Faculty Mentor: Steven Riep, Asian and Near Eastern Languages
The “Body Building Plan for Entire People” (Quanmin Jianshen Jihua Gangyao) laid out in
1995, for the purpose of, “increasing exercise activities among the masses, and consistently
building the number of people involved in sporting events. The body building of the masses will
be viewed with an importance that increases daily, and the avenues for athletic pursuits will be
available in increasing variety” (1). In the fourteenth article of the proclamation it is made clear
that this plan is for all of China’s citizens including the disabled. The proclamation calls for the
“pushing forth of body building activities for the disabled and an increase in health and ability to
participate equally in society of the disabled.” Ten years later, in 2005, Yang Qiang of China
West Normal University, Nanchong conducted a study to determine how effectively the
Quanmin Jianshen Jihua Gangyao had been carried out (2). From this study it is clear that two
barriers that prevent the disabled from exercising are resources and desire. This study focuses the
impact of the Paralympics on the desire to be active.
In this study 120 individuals are surveyed about their exposure to the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.
The study participants were all students at a school for the disabled in China. Each student filled
out a survey consisting of 23 questions designed to understand their background, exposure to
Paralympic sport and exercise habits.
Forty-nine of the respondents were female and 72 were male. The age of the students ranged
from 13 to 23, the mean age was, 17 years old. One of the surveys was left blank.
In order to better understand the student’s socioeconomic background, the students responded to
a question about their parents educational background. Twenty-three of the students indicated
that they preferred not to answer this question and one left the question blank. Of the students
answering the question 38 students (39% of the students who answered this question) indicated
that their parents had only Elementary School through Middle School Education. The school
reported that its students come from both within the city and throughout the province. The mixed
educational background of the parents seems to represent the mixed socioeconomic conditions
that this would represent.
The disabilities represented in the population were mainly hearing and visual impairment. Two
of the students reported multiple disabilities: both had a combination of visual and hearing
impairment with one also listing another disability in the other category. Reported level of
disability ranged from those requiring assistance in all daily activities to those who did not
require assistance in any daily activities. Seven individuals reported that they had no disability,
two of these also reported no disability under type of disability while five indicated that they had
hearing disability. It appears that while many of these individuals have some hearing impairment
they do not feel disabled by it. Of the 107 individuals who chose to answer this question, 75%,
reported that they required assistance in some or all daily activities.
Of those that watched the paralympics over fifty percent of individuals surveyed responded that
they felt the paralympics had increased their desire to participate in sports. This percentage was 7
percent higher in response to watching the paralympics vs watching news programs about the
paralympics. The percentage of those who felt the news decreased their desire to participate in
sports was 6 percent higher than for programing of actual events. The percentage of those who
reported no effect was around 42% for both forms of programing.
This indicates that regardless of the type of programming about half of those who watched it felt
that their desire to exercise increased. The 6-7 percent shift from increase to decrease suggests
that programming showing sporting events had a more consistent positive impact than did news
coverage of the Paralympics. If this is confirmed by further research in more locations is
suggests that the must effective way to impact the desire of individuals with disability to
participate in sport is through increasing the coverage of sporting events for disabeled atheletes.
Increasing the amount of programing featuring disabled athletes would also have an direct
impact on the demand for disabled athletes which would increase the amount of opportunities
available to them.
Paired-Comparison Permutation Test on the mean category shift in frequency of exercise before
and after the Paralympics yielded a p-value of .0006 indicating that there is a highly significant
positive shift in the frequency of exercise. We can see this effect in the graph. When the data was
tested for correlation between reported increase in desire to participate in sport it is interesting to
note that there was no correlation between a reported increase in desire to exercise and a reported
increase in frequency of exercise. Or in other words the change in frequency of exercise among
individuals who reported that watching the Paralympics had increased their desire to participate
in sports was similar to the change in frequency of exercise among those who reported that they
The mean frequency of exercise did however increase more for those who watched the
Paralympics than those who reported that they did not. (.226 and .462). The change in mean
frequency of exercise was twice as high among those who reported watching the Paralympics as
it was in the population that reported that they did not watch the Paralympics.
These findings give reason to conclude that the Paralympics are indeed an effective tool for
increasing desire to exercise among students at schools for the disabled in China. The study
was limited to students from two disability types and a limited age range so it will be important
to carry out similar research among individuals with different disabilities, in different settings.
As a there is an increase in desire to participate in athletics increases this population will be able
to work with local officials to better direct public resources allocated for the disabled community
creating more opportunities for increased access to exercise and its associated physical, social
and mental health benefits.
1. Quanmin Jianshen Jihua Gangyao. http://www.xstyj.com/2009060315.html. August 2009
2. Yang, Qiang. Investigation and Analysis of the Current State of the Disabled Persons
Body Building Plan. China West Normal University