Benefits-Based Programming: Making an Impact on Youth


  • Karen P. Hurtes
  • Lawrence R. Allen
  • Bonnie W. Stevens
  • Charles Lee


Benefits-Based Programming, Benefits Movement, impact or outcome assessment, resiliency, youth


In recent years, there has been an increased focus on the outcomes of programs offered by human service organizations. Within recreation, this trend has given rise to Benefits-Based Programming (BBP). The purpose of this study was to assess, in a variety of settings, the impact of recreation programs designed to build resiliency skills and attitudes using an outcome-oriented recreation programming model (BBP). Five demonstration sites conducted a total of ten programs specifically targeting youth. Specific outcome goals, which varied by site, were assessed for demonstration groups (n= 17-25) and matched comparison groups (n = 9-23) for each program. These goals included the enhancement of protective factors, anger management skills, social and skill efficacy, social responsibility, neighborhood satisfaction, and the development of specific resiliency skills. Analysis of covariance (AN COV A) for unbalanced samples was used for all programs, with the pre-test scores serving as the covariate. Although the results vary widely by site, the overall pattern of results suggests that the BBP philosophy, incorporating a resiliency framework, is appropriate and effective in programs in which the level of contact between participants and recreation professionals is high. Regarding implementation, the results suggest that consistent staffing and levels of participant involvement lead to stronger relationships and, therefore, improved results. Higher levels of organization also appear to lead to higher levels of impact. Finally, this study demonstrates that recreation can be a developmental intervention in and of itself, rather than a "carrot" used only to draw participants into developmental programs.





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