New Study: Sports-Based Youth Development Promotes Social-Emotional Learning Growth

Posted by Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative on March 2, 2021

A recent study released by Laureus USA and the Allstate Foundation shows that sports-based youth development (SBYD) programs play a significant role in fostering critical social and emotional learning (SEL) skills necessary to succeed in school, careers, and life. The study found that substantially more young people in SBYD programs develop SEL skills than those attending non-sports programs, with a particularly strong impact on young men of color and youth in under-resourced communities.

The comprehensive study, Sports-based Youth Development: Hitting a Home Run in Social and Emotional Learning Outcomes, was conducted by Hello Insight and surveyed more than 60 SBYD programs and nearly 10,000 young people nationwide, including 14 Collaborative member organizations using the survey and reporting tool Hello Insight: Sports.

Key findings include:
  • Boys in SBYD programs are significantly more likely to develop SEL skills compared to boys in non-sports programs.
  • More girls in SBYD programs succeed in the area of growing Social Skills than did their peers in non-sports programs.
  • Young men of color in SBYD programs do not have significantly different scores than their white peers, showing that ethnicity does not impact SEL growth in SBYD programs, unlike non-sport youth programs.
  • Developing Positive Relationships with Coaches promotes a statistically significant growth in SEL; however, growth is driven by different methods for boys and girls.

These findings are particularly critical at a time where space, funding, and capacity will be limited as youth programming begins to reflect pre-pandemic activity. With participation rates down by nearly 84% in youth sports programs serving low-income communities (2020 SBYD National Survey, Youth Sports Collaborative Network), it is evidently clear that now more than ever, the children and families of Philadelphia need programs that not only focus on the physical development of a child, but also their mental, social, and emotional wellbeing. The Collaborative has always believed that sports provide a unique environment for positive youth development experiences, but this study adds further evidence that the work of our member organizations is critical and highly impactful on the youth of Philadelphia.

Learn more here.

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