Degree Name

MA in Social Justice in Intercultural Relations

First Advisor

John Ungerleider


Female youth empowerment is a leading theme amongst many youth programs. Organizations and theorists see it as the solution to end teen pregnancy, engage students in the classroom and lead them ultimately to better, successful lives. Furthermore, there has been incredible success for encouraging and achieving female empowerment through sports programs.

However, through my research and exploration of the topic of female empowerment through sports, my focus has changed to more of a focus on play. It is this element of sport that leads to the success of youth sports programs. Therefore, this paper not only examines the effectiveness of sports programs but also examines the elements of play. As noted through observations during my practicum phase working with World Learning Youth Programs and the Mariposa DR Foundation, play is essential to youth programming and to human development in general. What is it about “play” that is so strikingly attractive? Is play just for children? How does play fit into social justice?

These were the questions that arose during my field work; questions that I wished to answer through my capstone. Therefore, the purpose of this case study is multi-faceted. One intention was to approach NGO and youth programming through appreciative inquiry, and to see what works well. The second part is to learn how adults, social justice movements and actors at large can learn from playing. Observations, parent and student focus groups, and program documents are all tools of my case-study analysis of play in youth programming, particularly sports, at the Mariposa DR Foundation.


Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Sports Studies


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