Meredith Whitley, Ph.D., has worked with leaders and organizations across the United States and Africa to implement programs that engage underserved youth in sports in order to foster life skills.
This year’s Olympics drew hundreds of athletes from 88 countries to compete in 98 events as millions more of us watched. The biennial event is one of the most vivid examples of the near universal appeal of sports and their potential to draw out our best attributes. Through her scholarship, Meredith Whitley, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, coordinator of the School’s Sport-Based Youth Development specialization and a former college basketball player, has seen the power of sports to teach life lessons and transform lives.
Dr. Whitley has partnered with community leaders and organizations across the United States and Africa to implement sport-based youth development programs—programs that engage underserved young people in sports in order to foster life skills. She has worked with refugee children and youth in Lansing, Michigan, with South African youth and with girls in Uganda. In each case, she and her colleagues use sports to teach transferable skills such as teamwork, leadership, communication and perseverance. “There’s an assumption often that what you learn in sports will transfer outside,” Dr. Whitley says, “but if you don’t teach for transfer, it doesn’t automatically occur.”
Dr. Whitley has learned the necessity and beauty of collaborating with community organizations and with undergraduate and graduate students. At Adelphi, she has been able to apply her knowledge and pass it on by creating an experiential learning course in which Adelphi students design, implement and evaluate a sport-based youth development program with the Southern Queens Park Association. “It’s this wonderful opportunity to learn from each other,” she says. Harnessing her international experience, Dr. Whitley will introduce another new course, Global Sport-Based Youth and Community Development. “I hope to be able to connect my students with colleagues and peers around the world,” she says.
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