Improving environments to encourage more children with disabilities to participate in leisure activities
Despite advances in policies designed to promote inclusion; children with disabilities are often excluded from participating in recreation and leisure activities and participate far less than other children. Dr. Patty Rigby, a senior scientist at Holland Bloorview Research Institute, and occupational therapist, is working on research to better understand the experiences of children with disabilities and how environmental factors, (e.g. physical, social, cultural attitudes, services and policies) influence children and their family’s participation in daily life. Barriers to participation can include the lack of additional social supports to help children participate, the lack of expanded transportation services to participate in after-school activities and sometimes physical barriers that prevent children from accessing a building. Dr. Rigby asks if we are doing enough to shape environments and services to meet the individual needs of children and their families. She hopes that by considering the influence of the environment when designing and evaluating services, more children will be encouraged to take part in meaningful and enjoyable experiences, resulting in greater inclusion in childhood activities, improved quality of life and long-term positive development benefits.