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The place and meaning of physical culture in the lives of underserved young women in a Canadian inner-city

The purpose of this study was to explore underserved young women's experiences and understandings of physical culture (Kirk, 1999). There is evidence that once young people reach the age of adolescence, patterns of participation in physical activity decline (Humbert, Chad, Burner, Spink, Muhajarine, Anderson, Girolami, Odnokon, & Gryba, 2008) and in Canada this drop is more significant for young women then young men (Wharf Higgins, Gaul, Gibbons, & Van Gyn, 2003). While there is a growing body of research indicating that young people’s experiences with physical activity are different across social, cultural and physical locations (Burrows & McCormack, 2011), the perspectives of young women who are situated in marginalized communities are rarely sought (Hill & Azzarito, 2012; Dagkas & Hunter, 2015). What is undoubtedly known about young women in marginalized communities is that they have less access and opportunities to engage in physical culture than their counterparts in affluent communities (Sabo, 2009). This research sought to make sense of this outcome by diving into the lived experiences of the young women who live in these communities, specifically an underserved community in a Canadian city. Data were collected from 6 young women between ages 12 and 18 using in-depth semi-structured interviews. The data were analyzed using an interpretive phenomenological analysis. Five key themes emerged: (1) Attitudes Towards Physical Activity (2) Supports (3) Constraints (4) Gender Discourse (5) Centrality of the Body in Physical Culture. While some findings mirrored those present in existing research literature, others suggest there are particular supports and constraints to participation that distinguish these young women's experiences in an underserved community. The neighbourhood community center emerged as a crucial support for these young women's engagement in physical activity. It is important that the programs in these kinds of spaces continue to be supported financially to provide young women with access and opportunities to physical activity. Further, policy makers and teachers must consider the wider circumstance of their lives as underserved young people and actively seek to create equitable opportunities.
Type of thesis
Lemoine, M. (2020). The place and meaning of physical culture in the live of underserved young women in a Canadian inner-city (Thesis, Master of Health, Sport and Human Performance (MHSHP)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13462
The University of Waikato
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