Disability and the outdoors

Some considerations for inclusion

Authored by: John Crosbie

Routledge International Handbook of Outdoor Studies

Print publication date:  November  2015
Online publication date:  November  2015

Print ISBN: 9781138782884
eBook ISBN: 9781315768465
Adobe ISBN: 9781317666523


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There has been a long history of the involvement of people with disabilities (PwD) in the outdoors. There are records of children with disabilities involved in camp activities in the USA in the early 20th century, and sports activities started to be used as part of the formal rehabilitation process at Stoke Mandeville hospital, UK, for those with acquired spinal cord injuries during the Second World War (Brittain, 2010). Personal development is a frequently cited benefit of outdoor adventurous activities for PwD and this is the reason why many organisations work with this sector of the population. For the participants themselves, however, personal development per se is seldom the motivation for their involvement, which is no different from those without disabilities. Richardson (1986, p. 45) reminds us that:

Disabled persons participate in outdoor adventure activities not for their therapeutic benefits but for the same reasons as do able bodied people – for enjoyment, a love of the natural environment, a feeling of accomplishment and the opportunity to overcome natural obstacles and test their own limits.

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