Biala Podlaska 2014 – Abstract

Abstract for the Conference 2014

Habilititation through actitivities in water

The present paper is a study of available offers and conceptual understandings across sectors. It consists of an analysis of water activities on offer for children and youths with focus on children and youths with disabilities. The study involves public institutions/ organisations, sports clubs and private players in local municipalities across the different legislation within sectors.

From this data material and with seven qualitative research interviews, the study provides an account of concepts and conceptual understandings which are used in the description and administration of the available offers of activities in water. There seems to be differences, but also parallel tracks in conceptual understandings and in distinctions in the categorization of “children with disabilities”, “children with impairments”, “children with functional difficulties”, “children with special needs” and “children with a handicap”. There are more or less clear conceptual changes in the categorization of children into at least four levels from the legal foundation, to departmental order, to guidelines and to definitions and assessments in administrative practice.

Seen from a habilitation perspective, the phenomenon of “being free in water” and the skill “to swim” can be bound together with the child’s function and coping ability, physical dimensions as well as adventure and learning dimensions and with the child’s participation in social contexts. From a phenomenological perspective the child experiences the body’s “being-in-the-world” as being different to that on land, among other things due to the buoyancy of water. When the child can stand up in water or move more than on land, the child’s experience of being less functionally limited gives the experience – “I can”. The study shows that participation in swimming in leisure time is greatly important for the social community spirit that develops between young people with disabilities, who have an inclusive offer at school.

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