Modeling the contributions of extracurricular activity and social support to the well-being of youth from military families
Linde, Brittany Danielle
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The purpose of the present investigation was to address the unique impacts of extracurricular activity (ECA) participation on the well-being of adolescents from military families. The study also examined the indirect effect of social support on those unique impacts. The study proposed the direct and indirect influences of the variables by using six structural equation models, each of which measured extracurricular activity participation differently. Data from a sample of youth from military families, ages 11-18 (N= 1,036) were analyzed to assess the theoretically suggested pathways. Models were thus generated for: a) the direct influence of ECA participation on social support, b) the direct influence of ECA participation on well-being, c) the indirect influence of social support on the associations among ECA participation and well- being d) the gender differences in pathways among ECA participation, social support, and well- being, and e) the age differences in pathways among ECA participation, social support, and well- being. Results indicated that extracurricular activity participation, in general, was not associated with lower levels of symptoms of depression or anxiety. Participation in Sports and Health activities was related to higher well-being whereas participation in Life Skills and Citizenship and Academic activities were associated with lower well-being. Social support fully and partially mediated the relationships between extracurricular activity participation and well-being, although further research should probe missing influences amongst the models’ pathways. Few moderations by age or gender were found. Implications were drawn for further research, especially for how the measurement and analysis of ECA participation affects what can be learned from such research and for practice in the context of recreational programming for youth from military families.