Date of Award


Document Type

Access Controlled Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Lynn Anderson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Vicki Wilkins, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Laurie Penney McGee


The purpose of this study was to explore the influence participation in specialized recreation programs may have on inclusive recreation involvement. The research questions were concerned with the relationships between specialized recreation participation, inclusive recreation participation, self-determination and the role of supports. The study was conducted with the New York State Inclusive Recreation Resource Center (NYSIRRC) at SUNY Cortland. The NYSIRRC was interested in this information to help improve its Recreation Referral Service (RRS). The RRS serves people with disabilities and helps them to pursue inclusive recreation. Specialized programs are segregated and do not always lead to inclusion in recreation. Research has not shown whether participation in specialized programs may help to promote participation in inclusive recreation or if they create dependency or other barriers. There is little research on whether participation in specialized recreation programs leads to greater involvement in inclusive recreation, or unintentionally enables a cycle of participation in segregated services. There is much research to support that inclusion in recreation has significant benefits to all participants, with and without disabilities. What is unclear is why, when the benefits of inclusion are well documented, people still chose not to participate in these programs. Is it as simple as personal choice, or are there other reasons? This study explored these questions in order to help service providers offer programs, both specialized and inclusive, to help promote recreation participation that will help people to participate fully in the recreation of their choice. This study used qualitative methods to address the research questions. The study sample was selected using purposive sampling, where individuals who had the specific characteristics of importance to this study were deliberately selected. This type of sampling led “information rich cases” (Patton, 1990, p. 169). Only a small sample was analyzed for this study because cases are in-depth and information rich. Based on the findings it was concluded that specialized recreation programs do have a positive influence on inclusive recreation for people with disabilities. Results are discussed in more detail.