P.01.1: Science based gender specific sport skills development, fitness, and mentor driven activity programs for at-risk elementary and middle school students

Title of Publisher: 
Name of Publisher: 
Dennis Floyd Jones
Publisher's Institution: 
West Virginia University

By Dennis Jones, PhD, West Virginia University, Denise Jones, Columbia University, & Lori McLaughlin, American University Denise L. Jones, MS Columbia University, Program Director, Youth Enrichment Services, Inc. 6031 Broad Street, Suite 202, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania 15206

Since 1994, Youth Enrichment Services, Inc. (YES) utilizes mentorship as a catalyst for health, leadership, and academic development in socially and economically at-risk youth. YES aims to empower communities to be their own best resources by employing a community-based approach to determining what factors prevent communities from thriving. In practice the YES model mitigates the pervading disparities of poverty, truancy, health inequity, and minority over-representation in the juvenile justice system, all of which inhibit effective learning and development in Pittsburgh’s most at-risk communities.YES understands the role mentorship, sports, and nutrition literacy play as catalysts for prosocial engagement and personal growth, particularly for school aged female youth. Part of YES’ broader Female Empowerment and Wellness Initiative (FeWi), the Forging Female Fitness with Fun (4-F) Camp holistically ensures Pittsburgh’s underserved female youth have access to high quality physical fitness, personal growth, and wholesome lifestyle programming. Through the 4-F Camp, YES challenges chronic social disparities and health inequities affecting young females of color including social inclusion, nutrition, physical fitness, self-esteem, and body confidence. Bodies of research exist regarding the impact of sport programs on youth of color, particularly those focusing on physical competition and leveling the playing field (Meyer & Roche, 2017; Njelesani, Gibson, Cameron, Nixon, & Polatajko, 2015; De Carolis, 2015; Alvarez-Glasman, 2005). However, limited research is available on the influence comprehensive (mental, emotional, and spiritual health) female and male sport programs have on youth of color. Using qualitative research methodology, this study seeks to explore the effects of gender specific sport development programs that integrate recreational sports and intentional peer dialogue on youth of color. Preliminary results demonstrate positive youth outcomes. Additional results are forthcoming. Keywords: mentorship, empowerment, youth sport programs, and students