Rebecca-Jane McAllister says everyone has something to offer to the world. That’s why the fourth-year kinesiology student chose to focus her research project on the effects of working out at a gym alongside people with disabilities.
“I have an older brother with Down Syndrome and so I’ve grown up with people with different disabilities,” says McAllister.
Her project, The Societal Impact of an Exercise Program for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disability: Interviews with Gym Bystanders, was one of dozens—by undergraduate and graduate students—on display at the ninth annual Kinesiology Research Day, Tuesday in the Human Kinetics Building.
McAllister’s poster revealed the findings of discussions with people using fitness facilities at the St. Denis Centre alongside individuals practising adapted physical exercise.
“It was refreshing to find out that the bystanders I interviewed felt it was beneficial and inspiring to work out in an integrated setting,” she says. “They didn’t see any negatives.”
Professor Nadia Azar, who specializes in biomechanics and neurophysiology, says the day’s events are about getting students interested in research early in their university careers.
“I think these projects are in-depth and even the undergraduate projects are equivalent to that of a graduate thesis project,” she says. “The idea is to inspire the students to continue on to a graduate program.”
However, Dr. Azar adds, the skills students gain through their research are beneficial even if they do not plan on continuing into graduate work.
“It is fantastic because the students get so much more out of the research than the project itself. It is about the process,” she says. “You can’t be afraid to fail because things don’t always work out the first time. These skills will transfer into any domain they want to go into.”
Six awards recognized outstanding projects:
- The doctoral candidates award to Michelle Guerrero and Matt Hoffmann for “Imagine That: Facilitating children’s positive personal development and self-confidence through imagery”
- The graduate award in sport management to Stephen Kirzinger, Sarah Sherk and William Sibley for “Barriers to golf participation and an analysis of possible modifications”
- The graduate award in movement science to Yasina Somani, Sarah-Anne Hanik, et al. for “The effect of a 10-week isometric handgrip training protocol on blood pressure and cardiovascular reactivity in young normotensive individuals”
- The undergraduate award in sport management to Meagan Littlejohn for “Sport events and residential happiness: Development of a measuring instrument”
- The undergraduate in movement science to Nicole George and Charles Kahelin for “Reliability of head, neck and trunk anthropometric measurements used for predicting tissue masses in living humans”
The students’ choice award was a tie between Sara Santarossa for “What does healthy mean? Is BMI status associated with health perceptions among 8-12 year olds?” and Elizabeth Vandenborn for “Do post-pubertal female athletes have higher testosterone levels than non-athletes?”