There are a number of things that recreation professionals, families, and
individuals with disabilities can do to support the building of friendships
and other social relationships through recreation. Below are some ideas:
Contact: People are more likely to develop social relationships
if they have regular, frequent contact with others. Look for programs or activities
that meet at least once a week over a long period of time. This will allow
both the person with a disability and other participants sufficient time to
get to know one another and build upon their common interests.
Common Interests and Fun: Friendships develop when people
who have interests in common get together and have fun. It is therefore critical
that individuals with disabilities choose their own recreation and leisure
activities. It is also important that once they begin to take part in recreation
activities, they are given the opportunity to share information about their
interests with others. Hanging around after an activity to share a snack or
arriving a few minutes early both provide such social opportunities.
Interaction as a Priority: Some activities are structured
to support social interaction and inclusion. This is especially true of those
that are cooperative and allow for ongoing conversation. Seek out such activities.
Others are structured in a way that minimizes social connections; in such
cases, brainstorm about how the activity could be modified to allow for greater
Disability Awareness: Make sure that recreation participants
with disabilities are aware of their strengths, skills, and needs in relation
to participation in an activity. Ensure that program leaders are aware of
and able to fulfill the support needs of participating individuals with disabilities,
and that information about disabilities is available to other participants.
Citation: Gaylord, V., Lieberman, L., Abery, B. & Lais, G. (Eds.). (2003). Impact: Feature Issue on Social Inclusion Through Recreation for Persons with Disabilities, 16(2) Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration. Available from http://ici.umn.edu/products/impact/162.