LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2023 Grants Challenge

Thrive Youth Sports & Fitness Program

Scientific evidence shows a strong connection between physical recreational activities and mental health, especially amongst youth. However, due to socioeconomic challenges, not all youth are able to access quality physical recreation activities. Thus, Thrive Youth Sports & Fitness program offers inclusive and accessible opportunities for all youth, especially those facing socioeconomic barriers, to amply participate in quality sports and recreational activities to help them thrive, both physically and social-emotionally.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Play Equity to Advance Mental Health (sponsored by the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation)

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Other:: Gateway Cities / South East LA County

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, physical activity not only improves physical wellbeing, but greatly improves mental health, including improved cognition and lowered risk of depression, especially amongst youth. Sports in particular has shown to greatly impact young people's social-emotional health, providing increased social connection, thus increasing self-esteem, lowering stress and anxiety, as well as lowering risk of substance use and suicide. With these proven benefits, it is crucial that young people everywhere are provided access to quality sports and physical activity programs. However, socioeconomic barriers often prevent youth from lower-income homes from accessing such opportunities. We believe this is a social ill. Thus, to help increase youth sports and play equity, the Thrive Youth Sports & Fitness program offers free-of-charge sports and physical recreation programs to 300 Whittier area youth each year.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

To help improve equitable access to youth sports and advance mental health, the Boys & Girls Club of Whittier's Thrive Youth Sports & Fitness program will offer organized recreational and intramural sports programming to over 300 primarily low-to-moderate income students residing in the Los Angeles County cities of Whittier, Pico Rivera, and Santa Fe Springs. Through developmentally appropriate implementation of baseball, basketball, flag-football, long-distance running, and soccer, 1st-2nd grade students will engage in physical activities to develop motor skills and adopt proper exercise habits. For students in 3rd through 12th grade, recreational and competitive sports clinics and leagues will be offered to help students engage in physical fitness; learn various sports rules, skills, and techniques; and develop good sportsmanship. Each aspect of programming will be implemented to promote students' social-emotional development, including teamwork, communication, trust, conflict resolution, and peer bonding. 10-12 weeks of training, practice, and competition will be implemented for each sport throughout the calendar year. A 30-day Marathon challenge encouraging students to run 26 miles in 30 days will also be implemented to promote cardiovascular health and mental resilience. All coaches will be trained through the LA84 Coach Training clinic program. Services will be provided at the Boys & Girls Club of Whittier's main Clubhouse and two partner middle schools.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

If our work through the Thrive program is successful, the Southeast region of Los Angeles County will be home to hundreds of physically and social-emotionally thriving young people that make pro-social choices, exhibit healthy and positive behaviors, and contribute to their communities through: - Positive Role Modeling: young people who are social-emotionally healthy often exhibit positive behaviors and can serve as role models and sources of support for their peers; and - Community Engagement: healthy young people will be more likely to actively engage in community affairs, such as youth councils or get involved in community service initiatives. The physical and social-emotional health of young people can significantly impact LA County as mentally healthy children and teens' mindsets help reduce youth delinquency and crime, lower school drop-out rates, and help create a community culture that supports the overall flourishing of its members.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Each year, Thrive program students participate in the annual National Youth Outcomes Initiative (NYOI), a national survey conducted by the Boys & Girls Club of America that measures youth health & wellness, social-emotional, academic, and behavioral competencies. Survey outcomes are aggregated in national, regional, and club specific results. The latest (2022) NYOI survey yielded the following for the Thrive program students: - 95% reported feeling cared for by the adults at the Club; - 84% reported feeling a sense of belonging at the Club; - 64% exercised five or more times a week, compared to 39% of the general CA youth population; - 67% consumed vegetables daily, compared to 49% of the national youth population; and - 89% abstained from alcohol in lifetime, compared to 30% of the national youth population. Long-term outcomes show participating students develop beneficial habits to succeed in school, work, and interpersonal relationships.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 300

Indirect Impact: 600