Enabling participation for disabled children and young people

Disabled children and young people  face substantial barriers to access and inclusion, with major implications for health and wellbeing. Social interaction and recreational participation beyond home and school are essential for healthy development, yet the built environment and social attitudes can undermine mobility and inclusion in daily life. In collaboration with NGOs in the disability sector this study will work with children and young people with motor and sensory impairments and their parent/caregivers to understand their experiences of the public realm. It accepts the New Zealand Disability Strategy definition of disability as “the process which happens when one group of people create barriers by designing a world … taking no account of the impairments of others”. We ask – how do various built, amenity and social environments constrain or facilitate access, mobility and inclusion, thereby influencing physical activity and social participation?

This three-year multi-methods research funded by the Health Research Council (2015-2018) will be conducted in diverse Auckland neighbourhoods.

jaden small A pilot study was conducted in 2014 to trial proposed modified methods used  in our previous Kids in the City research (HRC 10/497) with able-bodied children. Ten-year-old Jaden Movold (left) was one of our participants.  For seven days he wore a GPS unit and accelerometer and kept a travel diary to measure where he went, how who got there and who he went with. Jaden is involved in a wide range of physical activities right across the city, including swimming and basketball. During our ‘go along’ interview he took us to Takapuna Beach, one of his favourite summer places. Negotiating soft sand in a wheel chair is almost impossible, and Jaden would like to see wooden walkways (or similar) so people in wheelchairs can access beaches and get to the water.  Similarly, stairs prevent access to many other public places: there should always be a ramp as well as stairs, he says.

Contact researcher: Professor Karen Witten