Recruiting Youth for After-School Health Intervention Programming: Parent and Student Perceptions


  • Elizabeth Wanless Ball State University
  • Lawrence W. Judge Ball State University
  • Shannon T. Dieringer Ball State University
  • James E. Johnson Ball State University



Elementary School, Exercise, Sport Participation


In an effort to increase physical activity (PA) in children, some schools are utilizing after-school PA programs. For after-school PA programs to attract children and their parents more effectively, it is important to understand participant perceptions. With input from parents and children, after-school PA programs will be better equipped to attract children to the PA program, resulting in greater participation, enjoyment, and increased PA. Thus, the purpose of this study was to gain insight into parents’ and children’s thoughts and decisions relating to joining an after-school PA program. A cross-sectional qualitative design was employed. Children were interviewed and parents were surveyed prior to youth involvement in Step Up for Health, an after-school PA program geared toward youth of a Midwest elementary school. Responses to the surveys and interviews were coded into categories. Thirty of 39 youth students reported participating to increase their physical fitness levels. Thirty-seven of 39 youth participants identified their physical education teacher as being influential in their decision to participate. Thirty-nine of 39 parents/legal guardians stated the main benefit of the program was that it provided a PA outlet for their child. Every adult participant identified their own child as an influential figure in the decision-making process to allow their child to participate. Perceptions held by parents and children provided insight into the recruitment process for PA programs. The theory of reasoned action can serve as a guide to understand why participants and their parents support such a program. 

Author Biographies

Elizabeth Wanless, Ball State University

Dr. Elizabeth Wanless is an assistant professor and coordinator of the undergraduate sport administration program at Ball State University.

Lawrence W. Judge, Ball State University

Dr. Lawrence Judge is a professor and associate chair in the School of Kinesiology at Ball State University

Shannon T. Dieringer, Ball State University

Dr. Shannon Dieringer is an assistant professor in the College of Education at Ball State University

James E. Johnson, Ball State University

Dr. James Johnson is an associate professor and coordinator of the graduate program in sport administration at Ball State University.