Leaders @ Play extends previous work conducted by the UIC Institute for Juvenile Research to develop and evaluate a Chicago Park District physical activity program called Leaders @ Play for middle school youth exhibiting early indicators of social and emotional problems. In its initial iteration, the program was evaluated in 3 parks with 46 youth (100% African American, 100% low-income, 59% female, M=13.09 years old) and showed improvements in social skills and reductions in problem behaviors indicating high promise for integrating evidence-based tools for building social competencies into recreational activities, and fostering resilience among youth and families. The program relies on introducing and practicing a set of skills (effective communication, emotion regulation, and problem solving) through recreational activities to reduce problem behaviors and prepare youth to acquire and succeed in leadership roles (Frazier et al., 2015). In its current iteration the UIC Healthy Kids Lab partnered with faculty at the UIC Institute for Juvenile Research to revise and implement the program at 5 Chicago Park District parks as part of the 2016 Summer Chicago Park District Teen Leadership Program. Ultimately, this project aims to disseminate Leaders @ Play across Chicago Park District parks.
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