Research

Do you know a young person aged 10-14 years?

Do they have a physical impairment?

Are they in a sports team or active recreation group? I want to hear from them about their experiences in sport and active recreation as a disabled young person

We’re not on the sideline, we are in the team

95,000 young New Zealander’s identify as disabled.

In Aotearoa New Zealand 1 in 4 people identify as disabled (Statistics New Zealand, 2013). For young people (0-14 years), this is estimated to be around 95,000, or 11% of their population.

Sport New Zealand (Sport NZ) acknowledges disabled young people are under-represented in participation in sport and active recreation in Aotearoa New Zealand. https://sportnz.org.nz/diversity-and-inclusion/disability/

During my time in the sector, I have observed disabled young people missing out, but I have also seen some fully engaged in sport and active recreation. Through hearing from these Young People with Physical Impairments (YPwI) who are active and engaged, I want to find out how more opportunities can be provided to get more disabled young people involved in sport and active recreation.

Put simply, the purpose of my research is to identify what positive factors influence YPwI’s participation in sport and active recreation in New Zealand. What gets them involved and what keeps them involved.

Why is this research needed?

While there is lots of research about inclusion in schools there is little that identifies the factors that contribute to the successful engagement of those YPwI who do participate in clubs and teams.  

One of the objectives of this research is to provide some practical outcomes for those wanting to become involved in disability sport provision. By identifying these arrangements and practices, illustrative case studies of what enables successful engagement can be articulated to sports organisations, as well as assisting in the development of future Government initiatives. Perhaps it will help support a move from ‘disability sport’, to a true sport for all system.

Ultimately, it is hoped the number of YPwI engaged in sport and active recreation in the future will increase, their participation rates improve, and that their experiences are positive and rewarding.

Research scope

The scope of this study means I only have the capacity to meet with 4 or 5 Young YPwI to hear directly from them about their experiences in sport and active recreation.

To ensure I get a range of perspectives and experiences, I have created a nomination questionnaire. The questionnaire is in 2 sections. The first about the YPwI. The second about their family/whānau. 

My aim is to include disabled young people who are of different ages and gender, have different impairments, come from different areas and participate in different sports and active recreation.

I also want to hear from family/whānau and coaches/group leaders. If the YPwI you nominate is selected, you will also be able to help with this research.

How can you help?

There’s a number of ways you can help. If you:

  • are family/whānau of a YPwI, talk to the YPwI in your household about this research. If they are interested in being part of this research or if you think they will be, please Nominate Here
  • are a coach/group leader who has a YPwI in our club/team/group, feel free to forward this information to family/whānau of the YPwI.
  • know a family with a YPwI who may be interested, please forward this information to family/whānau of the YPwI.

Ethics approval

This research has received ethical approval from the University of Waikato Human Research Ethics Committee on 6 May 2020 (HREC(Health)2020#25). 

How do you ensure confidentiality?

Participants’ confidentiality is very important. It is necessary to record your name and contact details so that I can contact you to take part in the study if the YPwI you nominated is selected. Your identity and theirs will be protected, unless you ask specifically for this not to occur.

Informed Consent

Each participant will be provided with more detailed information about the research, their role and their rights once selected. This informed consent process will also allow the YPwI to make the final decision as to whether they want to be included or not. This is not only to protect the YPwI but also to ensure those participating in this research have a good experience.

My research partners

My partners in this research include Te Huataki Wairoa – School of Health at the University of Waikato, dsport and Sport New Zealand.  This research is supported by a University of Waikato PhD Scholarship.

If you are interested in my research feel free to contact me cm289@students.waikato.ac.nz.


To gain insight into what factors contribute to a more inclusive experience, one where the critical components of the inclusion model, such as a sense of belonging, acceptance and value are considered, the perspectives of children with disabilities must be at the heart of the investigation

Spencer-Cavaliere and Watkinson (2010)


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