Identity is generally defined as an individual’s mental representations of his or her personal and social characteristics. The belief that participation in sport may be linked to identity formation of adolescents with physical disabilities was the subject of this research. To explore this relationship, qualitative interviews were conducted with 11 youth. Analysis of the data revealed 4 themes: (a) skill and competence, (b) emotional expression, (c) social interaction and connectedness with others with a disability, and (d) decreased awareness of disability. Participation in adapted sports appeared to provide the majority of these youth with a heightened sense of competence and opportunities to express their “true” selves. In addition, sport participation by the youth with disabilities in this study led to decreased awareness of their disabilities and facilitated exploration and expression of identity alternatives. This exploratory study provided some evidence that involvement in an adapted sports program was related to identity formation for those involved.
Author Diane G. Groff, Douglas A. Kleiber
Volume Vol 35, No 4 (2001)