Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Encourage Youths to Discover Their Passions

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Encourage Youths to Discover Their Passions

Article excerpt

The opportunities are endless. The range of extracurricular activities that youths can participate in go way beyond sports activities, and children can start as young as preschool age. Extracurricular activities are important to healthy adolescent development. Athletics as well as creative arts, volunteering and learning are areas that youths should explore to discover what they are good at and, most importantly, what they are passionate about.

According to the Search Institute, students who are involved in activities they are passionate about are more likely to have higher grades, better school attendance and physical health, empathy, social awareness, self-confidence, concern for the environment, a desire to help others, a stronger network of friends, and a sense of purpose.

Involved youths also are less likely to get involved in substance abuse, violence and sexual activity, or to be depressed. The National Federation of State High School Associations cites U.S. Department of Education findings that students who spend one to four hours weekly in extracurricular activities are 49 percent less likely to use drugs and 37 percent less likely to become teenage parents than their peers.

It benefits young athletes to be involved in an activity in addition to their sport of choice. U.S. News & World Report referred to a 2009 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development that found students who only participated in sports had lower scores on characteristics of positive development and higher scores on bullying, substance use and depression than students who also took part in youth development activities other than sports.

It does not matter what the extracurricular activity actually is as long as the youth enjoys it and is passionate about his or her involvement.

It also does not matter if the child excels at the activity or is mediocre. For example, a teenager who is captain of the debate team is not going to have a better experience than one who is a member of the school's choir. …

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