Evaluation of a surfing programme designed to increase personal well-being and connectedness to the natural environment among ‘at risk’ young people
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© 2017 Institute for Outdoor Learning. Outdoor activities can be an important complement to classroom learning, especially for children/young people excluded, or at risk of exclusion, from mainstream schooling. The current research explored the impact of a 12-week surfing programme among such a group in the UK. Pre-post data on physiological health (heart rate (HR)/blood pressure), self-reported well-being (life and domain satisfaction), connectedness (e.g. to nature, school), environmental awareness (e.g. role of sand dunes) and teacher evaluations (e.g. behaviour) were collected. Results found significant drops in HR (suggesting improved fitness), increased satisfaction with appearance, more positive attitudes towards school and friendships, greater environmental awareness and more positive teacher evaluations, post-intervention. A lack of findings in other domains suggests these results were not due to participants simply conforming to demand characteristics. Overall, the results suggest that surfing interventions could have important benefits for vulnerable young people who struggle with mainstream schooling. The need for future research using control groups and longer term follow-up is discussed.
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