Academic journal article Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal

Enhancing Girls' Physical Activity and Self-Image: A Case Study of the GoGirlGo Program

Academic journal article Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal

Enhancing Girls' Physical Activity and Self-Image: A Case Study of the GoGirlGo Program

Article excerpt

Abstract

Physical activity and sport developmental programs have demonstrated some success at providing valuable resources for young women as they navigate their teen years, yet these programs are not always intentional and/or accessible (Cadwallader, 2001; Petitpas, Cornelius, Van Raalte, & Jones, 2004; Tucker Center, 2007). One such program developed by the Women's Sports Foundation is GoGirlGo. The curriculum, which combines sports participation with education, focuses on reducing and preventing unhealthy behaviors and on providing valuable connections and resources for girls. Using the theory of developmental intentionality, this qualitative investigation examined the efficacy of GoGirlGo in a five day long sport camp setting. This condensed delivery method is not addressed or recommended in the literature, yet the results of this investigation reveal that this delivery method is effective and could broaden the accessibility of the program.

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A Case Study of the GoGirlGo Program at a Summer Sport Camp

Adolescence can be a difficult time for young people; the transition from childhood to adulthood often brings with it many challenges (Feldman & Eliot, 1990; Lerner & Foch, 1987). Delinquency, experimentation with drugs and alcohol, sexual exploration, disinterest in school, and conflict with peers and parents are examples of social problems that can begin during early adolescence and can have a long-term impact on an individual (LeCroy, 2004a). In addition, "with the onset of puberty, both boys and girls become increasingly aware of not only their culture's dominant gender roles but of the expectation that they begin to conform to these models" (Crissey & Honea, 2006, p. 250).

While this period is difficult for boys as well as girls, this case study focuses on the challenges that young women face. Threats to their health and well-being include suicide, substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, dieting, and eating problems (Millstein, Petersen, & Nightingale, 1993). For example, about 17% of girls are obese or overweight (National Center for Health Statistics, 2002), almost 30% of high school aged females use tobacco (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2002), 38% of senior girls in high school have used an illicit drug at least once in the past year (Johnston, O'Malley, & Bachman, 2002), and about 25% of sexually active adolescents are infected with a sexually transmitted disease each year (Kirby, 2001). Some have suggested that these behaviors are a manifestation of underlying issues such as poor body image, low self-esteem (i.e., one's overall evaluation of his or her own worth), and low self-efficacy (i.e., one's judgment of his or her ability to succeed in reaching a specific goal) (c.f, Bandura, 1997; 2001; Crissey & Honea, 2006; McCabe & Ricciardelli, 2004; Strachan & Brawley, 2008).

A major threat to the physical and mental health of girls and women today is an obsession with weight and slimness. An unrealistic and often unattainable depiction of the female body is apparent throughout popular media in magazines, commercials, movies, etc. This falsification has led to a negative body image for girls who do not conform to this "ideal" image (Crissey & Honea, 2006). Researchers have shown that adolescent girls experience higher levels of body dissatisfaction than adolescent boys; while boys prefer a muscular upper body and thin waist, girls want a slim overall body that is viewed as central to their popularity (Ricciardelli & McCabe, 2001). Interestingly, while body dissatisfaction has failed to predict body change strategies and/or health risk behaviors in boys, it is an excellent predictor for girls (McCabe & Ricciardelli, 2004). Girls will sometimes adopt behaviors such as weight-loss strategies, disordered eating, and exercise dependence in order to alter their bodies to match this Sociocultural ideal. …

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