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U.S. Paralympics

U.S. Paralympics

New Study Shows Positive Impact of Participation in Sport

May 27, 2009, 6:08 p.m. (ET)

Rockville, Md.-Disabled Sports USA (DS/USA), one of the nation's largest multi-sport, multi-disability organizations, today released the results of a commissioned survey conducted by Harris Interactive® "Sports and Employment among Americans with Disabilities." Data from the survey of 1,108 working age (18 years or older) adults with disabilities, DS/USA chapter participants and members of the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project demonstrate the positive relationship between involvement in sport and employment levels. The survey was commissioned by Disabled Sports USA and underwritten by DS/USA, the U.S. Department of Labor and Wounded Warrior Project.

The survey found that DS/USA Chapter Participants (CP) are twice as likely to be employed as the general population of adults with disabilities (68% vs. 33%). The study also found DS/USA Chapter Participants were more than twice as likely as the general population of adults with disabilities to be physically active (76% vs. 30%). The series of surveys and questionnaires also found that a majority of those physically active partly attribute increases in responsibility in the workplace, promotions, a better quality of life and better health to their involvement in sports and recreation.

"This survey validates what DS/USA has seen anecdotally for more than 41 years providing sports rehabilitation to thousands of disabled athletes-active participation in sports leads to higher levels of health, improved quality of life and a greater rate of employment," said DS/USA Executive Director Kirk Bauer, a disabled Vietnam veteran. "In this time of high unemployment, it is important for workers with disabilities to have all the tools possible to gain employment and advance in their jobs. Participation in sports is one of those important tools. DS/USA remains committed to providing critical sports rehabilitation programs to tens of thousands of participants throughout our 99 chapters nationwide.

"DS/USA, The Department of Labor and Wounded Warrior Project's leadership in developing this project has given us research which quantifies the positive impact that participation in sports and physical activity has on individuals with physical disabilities.  The information gathered in this study is significant in showing community leaders across the United States the value in providing sports and recreation opportunities to those with physical disabilities and service members with physical injuries," said Charlie Huebner, U.S. Olympic Committee Chief of Paralympics.

The survey also found 52% of wounded warriors, severely injured while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, who are participating in DS/USA's Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project were employed. This group also reported higher levels of physical activity than the general population of adults with disabilities (64% vs. 30%).

"Remaining physically active instills confidence that helps our wounded warriors see beyond the limitations of disability," said Steve Nardizzi, CEO of Wounded Warrior Project.  "What they learn from skiing, hand cycling, scuba diving or other various activities, carries over into confidence and success in the workplace," he added.

"The Office of Disability Employment Policy at the Department of Labor has a strong interest in this groundbreaking study conducted by Disabled Sports USA," said John Davey, Deputy Assistant Secretary, United States Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy.  "The findings present significant evidence on the correlation between involvement in sports or physical activity and the likelihood of employment.  They also underscore the strong work ethic and character of our injured returning service members."

Physically active adults with disabilities report sports-related exercise is beneficial in ways that extend beyond physical gains. Major findings of the survey include:

  • DS/USA chapter participants (76%) and wounded warriors (64%), both are more likely to be physically active (engaged in physical activity more than four times a month) than the general population of adults with disabilities (30%).
  • DS/USA chapter participants (68%) and wounded warriors (52%) are both more likely to be employed than general population of adults with disabilities (33%).
  • More than half (56%) of physically active adults- with disabilities believe being physically active has helped them gain an increase in their responsibilities in the workplace.
  • More than half (54%) of physically active adults with disabilities say physical exercise has helped them secure a promotion.
  • A majority of DS/USA chapter participants (76%) and wounded warriors (52%) perceive themselves to be in excellent or very good health compared to only a quarter of adults with disabilities do (25%).
  • An overwhelming majority of DS/USA chapter participants (94%) report physical activity has significantly improved their quality of life.
  • DS/USA chapter participants (81%) and wounded warriors (74%) are more satisfied with their lives in general as compared to adults with disabilities (57%).

Complete survey results are available at