VAIKOS - project produces research knowledge of the possibilities of young persons with profound disabilities to do sports and physical activities.


Young persons with disabilities have less opportunities to participate in physical and sport activities, the fact that does not meet the aims of national health and wellbeing policies. Young people with severe and profound  disabilities particularly are in a weak position in that respect, and there is a lack of research knowledge in regard to their opportunities. Need for continuous support is one of the reasons to their inferior situation, and a crucial challenge that leisure services have had to face.

Aim of the researcher project VAIKOS (2019-2022) has been to produce empirical knowledge of the lives of these young people not often recognised by investigating their opportunities for participation in sport activities. The research has been funded by Ministry of Education and Culture in Finland from the fund for research in sports sciences.

Object of research were young persons with profound disabilities with 12-29 years of age. We investigated 1) the nature of the practices that enhance their opportunities for participation in youth sport activities and 2) the nature of the practices that promote their opportunities for self-determination and their right to choose the activities according to their own interests and preferences.

We collected research data by doing ethnographic observation and semi-structured theme interviews among their family members and close support staff working in leisure, educational and disability services. We conducted multi-sited ethnography in different parts of Finland at sport venues and events, schools, youth clubs, homes and residential services.

We produced multiple knowledge on the opportunities of young people with profound disabilities to self-determination and participation, applicable to use in decision-making processes in youth and sport policies in order to enhance equality between young people and influence the circumstances that restrict and hinder participation.

The research was conducted in cooperation between South Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences and University of Helsinki.

We have produced following publications in the project:


Eriksson, Susan (2023, in print): The Impact of Art and Sensory Experiences on Physical Activities of Young People Affected by Profound Intellectual and Multiple Disabilities. In Prideaux, Simon; Sheikh, Mustapha; Formby, Adam (toim.): Crime, Criminalisation and Injustice. An Interdisciplinary Collection of Revelations. London & USA: Anthem Press. 135-150.

Eriksson, Susan; Saukkonen, Eero (2022): Vaikeimmin vammaisten nuorten liikunnallinen osallisuus. Esipuhe: Hisayo Katsui. Nuorisotutkimusverkosto/Nuorisotutkimusseura, Julkaisuja 241, verkkojulkaisuja 174, Sarja: Kenttä. Helsinki: Nuorisotutkimusseura/Nuorisotutkimusverkosto. 157 s.

Saukkonen, Eero; Eriksson, Susan; Katsui, Hisayo (2021): Vaikeimmin vammaisten nuorten oikeudet ja mahdollisuudet liikuntaan. Teoksessa Pekkarinen, Elina & Schalin, Anton (toim.): Vammaisuus ja lapsen oikeudet. Lapsen elämää vamman kanssa. Lapsiasiavaltuutetun toimiston julkaisuja. 2021:4. Helsinki: Valtioneuvosto. 136-149.

Eriksson, S. and Saukkonen, E., 2021. Rehabilitation or Leisure? Physical Exercise in the Practice of Physiotherapy with Young Persons with Profound Intellectual and Multiple Disabilities. Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research, 23(1), pp.295–304. DOI:

Eriksson, Susan (2021): Taide ja höntsäily liikunnallisen inkluusion käytäntöinä. Liikunta & Tiede 2, 27 – 29.




Eriksson, S., & Saukkonen, E. (2020). Yhdenvertaisuus ja tasa-arvo muutosvoimana: Nuorten liikuntakulttuurit vammaisuuden lähtökohdasta. Kulttuurintutkimus37(3-4), 103–113. Noudettu osoitteesta

Eriksson, Susan, Saukkonen, Eero, Mietola, Reetta, Katsui, Hisayo (2020): Vaikeimmin vammaisten nuorten liikunnan harrastaminen ja eriarvoinen osallisuus. Teoksessa Kokkonen, Jouko, Kauravaara, Kati (toim.): Eriarvoisuuden kasvot liikunnassa. Liikuntatieteellisen seuran julkaisu nro. 175. Jyväskylä: Liikuntatieteellinen seura.  94-113.

More information

Senior Researcher

Susan Eriksson, PhD in Soc.Sc.

Gsm: 040 – 684 7702




Eero Saukkonen, Master of Social Sciences

Gsm: 050 – 598 4157




1 June 2019 – 31 December 2022

Project partners

Lead partner: Kaakkois-Suomen ammattikorkeakoulu

Partners: Helsingin yliopiston vammaistutkimuksen laitos

Focus areas: Sustainable wellbeing
Xamk Research Units: Juvenia


Total budget: € 397 129

Financiers and main source of funding: Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö