Leisure-time youth-center as health-promotion settings

University dissertation from Örebro : Örebro University

Abstract: Leisure time is an important part of young people’s lives. Despite this, leisure-time settings have hitherto had only a minor role in setting-based health-promotion initiatives. Improving adolescents’ quality of leisuretime activities can reduce social differences in health, thus youth-centers can be appropriate settings for promoting health. However, young people with immigrant backgrounds participate less in organized leisure-time activities.The overall aim of this study is to explore young people’s leisure time as their health-promotion setting in two NGO-run youth-centers in multicultural, socially deprived suburbs in Sweden.This study took a practice-based approach using a mixture of methods in close collaboration with the youth-centers. Data collection was done through surveys with young people (n = 207) and interviews with young people and leaders (n = 16). Study I, about who participates in youthcenter activities, used an explanatory mixed method. Study II, about the youth-centers’ strategies, used an explorative qualitative method with an inductive content analysis.This study shows that youth-centers have great potential to be a healthpromotion setting if their strategies include some important factors, both in theory and in daily practice. To be a health-promotion setting, a youthcenter needs to be open and inclusive for its target group, foster supportive relationships, emphasize youth empowerment, and integrate family, school, and community in its strategies.Local knowledge about young people's backgrounds, needs, interests, and motivations to attend youth-center activities – as well as good contact with young people's families – is important because it can increase participation in leisure-time activities for young people in multicultural and socio- economically disadvantaged neighborhoods and can thus help to reduce social inequalities in health.

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