The quest to develop a better understanding of how sports and physical activity benefit people with intellectual and developmental disabilities got a major boost with the appointment of a four-time Paralympian to a new research position at Western University.
Western’s Faculty of Health Sciences announced the appointment of David Howe, an associate professor in the School of Kinesiology, as the inaugural Dr. Frank J. Hayden Chair in Sport and Social Impact. In this new role. Dr. Howe will bring together scholars, graduate students and partner organizations to study the social impact of sport and physical activity, with an emphasis on social inclusion, health equity and mobility.
The Dr. Frank J. Hayden Chair in Sport and Social Impact was established through a $1.5 million gift from the Special Olympics Canada Foundation, Special Olympics Canada and its Provincial/Territorial Chapters, partner organizations and champions.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Dr. Howe to the Special Olympics Canada family,” said Special Olympics Canada CEO Sharon Bollenbach. “His experience and passion for inclusion in sport is well-suited to carry on Dr. Hayden’s pivotal research and legacy, and will help Special Olympics across Canada in its strive to build positive attitudes towards people with intellectual disabilities. We look forward to working with Dr. Howe and putting his research into practice, so we can continue transforming lives through sport.”
Howe, who came to Western in 2018 from Loughborough University (UK), holds a PhD in Medical Anthropology from University College London (UK) and is a four-time Paralympian, representing Canada in track and field. He began collecting data on disability in sport more than three decades ago, writing about his experiences, the limitations of opportunities for athletes with disabilities and how his impaired body shaped his identity.
His research makes him a perfect fit to carry the torch lit by Hayden.
He sees the creation of this new role and the partnership with Special Olympics Canada as an opportunity to expand the scope of his work and dig deeper into creating a broader understanding of the power of sport and physical activity.
“The United Nations sees access to sport and physical activity as a fundamental human right, but as a goal in Canada we are far from achieving an environment where we all can gain access to programs,” said Howe. “Special Olympics Canada and Dr. Frank Hayden in particular were at the forefront of the ‘Sport for All’ movement. Working with Special Olympics Canada will allow me to expand my research to include insights from those involved in the practice of sport for individuals with intellectual disability.”
About the Dr. Frank J. Hayden Chair in Sport and Social Impact
Established in October 2018 through a $1.5 million donation from the Special Olympics Canada Foundation, Special Olympics Canada, its Provincial/Territorial Chapters and several affiliated organizations and champions – along with matching funds from Western – the endowed chair position celebrates the Special Olympics’ 50th Anniversary and honours Dr. Hayden’s contributions as a pioneer of the Special Olympics movement.