Professional Learning

School-Based Physical Activity Experiences for Students of All Abilities

Children and youth with disabilities face increased barriers to participation in school-based physical activity programming. In addition, there are few to no opportunities available for them to develop leadership skills in physical activity settings. 

Did you know that 1 in 5 people in Canada (22%) have one or more disabilities? For students with diverse abilities, barriers and limitations to participation often result in unequal opportunities to engage in physical activity. 

Schools need to ensure that all students are given an equal opportunity to engage in physical activity experiences, however students with diverse abilities face various interpersonal, intrapersonal, structural, and sociocultural barriers to participation when seeking to engage in physical activity experiences.

Learn More About the Barriers

Resources to Help You Support Students with a Disability

To learn more about how you can support students with a disability in your school community and enhance the inclusivity and accessibility of your everyday physical activity programming, download our Inclusion of Students of All Abilities in School-Based Physical Activity Experiences: Guidebook and Poster for free.

cover page for the all abilities guidebook

All Abilities Poster Image

Download Guidebook Download Poster


Combining research and wise practices, the Guidebook and Poster support educators and administrators in identifying and addressing barriers to physical activity participation and developing accessible and enjoyable physical activity experiences for students of all abilities.

These resources empower educators to:

  • Reduce and/or eliminate barriers to participation in school-based sport and physical activity for students of all abilities
  • Support youth of all abilities in becoming physical activity leaders in their own schools
  • Increase the participation, motivation, and confidence of students of all abilities in school-based physical activities
  • Utilize the resources to spark positive change, provide students with leadership training tools, and educate staff and students of all abilities about the importance of fostering positive, safe, and inclusive spaces for physical activity. 

Support Your Students With Disabilities

To reduce/eliminate these barriers to participation within the school community for students of all abilities, educators must work to create safer spaces, and can do so by utilizing the following wise practices: 

  • Assume an intersectional lens when creating and implementing physical activity experiences 
  • Understand and acknowledge that there is an umbrella of disability that exists (developmental and behavioral disabilities, physical disabilities, sensory disabilities, congenital and acquired disabilities), and that all students are different 
  • Students with diverse abilities can live with varying degrees of abilities, which can be described as high support needs and low support needs
  • Use person-first language when referring to students with diverse abilities 
  • Center your teaching practices around the social model of disability, where students with diverse abilities are viewed as valued members of the classroom and are included in all aspects of learning 
  • Work to reduce the stigma surrounding students with diverse abilities in your school community 
  • Facilitate inclusion in all physical activity environments for students of all abilities 
  • Incorporate adapted physical activity into each lesson and physical activity experience provided 
  • Use the STEP Framework to adapt activities Spaces, Tasks, Equipment, and People to create a more inclusive physical activity experience
  • Encourage students with diverse abilities to engage in new and challenging leadership opportunities 
  • Assume a student-centered learning approach when designing and implementing physical activity experiences for students of all abilities

PHE Canada's Game Changers Project

Watch a video from PHE Canada’s Game Changers project that utilizes a student-centered learning approach to creating inclusive school-based physical activity and leadership experiences for students of all abilities. 

Funding Partners

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