An Emerging Model for Grassroots Paralympic Sport Development: A Comparative Case Study

By Anjali J. Forber-Pratt, Jennifer A. Scott and Jean Driscoll.

Published by The Sport Collection

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The purpose of this comparative case study was to provide an analysis and gain deeper understanding about grassroots Paralympic sport development. Case study research, with data collected from unstructured observations from researcher field notes, fieldwork, evaluations and informal interviews, was used to capture experiences from two countries at various stages in developing Paralympic sport. Analysis was performed using a modified van Kaam approach. To successfully develop Paralympic sport, the following emerged as important to consider: 1) culture, 2) the current state of affairs for persons with disabilities (i.e., policies, demographics, healthcare, education), 3) existing opportunities and services, 4) having a strong project leader, and 5) level of interest in Paralympic sport. These data allowed for the creation of a preliminary model for developing Paralympic sport in underrepresented nations. This model, while specific to Ghana and Bermuda, can be used as a guide for grassroots para-sport development worldwide. Existing literature demonstrates that disability sport is important to health, psychosocial well-being and identity; however, the impact sport participation has is greater in nations where stigma surrounds disability. Therefore, sport can be used as a catalyst for social change. This case study indicates that the critical pieces for successful Paralympic sport development include: high level of investment from key stakeholders, community support, and multidisciplinary collaboration among existing sport and disability agencies.

Keywords: Disability, Sport Development, Underrepresented Nations, Paralympic

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 3, Issue 1, 2012, pp.55-67. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 925.261KB).

Dr. Anjali J. Forber-Pratt

PhD, College of Education, College of Applied Health Science, International Disability Sport Outreach Program, Champaign, IL, USA

Dr. Anjali J. Forber-Pratt earned her degree in Human Resource Education from the Department of Education, Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her studies have allowed for a unique intersection of her athletic background as a Paralympic medalist with her passion for helping others recognize their own potential. Her research interests center around individuals who are not given a chance, or who are left on the sidelines. In order to help these individuals, Forber-Pratt travels the world presenting regularly at conferences, schools, and seminars sharing her story, educating about differences and influencing disability policy. Additionally, she co-wrote a children’s educational coloring book, “Color Learn and Play: All About Sports for Athletes with Physical Disabilities”. Forber-Pratt is passionate about helping to transform perceptions of what it means to be different, helping others accept their own differences, and motivating others to take action in their own lives and communities. Forber-Pratt earned a B.S. in Speech and Hearing Science with highest honors from the University of Illinois in 2006 and a M.A. in Speech Language Pathology in 2007 and her PhD in 2012.

Jennifer A. Scott

Consultant, College of Applied Health Sciences, International Disability Sport Outreach Program, Champaign, IL, USA

Jennifer A. Scott, a graduate from the University of Illinois, is a former dual sport wheelchair athlete. She has travelled to Ghana, Kenya and Japan helping to further the disability rights movement in these respective nations. Jennifer earned a B.S. in Kinesiology with honors from the University of Illinois in 2004 and a M.S. in Kinesiology in 2007.

Jean Driscoll

Assistant Dean of Advancement, College of Applied Health Sciences, International Disability Sport Outreach Program, Champaign, IL, USA

Jean Driscoll is currently the Assistant Dean of Advancement in the College of Applied Health Sciences. She is a world-renowned wheelchair athlete who is a two-time winner of the Olympic Silver Medal and eight-time winner of the Boston Marathon. Jean is an accomplished athlete and a global advocate for disabled individuals and athletes. She is responsible for starting the International Disability Sport Outreach Program. Jean has been doing work in Ghana since 2001. Jean earned a B.A. in Speech Communication with honors from the University of Illinois in 1991 and a M.S. in Rehabilitation Administration in 1993.