Canadian Disability Participation Project, featuring KPE researcher as co-investigator, awarded $2.5 million in SSRHC Partnership Grant


Kelly Arbour-Nicitopoulos, an associate professor at the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, is co-investigator on a SSHRC Partnership Grant worth $2,500,000. The grant will fund the Canadian Disability Participation Project (CDPP) 2.0: Developing, implementing and evaluating quality sport, exercise and play experiences for Canadians with disabilities, with Arbour-Nicitopoulos in a leadership role as the research lead of the Play Team. 

“This grant builds on the CDPP 1.0 project, also funded via a SSHRC Partnership Grant in 2013, to address issues of inequitable access to quality physical activity for Canadians with disabilities,” says Arbour-Nicitopoulos. “CDPP 2.0’s overarching goal is to develop, test, implement and nationally disseminate evidence-based strategies and programs that create quality sport, exercise and play participation for children, youth and adults with physical, intellectual and sensory disabilities.”

The research expertise of the partnership’s 43 junior-, mid- and senior-career academics complements the front-line experience of 31 national and regional sport, exercise, play/recreation and disability organizational partners such as the Canadian Paralympic Committee, ParticipACTION, Special Olympics Canada, Outdoor Play Canada, Abilities Centre, Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Variety Ontario and Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities involved with the project. 

“I am thrilled to be part of this incredible team of researchers and community partners,” says Arbour-Nicitopolous, who is also principal investigator on a SSHRC Insight grant worth $218,032 for a family-centred research approach to developing and testing physical activity interventions in children and youth with disabilities. 

“The aim of this project is to apply a family-centred approach to enhance the scale-up of physical activity interventions into community settings to ensure they are relevant, of value, and sustainable for families of children and youth with disabilities,” says Arbour-Nicitopoulos. “Collectively, this research will help to inform the development and delivery of evidence- and value-based quality physical activity programming for children and youth with disabilities.”

Arbour-Nicitopoulos is also the recipient of a Special Olympics Canada grant worth $20,140 for a project focused on the co-production of a Unified Physical Education program for high school students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a marginalized community. 

“For youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have varying intersectional identities such as disability, race and/or low socioeconomic status, physical activity opportunities are limited,” says Arbour-Nicitopoulos. “A Unified Physical Education (PE) program in schools is a potential solution to increase physical activity in youth with IDD and varying intersectional identities.”

This project aims to increase quality participation of youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities in physical education by co-producing a Unified PE program blueprint for a school located in a marginalized community completed in two phases. Phase 1 will explore the perspectives of youth with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities, educators and school administrators on what informs a quality physical activity experience at school. Phase 2 will then explore a co-production process to create a Unified PE program blueprint with youth (with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities), educators, school administrators and Special Olympics Ontario. 

“This resulting Unified PE blueprint can be applied to school settings to meet the needs of youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities and varying intersectional identities,” says Arbour-Nicitopoulos.