Improving Health and Learning Through Sports and Play: Understanding the Impact of the Work to Play Soccer Program for Chicago Students
The purpose of this research is to study the effects of Urban Initiatives’ Work to Play program, an out-ofschool- time program that primarily serves 3rd and 4th grade children. Our central research question is whether participation in this structured sports and nutrition program during middle childhood has a causal effect on children’s academic performance, health behaviors, and socio-emotional skills. We will evaluate Work to Play’s soccer program using a randomized control trial at five elementary schools, with plans for a larger evaluation the following year. Work to Play incorporates the appeal and teamwork of soccer with a character development curriculum, lessons on nutrition and health, and incentives for good behavior in school. Urban Initiatives will recruit new 3rd and 4th grade participants into the program and study during the 2016-2017 school year. When rosters are oversubscribed, students will be randomly assigned to the program roster or a waitlist condition. Urban Initiatives will periodically collect student, teacher and parent / guardian surveys during the year to measure students’ health behaviors and socio-emotional development. Academic outcomes and survey responses for treatment and waitlist (control) students will then be compared, leveraging school district administrative data where possible.