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Strategies to Improve Physical Activity Involvement for Children with Exceptionalities: Exploring Teachers' and Parents' Perceptions and Experiences



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In this thesis, the focus is on the specific strategies parents and educators are using to encourage children with exceptionalities, particularly children with a learning disability, intellectual disability, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and autism spectrum disorder, to be involved in physical activity. As defined by Caspersen et al. (1985), physical activity is any bodily movement by skeletal muscles that expends energy. Recent statistics have reported the recommended amounts of physical activity for children compared to what they are actually engaging in. The Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth (2016) recommends that children aged 5-17 accumulate 60 minutes of physical activity per day, meaning moderate-to-vigorous physical activity involving aerobic activities, coupled with light physical activity involving a range of structured and unstructured physical activities. In comparison, a recent health report shows that only one-third of children are able to meet this recommendation (Colley et al., 2017). Further research shows that children with exceptionalities are participating in physical activity even less than children without exceptionalities, and as a result, are overweight, less physically fit, less motor proficient, fatigued, and in pain (Carlon et al., 2013; Davis et al., 2010; Frey & Chow, 2006; Frey, Stanish & Temple, 2008; Rimmer, 2005). Children with exceptionalities participating infrequently in physical activity is a major problem, as physical activity can have a key impact on the overall health and well-being of a child, designated by five health and well-being indicators: cognitive development, which includes facets such as the acquisition of reading, writing, and numeracy skills; physical health and well-being, which focuses on the absence of disease through markers such as good eating habits and having opportunities for recreational activities; social relationships, defined by the relationships that the child engages in with parents, teachers, coaches, and teachers that are close, trusted, caring, and accepting; mental and emotional health and well-being, where a child possesses characteristics such as optimism, positive self-worth, and a stability; and economic and material health and well-being, where a child has access to nutritious food, adequate housing and clothing (Canadian Institute for Health Information, 2013). Although numerous studies demonstrate the importance of physical activity for all children, including those with exceptionalities, in relation to these five health and well-being indicators (Bell et al, 2019; Chang et al., 2012; Davis & Jowett, 2014; Dunton et al., 2014; Gapin & Etnier, 2010; Kang et al., 2011; Kiluk et al., 2008; MacMahon & Gross, 1987; McMahon et al. 2019; Nakutin et al., 2019; Pan, 2010; Pastula et al., 2012; Ratey, 2008; Wilk et al., 2018; Wouters et al., 2019; Yilmaz et al., 2004), there is limited current research exploring how educators and parents are engaging children with exceptionalities in physical activity (Davis et al., 2010; Norris & Columna, 2016; Ratey, 2008; Rauworth et al., 2003; Seidler et al., 1993; Walker et al., 2019). Discovering specific strategies that parents and educators are implementing on a consistent basis is a must in order to engage children with exceptionalities in physical activity and, as a result, improve their overall health and well-being.



strategies, physical activity, exceptionalities, teachers, parents, benefits, health and well-being, cognitive, physical, social relationships, mental and emotional



Master of Education (M.Ed.)


Educational Psychology and Special Education


Educational Psychology and Special Education


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