African Journal for Physical Activity and Health Sciences

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High-risk adolescent girls, resiliency and a ropes course

HJ Bloemhoff


The introduction of programmes in South Africa to address at-risk children is a fairly recent development, with quality empirical results about the effectiveness of different types of interventions trickling in. This is especially applicable to the population of at-risk females. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of an outdoor adventure-based recreation programme (ropes course) on the resiliency of at-risk adolescent girls confined to a youth care and education centre and compare the results with those of a similar intervention for boys. A ropes course programme was offered to 29 adolescent girls with an average age of 17.2 years. These girls experienced behavioural and/or emotional problems, and had been referred to the centre in terms of the stipulations of the Child Care Act of 1983. The control group consisted of 38 girls, and averaged 16.5 years of age. The research instrument was a questionnaire (The Shortened Protective Factors Scale), developed and piloted by Witt, Baker and Scott (1996). This questionnaire assesses resiliency through the improvement of “protective factors”. The questionnaire was administered in the form of pre- and post-tests to both groups. Results showed that the post-test scores of the experimental group increased highly significantly (p < 0.01) for seven of the ten protective factors. The post-test scores for two protective factors improved significantly (p < 0.05). The findings of this study demonstrate the potential benefits of adventure-based recreation programming in developing resiliency in at-risk adolescents irrespective of gender.

Keywords: Ropes course; at-risk adolescent girls; resiliency; protective factors.

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