Come as You Are – Reconnecting Disengaged Youth with Physical Activity

On May 23rd, BCAHL hosted a webinar on new approaches to increase youth participation in physical activity.

The teen years are a time when kids increasingly withdraw from sports and physical activity. For some youth, the barriers to participation are more difficult to overcome and motivation is a challenge for them and for those that are trying reach out to them.

The session looked at what we know about why youth drop-out or don’t participate and what can help bring them back.

Shawna Lawson with viaSport spoke about their focus group research and what youth say themselves about these issues, as well as what advice we can take from youth workers that have been successful in creating inclusive spaces that attract more youth, including those who have felt marginalized or excluded in the past.

Samantha Hartley-Folz from the YMCA told us about their Mind Fit program, which is targeted to youth between 13-19 experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of depression. She told us about how this program supports teens in learning how to incorporate physical activity into their mental wellness plan and to try new activities.

It’s important to keep the conversation open about reconnecting youth with fun, healthy physical activity!

Speaker Profiles:

Shawna Lawson is the Manager for Research and Social Innovation with viaSport. She holds a Master’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of British Columbia. Her areas of expertise include critical sport studies, qualitative research methodology, sport mega-event policy analysis, and public relations. Shawna’s approach is research-centered, solutions-oriented, and laser focused on positive change.

Samantha Hartley-Folz is the Manager, Provincial Initiatives at the YMCA. Sam has worked in the non-profit sector for over seventeen years in a variety of roles, including program management and development, grants, communications and policy. Sam’s favourite projects are those that use partnerships to span sectors to support positive change and strong sustainable initiatives. She is currently working with the Mind Fit and Y Mind mental wellness programs to support their expansion across BC.


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