Getting Involved, Doing Well, Feeling Connected: How Participation in Community Activities Relates to Positive Developmental Outcomes in a Culturally Diverse Sample of Young New Zealanders
Extracurricular activities are important in many young people’s lives, and have been associated with positive academic, psychological, and social outcomes. However, most previous studies have focused only on correlations between participation and outcomes, and few have explored ethno-cultural differences. Using multivariate and propensity score matching techniques to control for selection effects, this study analysed longitudinal data collected from over 1700 young New Zealanders. Results suggest that youth who participated in community-based activities reported higher levels of adjustment (had higher general wellbeing, social support, and life satisfaction) and felt more connected (to communities and schools) than those who did not. Sports participants, young men participating in arts or community activities, and Māori youth participating in a combination of arts or community and sports activities appeared to benefit the most. These findings form an important extension to previous research, and provide a better understanding of the positive impacts of extracurricular activities for youth in Aotearoa / New Zealand.