Making alternative sport/PA programs work : understanding the essential elements vital to successful and sustainable after-school sport/PA programs
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The purpose of this study is to examine the components that are essential to successful and sustainable after-school sport and physical activity programs. The study examines not only what components must be present, but what barriers as well must be overcome to ensure implementation, success, and sustainability. While some programs have been successful in attracting and providing alternative programs for those that do not currently participate in interscholastic sport, the elements that make such programs successful and sustainable have yet to be thoroughly identified in the field. This study will examine best practices of existing successful programs, in order to make recommendations for expanding these programs to other schools. This study employed a qualitative descriptive design aimed at garnering an in-depth understanding of the experiences and perceptions of participants and program administrators in public schools who currently offer such programs. The study utilized questionnaires, interviews (individual and group), and observations to examine the best practices toward implementing attractive and sustainable after-school physical activity programs. The study included a comprehensive description of the programs, participants, and procedures of seven (7) separate Texas high school after-school programs. The programs fall into three (3) distinctive program designs. In addition, the essential components that make these programs successful and sustainable were reviewed. These five components were Supportive Administrators and Decision Makers Quality Facilitators, Inclusive and Enjoyable Opportunities, Practical and Flexible Logistics, and Parental and Community Involvement. Each of these elements is discussed in-depth in relation to motivational and adolescent development theories. This study demonstrates the viability of promoting and implementing theoretically sound programs that address appropriate developmental capabilities and student motivations. Through focus on local interests, inclusive programs, engaged facilitators, community involvement, and creative facility usage, a broad range of public schools could embrace the value and benefit of physical activity and sport programs for academic enhancement and positive youth development.