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The Young Athletes Curriculum: Impact on Children With Disabilities in Kenya

Paddy C. Favazza, Gary N. Siperstein, Kathleen Ghio, Jane Wairimu, Susan Masila
2015 Journal of Research in Childhood Education  
Research consistently demonstrates that children with developmental disabilities exhibit motor skill deficits, but motor skill interventions can positively affect motor abilities and other areas of development. These findings have particular relevance for children with disabilities in developing countries, where there is limited access to early intervention and education. In these settings, motor skill interventions may provide a means to address delays in development and positively affect
more » ... itively affect perceptions of family and community members about their capacity to learn. To that end, this study examined the adaptability, feasibility, and effectiveness of implementing a motor skills intervention, the Special Olympics' Young Athletes Curriculum (YA), in Kenya. Eighteen preschool-age children with intellectual and developmental disabilities participated in the YA intervention, which consisted of 187 motor activities delivered in 24 lessons across 8 weeks. The findings indicate that the YA intervention is adaptable and can be feasibly implemented with high fidelity. In addition, significant motor gains were demonstrated on the preand posttest of the Test of Motor Development and a positive and multi-level impact on inclusion of children with disabilities was found. KEYWORDS Motor skills; preschool children with disabilities The recent report Children and Young People With Disabilities (UNICEF, 2013) estimates at least 15% of the world's population (more than one billion people) have a disability, and 80% of these individuals live in developing countries such as Kenya; of these, 90% do not have access to education, making individuals with disabilities the largest, most marginalized minority in the world. These startling statistics paint a bleak picture for children with disabilities in this global context where factors such as persistent stigma, negative attitudes, and an underlying belief that children with disabilities cannot learn have short-and long-term consequences. As a result, early in life, young children with disabilities are often isolated within their homes and communities and are surrounded by a society that holds low expectations about their capacity to learn. However, if there is any area of development that is universally salient in demonstrating the capacity of children to learn, it is the area of motor development. Regardless of culture or country of origin, parents can see signs of early motor development, such as when their young child rotates his head to follow the movements of a caregiver, rolls over, reaches for objects, and crawls. These benchmarks of early motor behavior signal to parents that their child is developing in a typical and timely fashion; consequently, parent expectations are met. However, when the child has an intellectual or developmental disability, delayed motor development can be one of the first signs that the child is not "typically developing," which leads to concerns and, perhaps, changes in expectations of what the child can and cannot do. These early observations are confirmed by the research; these CONTACT Paddy C. Favazza
doi:10.1080/02568543.2015.1107157 fatcat:rggwlgdvnbf7haqbrea2kgg2xy