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Secrets of their success: Activity Participation and Positive Youth Development

Barber, B.L., Abbott, B.D., Blomfield, C.J. and Eccles, J.S. (2009) Secrets of their success: Activity Participation and Positive Youth Development. In: Gilman, R., Huebner, E.S. and Furlong, M.J., (eds.) Handbook of Positive Psychology in Schools. Taylor and Francis, New York, pp. 273-289.


When adolescents are asked about how they use their leisure time, most report some involvement in organized structured activities-sports, performing arts, clubs, service activities and church youth groups. For example, 70% of students in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health reported participating in at least one school-based activity (Feldman & Matjasko, 2005). Sports are the most commonly reported activities, followed by performing arts (Eccles, & Barber, 1999; Feldman & Matjasko, 2007; Zill, Nord, & Loomis, 1995). Voluntary community service is also reported by between one-third and one-half of all youth (Metz, McLellan, & Youniss, 2003; Youniss et al., 2002). Girls tend to participate in more types of activities, whereas boys are most likely to play sports (Eccles & Barber, 1999; Feldman & Matjasko, 2007; Mahoney & Cairns, 1997). Given the prevalence of extracurricular activities in the daily lives of youth, it is important to understand their role in successful development and healthy adjustment.

Publication Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
Copyright: Taylor and Francis
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