What: Gill and Williams (2008) mention that physical inactivity can lead to an array of health problems including: Heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, etc. The Families Together and Active program I am to develop is targeted towards increasing family memberships. This program will address physical inactivity and increase positive attitudes towards physical activity by getting families to utilize social influence, resulting in a much healthier lifestyle.
So What: As Gill and Williams (2008) discussed in chapter 10, physical inactivity is a serious issue around the world. Early research performed by Triplett (1898) found evidence that the presence of others increased performance on timed tasks. This lead to a great amount of research on social facilitation, but little of it was applicable to real world situations. Social facilitation was most beneficial as it lead to extensive research in social influence, and many important phenomenon’s were discovered, some of which include: competition increases arousal which is shown to increase reaction times and speed in certain tasks, cooperative learning environments lead to achievements and greater productivity than does individualistic efforts, cooperative efforts leads to higher self-esteem, observational learning via modeling is most noticeable in sport and exercise as it provides information about how to perform motor skills, having significant others present can affect people’s self-perceptions, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, positive peer relationships are associated with higher perceived competence, enjoyment, and sport commitments, and socially supportive instructors can lead to a variety of positive effects in exercise classes. Knowing all of this, if families join The Families Together program they will provide their own source of social influence and strive together.
Now What: The first part of the plan is to advertise the program. Based on the Recommendations to Increase Physical Activity in Communities, by the Task Force on Community Preventive Services (2002), I believe that Community-Wide campaigns would be the most effective strategy because ads can be targeted specifically to the members of the community. Newspaper ads as well as television and radio commercials could be used to explain what The Families Together program is, and why it can benefit all ages.
Before parents are expected to join I would first introduce them to the program and further explain the purpose and benefits of the program. The following are some of the things I would educate and inform them of. According to Fredricks and Eccles (2004) research shows that active parents have active children so it is important for parents to be a positive model for their children. Fredricks and Eccles (2004) mention that “parents who play sports on any level provide a model for their children and help normalize involvement in athletics” (p. 150). Seeing as the program is for a park and recreation department, a wide variety of activities can be used to facilitate self-efficacy, modeling, self-observation, self-perceptions, etc. to increase participation and overall enjoyment. My program would incorporate activities for children only, children and parents together, and parents and adults only. Seeing as competition is a form of cooperative effort which leads to higher achievement and greater productivity than individualistic efforts, competition will be available in many different forms. The children activities would consist of team games and leagues (football, baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball etc). These leagues would facilitate competition, peer relationships, modeling, etc. The activities that include both parents and children could include parent-children swim classes, biking classes, walking clubs, as well as a variety of tournaments and games to get the whole family involved. Gill and Williams (2008) mention that parents’ belief and value systems influences their children’s belief and value system. Getting parents and children to participate in physical activity together would be a perfect way for parents to show their children that they value exercise. If parents want time to exercise alone, I would have a dare-care facility available for parents to take their children to so they don’t have to worry about their children while exercising. The parents can then take part in exercise classes, as well as adult sport leagues (volleyball, softball, etc).
In order for families to get the most bang for their buck, competent and effective instructors are a key. As Gill and Williams (2008) discuss, having effective and socially supportive instructors in exercise classes is beneficial in many ways including: Greater exercise self-efficacy, more energy and enthusiasm, less postexercise fatigue, more enjoyment, etc. As for children, Gill and Williams (2008) note that having significant others present (parents) can increase a person’s self-perception, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. But Fredricks and Eccles (2004) note that over-involvement of parents and high pressure from parents can result in negative child outcomes. It would be important for the program to stress parental encouragement towards their children, and not over-involvement.
Conclusion: The Families Together program utilizes social influence in order to get people of all ages to become more physically active. The program in set up for families to participate in activities together, as well as opportunities for adults and children to participate with their own peer group. Social influence has been shown to increase self-efficacy, self-perceptions, and increase attitudes towards physical activity, so it is important that families join and participate together.
Fredricks, J. A., & Eccles, J. S. (2004). Parental Influences on youth involvement in sports. In M. R.Weiss (Ed.), Developmental sport and exercise psychology: A lifespan perspective (pp. 145-164). Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology.
Gill, D. L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise (3rd Ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Task Force on Community Preventative Services. (2002). Recommendations to increase physicalactivity in communities. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 22 (4S). 67-72.