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The Rationale and Benefits of Sport Participation for Youth of All Abilities

Although there are public policies in place to safeguard the educational and civil rights of people with disabilities, individuals, particularly youth, face limited access to the range of activities, programs, and services that promote healthy living. The research on youth sports has examined how sports contribute to a child's social development, specifically the development of social competence and self-esteem. The benefits of participation in youth sports include:

  • Building an appreciation of personal health and fitness.
  • Improving self-confidence and developing a positive self-image.
  • Learning how to work as part of a team.
  • Developing social skills with other children and adults, such as taking turns and sharing playing time.
  • Learning how to manage both success and disappointment.
  • Learning how to respect others.

Participation in sports can promote healthy mental and physical development. In general, participation in youth sports can lead to:

  • Enhanced functioning and health of heart, lungs, muscles and bones.
  • Improved flexibility, mobility and coordination.
  • Increased stamina and strength.
  • Enhanced ability to maintain weight.
  • Improved balance and agility.
  • Improved relaxation and stress relief.
  • Prevention of secondary conditions associated with disability.

Anyone can benefit from exercise. Youth who possess a specific disability may experience different benefits from physical activity through sport than their peers with other disabilities. Sports and physical activity cannot only increase the longevity of youth with disabilities, but they can also improve their quality of life.

By keeping these points in mind, coaches, parents, and teammates can work together to ensure that all players have the opportunity to participate in baseball in a safe, respectful and positive environment.

For more information and resources for the community of athletes with a disability, please visit NCHPAD at