LaVerne DaCosta is a Ph.D. student and faculty associate, teaching education and society courses at Arizona State University. Her Master of Science research focused on youth services. Her current research interest is in youth culture and technology.
From my brief profile above, I am sure you already know where my passion lies. I believe in the creative potential of young people, and I believe strongly in the value of after-school programs as a resource to help foster and sustain that potential.
The research on after-school recreation programs, which includes my own Master of Science research, has shown that after-school programs can be beneficial to students, particularly children from underserved communities and/or adolescents who are trying to form their individual identity and are particularly vulnerable to structural or environmental factors that leave them exposed to risk. Such students tend to act out their aggressions, mistrust and hopelessness in a myriad of counter-productive ways.
The public school classroom is the one place that such students seldom get the help they need. The structure of schools and classroom discipline only serve to exacerbate the problem. Regular participation by young people in after-school recreation programs, however, can have an impact on reducing their negative behaviors.
Additionally, the numerous literature indicate that because the factors that affect young people’s behaviors are inter-related, after-school recreation programs which help to reduce negative behavior, juvenile delinquency, and violent crime also help to build self-esteem, ego-resiliency and ultimately impact their academic achievement. After-school recreation programs can help maltreated children and transitional foster-care children cope with a variety of issues in their lives and contribute to goals such as self-efficacy and positive development. Practice is the key to building confidence and these programs provide this space through enrichment curriculum with the exclusion of any grand theory of success and failure.