Youth Clubs Help Kids Establish Stronger Self-Image

After school activities and youth clubs such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of America have more benefit than just keeping kids out of trouble after school and developing their social skills. A new study, recently published in Children and Youth Services Review, has illustrated that participation in youth clubs has a direct impact on individual student’s sense of self-image and self-identity. The study was conducted in a Utah city by researchers from Ohio state. They looked at 300 kids, ages 9-16, to gauge their level of participation in the local Boys and Girls Club, as well as other factors such as family relationships and school performance.

What they found was that the kids who participated in youth clubs had higher rates of self-image, as well as lower rates of problem behavior (defined as drug, alcohol, and tobacco use; gang involvement; and academic failure), even if they just chose to play basketball every day they attended. Students who opted for life skills classes and other educational activities fared even better. The study also showed that kids didn’t need to attend every day to reap the benefits, although regular attendance makes those benefits stronger; as long as students had come enough to have a positive relationship with a staff member and feel some sense of ownership in the group, their self-image was more developed.

The study’s researchers explain that a more developed self-concept helps kids stay out of trouble because they are more rooted in who they are, and what kinds of things they do. They’re less susceptible to peer pressure and less likely to seek reinforcement from negative influences. Youth clubs and programming, thus, serve social and academic purposes but impart a secondary benefit, almost akin confidence counseling that they don’t notice because they’re playing games and having fun. The more kids participate and get involved, the greater benefit they receive.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Clayton


    June 17th, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    Being in good company surely is a great thing and especially so for kids of this age because it is at this age that they may be deviated off their path and fall in the wrong company losing their way and lead the rest of their lives the wrong way…it is very important to actually monitor kids at school to ensure that they are not into any vices and this is a great method,one that kids will enjoy too.

  • Steve


    June 17th, 2010 at 1:19 PM

    I am a veteran of the Boys and Girls club ssytem. I attended after school programs associated with them myself when I was younger and then worked with a group for several years after graduating from college. I cannot say enough about the positive ways that this system influenced me whan I was younger that I then in turn got the chance to share with other young people when I was given the opportunity to do so. The program has so much to offer- mentoring and just getting youth involved in something besides video games and tvs. The program that I was fortunate enough to work with was willing to go out and help establish a sense of community in these kids and helped to get them to feeling good about themselves, something that no one else had ever done for them before. I can say truthfully that I am proud to have been a part of that.

  • Alvin


    June 18th, 2010 at 5:53 AM

    contrary to popular belief,these kind of activities are not time-wasters that lead to lower grades…they actually spruce up the child and lead to better grades…I have experienced this myself during my school days and my grades really improved because I gained a lot of confidence due to such activities.

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