Abstract: Community Youth Development Adaptations during COVID-19 (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

Community Youth Development Adaptations during COVID-19

Sunday, January 16, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 10, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Travis Scheadler, MS, MSW/PhD Student, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Dawn Anderson-Butcher, PhD, Professor, Ohio State University, OH
Rebecca wade-Mdivianit, MSW, Director, College of Social Work, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Anthony Amorose, PhD, Professor, Illinois State University
Jerry Davis, PhD, Professor, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Background and Purpose: COVID-19 brought challenges to the design and implementation of many positive youth development (PYD) programs and contributed to poorer nutrition, greater mental health issues, and social disconnectedness among youth (Elliott et al., 2021; Seçer & Ulaş, 2020). This paper describes how one sport-based PYD program, LiFEsports, adapted its programming during the pandemic to ensure opportunities for social-emotional learning among youth at home, in the community, and online. This study examines the impact of the adapted curriculum on self-control, effort, teamwork, and social responsibility (S.E.T.S.).

Methods: The “LiFEsports at Home” instructional guide included S.E.T.S. instructional activities, drills for 5 different sports, participation logs, goal setting sheets, and sport equipment. Weekly e-newsletters were sent to families with links to instructional videos. Parents/caregivers (n = 120) completed surveys about their child’s previous and recent use of and experience with the equipment included in their bag. Additionally, 25 youth (ages 5-17) who attended an in-person community-based LiFEsports summer camp with restrictions (e.g., smaller occupancy, social distancing, modified sport activities, etc.) completed pre- and post-tests. Finally, 107 youth enrolled in the six-week “Sport in a Bag” virtual program (one where families were provided all the necessary equipment and supplies needed to participate at home) completed pre- and post-tests. For the community-based and virtual programs, youth completed the Perceived Self-Control Scale (Anderson-Butcher et al., 2016a) assessing abilities to control and manage reactions and emotions; Perceived Effort Scale (Anderson-Butcher et al., 2016b) assessing abilities to try hard; Teamwork Scale for Youth (Lower et al., 2015) assessing abilities to collaborate with others; Perceived Social Responsibility Scale (Anderson-Butcher et al., 2016c) assessing respect toward others; Perceived Social Competence Scale-II (Anderson-Butcher et al., 2014) assessing engagement in prosocial behaviors; and additional items assessing perceptions of support, acceptance, and safety. Descriptive statistics and paired t-tests examined changes in scores from pre- to post-camp.

Results: Most parents/caregivers reported their child looked at the home instructional guide (85.7%), did a few or most of the activities (58.9%), and set weekly goals (59.6%). Open-ended responses suggest the program provided youth with fun activities that also focused on S.E.T.S. and healthy development. For the in-person program, self-control and social competence increased and the others decreased from pre- to post-camp, but none of the differences were significant. The virtual program attendees saw small but insignificant increases in all measures. Nonetheless, additional items showed participants felt a sense of support, acceptance, and safety.

Conclusions and Implications: Although the sport-based PYD camp looked different, youth still gained opportunities to be physically active, learn S.E.T.S., develop relationships with caring adults, and engage with their peers. These initial data, though statistically insignificant, have clinical importance and provide some evidence of the value of PYD programs during COVID-19. Findings showcase the promise of virtual and at-home programming for the future.