Perceived & Actual Barriers to Physical Fitness

In order to best address understand how to entice greater volumes of clients to use Oak Hill’s facilities, it is best to gain an understanding of the general concerns of the disabled community. Due to lack of sufficient time, on the part of the LAAL team, the likelihood of obtaining approval from the Institutional Review Board before the project was to be completed was slim. Therefore, extensive literature review was conducted in these realms to evaluate the concerns of the disabled population as a whole by specifying the overall themes regarding barriers to gym attendance among this demographic. The primary barrier identified in the research was, understandably, adequate access to public transportation. As a country to prideful upon its individuality and freedom, personal transportation is key to participation in any community. Although cars, a form of personal transportation, are legally considered luxuries, it is undeniable that in American society such vehicles are an absolute necessity from a cultural standpoint. 

However, individuals with disabilities are often physically or sometimes barred from use of these vehicles, thereby limiting their independence. To at minimum participate in the local community, these individuals are heavily reliant on public transportation. However, even the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, which also included improving access to to public transportation, the general access public transportation is simply substandard. In a 2017 study with a sample size of 4,161 it was found that lack of adequate transportation resulted in decreased community and political participation of individuals with disabilities (Bezyak et al., 2017). Even with the advent of paratransit, a form of public transportation that is more individualized and less reliant on timetables that typically govern standard transportation, individuals with disabilities still report barriers to accessibility. Despite Hartford’s status as a rather large urban ecosystem, its quality of paratransit is also subpar, with only one specified facility located in East Hartford dedicated to paratransit entirely. Other facilities may have some paratransit services, but these services do not nearly receive the same amount of attention or use. Moreover, if one is seeking to attract members outside of Hartford, from non-urban areas, there are even greater complications. The same study also noted that the quality of public transportation among suburban and rural area was inferior to that of urbanized areas. 

Along the lines of physical barriers to exercise typically concerning accessibility, another concern voiced in this community was the access to disability-friendly clothing. Sartorial impediments were often characterized by any form of clothing that limited mobility or was not tailored to the physical needs of its wearer. In a social survey including 113 participants, it was found that roughly half of participants declined to participate in an activity due to lack of functional clothing and shoes (Kabel et al., 2016). Essentially, among this population it was found that in order to feel comfortable and best participate in the local community, disabled populations required ergonomic garments that support mobility. Although the issue is not as pertinent as public transportation, which certainly defines whether or not clients are even capable of coming to the facility, the vestiary issue is one that will undoubtedly affect the clientele at Oak Hill and clientele at external organizations that Oak Hill intends to work with. 

However, impedance to exercise is multifactorial among disabled populations. There are not only the physical limitations present, but also the psychosocial limitations that must be addressed as well. Regarding the social aspect of a disability, among this demographic there, unfortunately, is a perceived barrier of social expectation and acceptance. In terms of Oak Hill’s relationship with this issue, it would most likely need to be addressed in the expansion to external facilities. Essentially, one of the impeding factors to exercise participation was the perceived presence of discriminatory policies in new facilities. The feeling social feeling of segregation from the able-bodied clientele resulted in disabled clients feeling as though they were unwelcome in the facility (Malone et al., 2012). Moreover this feeling was coupled with the perceived notion that even if the two demographics are united, there would a certain form of apathy directed towards the disabled population. 

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