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People with Disabilities Perception of Quality of Life After Participation in a Student Service Learning Program
It is observed that there is a continuous decline in physical function and associated decline in quality of life (QoL) among individuals with disabilities. It has been documented that participating in physical activity (PA) significantly improves QoL. Despite many studies proving PA improves one's QoL, there is a limited amount of research showing how combining student service learning (SSL) with PA can improve the QoL of individuals with disabilities. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively investigate the perception of QoL of individuals with disabilities and PA during a SSL program. Semi-structured interviews were performed with 10 individuals with various disabilities. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was completed using NVivo 12 qualitative analysis software. Three main themes emerged from the qualitative thematic analysis: peers and students were the motivational factors to PA with positive, non-judgmental, and supportive exercise environment, increased adherence to PA, and increased self-confidence performing activities of daily living. PA combined with SSL programs can potentially improve many different aspects of individuals with disabilities QoL. Three main themes emerged: peers & students were motivational factors to PA with positive and supportive environment, increased adherence to PA, and increased self-confidence performing activities of daily living. PA combined with SSL programs can potentially improve many different aspects of individuals with disabilities QoL. Our results show improvement in general well-being, as well as a positive experience of working with students. This research, and future research in the field, will help establish a base of evidence to tailor this type of exercise program for individuals with disabilities.