Adolescent and extra-curricular activities
Dr Asha Pemberton
The youth of our nation are now well into their routines for the first school term of 2023. In addition to managing their studies, there are many sports, academic groups, and clubs available to them. There are many benefits to engaging in extra-curricular activities. Although there is the investment of time, resources and commitment, the benefits are exponential
Teens who participate in school-based activities are more likely to connect to their school environments, peers and teachers and have an overall more productive academic experience. Research demonstrates improvement in attendance, punctuality and exit examinations for those young people who participate in activities.
In addition, specific clubs lead to the development of specific skills. Young people who have crippling fear of performance benefit greatly from dance, drama or debating clubs. Those managing their health and body weight benefit from engaging in group sport activities to add to their daily energy output. The possibilities are many, but parents and young people do need to take time to explore the opportunities that exist.
Adolescence is a time when youth are rapidly exploring and developing their identities. Participating in a variety of activities throughout adolescence exposes them to different types of people with a range of interests. This exposure to new experiences can help them solidify their own sense of self.
Participation also supports positive empowerment and feelings of personal agency. This sense of self pays dividends in the longer term, as young people are more secure in advocating for themselves, their best interests and avoiding high-risk behaviours.
Exposure to culture, the arts and traditions is another oft forgotten benefit of extracurricular activities. We are now able to enjoy a National Schools Panorama Competition featuring orchestras of a very high standard from truly every corner of our islands.
This is due entirely to the availability of instruction and access to the instrument by young people who then participate in their school club. This is the way in which our heritage is transmitted across generations and should not be neglected as an important benefit of the school cultural space.
Peer relationships occupy a significant role in the lives of young people. Those teens who belong to specific activity groups naturally befriend other participants and colleagues. This is often a very protective element for young people to guard against alliances with high-risk behaviours.
Although not universally, many youth who engage in substance-use experimentation or sexual misadventure are not positively connected to other pursuits. This is a critical preventive strategy in adolescence. Parents are encouraged to take the time to explore the opportunities within the school spaces for their teens to become involved. The benefits are indeed exponential and the productive and preventive aspects last a lifetime
"Adolescent and extra-curricular activities"