Rethinking sport participation for children with special needs: The case of “Happy League”

Dorthe Lyskjær Nielsen, Niels Nygaard Rossing, Lotte Stausgaard Skrubbeltrang

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It is well documented that children with special needs are under-represented in organised sports. This under-representation is often directly attributed to their shortcomings, including physical and mental disabilities. Though organised sports can provide communities with access to possibilities for personal development and a better quality of life, the organisation of sports activities often seems to hinder participation for the large and heterogeneous group of children with disabilities, as it stigmatises disabled people and sustains exclusionary fixed rules, constraints, and segregation. This chapter describes a new Danish handball initiative called Lykkeliga (Happy League) that, in recent years, has sparked the participation of 1200 new handball players in 78 new club teams nationwide. Lykkeliga participants are youth across age, gender, and abilities, who do not feel they belong in the mainstream sport system. By utilising Wenger's conceptualisation of participation in communities of practice, this chapter analyses accounts from an ethnographic study of two Lykkeliga clubs. It initiates a discussion of how children with disabilities might become participants and teammates in organised sports instead of outsiders, as our focus shifts from explaining exclusion due to personal shortcomings to understanding exclusion of these children as a social issue.
TitelSocial Issues in Sport, Leisure, and Health
RedaktørerSine Agergaard, David Karen
Antal sider13
Publikationsdatookt. 2023
ISBN (Trykt)9781032300245
ISBN (Elektronisk)9781003303138
StatusUdgivet - okt. 2023


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