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Weiss conducts youth development research and outreach in South Africa

Maureen Weiss, professor in the School of Kinesiology, traveled to Stellenbosch University in South Africa May 15-26, where she collaborated with Professor Elizabeth Bressan on research and community engagement projects. Their research involves an active lifestyles camp for culturally diverse and disadvantaged adolescent girls, with an emphasis on developing positive self-perceptions, supportive relationships, and leadership skills to contribute to community. They developed the curriculum to achieve positive youth development goals and trained coaches to effectively deliver the curriculum. Evaluation of the program's impact will be assessed using longitudinal and mixed methodologies.

shown below: Dr. Weiss with coaches who were trained to deliver the camp.

Weiss consulted with administrators of JAG (Jointly Achieving Growth), an afterschool physical activity-based youth development program focused on teaching life skills and health-enhancing behaviors to underserved youth. The running program consists of curriculum to promote social and emotional skills (e.g., resisting peer pressure to engage in risky behaviors) using trained coaches to deliver the lessons. Methods to improve life skills learning and evaluate the program's impact were discussed.

To draw linkages in youth development between kinesiology and psychology, Weiss advised psychology graduate students on their theses and delivered a research presentation to psychology faculty and students. The title of her presentation was, "Positive Youth Development in Physical Activity Contexts." A subsequent meeting with the dean of science involved discussing the possibility of creating a center for positive youth development that could benefit university and area secondary school students.

Finally, Weiss attended a reception hosted by the British deputy consul general in Cape Town "to celebrate the power of sport across all abilities" in anticipation of the Olympic and Paralympics Games in London. Members of England's Premier Football (Soccer) League were in attendance as well as stakeholders involved in Coaching for Hope, an innovative program that uses soccer to create better futures for young people in West and Southern Africa. The program organizes coaching courses where professional coaches from the UK train local youth workers. At the same time, the local coaches learn how to deliver HIV awareness and life skills sessions to young people in their communities.

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