How Volunteer Programs affect Health and Well-being in Low-Income Youth

Do settings promoting youth prosocial behaviors have objective health benefits?

This project seeks to understand the effects of engaging youth in volunteer programs. More specifically, Chen’s study evaluates the Youth, Engage, Lead, Learn (YELL) program, which trains low-income high school students as sports coaches for low-income elementary school children. A sample of 100 high school students will be randomly assigned to either the YELL program or a wait-list control group for four months. Chen will examine the impact of YELL on youth’s social connections, physical health, self-esteem, and sense of purpose. If such settings can promote positive youth behaviors and have objective health benefits, this could have profound implications for social policy and health promotion efforts.

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