Developmental Benefits of Extracurricular Sports Participation Among Brazilian Youth

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Youth sporting activities have been explored as a way to impact positive personal transformation and development, glaringly demonstrated by world-wide investments in public policies, programs, and projects. We studied positive effects of participation in sports on the developmental assets of 614 adolescents (13.1 ± 1.7 years) actively engaged in extracurricular sport programs targeted at socially disadvantaged youths, from five municipalities across five states of the southern, south-eastern and north-eastern regions of Brazil. Participants responded to a developmental assets questionnaire designed to capture sociodemographic and human development data. Multilevel logistic regression was used to explore associations between years of participation in sport and human development indicators, controlling for age and sex. Our results showed that the quality of the young people’s support network and duration of program participation positively influenced sport participation, which, in turn, was associated with willingness to learn. A strong association was also observed between sport participation and developmental assets. Thus, we offer new evidence of a relationship between positive development and environmental factors in which individual and contextual forces can be aligned, and we provide new reference data for developing countries.

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