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Youth Sports in America: The Most Important Issues in Youth Sports Today
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1 Sbeen ports involvement, ranging from recreational to competitive levels of play, has promoted among children and adolescents because it has numerous bene- fits. For example, participation in sports—no matter the skill level—has been found to aid the development of important life skills including social skills, collaboration with others, commitment and follow-through to responsibilities, setting and achiev- ing goals, character development, self-esteem, and improved academic performance. Although sports and recreational opportunities are readily available for youth without disabilities in school and community settings, fewer opportunities for par- ticipation exist among youth who have a disability or chronic health condition. Since the 1990s, civil rights legislation has been developed to ensure that persons who have a disability are provided with the same opportunities regarding education, employment, and sports and recreation involvement as their peers who do not have a disability. Therefore, the intent of this entry is to introduce readers to adaptive sports, more specifically Paralympic sports, and the positive impact participation in adaptive sports can have on youth who have a disability. Who Participates in Adaptive Sport? Individuals who have a physical and/or intellectual disability are eligible to par- ticipate in adaptive sports. It is estimated that approximately 5.2 percent of adoles- cents between the ages of 5 and 17 living in the United States have a physical and/or intellectual disability (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011). Physical disabilities may include sensory impairments and musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, or neurological health conditions. Sensory impairments are health conditions in which functional capac- ity is reduced in one or more of the five senses. For example, an individual may have a visual impairment or hearing impairment. Musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, and neurological health conditions are the result of injury to the central nervous Adaptive Sports