ERIC Number: ED498792
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Jun
Reference Count: 81
Everyone Plays! A Review of Research on the Integration of Sports and Physical Activity in Out of School Time Programs
Policy Studies Associates, Inc.
A growing body of research attests to the value of high-quality out-of-school time (OST) programs in promoting positive youth development. These programs provide environments where young people can engage in academic enrichment, build meaningful relationships with responsible adults and peers, nurture new interests, and develop the social and life skills they will need to mature into well-informed, productive citizens. Program managers and funders are now asking whether OST programs can also serve as key staging grounds in America's battle with youth obesity by promoting increased levels of physical activity and sports engagement among their young participants. This document reviews research on the intersection of: (1) OST programming, (2) sports and physical activity programs for youth, and (3) the promotion of healthy physical, emotional, and intellectual development among children and youth, especially those growing up in poverty. It does so by exploring the following questions; (1) What has been learned from youth-development research and OST programming about promoting healthy child development?; (2) What factors and conditions influence youth participation in sports and physical activity?; (3) What outcomes are associated with participation in sports and physical activity?; (4) What are the characteristics of effective OST sports and physical activity programs?; and (5) What are the policy and practice implications of what is currently known about this issue? More than 15 percent of the nation's children between the ages of 6 and 11 are overweight, up from just 4 percent in the 1970s. During this period, obesity among preschoolers and teens has more than doubled. Between 70 and 80 percent of overweight children and youth are destined to become obese adults, with the medical consequences that obesity implies: cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, bone problems, asthma, sleep disorders, depression, and anxiety. Obesity also takes an economic toll in terms of lost school days. Severely overweight children miss one day of school per month because of weight-related illnesses, a rate of absenteeism portending loss of million of dollars of state aid annually across the country. Additionally, because obese children and youth are likely to be physically inactive, they miss out on opportunities to develop other qualities commonly attributed to sports and physical activity. That sports build character is an American truism: most people believe that sports and physical activity teach desirable life skills, such as perseverance, fair play, teamwork, loyalty, leadership, respect for rules, and emotional control. The report concludes that despite recent breakthroughs in knowledge about the psychological and social bases for positive youth development and about application of these principles in OST programs, employing these approaches in programming that increases young people's physical activity is a relatively new focus for both research and policy. Policy interests in positive youth development and OST programming are responses to significant social and economic change in American life, as summarized in this report.
Descriptors: Obesity, Physical Activities, Leisure Time, After School Programs, Athletics, Recreational Activities, Youth Programs, Student Development, Physical Fitness, Extracurricular Activities, Health Promotion, Emotional Development, Cognitive Development, Poverty, Child Development, Student Participation, Program Effectiveness, Public Health, Environmental Influences, Social Influences
Policy Studies Associates, Inc. 1718 Connecticut Avenue NW Suite 400, Washington, DC 20009. Tel: 202-939-9780; Fax: 202-939-5732; Web site: http://www.policystudies.com
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, NJ.
Authoring Institution: Policy Studies Associates, Inc., Washington, DC.