Youth Fit for Life (RTIPS) Afterschool Program

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Program Description

Youth Fit For Life is a 12-week after-school physical activity program for children aged 5-12 years who are already enrolled in some form of after-school care. The program is administered by trained after-school counselors with little or no prior PE delivery experience for the widest potential dissemination in the community. Youth Fit For Life meets three times per week for 45-minute sessions that include physical resistance training and cardiovascular exercise in the form of noncompetitive activities and cooperative games. A nutrition and health education component is provided for 5 minutes at each session, centered on a weekly theme. Once a week for 20 minutes, there is training around interactive, behavioral life skills (such as goal-setting, recruiting social support, and positive self-talk) presented in a conversational group format.

Program Participants / Implementers

  • Delivery Agents - Paid staff
  • After School Counselors
  • Trainer-of-trainers

Youth Fit For Life is suitable in any after-school care setting, such as the YMCA, schools, churches, and camps with a large multipurpose room, gym, or recreation area.

Strategies for sustainability

To date, independent, Youth Fit For Life programs have been established at YMCA sites throughout Metro Atlanta, Georgia; Asheville, North Carolina; Rockford, Illinois; San Jose, California; and Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Impact of program

This study aimed to test relations of physical selfconcept and self-efficacy with voluntary physical activity in preadolescents enrolled in an after-school physical activity program.

  • Reported days of voluntary physical activity increased from week 1 (M=2.39) to week 12 (M=3.24) in the 2003 Youth Fit For Life (p<.001 children.="" in="" the="" youth="" fit="" for="" life="" group="" children="" reported="" increase="" voluntary="" physical="" activity="" from="" week="" to="" this="" represents="" a="" significant="" study.="" days="" of="" at="" by="" control="" did="" not="" differ="">
  • Reported increases in voluntary physical activity across the 12-week Youth Fit For Life program were associated with increases in physical self-concept scores (p<.05 and="" with="" decreases="" in="" exercise="" barriers="" self-efficacy="" scores="" for="" the="" youth="" fit="" life="" group="" p="">
  • Physical self-concept improved significantly from week 1 (M=34.22) to week 12 (M=35.38) in the 2005 Youth Fit For Life group only (p<.05>
  • Exercise barriers self-efficacy improved significantly from week 1 (M=27.92) to week 12 (M=29.80) in the 2005 Youth Fit For Life group only (p<.001>
  • The amount of improvements in exercise barriers self-efficacy and physical self-concept were, together, associated with the amount of increases in voluntary physical activity for both the 2003 (p<.01 and="" youth="" fit="" for="" life="" groups.="">
Evaluation tools

Evaluation Document:

Title: Relations of physical self-concept and self-efficacy with frequency of voluntary physical activity in preadolescents:Implications for after-school care programming

Source: Journal of Psychosomatic Research

Challenges to meet them

Excess body weight in preadolescent and adolescent youth is a major predictor of early onset type II diabetes mellitus and obesity throughout the life span.  Based on CDC growth charts for the year 2000, 12% to 22% of preadolescent American youth are overweight. This represents a threefold increase over the last 25 years.  In addition to a diet high in fat and calories, lack of physical activity has been linked to the concern about weight increases in children.

Although most states mandate physical education (PE), and most elementary school youth participate in some form of PE instruction in the United States, many school systems are reducing PE requirements because of higher priorities for academics.  In most locations around the country, there is a need to supplement existing elementary school PE curricula with additional physical activity programming outside of the school environment.  Youth Fit For Life is an after-school care program of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for preadolescent youth that incorporates a behavioral skills training curriculum, as recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Length & stage of project

2005