Date of Award


Document Type

Poster Session


Elizabeth Dodge, M.F.A.

Second Advisor

Lisa Hibl, M.F.A., Ph.D.


Nationally, since 2008, participation in youth sports (ages 6-17) has dropped significantly. The declining trend--from 45% down to 37%-- can be attributed to many factors

  • The rising cost associated with general participation in programs, especially at the middle and high school levels
  • Early specialization in one sport along with the introduction of hypercompetitiveness in younger age groups
  • The need for coaches to have much more training and certification to get a foot in the door at schools and recreation programs around the country.

These factors cause a significant divide between underprivileged and privileged youth, creating a situation of haves and have-nots with respect to youth participation in sports.

My 30-hour service learning project afforded me hands-on experience instructing youth martial arts classes at the Greater Portland Branch YMCA, where I worked directly with youth from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. Specific information on participation trends was acquired through interviews with management, and a review of recent literature in Sports Medicine and Recreation and Leisure Studies journals provided data on national trends.



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