in spaces offside/outside of the basketball court and recreation centre. We conclude that youth-specific, inclusive sports opportunities can play an important role in ensuring social inclusion of/for disabled young people.

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