The development and sustainability of sports-based youth development programs as a viable option for after-school programs
Presbrey, James Bartlett
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The historical case study was designed to examine how the Play It Smart program, a Sports-Based Youth Development Program, was adopted and sustained by local stakeholders in an urban high school setting after the initial seed funding was cut. Current and past key stakeholders were invited to participate and school leaders (n = 2), community leaders (n = 2), the original Academic Coach (n = 1) and current Academic Coaches (two of which are past program participants) (n = 3) agreed to be interviewed for this investigation. The intent of the interviews was to uncover the key factors that are present that allow the Play It Smart program to sustain itself from year to year as well as how the program has become entrenched into the school culture and the role it plays in the academic and athletic objectives/philosophies of the school. Responses revealed a number of major themes related to the adoption and ongoing commitment to sustain the program for the last 16 years. These themes included an initial pledge from the stakeholders to restore the academic and athletic reputation at the school, the recognition of the relationship with the original Academic Coach and the positive results that were repeatedly promoted, the recruitment and buy-in from a collection of traditional and non-traditional allies including the students and, ultimately, a shift in culture that seems to stem from a dynamic group of past participants that provides hope. The themes related to sustainability seem to further validate the theoretical framework that was so critical for the establishment of the Play It Smart programs in that: the context, football (sport) and academic performance, is also valued by stakeholders; the primary external asset, the caring adult mentor or Academic Coach, was able to attract and involve other assets to support the participants; the internal assets, life skills, were developed and refined while participating in community service activities which serve as the regular highlights shared with stakeholders throughout the school year; and the evaluation was designed to promote progress and to allow for adjustments.