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Positive Youth Development through a Co-Designed Modified Boxing Program

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DOI: 10.4236/jss.2020.81013    97 Downloads   290 Views


A modified boxing program in which youth and adults participated together ran for almost five years at an Australian community youth club. It was initially focused on preparing participants for occasional modified boxing competitions in which impacts to the head and neck were prohibited and any forceful impacts were penalized. The Head Coach of the program initiated regular small-group and individual discussions with participants and used the outcomes to guide program iteration. The participants became co-designers of the program and therefore architects of their own sport experience. This led to substantial changes in the nature of the program, with interpersonal competition progressively de-emphasized and eventually almost entirely removed. Increased attention was directed to building a cohesive, inclusive community and engaging in cooperative endeavours that provided a shared sense of purpose. Natural adult mentors emerged, and some adolescents took on peer leadership roles. Through a partnership between the club and a local university, program participants became involved in diverse research activities aimed at program improvement. Young program participants began to anecdotally report obtaining broad-ranging benefits from the program, and these reports were subjectively corroborated by parents and natural mentors. To determine the nature of any such benefits, we examined records of discussions that the Head Coach had logged in a detailed journal over the course of the program. We targeted a purposeful sample that included six young program participants and twelve adults who had varying program connections. Thematic analysis performed on the records of discussions with the selected subjects revealed that the most common perceived benefits that young people derived from the program were increased determination, increased self-confidence and enhanced leadership skills. Specific program features most clearly associated with these outcomes were fostering of positive and supportive relationships, collaborative involvement of the young people in determining program directions and provision of opportunities for positive observational learning. These findings are consistent with published literature and contemporary theories on positive youth development. Although positive youth development was not the explicit objective of the modified boxing program, the establishment of functional youth-adult partnerships and co-design procedures in the program environment caused the program to take on characteristics that research has identified as critical to attainment of positive youth development outcomes.

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Perkins, P. and Hahn, A. (2020) Positive Youth Development through a Co-Designed Modified Boxing Program. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 8, 148-199. doi: 10.4236/jss.2020.81013.

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