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What does it take to turn an impressionable youth into a healthy, responsible and motivated adult?

What role do parents, school, recreation, sports and community play in youth development?

What is the relationship between declining physical education in schools and increasedly sedentary children and adults in America.

How do the attitudes and behaviors of parents influence youth attitudes and participation in sports?


PRTM researchers are delving into the impact of community recreation and sport settings on the social and psychological development of children and youth. The resulting knowledge from our research informs policy decisions and on the ground practices that impact how schools and community centers think about and provide sports and outdoor recreation opportunities for children and youth.

The envisioned outcome

Healthy kids today, healthy responsible leaders tomorrow. That’s research that really makes a difference.

Featured Project: School Intramural Sports and Physical Activity: A Middle School Policy Intervention

Their mission?

Participation in youth sport declines significantly among both boys and girls during middle school years and we anticipate increasing disparities in physical activity and other health outcomes as the size of minority subpopulations increase, unless effective interventions are developed. Determining effective interventions within schools is essential because schools are the best avenue to reach a large percentage and diversity of children. This Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded study examined physical activity and youth development outcomes among four diverse middle schools with different sport policies (intramural sports vs. schools with inter-scholastic sports).

Our goals? To contribute data and information that will improve the science of physical activity research determinants involving underserved middle school children and to contribute to policy interventions to increase physical activity and other positive youth development outcomes among this population.

Why does this matter?

By demonstrating how programmatic interventions in schools relate to physical activity, findings from this study could provide justification for greater investments in school facilities and equipment, staffing, and school program provision. Results related to race/ethnic and gender variation would suggest what policy/management actions might be unique or common across different segments of the population. And once implemented? A healthier population for tomorrow.

Learn more about the Middle School Physical Activity Study in “Fit for Life”

Examples of Recent Publications from PRTM in the area of Youth Development


Kanters, M., Bocarro, J.N., Filardo, M., Edwards, M.B., McKenzie, T.L., & Floyd, M.F. (2014). Does shared use of school facilities enhance physical activity and is it cost effective? Journal of School Health, 84(5), 302-309.


Edwards, M.B., Bocarro, J.N., & Kanters, M. (2013). Place disparities in supportive environments for extracurricular school physical activity in North Carolina middle schools. Youth and Society, 45(2): 265-285.

Howard, K., Bocarro, J.N., & Kanters, M.A. (2013). Strategies for creating successful Joint Use agreements: A case study. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 31(1): 98-107.


Kanters, M., Bocarro, J.N., Casper, J., Suau, L.J., Greenwood, B.P., & McKenzie, T. (2012). Determinants of middle school sport participation: A comparison of different school policies for sport delivery. International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 12(3/4), 159-179.

Bocarro, J.N., Kanters, M., Cerin, E., Floyd, M.F., Casper, J., Suau, L.J., & McKenzie, T. (2012). School sport policy and school-based physical activity environments and their association with observed physical activity in middle school children. Health & Place, 18: 31-38.


Outley, C., Bocarro, J.N., & Boleman, C. (2011). Recreation as a component of the community youth development system. New Directions in Youth Development, 130: 59-72.