Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Positive Youth Development: Minority Male Participation in a Sport-Based Afterschool Program in an Urban Environment

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Positive Youth Development: Minority Male Participation in a Sport-Based Afterschool Program in an Urban Environment

Article excerpt

Purpose: As there is little research that investigates the experiences of minority boys participating in youth development programs (Fashola, 2003), the current research focused on a sport-based youth development program for early adolescent Black and Latino boys in Hartford, CT. Specifically, the present study explored (a) what attracted minority boys to participate in youth development programs, (b) what kept them involved, and (c) whether their involvement translated into positive developmental outcomes. Method: The study used semistructured individual interviews to collect data from 8 participants and their parents. The research team deductively coded interviews in accordance with the a-priori framework of the Five Cs and Sixth C of youth development (i.e., competence, character, caring, confidence, connection, and contribution; Roth & Brooks-Gunn, 2003). In addition, interviews were deductively coded to investigate why participants became involved in the program and why they continued participation. Results: Findings from the study indicated that participants became involved with the Sport Hartford Boys (SHB) program mainly due to its emphasis on sport-related activities. Moreover, findings related to the youths' continued involvement revealed their value for the SHB program as a safe place that kept them out of trouble and provided experiences that led to positive personal development. Furthermore, results indicated that participation in the program facilitated the development of each "C" of youth development. Conclusion: By promoting positive relationships and providing opportunities for self-exploration in a safe and trusting environment, afterschool programs can cultivate positive youth development in minority boys, at least in the short term.

Keywords: identity development, mentoring, sport-based youth development, youth programs


Within the past several decades, the role of afterschool sport and recreational programs has garnered growing interest from educators, developmental theorists, and practitioners alike (Roth & Brooks-Gunn, 2003). Much of this attention has focused on the efficacy of such programs in promoting cognitive, physical, and social capabilities (Ersing, 2009). Although empirical inquiry into the efficacy of youth sport-related activities has substantiated widely held perceptions of their value in promoting positive outcomes (Roth & Brooks-Gunn, 2003), questions remain as to whether these benefits extend across sociodemographic boundaries (e.g., gender, race, social class; Woodland, Martin, Hill, & Worrell, 2009).

The body of research on youth development has largely ignored minority boys in low-income neighborhoods. Although empirically based data support the effectiveness of development programs for youth in general, researchers and practitioners have little evidence of afterschool program effectiveness with minority boys from low-income neighborhoods (Woodland, 2008). Given (a) concern over the negative behaviors and outcomes (e.g., juvenile arrests, violence, drug use) of minority boys in low-income communities (Fashola, 2003; Woodland et al., 2009) and (b) the capacity of youth development programs to help promote healthy cognitive, social, and psychosocial development (Ersing, 2009), it would seem appropriate for scholars and practitioners to investigate this vulnerable, yet valuable, group.

Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to meet the recent call of scholars for further investigation into the experiences of minority boys who participate in youth development programs (Fashola, 2003; Woodland et al., 2009). In doing so, we attempted to address a visible gap in the youth development and afterschool program literature by posing three key questions. First, what attracts boys from underrepresented groups, specifically Blacks and Latinos, to youth development programs? Second, what influences them to stay involved? …

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