Positive Youth Development in a Sports-Based Youth Program


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Virginia Tech


Positive youth development (PYD) is a framework where organizations and systems focus on promoting the health and well-being of youth rather than simply eliminating their problems (Mahoney & Lafferty, 2003). Youth programs, including sports-based programs, strive to foster PYD through the implementation of life skills building activities. Positive youth development through sport concentrates tremendously on transferring these life skills to various settings, like school, home, and the workforce (Holt et al., 2020). The concept is mainly philosophical and theoretical at its core, so the Five C’s were established as a way to measure PYD. The Five C’s include competence, confidence, connection, character, and caring (Lerner, et al., 2005). Using an outcome evaluation, this study determined how effective a sports-based youth program, Elite Youth of America (EYA) Sports, was at implementing positive youth development. Specifically, this study focused on activities that influenced changes in the character, confidence, and connection of program participants. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used to answer the research questions, as interviews and surveys revealed the valuable insight on program operations. The data collection process revealed EYA Sports promotes character by modeling correct behaviors and helping youth develop traits of good, contributing citizens. They promote confidence by consistently encouraging their youth participants and having an intense attention to detail that allows athletes to see their growth. Lastly, the sports-based youth program promotes connection by creating a family atmosphere and being relatable and accessible to their youth.