Impact, feasibility, and assessment of virtual physical activity programming for individuals with disabilities
LE3 .A278 2022
Bachelor of Kinesiology
Despite its known benefits, physical activity levels have consistently been lower than recommended among Canadian youth and adults, with levels even lower for those individuals with disabilities. These levels further plummeted through the COVID-19 pandemic due to in-person program restrictions. To combat the lack of program opportunities, the Acadia S.M.I.L.E. program reinvented the typical session into a virtual format. The purpose of this study was to observe and assess the effectiveness, impact, and feasibility of virtual physical activity programming for individuals with disabilities. The program was implemented for eight weeks between September and December of 2020. Three weeks throughout the term, a live virtual programming session occurred in addition to the weekly At-Home Activity Guides that were sent. A mixed-methodological case study approach was used to observe the effects of the program on functioning, physical literacy, physical activity of the participant, and support, regulation, and physical activity behaviours of the caregiver. Paired samples t-test analysis (p ≤ 0.05) of pre and post programming surveys showed no significant difference in physical literacy, physical activity, or caregiver support behaviours and weekly surveys showed low participation (μ=42.3%) with the At-Home Activity guides. Thematic analysis of caregiver and leader interviews presented five prominent themes: (a) program impact on physical activity, (b) virtual impact on programming, (c) program impact on social, cognitive, and motor goals, (d) impact of program design, and (e) program feasibility for families. Analysis of quantitative and qualitative data presented flaws within program creation yet showed the program to be beneficial for the physical literacy and physical activity of the participants. Future application of this program is to increase accessibility of the S.M.I.L.E. program and additional research should be conducted to further understand the effects of virtual physical literacy and physical activity programming.
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