North American Federation for Adapted Physical Activity March 2020 Newsletter

  • Letter from the President | Dr. Stamatis Agiovlasitis
  • Research Highlight | Dr. Meghann Lloyd, Ontario Tech University
  • Community Spotlight | S.M.I.L.E. at Acadia University
  • Award Nomination | NAFAPA Board
  • Tips for New Scholars | Dr. Andrea Bundon, University of British Columbia
  • Reader's Corner | New from outside of APAQ
  • Announcements | NAFAPA Board

Website | Twitter

Letter from the President

Dr. Stamatis Agiovlasitis

Greetings from the NAFAPA Board

Dear NAFAPA affiliates,

The March issue of our Newsletter is here, thanks to the work of its editors, Krystn Orr and Steven Holland.

Here are updates from the work of the NAFAPA Board
  • The NAFAPA Student Ambassador Program now has 10 student Ambassadors (6 in the U.S. and 4 in Canada) who will be representing NAFAPA at their institutions. The Ambassadors have been conducting focus groups with students in their programs to better understand how NAFAPA can meet student needs.
  • We have been working in modifying the NAFAPA mission and vision statements. We received feedback from previous NAFAPA presidents in the fall. We are finalizing versions of these statements to send out to all of you for a vote.
  • We have been working in modifying the NAFAPA mission and vision statements. We received feedback from previous NAFAPA presidents in the fall. We are finalizing versions of these statements to send out to all of you for a vote.
  • Dr. Maureen Connolly is continuing preparations of our 2020 Biennial Symposium to be held at Brock University. The symposium information is contained in this newsletter and on our website. We are very thankful to Dr. Connolly and her team.
  • The Dale A. Ulrich Leadership, Allen W. Burton New Investigator, and Patricia Austin Graduate Student Awards applications are due April 1st, 2020. All awards will be presented at the 2020 Biennial Symposium. Information on the awards is available on our website.
  • The call for proposals for the hosting site of our 2022 Biennial Symposium is now CLOSED. The announcement will be made at our 2020 Biennial Symposium.

Please feel free to contact the Board with your thoughts, ideas, and criticisms.

Research Highlight

Dr. Meghann Lloyd, Ontario Tech University

Meghann Lloyd is an Associate Professor in her tenth year at Ontario Tech University in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. Meghann earned her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology from Acadia University and her Master’s degree from McGill University. She then earned her doctorate from The University of Michigan with a focus on the relationship between physical activity and fundamental motor skills in children with and without Down syndrome. After two years as a Junior Research Scientist at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario she joined Ontario Tech University.

Meghann is currently working on the third year of a three-year grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to investigate the effectiveness of a fundamental motor skill intervention for 3-5 year old children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This work builds upon several smaller studies from her lab demonstrating that children with ASD experience significant delays in motor development, and that with intervention, improvements can made; but not just in motor skills. Previously small studies have shown that even though the intervention is on motor skills, improvements are also seen in social skills, adaptive behavior and communication. The waitlist-control design is investigating whether motor skills improve, but also social skills, adaptive behavior, communication and play behavior. The intervention is delivered in small groups for one-hour, twice a week, for twelve weeks (total dosage of 24 hours). This study is the first of its kind that will have a large sample size to look at these questions. Given the waitlist design, over several years, Meghann has several students working on this study at both the graduate and undergraduate level and Meghann was recently awarded the Ontario Tech University Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision for 2019.

Children playing in Dr. Lloyd's lab. (presented with permission)

For several years, Meghann has also worked with colleagues Dr. Viviene Temple and Dr. John Foley on the Special Olympics International Healthy Athletes data to highlight the high rates of obesity and underweight in Special Olympics Athletes from around the world. This partnership also resulted in a Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) meeting grant that allowed stakeholders from North America to come together to inform recommendations for the use of this international database that have now been published.

Meghann’s Motor Behaviour and Physical Activity Lab at Ontario Tech University was funded by a Canadian Foundation for Innovation allowing her to have state of the art video equipment and behavior analysis software infrastructure for her research.

Community Spotlight

S.M.I.L.E. at Acadia University

The Acadia S.M.I.L.E. (Sensory Motor Instructional Leadership Experience) Program is an innovative, academic-based, yet volunteer-driven program that provides children, youth, and adults with varying disabilities a unique opportunity to experience physical activity and engage in a journey of physical literacy for life. The S.M.I.L.E. program fosters a safe and inclusive environment in which Acadia University student-volunteers provide one-on-one instruction to participants while concurrently developing and improving their leadership skills. S.M.I.L.E. participants include a diverse group of children, youth, and adults who have autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, as well as a variety of other developmental, intellectual and physical disabilities. Individualized physical activity plans are developed for each S.M.I.L.E. participant. Each plan is designed to include motor, affective, and cognitive goals that can be achieved within the eight week to sixteen week timeframe. The weekly objectives and activities are designed for the achievement of the goals in the pool, gymnasium, fitness centre, rink, and Snoezelen rooms.

Child and volunteer in the Snoezelen room.

Volunteers within the Acadia S.M.I.L.E. program are students from Acadia University from all academic disciplines on campus. Prior to the start of the program each semester, volunteers are required to attend a Call for Volunteers then complete training sessions to ensure they are provided with the necessary information and tools to be successful instructors. The training modules include: (a) abilities-based programming; (b) positive behavior approach in physical activity settings; (c) instructional strategies; (d) adapted aquatics instruction; (e) age and development appropriate activities; (f) assessment; and (g) policies and procedures. Instructors are paired with participants based on capability of interests to ensure both participants and instructors can mutually benefit from the Acadia S.M.I.L.E. program.

Children and volunteers at S.M.I.L.E.

The Acadia S.M.I.L.E. program is operational four days a week at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada. The program runs for a total of 16 weeks starting in mid-September to April. Each of the four program days are tailored for specific age groups of participants. The participants on Tuesday and Thursday mornings are between the ages of 5 – 14 while the participants on Friday evening are over the age of 12 with no age limit. The participants on Saturday mornings consists of children between the ages of 2-12 years of age. The S.M.I.L.E. program runs Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9:00-10:00am with additional programming on Tuesday mornings from 10:30am-11:45am, Friday evening programs run from 6:30-8:30pm, and Saturday mornings the program runs from 9:00am-11:30am.

Children playing in pool.

A typical Saturday morning involves games and activities in the gym, time in the Snoezelen Room, arts and crafts, music programming and skating on the rink. This is all followed by an hour of fun in the swimming pool! Each week has a special theme such as ‘When I Grow Up’ and ‘S.M.I.L.E.’s Got Talent!’ Similarly, the Friday Night Program has themes such as ‘Athletes’ Night’ or ‘Career Day’, and is held at the Acadia Athletic Complex, with activities held in gymnasium, pool, and rink.

Skating lesson.

For each program day, there are two Student Directors who oversee the programming. They work closely with a Group Leaders who are responsible for their group of instructors and program participants. Their responsibility is to assist with assessment, program planning, and day-to-day adventures that may arise. During the 2019-2020 academic year, there are 400 student volunteers and 280 program participants over the four program days!

S.M.I.L.E. is an influential program that enables all involved to develop skills and friendships that have lasting effects on the development of healthy active lifestyles and ultimately improve their physical literacy. Although the engaging programming takes place in physical activity settings, the highlight of the program is the relationships that develop between the student volunteers and the participants. Everyone is celebrated for their abilities – it is a platform to share and learn from one another. The smiles on all faces is evident of what S.M.I.L.E. is all about!


April 1st, 2020

Dale A. Ulrich Leadership Award | Granted to an individual with a distinguished career of outstanding professional contributions to the field of adapted physical activity through research, service, programming, administration, and/or clinical practice. Submissions should be sent to Dr. Heidi Stanish by April 1, 2020.

Allen W. Burton New Investigator Award | Granted to an individual within six years of completing a terminal research degree at the rank of Assistant Professor who has demonstrated scientific merit, novelty, and quality of published work, research independence, and future potential. Submissions should be sent to Dr. Stamatis Agiovlasitis by April 1, 2020.

Patricia Austin Graduate Student Award | Granted to a graduate student to recognize outstanding scholarly research in adapted physical activity. Recipient must have been the principal author of the unpublished manuscript and the manuscript must have been written within two years of submission. Submissions should be sent to Dr. Joonkoo Yun by April 1, 2020.

An independent panel of reviewers are responsible for reviewing every application. All applicants will be notified of the decisions by May 31st, 2020.

Tips for New Scholars

Dr. Andrea Bundon, University of British Columbia

Moving at the speed of trust: Establishing research partnerships

In recent years, there has been an increased focus on funding research that includes academic and non-academic partners. Underpinning these initiatives is an assumption that research conducted in collaboration with non-academic partners is informed by real world challenges and more likely to be implemented by ‘knowledge users.’ Within the field of adapted physical activity, there is also a strong commitment to working with partners using community-based, participatory research methodologies as part of an ethical and emancipatory research practice (see Donna Goodwin’s excellent tips on creating a ‘responsible research practice’ in the last issue). Yet while academics are often encouraged to engage in collaborative work, little attention is paid to understanding what makes for an effective partnership.

Since 2017, I have been the Principal Investigator on a Partnership Development Grant funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The partnership is between the School of Kinesiology and viaSport British Columbia, the lead agency in the province tasked with administering the government’s sport investment. Together, we have undertaken a piece of work we call Level the Field: Disability Inclusion in Sport. We had two objectives. First, we wanted to gain understanding and make recommendations on what is required to make the British Columbia sport sector more inclusive of persons with disabilities. Second, we wanted to gain understanding and make recommendations on how to engage in partnerships between academic and the sport sector. I would like to share what we have learned about the second objective, ‘doing partnership,’ in the hope that it will be useful to you in deciding when to pursue partnerships, who to partner with and how to create strong partnerships.

1. Build relationships first, research second. It can be tempting, particularly as an Early Career Researcher trying to get your research program going, to want to ‘dive in.’ But finding the right partner takes time. Work first on building your relationships with potential partners – find the individuals and organizations that share your interests and your values. Ask ‘will I enjoy working with X for the next 3 years?’ If you can answer yes, then it is time to start thinking about the research you might do together. If you are not sure, keep the connection, but find another partner.

2. Time is a social construct. One of the greatest learnings we have had from our academic/sport sector partnership is that time runs differently for everyone. How we experience time has a lot to do with the ‘other stuff’ going on in our lives. For example, for the postdoctoral researchers on the team, this project was their ‘full time job’ – they were spending more hours on it every single day than the rest of us spent in a week. For the partners at viaSport, this project was one item in their portfolio and their ability to engage would wax and wane contingent on other priorities. As a new mother, I was just figuring out how to fit my teaching and research into the hours between daycare drop off and pickup. We had to learn how to ‘come together in time’ – sometimes that meant holding off on meetings until everyone had found time to prepare. Other times it meant giving a team member ‘ownership’ of a task so that they could advance the project on their own. At all times, it meant having honest conversations about what time everyone had for the work. I found the concept of ‘crip time’ and the work of disability artists and dance communities very helpful in theorizing how non-normative understandings of time can make time something flexible that ‘bends’ to make the meeting of minds and bodies possible [click for an example].

3. Partnerships move at the speed of trust. Even the best planned project will encounter roadblocks. There will be disagreements amongst team members about how to proceed. You will learn new things, develop new understandings, or encounter new academic literature and all of this will change how you approach the work or what you wish to do. A strong partnership is resilient in the face of challenges and comfortable with uncertainty. Early on in our partnership, one of the team members said ‘partnerships move at the speed of trust.’ Every time we faced a difficult situation, we would ask each other ‘Do you still trust that we want the same thing? Do you trust that we have shared values and are committed to the common goal of a more inclusive sport sector?’ Once we had that confirmation, we would say ‘then we are going to have to find a way through this’ and we would move forward together.

Dr. Andrea Bundon, Assistant Professor

Reader's Corner

What are we reading?

NAFAPA Conference 2020: Communities of Practice

Important Dates

March 16 - April 30 | Abstract and proposal submissions open

May 1 | Conference website activated and registration open

June 1 | Notification of abstract and proposal acceptance



United States Multi-Institution Adapted Physical Activity Doctoral Training Grant

In November 2019, Joonkoo Yun (East Carolina University), in collaboration with faculty from eight other universities across the United States, were notified that they were selected to receive a training grant from the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services. The purpose of this grant is to build the Nationwide, Multi-Institution Adapted Physical Activity Mentorship Consortium, a first of its kind collaborative consortium focused on training future leaders in our field. In addition to programs at each participating university, scholars enrolled in the consortium will also participate in an enrichment program, which includes bi-weekly online seminars, a summer institute, and optional exchange program.

For more information about the consortium, please contact either Joonkoo Yun (director) or Justin A. Haegele (co-director; Old Dominion University). If you (or a student) are interested in pursuing a PhD focused in adapted physical activity, and would like to explore opportunities at one of the participating universities, please contact each program of interest directly. You can also find us on twitter (@AdaptedPA).

  • Marty Block, University of Virginia
  • Suzanna Dillon, Texas Woman's University
  • Sean Healy, University of Delaware
  • Samuel Hodge, The Ohio State University
  • Sam Logan, Oregon State University
  • Samantha Ross, West Virginia University
  • Deborah Shapiro, Georgia State University
  • Andrea Taliaferro, West Virginia University

Opportunity to Submit Announcements

In an effort to support our members and ensure information and opportunities are distributed equally, we would like to invite members to submit information regarding job postings, master's and doctoral student recruitment, and other adapted physical activity relevant information for publication in the newsletter. Submitted announcements will be featured in this section as space permits and promoted through our Twitter account and website. The newsletters are published three times a year (March, July, and November). Please contact Krystn or Steve if you have any questions or would like to share information to be distributed.

NAFAPA Board. March 2020.

Edited by

Krystn Orr | PhD Candidate | University of Toronto | krystn.orr@mail.utoronto.ca

Steven K. Holland | PhD Student | Old Dominion University | sholl012@odu.edu

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All photos are presented with permission and supplied by contributors.