Seed Grant Awardee: Allison Ross
Sport, Sense of Community and School Climate
Allison Ross | School of Community Resources and Development
Despite the many positive outcomes associated with youth sport participation, opportunities for involvement remain plagued by inequities associated with factors such as income, race, gender, and geographic location. The comprehensive sport-centric approach (CSCA) is an innovative and unique model of learning that incorporates and emphasizes sport during and after the school day with the goal of creating healthier students and a more connected school community. The CSCA was developed as a strategy to combat inequity by providing a free sports-based program throughout the comprehensive school day. This inaugural CSCA program was developed at a school where more than 90% of students are eligible for free and reduced-price meals (FRPM). Students at this school are given the opportunity to become involved in sport, and to benefit from being part of a strong and healthy community they might not have otherwise been able to access or afford.
The purpose of this research is to specifically measure the association between participation in a CSCA program and perceptions of school climate (SC) and sense of community (SOC) – critical components of student social and emotional health. A matched control design will be utilized to isolate the effect of the CSCA. Additionally, the relationships will be examined by gender, grade level, and race/ethnicity to evaluate possible moderating effects. Disadvantages in socioeconomic status by racial and ethnic minorities contribute significantly to health disparities because disadvantaged children are exposed to more stressors and have fewer buffers to counter that stress. However, research has consistently conveyed that having safe and supportive relationships and environments are two mechanisms to protect against these risk factors. This study will investigate if sport engagement at school as part of a CSCA can serve as a catalyst to build a healthy, safe, and engaging environment for all students.