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Friday, March 18 • 9:50am - 10:30am
PS15.0 Exploring Urban Youths' Perceptions of Recreation Centers in Atlanta, Georgia

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In his 2010 Inauguration address, newly elected Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, Kasim Reed made a promise to invest in the well-being and development of the city’s youngest citizens through the Centers of Hope Initiative. Mayor Reed’s promise involved securing funds from the municipal budget and corporate sponsors to reopen and revitalize several of the city’s 33 closed and abandoned recreation centers. The public-private investment in the recreation centers represents the municipality’s valuation of these institutions as important sites for young people’s development through adolescence and into adulthood. While the administration’s vision of the recreation centers’ purpose is clear, no systematic study examining meaning of these recreation centers in the lives of Atlanta’s youth has been conducted. This paper addresses this gap in the research by asking the question: what are urban youths’ perceptions of the recreation centers affiliated with the Mayor’s Centers of Hope Initiative? This study explores this question through qualitative analysis of data collected through focus groups and interviews with young people in Atlanta, public documents from the city and recreation centers, and existing scholarly literature. This analysis expects to find that young people’s perceptions of Atlanta’s recreation centers are shaped by their level of participation in the facilities, their attachment to other institutions in the urban ecology, and the centers’ capacity to address their developmental needs.

avatar for Cameron Herman

Cameron Herman

PhD Candidate, Michigan State University

Friday March 18, 2016 9:50am - 10:30am PDT
Indigo West Foyer