Essay On Providing Physical Fitness Programs To At-Risk Youth

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Youth, Teenagers, Risk, Training, Behavior, Psychology, Health, Development

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/09/24


The article titled as ‘Providing physical fitness programs to at-risk youth’ by Collingwood (1997) has placed its central emphasis on at-risk youth, a term used to explain youth involved in high risk activities such as smoking, drinking, gambling and other deviant behaviors. While the existing literature focuses upon the reasons and consequences of developing high risk behaviors (Brendtro, Brokenleg & Van Bockern, 1990), Collingwood (1997) has brought a new topic in relation to at-risk youth. The article talks about the role played by physical fitness program in improving the condition of at-risk youth, by emphasizing on the need of such individuals and basing the program on these needs. This will result in a lower rate of substance abuse, criminal activities, a higher self esteem and other such positive improvements.

Research Problem

As the need and the effect of learning is quite strong in at-risk youth, the study by Collingwood (1997) aims at analyzing the importance of a structured, leader led physical training program that will generate better results as compared to the traditional mode of ritual teaching. The research problem is hence, significant as the study overrules the old idea of handing over the material imagining the students will read and learn. Instead, the study by Collingwood (1997), stresses upon the different needs of at-risk youth and the importance attached with providing them with a structured training program that can eradicate the high risk and attitudinal behavior of the youth. Since this aspect has received very little attention by the scholars, Collingwood (1997) has done a great job in identifying the research problem pertaining to physical training and its impact on at-risk youth. The problem can be said to be connected with the discipline of social justice in terms of the behavior of at-risk youth that prevents them from several necessities of life; family, friends, job, opportunities, leisure and a career. Along with this, the research problem also has a multicultural aspect attached to it because as per the findings, Collingwood (1997) found that race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status did not impact the at-risk youth. In actual, it is important to address skills and values not present amongst the youth that affects their responsibility.


Collingwood (1997) has defined at-risk youth as individuals who lack the important skills and values that keeps them away from being classified as responsible members of the society. It is not only their deficits, but also the environment that makes the youth develop problematic behaviors like violence, substance abuse, delinquency and educational difficulties. In this regard, Collingwood (1997) suggests that these behavioral problems are symptom of another underlying issue which is explained as the youth’s inability to formulate a health-enhancing lifestyle. For this reason, a physical training program can play a major role in developing factors related to a health-enhancing lifestyle. A structured physical training program can therefore aid in developing the skills and values that are important in being responsible.
Collingwood (1997) also found out that many of the behavior problems occur because of developmental deficits and can therefore be characterized as a lifestyle problem that should have been developed during adolescence. At-risk youth therefore, lack life skills, traits, values, and life-styles. They are very weak at setting goals and planning and are devoid of values of respect and self-discipline. These individuals adopt a health compromising lifestyle in the areas of physical health, social health, personal health and psychological health. Traits, another example of deficits present amongst at-risk youth that includes lack of confidence, self indulgence and more. Analyzing these deficits, a model for intervention has been investigated by Collingwood (1997) on the basis of several studies incorporated in the work by Collingwood (1997). Developmental themes such as finding a purpose, sense of autonomy, independence and sense of accomplishment affect the life-style choice of the youth. To address these themes, individuals adhere to risky behaviors that give them a fake sense of security. Keeping this in view, the goal of an intervention program will be directed towards developing health-enhancing behaviors by reducing the health compromising behaviors. Physical training can therefore, be a perfect example of an intervention program. Collingwood (1997) clarifies in his study that the aim for introducing a physical training program in the lives of at-risk youth is not to provide them with leisure and entertainment, but aims at the greater benefits that are not only limited to fitness. Physical fitness can be used to develop various life skills and values like goal setting, organization and discipline. It helps individuals in terms of psychological factors like self-esteem and confidence and helping the at-risk youth easing problems of depressing and anxiety. The relationship between physical training and improving the condition of at-risk youth has been addressed by several scholars that have extensively been incorporated in this study. In other words, the work of Collingwood (1997) has accurately included a strong review of literature that has concentrated on the fields of physical training, intervention, high risk behaviors, developmental deficits and at-risk youth (Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, 1989). These up-to-date studies are in favor of implementing physical training programs at it improves the psychological, social and overall functioning of the at-risk youth (Brown & Siegel, 1988).
Collingwood (1997) proposed an interesting aspect related to the impact of strenuous physical exercise in contrast to the textbook, material based teaching. Exercise requires effort which yields productive results especially in the case of at-risk youth. It does not only lead to physical fitness, but also results in self confidence, control, self discipline, planning, goal setting, and the ability to reduce the habit of smoking. Collingwood (1997) is also of the opinion that on studying the various intervention programs, the mode of physical training produced most beneficial results amongst at-risk youth. However, there are certain needs of these individuals which must be in line with the physical fitness program. For instance, since the environment of the at-risk youth is in confusion, they require a highly structured and disciplined intervention program with a leader that will act as a role model. Also, since they lack the basic set of skills and values, they require a program that is focused to make the youth responsible. The at-risk youth wants to have freedom and the power to make decisions. Once the training program makes these individuals responsible, opportunities for autonomy and freedom must be present. In addition, the fitness program will instill the idea of being more active changing the self concept of the youth, by positively impacting several areas of life. For this reason, the training program must have a structure to focus on bring about responsibility and control amongst the individuals. The program should be led by a leader and steps for parent involvement like family activity, written communication, parent assistance in travel, can also be incorporated in the intervention program. With a variety and crisp in the activities, a properly designed curriculum, rhythmical exercises, incentives and an encouraging attitude, the physical training program can bring about real changes amongst at-risk youth.
Collingwood (1997) explicitly suggests that the solution for the at-risk youth is present in the way a training program is designed and delivered. This intervention will therefore, help the youth adopt a health-enhancing behavior by getting rid of a health-compromising behavior. The design of the program will require close attention toward the social, cognitive, psychological and physical abilities that must be kept in mind to address the behavioral deficits. In essence, Collingwood (1997) concludes that this intervention is suitable for the whole youth as it will not only help the at-risk youth in overcoming their behavioral deficits but will also rectify the problems faced by the general population of youth.

The Researcher

The researcher has collected the data from a number of studies by also highlighting first-hand data along with the comparison of different findings (Brendtro, Brokenleg & Van Bockern, 1990). In this way, he has consolidated a number of aspects pertaining to the relation between physical fitness/training and at-risk youth and has therefore successfully addressed the shortcomings by placing emphasis on intervention design and the needs of youth. As a matter of fact, the study by Collingwood (1997) introduces a new realm to the existing literature. This is made possible by coming up with proposing a solution to the problem being faced rather than identifying the problem as a part of development; a stage that has been passed. In other words, Collingwood’ (1997) study does not only helps the society in nurturing children in a way that they are not classified as a member of the at-risk youth, but instead, the work also draws a tested solution for the problems of the at-risk youth. In this way, the researcher advances human knowledge to consider solving problems on community level instead of complicating and specifying things on the basis of class, race and status. Through highlighting the role of development during adolescence, Collingwood (1997) has successfully helped the society advance a higher level in the areas of multiculturalism, social justice and equity, by giving a broader area to think about.


Hence, the article by Collingwod (1997) coherently addresses a much overlooked area of life and it leaves an impact on the society and institutions by realizing the role of a structured training program that helps improving the lives of at-risk youth.


Brendtro, L., Brokenleg, M., & Van Bockern, S., (1990). Reclaiming youth at risk. Bloomington, IN: National Education Service.
Brown, J., & Siegel, J. (1988). Exercise as a buffer for life stresses. Health Psychology, 7(4), 341-353.
Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development. (1989). Turning points: Preparing youth for the 21st century. New York: Carnegie Council
Collingwood, T. (1997). Providing physical fitness programs to at-risk youth. Quest, 49, 67-84.

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