In their shoes: coaches' and participants' experiences with a running-based youth development group
Chipman Machon, Kristen Emily
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This project explored the experiences of adolescents and adult coaches who took part in Sole Train, a running-based youth development group, during its 2015–2016 program. Qualitative interviews about being “in the shoes” of four Sole Train coaches and five participants were conducted. Special attention was paid to whether and how Sole Train influenced participants’ psychological well-being levels (as defined by Ryff (1989)). Ryff (1989) described psychological well-being as including six dimensions; this study’s results suggested that for participants, each of these — self-acceptance, personal growth, purpose in life, positive relations with others, environmental mastery and autonomy — were in some way affected by their involvement in Sole Train. Coaches reported observing changes in participants that aligned with these six dimensions, and participants discussed experiencing such changes. Next, the type of climate coaches aimed to create and whether participants perceived the program to have a caring climate (as defined by Newton, Fry, Watson, Gano-Overway, Kim, Magyar and Guivernau (2007)) was examined. The results suggested that coaches tried to create caring climates, and that participants experienced groups as caring. Other findings included that Sole Train was described as fun and joyful, that involvement benefited both participants and coaches, that both groups faced challenges, that Sole Train’s caring climate may have influenced changes in participants’ well-being levels, and that the act of running was an important part of Young Soles’ experiences. Finally, the results support the idea that youth development through physical activity programs can impact those involved both physically and emotionally.