Building Resilience After School for Early Adolescents in Urban Poverty: Open Trial of Leaders @ Play

  • Stacy L. Frazier
  • Sonya Mathies Dinizulu
  • Dana Rusch
  • Maya M. Boustani
  • Tara G. Mehta
  • Kristin Reitz
Original Article


Leaders @ Play is a park after-school program for urban middle school youth designed to leverage recreational activities for social emotional learning. Mental health and park staff co-facilitated sports and games to teach and practice problem solving, emotion regulation, and effective communication. Additional practice occurred during multi-family groups and summer internships as junior camp counselors. We examined feasibility and promise via an open trial (n = 3 parks, 46 youth, 100 % African American, 100 % low-income, 59 % female, M = 13.09 years old). Improvements in social skills and reductions in problem behaviors lend support to after school programs as a space for mental health promotion.


Urban poverty Early adolescence After school Risk and resilience 



Primary funding for this work was provided by a private family trust that wishes to remain anonymous). Additional support was provided by NIMH Developing Center grant P20 MH078458 (PI: M. Atkins). The authors gratefully acknowledge Aleta Meyers for her early consultation on the use of Responding In Positive and Peaceful Ways, and Marc Atkins, Eduardo Bustamante, Don Hellison, Emma Sterret, and Mamie Tisue for their dedication and contribution to this work. The authors also extend their heartfelt appreciation to park district leaders, after school program staff, and participating youth and families for their candid feedback and enthusiastic participation in this work.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no potential conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stacy L. Frazier
    • 1
  • Sonya Mathies Dinizulu
    • 2
  • Dana Rusch
    • 2
  • Maya M. Boustani
    • 1
  • Tara G. Mehta
    • 2
  • Kristin Reitz
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Center for Children and Families, Clinical Science Program in Child and Adolescent PsychologyFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry, Institute for Juvenile ResearchUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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