The GirlStars Program: Challenges to Recruitment and Retention in a Physical Activity and Health Education Program for Adolescent Girls Living in Public Housing
Horsburgh, C. Robert
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Citation (published version)Strunin, Lee, Maisha Douyon, Maria Chavez, Doris Bunte, C. Robert Horsburgh. "The GirlStars Program: Challenges to Recruitment and Retention in a Physical Activity and Health Education Program for Adolescent Girls Living in Public Housing" Preventing Chronic Disease 7(2). (2010)
BACKGROUND. Although physical inactivity is a concern for all adolescents, physical activity levels are especially low among minority adolescents and minimal among girls from low-income families. After-school programs can reduce high-risk behaviors and strengthen schools, families, and communities. CONTEXT. We conducted an operational research project that provided free access to a program of regular, organized physical activity combined with health education sessions for adolescent girls in 2 public housing developments in Boston, Massachusetts. METHODS. From July 2002 through October 2005, at each of 2 public housing sites, the GirlStars program participants met each week for two 2-hour sessions, 1 dedicated to physical activity and 1 dedicated to health education. Sessions were led by the project coordinator and a resident assistant at each development. OUTCOME. Participants in the GirlStars program increased their health knowledge, self-confidence, and decision-making skills, but rates of participation were low. Factors that affected participation included safety concerns, lack of community support for the program, interpersonal conflicts, attrition in staff, and conflicts with other activities. INTERPRETATION. Programs in public housing developments that address these barriers to recruitment and retention may be more successful and reach more girls.