Embedding the learning of life-skills into a physical activity session or sport practice

John McCarthy, Boston University, USA
Val Altieri, Jr., Boston University, USA
Frederick Ettl, Boston University, USA

Theme: Life skills/learning strategies (includes coping)

Program ID: WKSP-22

Presentation: October 4, 2013 8:15 am - 9:30 am

Room: Magnolia


Across the U.S. there are countless programs that aim to support positive youth development through sport and physical activity. These programs often aim to provide opportunities for youth to learn “transferable life skills.” (Petitpas et al. 2005; U.N.S.D.P.-I.W.G., 2010). Despite these aims, most youth organizations struggle to consistently provide high-quality, intentional programming that teaches life-skills in any systematic way. Challenges invariably arise (e.g. understaffing, inadequate facilities, transportation issues, insufficient funding), but as Hellison (2011) has urged, these should not overshadow “program leader responsibilities” to provide programming that will support positive youth development. Hellison’s key responsibilities for youth program leaders include: 1. Gradual youth empowerment; 2. Youth self-reflection; 3. Embedding life skills into program activities; 4. Teaching for transfer of lessons outside the gym, and 5. Being relational. To uphold these responsibilities consistently, program leaders must rely on a set of core principles that guide daily action, and design and deliver a thoughtful program that will ensure fidelity to those responsibilities. Our workshop will present an approach to youth development through physical activity that has been developed over six years in an urban, underserved high school setting. Facilitators will engage attendees in the activities they have developed that address Hellison’s key responsibilities for youth program leaders, followed by discussion. Our approach emphasizes creating a caring climate (Newton et al. 2007) using Hellison’s (2011) TPSR Model (Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility) and uses guided post-activity reflection (both written and verbal). We will provide examples from youth in our project, and will ask participants to reflect on the design for their own settings. Mild physical activity will be encouraged (but is optional), so if you are considering actively participating in this portion of the session, dress comfortably. Others may observe; all participants will be invited to discuss and reflect.

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