By Makenzie Winkler
Annually in April, the Eastern Kentucky University Scholars Week promotes a culture of scholarship, research and creative endeavors through several events and showcases. This year, Scholars Week takes place from April 3-14, 2023.
One student’s research on the importance of socialization for children with disabilities was showcased on April 12 as part of the 21st annual University Presentation Showcase. Specifically, her research focuses on how sports benefit children with disabilities, both physically and socially. Recreation and park administration graduate student, Emmalee Floyd, was motivated to research this topic because of her relationships with family members with autism.
“Growing up and seeing firsthand how important it was for them to participate in social and physical activities inspired me,” Floyd, from Wurtland, Kentucky, explained. “It is important to understand the benefits that derive from socializing children with disabilities. Not only does it increase their social skills, but it helps improve their overall health.”
Floyd says that for all children, growing intellectually and physically helps them develop different life skills. However, for children with disabilities, developing those skills does not come as easily, she explained. Therefore, she found the socialization of these children is even more important to their development.
To get her project off the ground, Floyd spent a lot of time delving into research focused on sports for children with disabilities. Floyd’s biggest takeaway from her research was discovering that there aren’t many athletic programs for children with disabilities in rural areas.
“This needs to be corrected,” Floyd said. “There needs to be a significant increase of those programs in these rural areas. These children are no different from others—they have just as big of a need for these skills and lifestyles.”
Floyd says the research she has conducted could help others better understand the importance of the topic and how children with disabilities are positively impacted by this type of program.
After her research project is completed, Floyd hopes to see an increase in the recreational involvement of children that need more attention to their physical and mental health. She also wants to continue to inform others of the importance of the socialization of children with disabilities and to be able to share the multiple benefits that arise from these programs, including increased socialization skills, physical and mental health and overall quality of life.
The University Presentation Showcase as part of Scholars Week featured research projects from students who have collaborated with faculty or staff on scholarly or creative projects. Presentations included artwork, original writing, research and other scholarly and creative work. Scholars Week increases opportunities for faculty scholarship, research and faculty-student collaboration through recognition of research, academic excellence and professional success. The complete schedule of Scholars Week events is available at ekuscholars.eku.edu.