by Danielle H.
In today’s society, it is not uncommon to see girls play hockey, or to see boys participate in dance. However, that hasn’t always been the case. In earlier cultures, sport and recreation have been seen as more masculine activities (Davis & Weaving, 2010). Although society has changed, it seems to be challenging to get youth ages 10 and up to participate in recreation and sport, especially females. Some studies suggest that it is because of puberty, and other studies suggest that it is because of peer pressure and peer groups (Class lectures). In my experience as a recreation leader, youth ages 10 and up seem to be conscious of their appearance. They do not like their peers to see them sweat, or mess up their hair. Peer pressure can also be a huge factor preventing youth from participating, especially if they are not good at the specific activity, or if there is a bully participating in the activity.
There are various ways that we as recreation leaders, coaches, volunteers, and parents can assist in promoting physical activity. A specific study done in the mid-1990s, suggests that we listen to youths’ opinion to allow us to make it easier for youth to participate in recreation and sport (Eley, Kirk, & MacPhail, 2003). If we accompanied this survey with the “Ladder of Youth Participation”, I believe it would be a perfect way to get youth involved.
The ladder of youth participation consists of different levels of youth voice. (Class lectures). If we allow youth to be involved and allow them to share their ideas with adults, it seems like the best case scenario. We have the youth, who know exactly what is going on in their generation, and you have the adult, who can help implement their ideas. In my experience, it has been great to address that bullying will not be tolerated before any activity has started, as well as discussing consequences. To help eliminate peer pressure, and encourage all youth to participate, I always offered rewards at the end of the activity. Whether that be free play at the end of the day, or a special treat. It was also very challenging to get girls to participate in certain activities. They would usually just stand in the corner of the gym in a circle and talk to each other. In these cases, I would pair them up, participate with them, or encourage them by saying if they all participated then they could pick an activity on a certain day.
There are various ways we can get youth to participate in sport and recreation. Even though sometimes gender is an issue, or age is an issue, there is always a way. It is our job as recreation leaders, parents, coaches, and volunteers to help make this happen. Society has evolved, and allows all genders to participate in sport and recreation, it is our job to help implement this into society.
Davis, P., & Weaving, C. (2010). Philosophical perspectives on gender in sport and physical activity. London; New York: Routledge.
Eley, D., & Kirk, D., & MacPhail, A. (2003). Listening to Young People’s Voices: Youth Sport Leaders’ Advice on Facilitating Participation in Sport. European Physical Education Review, 9, 52-73.