The Power to adapt: a case study of special needs youth who have participated in an adaptive recreation program




Dorris, Rebecca

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The transitions experienced throughout adolescence and young adulthood are difficult, and can be even more challenging to navigate for youth living with developmental or mental health challenges. These youth commonly experience challenges in daily life, leading to difficulties participating in reciprocal relationships, experiencing good mental health, and establishing positive identity and self-esteem. Adventure-based therapies may be a milieu where youth can explore their identities, connect with nature, establish social relationships, and gain experiences overcoming a variety of challenges. This qualitative case study illuminated the experiences and identity development of youth who have participated in an adaptive recreation program in Victoria, British Colombia. Semi-structured interviews were held with five youth who have participated in the program, five parents of youth who have participated, and three staff involved in the development and delivery of the program. For the within-participant analysis, Rhodes’ (2000) ghostwriting approach was used to present youth participants’ stories of their involvement. Across-participant analysis followed Braun and Clarke’s (2006) steps of thematic analysis to discover some of the shared themes among participants. Participants described development of positive self-concepts and skills, the inclusive social environment and supportive staff, opportunities to try fun and unique activities, connecting with and learning about nature, overcoming personal challenges, and the importance of this program in the lives of the youth, their families, and their communities. The results have important implications for theory, research, and practice regarding counselling and community-based adaptive recreation programming.



Adaptive Recreation, Special Needs Youth, Interdependence, Self-Concept