Many of today’s youth face unmet basic needs; are involved with anti-social peers; experience family conflict and instabilities; and suffer from emotional, behavioral, and mental health issues. Because of this, youth development programs are extremely important in promoting healthy youth development and addressing risk factors in youth.

Youth development researchers and program administrators have made advances in addressing positive outcomes for youth, but there is still much to be learned in the field. Not much is known about what specific program characteristics create these positive outcomes, or how volunteers can be better prepared and trained so that program designs are more likely to create positive outcomes.

A unique partnership among The Ohio State University’s College of Social Work, the Department of Athletics, the Department of Recreational Sports, and the Office of Outreach and Engagement, LiFE Sports “Learning in Fitness and Education through Sports“ is aiming to advance the practice of youth development nationally and internationally.

The LiFE Sports Initiative is an innovative approach to achieve the university’s land grant mission. The LiFE Sports Initiative addresses and meets the needs of today’s youth and youth-serving agencies and organizations through research, teaching, learning, service, and outreach.

LiFE Sports aims to increase the number and quality of sport and recreational programs available to youth, especially those from vulnerable circumstances. In addition, they also hope to increase the number of highly skilled youth development professionals in the field, and advance best practices in the areas of youth development, social work, and physical activity. LiFE Sports hopes to serve as a national model for university outreach and youth development programs.

The initiative currently focuses on three primary strategies:
Service & Outreach, Teaching & Learning, and Research. Specifically, the aims of the Initiative are to:

Increase the number and quality of sport and recreational programs that are designed to promote positive youth development among at-risk youth.

Increase the number of highly-skilled youth development professionals in the field.

Build knowledge and best practices in the areas of youth development, social work, and physical activity as well as inform youthdevelopment policy.

After a successful 2013 program with nearly 800 participants, we look forward to a great summer!

Read more about our mission & vision, history and partnerships.


PLEASE NOTE: This is not the final site, as we are still in development. Please check back soon for more information and features about this program.