In a study conducted in 2013, Canadian researchers at McGill's School of Physical and Occupational Therapy found that children with disabilities play and participate in leisure activities significantly less often than their peers who don't live with disabilities.
The findings inspired the researchers to create a new mobile app -- "Jooay" -- that will help families locate nearby physical activities, music classes, art classes and other leisure activities particularly suited to children with special needs.
While resources for kids with disabilities do exist, the co-leaders of the project found that one reason more children don't participate is because families are not aware of those resources or how they can be accessed.
The "Jooay" app, whose naming is a play on "jouer" -- in French, "to play" -- allows parents to use keywords and disability types to browse through categories of activities, which are indexed by GPS from nearest to farthest. Parents can also use the application to add and keep track of new activities, as well as use discussion boards to connect with other families.
The physical therapists who came up with the idea point out that physical and leisure activities are beneficial to children in a variety of ways, including improvement of coordination and muscular strength, character development, stress and anxiety relief, promotion of cardiovascular health, and prevention of chronic disease.
"Jooay" recently became available for mobile devices in Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
For more on the importance of community engagement for individuals with disabilities, please see Gluckstein Lawyers' previous post, "Understanding the Impact Brain Injury Can Have on Community Engagement."
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