Category Archives: Community Outreach

National evaluation study of Girls on the Run by Kinesiology professor Maureen Weiss reveals the program transforms young girls’ lives

An independent evaluation study by Maureen Weiss, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology, shows that Girls on the Run, a national physical activity-based positive youth development program for elementary-age girls, has a profound and lasting positive impact on girls’ confidence, competence, connection to others, character, caring, and life skills.

Girls on the Run is a nonprofit organization that uses running as a vehicle for teaching life skills to girls in third through fifth grades. The intentional life skills curriculum and mandatory annual coach training set Girls on the Run apart from other activity programs. The three-part curriculum teaches understanding of self, valuing relationships and teamwork, and exploring one’s connection to the world.

Weiss’s study revealed that:

  • Girls on the Run participants were significantly more likely than girls in organized sport and physical education to learn and use life skills including managing emotions, resolving conflict, helping others or making intentional decisions.
  • 97% of girls said they learned critical life skills at Girls on the Run that they are using at home, at school and with their friends
  • Girls who began the program with below-average scores dramatically improved from pre- to post-season on all outcomes—competence, confidence, connection, character, and caring. This shows that girls who might need a positive youth development program benefited most from their participation.
  • Girls who were the least active before Girls on the Run increased their physical activity level by 40% from pre- to post-season and maintained this increased level beyond the program’s end.

The video and the website illuminate the study findings through an interactive format. The study has also been publicized on Globe Newswire.

“Girls on the Run participants scored higher in managing emotions, resolving conflict, helping others, and making intentional decisions than participants in organized sport or physical education,” said Weiss.  “Being able to generalize skills learned in the program to other situations such as at school or at home is a distinguishing feature of Girls on the Run compared to traditional youth sports and school PE, and suggests that the intentional life skills curriculum and coach-training program can serve as exemplars for other youth programs.”

 

HSCL members share hands-on science with students and families at Hmong International Academy

Jessica Holst-Wolf and Arash Mahnan

Members of the Human Sensorimotor Control Lab (HSCL) in the School of Kinesiology attended the Hmong International Academy for a community outreach event last Thursday evening, March 30. The Academy, a culturally specific school for children Pre-K through Grade 8, asked several departments at the U of M to attend Family Fun Night to share information about their work and research for families and their children who attend the school.

Kinesiology doctoral students Jessica Holst-Wolf, Arash Mahnan and I-Ling Yeh set up three mini-stations demonstrating EMG (electromyography) technology, postural control, and how to measure haptic sensitivity, or sense of touch, and provided general information about kinesiology and movement science. HSCL lab director is Kinesiology professor Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D.

Rec Admin students develop report for Three Rivers Park District on barriers to underrepresented groups

Sara Hansen and Tyler Tegtmeier, both Recreation Administration students in the School of Kinesiology, have developed a report for the Three Rivers Park District to research recreation opportunities for underrepresented populations in the district’s public parks. The 27-page report of their findings provides recommendations to reduce barriers to parks and recreation facilities by underrepresented groups. The report was presented to the organizations involved in the study for their consideration and determination of next steps.

Hansen and Tegtmeier proceeded with the report under the guidance of Recreation Administration Director Connie Magnuson, Ph.D., along with Alex McKinney, Recreation Supervisor at Three Rivers Park District.

REC students involved in Resilient Communities Project (RCP)

Under the leadership of Tony Brown, Ph.D., Recreation Administration instructor in the School of Kinesiology and associate director of the Department of Recreational Sports, students participated in this year’s Resilient Communities Project (RCP), working with the City of Brooklyn Park. The students enrolled in the Recreation Administration major applied their knowledge and skills to a real-world project with a community partner. They worked with the City’s in its effort to address nature-based recreation opportunities and equitable use of athletic fields.

The RCP is an organization dedicated to connecting communities in Minnesota with diverse expertise of University of Minnesota faculty and students to address pressing local issues in ways that advance sustainability and resilience.