The International Journal of Health, Wellness, and Society offers an annual award for newly published research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of the Health, Wellness, & Society Research Network.
Inclusion involves individuals with and without disabilities interacting together in various aspects of community life. Inclusive participation has received significant attention in areas of physical activity and recreation in community settings. Although the positive health outcomes, such as improved quality of life, increased physical fitness, enhanced social relationships, and increased appreciation for diversity have been well documented, barriers to community-based inclusion still exist. Negative societal attitudes related to disability and physical activity may continue to pose challenges to promoting messages of health and participation. Employing a qualitative case study method, we explored meaning of inclusion among community and staff members of an inclusive community recreation facility in Ontario, Canada. Study findings revealed that inclusion is a highly complex phenomenon, particularly when multiple perspectives among people with and without disabilities are taken into account. Social change is a process that builds over time and examining responses to inclusion plays a pivotal role to determine how to best promote and encourage participation in community recreation for individuals with and without disabilities.
The Employees Participating in Change (EPIC) Program is a unique safety model because its focus is on employee empowerment and its role in helping to mitigate workplace hazards. With strong management buy-in and support, this model equips staff with the right tools, knowledge and authority to make changes that improve their work environment, reduce injuries, and enhance the safety climate.
At the NHSRU, we connect researchers, decision-makers, and key stakeholders in the practice setting across health care sectors and professional associations. We facilitate these connections to make sure policy and management decisions are guided by the most current and accurate information.
With EPIC, we continue to use research evidence related to employee health, safety and wellness to inform policy and practice relevant to communities across Ontario's healthcare organizations and positively influence patient care outcomes.
Pictured left to right: Hilde Zitzelsberger and Jennifer Leo
Zitzelsberger, Hilde, and Jennifer Leo. 2016. "A Place for Everyone?: The Challenge of Promoting Community Inclusion at a Recreation Centre." The International Journal of Health, Wellness, and Society 6 (1): 65-74. doi:10.18848/2156-8960/CGP/v06i01/65-74.
This journal article laid the foundation to building a program of research focused on investigating the meaningfulness of inclusive environments. Understanding the multiple perspectives of a complex phenomenon such as inclusion is critical to shifting society’s perceptions of what it means to be inclusive. We were so privileged to hear from people with and without lived experiences of disability to gain insight into what it’s like for them to negotiate inclusive environments. We hope this article will encourage others to think more deeply about how we can ensure all community members have access to meaningful community participation.
Our project builds upon strong collaborative ties between the Abilities Centre and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology Institute of Technology, both situated in the Durham Region in Ontario, Canada. The Abilities Centre is a community recreational facility that is focused on improving quality of life for people of all ages and abilities. Since the Abilities Cente’s opening in 2012, we have been able to learn from and through this living space that brings people of all ages and abilities together on a daily basis to engage in health promoting behaviours, such as physical activity, fitness, and exercise, along with arts and life skills activities including social media programs, art programs, theatre projects, and more. We became increasingly interested in how members themselves defined and enacted the notion of inclusion. We also were interested in exploring members’ views about the ways that inclusion was communicated and facilitated by staff and administration, including how these messages resonated with members’ own perceptions. These two areas were the centre foci of the project.
By seeking to enhance our understanding of what it means to be inclusive, we hope to shift the conversation towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 10, Reducing Equalities which is part of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This work is critical to creating communities that meet the needs of all.
—Hilde Zitzelsberger and Jennifer Leo