From The Precipice: Recreation Experiences of High-Risk Adolescent Girls


  • Kathryn (Kat) King


Adolescence, high-risk, recreation, leisure, social space


The purpose of this interpretive study was to explore the factors influencing the daily recreation and leisure experiences of high-risk adolescent girls. This perspective offers a unique opportunity to gain a richer understanding of the opportunities, choices, and influences of adolescent girls in this area of recreation. Symbolic interactionism served as the guiding framework for study. In-depth interviewing and constant comparison were used as methods of data collection and analysis. To participate in the study each girl needed to be between the ages of 12-1 7 years and a current or past participant of the teen club at a specific recreation center. The sample consisted of nine African American girls who met the criteria. Each girl participated in one interview lasting between one half hour to an hour and a half in length. Two major themes emerged from the interviews, each with three subthemes. The first theme was the desire for social space, a location exclusively "owned" by adolescents. Most girls discussed the importance of an outdoor basketball court that neighborhood teens considered "their space." Three aspects of the space provided by the basketball court comprise the subthemes: (1) ability to determine the activities present in that space, (2) freedom from adult surveillance, and (3) opportunity for social interaction. The second theme was related to the willingness of the girls to enter space considered neutral or adult-owned. The three subthemes were: ( 1) age of participant, (2) pre-existing relationship with adults or peers, and (3) ability to participate in the activity planning process. Findings indicated that as adolescents grow older they become less inclined to enter places perceived as multigenerational or controlled by adults. Implications for practice include the consideration of adolescent preferences regarding space, forming of relationships by the adult within the context of the adolescents' social space, and deliberate inclusion of teens in the planning process of activities. Implications for future studies include influences on the perception of social space by adolescents and the effect changes in this space would have on their recreation choices.





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