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Exploring the voices of the "Glenview" neighborhood

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Exploring the voices of the "Glenview" neighborhood an ecological approach to studying at-risk youth, recreation, and community social organization
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Autry, Cari Elaine
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English
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vii, 138 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.

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Subjects / Keywords:
Children ( jstor )
Community associations ( jstor )
Community development ( jstor )
Ecology ( jstor )
Housing ( jstor )
Medical treatment ( jstor )
Neighborhoods ( jstor )
Parents ( jstor )
Recreation ( jstor )
Retirement communities ( jstor )
Dissertations, Academic -- Recreation, Parks and Tourism -- UF ( lcsh )
Recreation, Parks and Tourism thesis, Ph. D ( lcsh )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

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Thesis:
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2003.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references.
Additional Physical Form:
Also available online.
General Note:
Printout.
General Note:
Vita.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Cari Elaine Autry.

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Copyright Cari Elaine Autry. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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030434207 ( ALEPH )
84465354 ( OCLC )

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EXPLORING THE VOICES OF THE "GLENVIEW" NEIGHBORHOOD: AN ECOLOGICAL APPROACH TO STUDYING AT-RISK YOUTH, RECREATION,
AND COMMUNITY SOCIAL ORGANIZATION















By

CARI ELAINE AUTRY















A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2003




























Copyright 2003

by

Cari E. Autry













ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to express my sincerest appreciation to my committee chair, Stephen Anderson for providing consistent and unconditional support, insight, mentoring, collaboration, and commitment to this dissertation. With his persistence and utmost patience, I was able to successfully make it to the end of this process. I would also most sincerely like to acknowledge my committee members, Robert Beland, Heather Gibson, and Stephen Smith for their extensive support, professional feedback, and for being such a harmonious committee. In addition, a notable appreciation goes out to Diane Davis, Nancy Gullic, and Donna Walker for always being so supportive and helpful.

I would like to acknowledge the participants in this study for their time, energy, and commitment to providing such insight and richness to the data. As deserved, I hope they feel their voices were represented well. And please know that I will be dedicated to making such voices heard in the future, as well. I also want to express my gratitude to the Allen, Holyoak, and Varnes families for their generous scholarship award, which funded a portion of this research study.

With personal and extreme appreciation, I would like to thank my friends, Gloria, Jen, and Kim, for always being behind me with cheers and laughs. And most importantly, I would like to thank my family- my sisters, their husbands, and their children for all their energetic support and love. But most of all, I would like to thank my parents for their unconditional support, encouragement, patience, and love. Ye ha no ha.




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TABLE OF CONTENTS


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS iii

ABSTRACT............. vi

CHAPTER

I INTRODUCTION I

Statement of the Problem 2 Purpose of the Study ..... ...........---------------------------------------.................. 7
Research Questions ---------------------------------------- 8
Delimitations and Limitations ............. ------------------------.................. 8

2 LITERATURE REVIEW 10

Neighborhoods and Child Development .....- --------------------- 11
An Ecological Approach------------------------------- 14
Community Social Organization ........------------------------------21

3 METHOD 29

Setting .................... .. ...29
Participants .............--------- -40
Procedure 42

4 RESULTS 50

Neighborhood Environment ........ ............. 51
Despondence in Glenview: A Lack of Hope and Trust *............................ 72
Parental Conditions: Influences on Youth and Recreation Involvement 81 Parents: the Key to Community Organization ... ... .................. 86

5 DISCUSSION ...... ... ..96
AnoIeSIN ---------------------------------- ---------------------- --------- 98
Anomie...... 98
Trust----------------------------------------------- 103
Hope........................ --------------------------------.......... 107
Community Development.......... --------------------------------- 114


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Future Research .121 APPENDIX

A MAP OF GLENVIEW 125 B INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD APPROVAL FROM
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 127 C THE INTERVIEW GUIDES 128 REFERENCE LIST .....----.......................... ...................................... 132

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 138













Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy EXPLORING THE VOICES OF THE "GLENVIEW" NEIGHBORHOOD: AN
ECOLOGICAL APPROACH TO STUDYING AT-RISK YOUTH, RECREATION,
AND COMMUNITY SOCIAL ORGANIZATION By

Carl E. Autry

August 2003

Chair: Stephen C. Anderson
Major Department: Recreation, Parks and Tourism

The purpose of this interpretive study was to explore the voices of the ecological agents that directly and indirectly affected the at-risk youth of "Glenview," a lowresource neighborhood and to gain various perspectives of the phenomenon and multilevel processes that involved the establishment and discontinuation of a community organization effort to have structured recreation programs provided for the resident youth. Two theoretical frameworks surrounding the ecological systems approach and community social organization were used to guide the study. Using in-depth, semistructured interviewing as the primary source of data collection, 21 participants including parents from Glenview; local church members; members from the university's recreation department; city parks and recreation personnel; a former mayor and city commissioner; police officers assigned to Glenview; neighborhood residents; and the local elementary school principal were asked to reflect upon issues concerning the neighborhood, the local park, recreation, the at-risk youth, and collaboration. Four major themes encompassing


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perceptions of the neighborhood environment, despondence, parental conditions, and parental involvement in community organization were constructed from the transcribed data using constant comparison as the method of analysis. Such analysis led to the construction of institutional-anomie, trust, and hope as grounded theory. Practical implications involved recreation as a means for community development in low-resource neighborhoods. At-risk youth and their parents/families remained the centralized area to which all these concepts connected.




































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CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

A community is concerned for the youth of a neighborhood ("Glenview") and forms an advocacy group to improve the lives of these children through recreation. The group consists of a variety of people from the community: members from several local churches; neighborhood residents; area police officers; teachers and the principal of the neighborhood elementary school; the city parks and recreation administrators and staff; city commissioner; consultants in therapeutic recreation and psychology from the local university; administrators of the neighborhood housing authority's community center; a tutor for the housing authority youth; parents/guardians/family members of the neighborhood youth; and the youth themselves. The members of the community are concerned because of the deterioration of the Glenview neighborhood in that the resident youth are facing an increase in problems involving high rates of crime, gangs, drugs, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, abuse, truancy, and school failure. These problems are the reasons why the youth in the neighborhood are considered to be "atrisk." When such problems are concentrated within a neighborhood and coexist with factors of poverty and residential instability, they are detrimental to child development and termed "child-linked social problems" (Sampson, 2001). The Glenview neighborhood is characterized by such co-existing factors.







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As reported by Maton (2000), the social problems of post-industrial society (violence, drug use, delinquency, school failure, children living in poverty, etc.) are deeply embedded within multiple levels of the social environment and if changes are not made at all levels of this environment, efforts and programs to aid in helping to decrease such problems can be unavailing. Change in individuals alone and/or interventions that do not impact the community and societal environments cannot in and of themselves make much of a difference (Maton, 2000). In addition, negative impacts from these environments may prove stronger than the individual gains brought about from such a program of intervention. "For instance, a school-based intervention program that enhances competencies or support systems of inner-city youth may not be sufficient to prevent or reverse, negative trajectories sustained in the neighborhood, family, or peer group environments" (p. 29). The outcomes and targeted benefits from current attempts with programs may be limited due to the significant and challenging nature of the social environment in which the youth live and in which these child-linked social problems exist. In addition, the attempts to bring about change can unquestionably be limited due to lack of economic and political resources and support in the community (Maton, 2000).

Statement of the Problem

The Glenview neighborhood is considered to be poverty-stricken and lacks available and affordable services such as mental health, after-school/day care, and recreation. Recreation is the focus of this study. For structured recreational programs have not been provided to the youth in the Glenview neighborhood city park in the past 17 years. Other parks in the city similar to the Glenview park have included such programs for the youth in surrounding neighborhoods. Starting in February 2000, agents




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associated with the Glenview neighborhood (several leaders from a nearby church, parents, and the housing authority staff) advocated for recreation programs. They believed structured recreation could be used as a tool to help the youth counter the factors that made them at-risk. Additional members external to Glenview (city recreation and parks personnel, police, the neighborhood school principal, and university therapeutic recreation faculty) were asked to provide expertise and assist in establishing such programs. During the next year, many formal and informal meetings transpired that involved collaboration between these members. In addition, several town hall meetings that brought in the mayor, city commissioners, police officers in charge of the Glenview area, and approximately 150 concerned citizens (members and leaders from local churches, schoolteachers, Glenview residents, parents and youth, and members mentioned above) took place.

In March 2001, the city Department of Recreation and Parks with the support of constituents from the neighborhood proposed to the city commissioners a funding plan for a six month recreation program at the Glenview park specifically targeted for the youth living in the neighborhood housing authority. A budget of $30,000 was approved for an after school program and a summer program starting in April and June, consecutively. Since over 60 % of the approximate 100 youth living in the Glenview neighborhood qualified for free and reduced lunch, no fee was charged to the participants who registered for the program. The budget included fees (for snacks, supplies, transportation to other centers/parks, etc.) for a maximum of 60 participants ages 6-12 and salaries for staff to cover a 1:15 ratio.





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Although a continuation of an after school recreation program was advocated for by some members of the neighborhood, several circumstances and problems developed since the budget was approved for the original six month recreation program. These included an inconsistent marketing of the program; an inconsistent enrollment of the program and even some apathy towards it (a maximum of 30 children registered and an average of 18 attended daily); a need to target a younger age group (over 80 % of the children living in the Glenview housing authority were less than five years old); a need for more resources (on site buildings/facilities, staff, volunteers, transportation, financial support, etc.); and various opinions and political situations surrounding the availability and fair distribution of these resources to this particular neighborhood.

A city-sponsored after-school recreation program for at-risk youth such as this can have positive direct and indirect effects on the lives of these youth physically, emotionally, academically, and socially (Witt, 2001b). A sincere community organization effort to advocate for and have such recreation programs provided for the at-risk youth in the neighborhood was apparent. However, the problems as mentioned above exist and questions remain unanswered: Why did the original members see the issues surrounding recreation as an important topic to begin and continue advocating for? Why did the additional external members also see this as an issue of importance and join the original group members? And how far were they willing to go in supporting recreation as a preventative measure to at-risk behaviors? What factors and relationships were present in order for the community to organize and were they enough for it to be successful? Did the decision to provide recreation programs to this neighborhood involve political processes? What place did the youth and families have in these processes?





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The offering of structured recreation programs for at-risk youth seems simple enough. There has been research that reports recreation programs offered at target times (i.e. after school, nights and summers) can help in providing a safe space, reducing the crime rate, and decreasing maladaptive and destructive behaviors of the youth in the neighborhoods targeted with such programs (Witt, 2001b). However, organizing a community to come together for such an important cause is not a simple task and it is not a simple issue. After a tremendous amount of time and effort was spent to finally get a recreation program implemented in the Glenview park, it lasted only six months and conflicts have arisen and still exist two years later.

The factors that influence a community driven endeavor in establishing such a program can be numerous and complex. The links among the institutions (horizontal and/or vertical) within and around the Glenview community seem to be weak or have yet to be established. According to Kornhouser (1978), if there are such weak links among various institutions, the capacity to defend a local interest is weakened. Therefore, social organization centered on a problem may be lost within the community. The need for both public and individual efforts is important. Therefore, local neighborhoods must work together with the forces of public control to achieve social order primarily through interdependence among private (individual and family), parochial (neighborhood), and public (city, county, and state) institutions (Hunter, 1985; Sampson, 2001).

Recreation can be used as a means to decrease and ameliorate problem behaviors. However, if barriers exist within the links of the community that may inhibit the development and provision of these programs, therapeutic recreation (TR) principles should be used. A conceptual foundation of therapeutic recreation is to evaluate and








reduce such barriers to individuals with special needs (Howe-Murphy & Charboneau, 1987). At-risk youth is a population with such needs and have historically and currently been targeted for therapeutic recreation (TR) services. TR can provide prevention as well as intervention programming. However, there is a need to evaluate the barriers and problems to providing recreation programming and there is a need to use an ecological framework in such an evaluation (Howe-Murphy & Charboneau, 1987; Munson, 1991). If limited or ineffective programming is provided due to various causes, an evaluation of the neighborhood itself and the opinions concerning recreation of the internal and external members that surround and influence the at-risk youth in the neighborhood is an important step to take. Such an evaluation is commonly seen as a means of primary prevention for at-risk youth (Simeonsson, 1994).

Thus, this study was not primarily concerned with the recreation program itself (i.e. the effects of recreation as intervention or the content and implementation of a program). From the perspective of the parents, residents, and external members of Glenview, the focus of the study centered on the neighborhood and the multi-level processes and links that encompassed the community organization effort involving the issue of recreation for the resident at-risk youth.

It is hoped that by identifying and exploring such voices and links, the potential for effective recreation services may result in community-wide primary prevention for the at-risk youth in the Glenview neighborhood. In order to provide effective services, primary prevention encompasses the process of assessing common values and collaborating within such a person-environmental system.





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Purpose of the Study

The intent of the study was to explore the infrastructures of the Glenview

neighborhood itself and give voice to the parents, residents, and external agents of the neighborhood whom directly and indirectly affected the youth regarding recreation. The study also focused on recreation as an issue for advocacy and as a target for prevention. The members who were involved in the community organization effort for Glenview chose to focus their attention on recreation as a means for helping the resident at-risk youth counter and cope with child linked social problems.

Through a naturalistic approach, the concerns, needs, meanings, opinions, and shared values of various issues and problems surrounding recreation for the at-risk youth in a low resource community were explored. Using a theoretical framework of an ecological systems approach to guide the study, voices of the person-environmental system surrounding the youth (parents/guardians/family members, neighborhood residents, school personnel, police, recreation personnel, church members, university faculty, city administrators/officials) who had a direct and indirect association with the at-risk youth were used to identify such concerns, needs, and meanings surrounding recreation. To better understand how the links between the agents/institutions of the Glenview neighborhood fit together, in relation to the local interest of recreation for the resident youth, a second theoretical framework was applied. This second theoretical framework centers on community social organization, which is "the ability of a community structure to realize common values of its residents and maintain effective social controls" (Sampson, 2001, p. 8).





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Research Questions

To address the issues surrounding the social community organization efforts

among several ecological levels involving recreation for the resident at-risk youth in the Glenview neighborhood, the following research questions guided the study. As identified by the internal and external neighborhood agents who directly and indirectly influenced the at-risk youth in the neighborhood in relationship to the community organization effort for a recreation program: 1) What were the perceived concerns, needs, and meanings surrounding the Glenview

neighborhood, the local park, at-risk youth, and recreation?

2) What were the opinions and shared values regarding recreation's influence on the

childhood development and on the prevention of maladaptive (internalized and

externalized) behaviors of the youth in the Glenview neighborhood? And how could

recreation impact the neighborhood overall?

3) Was there mutual trust among internal and external neighborhood agents in

addressing issues and problems concerning recreation for the at-risk youth in the

Glenview neighborhood?

4) How did the internal and external neighborhood agents view themselves and each

other as collaborators in meeting the recreation needs of the at-risk youth in the

Glenview neighborhood?

Delimitations and Limitations

Delimitations

Although the current research study has theoretical and practical implications in recreation and specifically within therapeutic recreation, the results may not be





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generalizable to the overall population of at-risk youth in that the study was limited to the Glenview neighborhood. A delimitation for the study existed from the focus being on the Glenview neighborhood and from the deliberate nature of exploring a phenomenon that existed in the neighborhood when recreation was established and discontinued for the resident youth. A second delimitation occurred from the purposeful selection of the ecological agents who lived in the Glenview neighborhood (the parents) and those who were a part of the community organization group (members from the church, police, university parks and recreation, city parks and recreation, city government, neighborhood, and local school) that was involved in helping to address the issue of recreation for the at-risk youth.

Limitations

Limitations involved conditions that could not be overcome or strengthened within the study (Kraus & Allen, 1997). Several limitations within the current research study included various aspects of the data. Issues surrounding the timing of the data collection must be noted in that some of the interview questions were based on the establishment and disengagement of the recreation program that had occurred over a year before the interviews. Therefore, the collection of the data in general as well as on this particular issue was based and dependent on the accuracy of the responses within the interviews. In addition, another limitation involved the data analysis in that the interpretation was guided by the researcher who is a white middle-class female academic whose specialization is in therapeutic recreation.













CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW

In 1921 Joseph Lee recognized play as an essential aspect in building character in children and he advocated that play be part of their overall education (Witt, 2001a). A significant "story" in recreation's history that is passed on through generations of professionals is that of the Boston Sand Gardens-the first playgrounds that were developed by Lee (after the child welfare laws were passed ) for the purpose of getting the children off the streets and into activities that were more constructive rather than destructive.

Today the year is different, but the "story" is the same if not more intense. More than ever, we are observing the side effects of social and familial problems that are plaguing our youth who are considered to be at-risk for developing and expressing maladaptive and destructive behaviors (e.g. substance abuse, violence, gang activity, unprotected sex, truancy, and/or school dropout/failure). In addition, experts in the field of therapeutic recreation and recreation continue to believe in the constructive nature of recreation for these youth in helping them to develop immunity and fight against these social "diseases." Furthermore, we have other professionals in various fields of human services (law enforcement, religious organizations, general/special education) that have already noticed or are just beginning to see the "therapeutic" nature of recreation as intervention and prevention for today's at-risk youth. This could not come at a better time because it is becoming more apparent, within sources of the general



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media, research studies, and funding entities that it takes the collaboration and cooperation of various people in the lives of the youth to make a meaningful and generalizable impact. So, if we have a consensus among several types of human services that recreation can be used as a tool to enhance the lives of at-risk youth in some way, physically, socially, psychologically, academically, etc., then how can we all work together to implement quality services that meet the needs of the youth and their families?

The question does not lend itself to a simple answer for it quickly can be broken down into many levels and as a result became the premise to the current study. The question can even be changed to incorporate a phase that needs to be addressed in addition to the how of it all. In other words, what factors do we need in place as a community to be able to work together? Through two theoretical frameworks centering on an ecological systems approach and on community social organization, these multiple levels engaged by the above questions will be explored within an environment where a targeted group of at-risk youth live and play- the Glenview neighborhood.

Neighborhoods and Childhood Development

As previously described, the Glenview neighborhood has the potential of positively and negatively influencing the lives of the youth. In a negative sense, the neighborhood has substantially been losing its economic base over the past decade. According to Children and Families At Risk (1993), once a neighborhood begins to experience this loss, adults and children can become socially isolated which might cause a decrease in networks that help to prevent deviant behavior. Olsen and Scharf (as cited in Witt, 2001b) stated, "Where a young person lives determines what level and quality of





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services they receive" (p. 43). In addition, social institutions (the school, welfare, justice, and human service systems) and parents can experience and even facilitate failure and hopelessness for these at-risk youth (Children and Families At Risk, 1993). Furthermore, individuals living in neighborhoods with crime, abandoned buildings, noise, alcohol and drugs, vandalism, and litter have been reported to experience high levels of fear and mistrust of other people, which in turn facilitates isolation of the neighborhood from the larger community (Ross & Jang, 2000).

However, in a positive sense, Korbin (2001) emphasized that impoverished

neighborhoods appearing to be structurally weak may encompass strengths that facilitate more positive outcomes than might be expected for some parents and children. In addition, Children and Families At Risk (1993) reported:

A neighborhood can be defined as a face-to-face place for social interaction, for education, and human service. A neighborhood is a place for preparing for life,
engaging in employment, going out into activities of the life span.... A
neighborhood is a key setting for human development. (p. 66)

Korbin (2001) also presented a "challenge to better understand and disentangle the interrelationships among individual, family, neighborhood, and larger sociocultural influences" (p.85).

Overall, there is a need for more research on the context of the neighborhood and its impact on childhood development. Very little is known about the infrastructures by which neighborhoods can influence the well-being of resident youth, and conditions and capacities to get activities implemented for these youth need to be better understood (Connell & Kubisch, 2001; Small & Supple, 2001). Colder, Mott, Levy, and Flay (2000) stated that previous research suggests children growing up in impoverished or violent neighborhoods may be at-risk for both internalized (depressive and anxious) and





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externalized (aggressive and violent) symptoms. They found in their research, African American youth living in single parent households and low-income neighborhoods were significantly more aggressive than youth living in middle class neighborhoods; however, they professed a need for more research on the impact of dangerous neighborhoods on youth development and behaviors (2000). Allison, Crawford, Leone, Trickett, PerezFebles, Burton, and Le Blanc (1999) also found that adolescents living in poverty and single parent households exhibited high rates of substance abuse. Furthermore, they also professed a need for more research on neighborhood contexts and influences on maladaptive and at-risk behaviors of youth in addition to a concentration on family and peers.

Accompanying the need for research to concentrate on a more ecological context due to the complexity of influences on at-risk youth, Sullivan (2001) advocated that processes related to childhood development be interpreted within a phenomenological framework. Rappaport (1987) stated, "In addition to a focus on professionals creating programs, we need to study people in settings that are part of their ongoing life" (p. 135). Mason (1999) asserted that with such less developed topics of study, qualitative method could facilitate a better understanding of the impact of risk factors (within the neighborhood climate and culture and within family and peer interaction styles) upon community-level behaviors and child-linked social problems.

Over 20 years ago and seemingly ahead of himself, Bronfrenbrenner (1979) also suggested that scientific study of any ecological environment should include a phenomenological view of how properties within a setting are perceived and experienced by the persons in that environment. With this in mind, the incorporation of an ecological





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approach to the current research will encompass the neighborhood as subjectively experienced (Korbin, 2001). In other words, what stories do the external and internal members have to tell about the neighborhood in relation to the "property" of recreation for the at-risk youth ... and overall, what story does the neighborhood tell about itself (Rappaport, 2000)?

An Ecological Approach

Ecological Systems

In order to examine the person-environmental interaction surrounding at-risk youth, an ecological systems approach is being used to guide this study in exploring the concerns and in determining how the needs for this group can best be met. Ecology is the science of studying the relationships between an organism and its environment. In relation to the study of humans, this science adopts a more holistic view in seeing the person and his/her environment as a unit. This unit can only be understood within the context of its relationship between and within the transactions of the two entities (Farmer, 1997; Germain, 1991). A more formal definition of ecology, as presented by Bronfenbrenner (1989), follows:

The ecology of human development is the scientific study of the progressive,
mutual accommodation, throughout the life course, between an active, growing
human being, and the changing properties of the immediate settings in which the developing person lives, as this process is affected by the relations between these
settings and by the larger contexts in which the settings are embedded. (p. 188) Ecological Subsystems

The content and management style of positive adaptations are influenced by the personality, physiological factors (disability/condition) within a person and the resources, experiences, nature of environment and culture that surrounds a person (Barker, 1968;





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Bronfenbrenner, 1979, 1989; Germain, 1991). As most importantly noted, the ecological system of a person is a sum of interacting and interdependent parts of a whole and therefore, can be further defined by subsystems (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, 1989; Hippchen, 1982). While a more recent interpretation of the ecological systems theory includes an interpersonal system (Bronfenbrenner, 1989, Germain, 1991; Howe-Murphy & Charboneau 1987; Munson, 1991), Bronfrenbrenner (1979) originally focused on the environment and divided it into the following: the micro-, meso-, exo-, and macrosystems. However, the definitions provided below are from a more updated version of his theory as presented in the Annals of child development, Vol. 6 (1989).

The microsystem contains a pattern of activities, roles, and relationships, which are experienced by the person face-to-face with physical materials and others who share similar characteristics, personality and beliefs (Bronfrenbrenner, 1989). The microsystem includes the following setting/roles: family/son-daughter, schoollstudent, and work/worker (Munson, 1991). The mesosystem is comprised of the connections and processes between two or more of the above settings and is basically a system of microsystems (Bronfrenbrenner, 1989). The mesosystem contains the links and interactions between family-school-workplace and parents/guardians-teachers-peers, respectively (Munson, 1991). The exosystem is comprised of the links and interactions between two or more settings, in which one does not include the person; however, this system influences the person indirectly (Bronfrenbrenner, 1989). The exosystem includes social structures such as the neighborhood, media, and government agencies (Munson, 1991). The macrosystem encompasses the overall pattern characteristic of a culture, subculture, or other broad social context of the above three systems (Bronfrenbrenner,





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1989). The patterns of culture included in the macrosystem may include economic, educational, legal, and political patterns (Munson, 1991). The Ecological Perspective and Therapeutic Recreation

What is the role of the therapeutic recreation profession in studying and

addressing the needs and strengths of our clients? It is the opinion of this researcher that our duty to our clients is to evaluate circumstances and environments surrounding the individual in addition to individual characteristics and behaviors. As we research and target the physical, cognitive, social, emotional and leisure needs and strengths of our clients, we have to realize that they also have family, peers, school, law enforcement, church, and other societal factors that influence their behaviors and thoughts. Within the therapeutic process and through our research efforts, our profession must look at the person with his/her environment.

In relating the definition to people with disabilities, Howe-Murphy and Charboneau (1987) explained the ecological perspective as "the process by which purposeful change occurs is variable, encompassing both the promotion of abilities (individual, community, environment) and the elimination of individual and environmental barriers" (p. 10) of persons with disabilities. In her testament to adaptation being central to the ecological concept, Germain (1991) concurred with the above authors in defining adaptation versus adjustment. In contrast to adjustment (which is a passive accommodation to the environment), adaptation is an action oriented and purposeful process where humans strive to achieve the best person-environment "fit" between needs, rights, aspirations, capacities and the quality of their environment. According to Germain (1991), if this "fit" is not positive (e.g. life stress creates a negative person-environment





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relationship), then people may actively change (adapt) themselves or their environment. Consequences of maladaptive behaviors include disabling feelings such as guilt, anxiety, helplessness, rage, despair, hopelessness, and lowered self-esteem. Four concepts expressed through a positive person-environment relationship include human relatedness, competence, self-direction, and increased self-esteem (1991). In therapeutic recreation, the primary goal of intervention and prevention programs is to facilitate the attainment of these concepts for our clients. Ultimately, we want to help them to help themselves maximize their own quality of life (Howe-Murphy & Charboneau, 1987).

In 1999, Devine and Wilhite advocated for the application of several theories in therapeutic recreation research in inclusive leisure situations. One of these was the ecological theory. They advocated that if an individual's behavior is of primary concern, then the person/group as well as the environment surrounding him/her/them (i.e. family, neighborhood, community, social group, and peer group) must be considered in research. At-risk youth will ultimately be studied by way of exploring a variety of "voices" of people who exist in their ecological systems ... people and social systems that may affect their lives directly and indirectly (Devine & Wilhite, 1999; Witt, 2001a).

In summary, the ecological approach will be used as a theoretical framework to guide the current study to facilitate "a much broader range of contextual understanding" (Rappaport, 1987, p.34). The members of the neighborhood (external and internal) or "subsystems" contribute to what is known as the ecological system surrounding an individual's life ... the at-risk youth. An individual has his/her own unique combination and types of subsystems in his/her environment that s/he interacts with and affects. In return, this environment (in addition to physiological and personality factors) ultimately





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affects the behaviors and beliefs of that person. As a result, there is not just one subsystem where the interaction with one environment takes precedence over another. Within the ecological system one person does not "own" a disturbance/disability/ condition and no one is blamed for it (Paul & Epanchin, 1991). At-Risk Youth and the Environment

In providing a definition of at-risk youth Gordon and Yowell (1994) explained:

At-risk status is a function of the inappropriateness of developmental
environments to meet the needs of the person, and that a focus on these deficient
environments may be more productive than a focus on the characteristics of the persons. We can then define at-risk as referring to a category of persons whose
personal characteristics, conditions of life, situational circumstances, and interactions with each other make it likely that their development and/or
education will be less than optimal. (p. 53)

This definition places an emphasis on the person-environmental interaction and in order to prevent failure for those who are at-risk, all parts of this person-context system must be included within such preventative measures (Kronick, 1997). Ecological analysis and prevention

The ecological paradigm can provide a more comprehensive approach to studying at-risk youth and assumes that individual attitudes and behaviors are influenced by the settings in which they live and play (Bronfrenbrenner, 1979; Foster-Fishman, Salem, Allen, & Fahbarch, 1999; Siedman, Chesir-Teran, Friedman, Yoshikawa, Allen, & Roberts, 1999). Repucci (1987) reported a need for multi-level ecological analysis of issues that impact on children and families in order to increase the likelihood that effective preventative interventions can be mounted" (p.3). In his evaluation of using organized sport as a vehicle for prevention of at-risk behaviors in youth, he supports the use of an ecological approach to guide research in this area. An ecological approach to





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research focused on prevention suggests an interest in the relationships among individuals, professionals, programs, and policy over time with contextual meaning and with promoting behavior change in a child's natural environment (Munger, 1998; Rappaport, 1987). In his discussion regarding the implementation of preventive interventions as the response to grass-roots groups "who require not treatment, cure, or re-education, but support with political, social and psychological resources," Wolff (1987) advocated for the use of an ecological perspective because it "views all people of all cultures as worthwhile in their own right" (p.154).

The aim in using an ecological approach to study at-risk youth and the

neighborhood is related to the concept of primary prevention. Primary prevention, in association with at-risk youth, focuses on reducing the number of problems occurring within such a population and can be defined as the primary promotion of health and development (Simeonsson, 1994). It is also seen as a logical and needed strategy to reduce physical, social, and psychological problems and programs using such a strategy should target youth who are at an increased risk on the basis of group rather than on individual characteristics (Simeonsson, 1994). As a result, primary prevention is necessary in the call for "health reform, school reform, welfare reform, and reform related to human service systems at local, state, and national levels" (Simeonsson, 1994, p. 1).

Simeonsson (1994) described the process of implementing community-wide primary prevention programs to include several steps. The first step is to define a geographic catchment area of sufficient size to provide an adequate base population for service delivery, while at the same time remaining small enough to maintain a sense of





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community. These catchment areas might include a neighborhood, a school district, or census tract. The next step is to develop a broad based coalition to include members such as "human service providers; business, education, religious, and law enforcement leaders; community residents with children; and local government officials" (Simeonsson, 1994, p. 45). The third step is to build a database, which helps to determine problems that may be targeted for prevention and the risk factors related to them that prevail within the community. While the first two steps in primary prevention have been addressed through the identification of services needed for the youth within a catchment area (e.g. a deteriorating neighborhood) and through the development of a broad based coalition, the third step was targeted within the current research study.

Lawson (1997) and Kronick (1997) also advocated for the involvement of higher education in addressing and playing a role in helping to prevent the problems of today's youth. Lawson (1997) specifically explained, "Universities that neglect, or abandon this social responsibility will nevertheless be held accountable for it ... and miss golden opportunities to regain public trust and moral leadership" (p. 8). At a university level, the researcher intends to also address the social responsibility of first exploring the lives of the at-risk youth within a person-environment context. Perhaps after such an exploration, more comprehensive and collaborative preventive measures for these at-risk youth can be implemented to meet the needs of this population.

In conclusion, the process of using an ecological approach in practice and research is more complex, cyclical, dynamic, and contextual, rather than linear and straightforward (Bartoli & Botel, 1988; Germain, 1991; Paul & Epanchin, 1991). While recognizing that individual differences play a part in childhood development, Sampson





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(2001) advocated that neighborhood mechanisms appear with incredible strength. He simply stated, in regards to research on at-risk youth and community influences, "something ecological is happening here, even if we don't know fully what it is" (p. 27). The current study will try to provide a minute contribution to such a phenomenon.

Community Social Organization

To address the issue of what factors need to be in place for the ecological systems of the neighborhood to be able to work together for the at-risk youth, a second theoretical framework centered on community social organization will be used to guide the current study. As stated by Lee (2001), neighborhood structures (housing tenure, poverty, etc.) can shape community social organization and also be altered by it. In the following paragraphs such a framework will be discussed through the three mechanisms of, the role of therapeutic recreation in, and issues facing community social organization. Mechanisms

In a broad sense, several questions asked by Sampson (2001) were applied to the current study. What are the collective aspects that make a neighborhood healthy for resident youth and families? Are mechanisms of community social organization based in citywide processes that cross over into local areas? By Sampson's (2001) definition, community social organization is "the ability of a community structure to realize the common values of its residents and maintain effective controls" (p.8.) and he maintains that neighborhood influences on childhood development (positive and negative) are derived from collective aspects of the community structure. Three mechanisms of community social organization (social capital, collective efficacy, and routine activities) "link neighborhood level structural characteristics with associated individual outcomes"





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(Avenilla & Singley, 2001, p.230) and will be presented in further detail to help explain this framework.

Simply stated, social capital exists when social networks have value (Putnum,

1999). In more detail, it refers to connections among individuals in which social networks and norms of reciprocity and trust are derived, which in turn, facilitate cooperation for a common benefit (Putnum, 1999). This model incorporates norm-established networks involving youth, their peers, parents, teachers, religious leaders, recreation personnel, agents of criminal justice and businesses that serve youth (Sampson, 2001). Neighborhoods high in social capital are more capable of realizing common values, members are able to sustain social control in their community, and they exhibit lower levels of crime (Putnam, 2000; Sampson, 2001). The presence of social capital facilitates positive reinforcements for youth and offers them access to positive role models, educational and vocational support, and mentors outside the neighborhood (Putnam, 2000).

Neighborhoods low in social capital are characterized as socially disorganized communities and include residential instability, anonymous neighbors, homogeneity of ethnic groups, few local organizations and resident youth have been prone to creating their own "social capital" through gang membership (2000). In addition, research has shown that neighborhoods weak in organizational structure and participation in local activities (e.g. recreation), faced an increased risk of crime and violence (Sampson, 2001).

In order to activate social networks within the community structure, collective efficacy is necessary (Avenilla & Singley, 2001). Sampson (2001) defined this as:





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A term meant to signify an emphasis on shared beliefs in a neighborhood's
conjoint capability for action to achieve an intended effect and hence, an active
sense of engagement on the part of the residents. [However,] the expectation that neighborhood residents can and will intervene on the behalf of children depends
on conditions of mutual trust and shared values among neighbors. (p. 10) Overall, collective efficacy engages the cultural expectation that mutual support for children will be present in the community of adults who are internal members of the neighborhood (Avenilla & Singley, 2001). Sampson (2001) also asserted that the ability of the community to activate links and support for children with external members of the neighborhood (e.g. police, fire, and recreation personnel) is important in maintaining social capital. Research has shown that a neighborhood's collective efficacy was a better predictor of crime victimization more than the existence of poverty or residential instability and that reduction in violence can be attributed to cohesion between residents (Putnam, 2000).

Taken from a criminology perspective, legal routine activities involve the

distribution of daily activities (transportation, work, school, and recreation/leisure) and are influential in how and when youth come in contact with peers and adults. As a result, the use of space and time within such structures can be a determinate on a daily basis of opportunities for unsupervised, illegal, or deviant activities and in general, can influence the well-being of children (Avenilla & Singley, 2001; Sampson, 2001).

While concentrating on community social organization as a theoretical

framework, the three components of social capital, collective efficacy, and routine activities will be explored within the Glenview neighborhood through the voices of its internal and external members who have direct and indirect association with the resident youth. Through a "lens" of recreation, issues of trust, connectedness, reciprocity,





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motivations for internal and external links, and use of time and space within the structures of the neighborhood will be investigated. The Role of Therapeutic Recreation

In her review of recreation and leisure taking a role in community processes, Pedlar (1996) asserted:

The widening gap between those who are advantaged and those who are
disadvantaged in society makes it increasingly urgent to more fully understand the
ways in which recreation and leisure can foster community development and the
role of the citizen and practitioner in that process. (p. 7)

She continued in her discussion that historically, community-based recreation has concentrated more on service management and programming to foster change in individuals and groups and advocates for a movement that is more process-based and less outcome-oriented. She does not negate the value of a planned and prescriptive approach by the therapist or programmer or the need for accountability through outcomes. However, her argument is for the process-based trend of facilitating a closer connection between the practitioners and other citizens so that recreation is more praxis than product. This process would include reciprocity and co-learning between these groups. In summary, Pedlar (1996) contended that, if the social reality of a community is recognized and validated and a community is more invested in the service, the members of this group would become more empowered. Empowerment comes from within the collective group and a community of citizens who are included as genuine partners, may in turn play an important and active role in establishing recreation and leisure as a public good. As a result, a process that allows a community members to take control of their own lives will also facilitate a realization of their ability to determine their own outcomes (1996).





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Many disciplines (community psychology, health education, health promotion, education, anthropology, and sociology) have incorporated such systems for societal environmental change. "Bringing about community change through grass-roots activity, neighborhood revitalization, and the creation of coalitions is an integral part of the fields of ... community organizing" (Maton, 2000, p. 26). However, there is a crucial need for other allied disciplines, including the field of therapeutic recreation, to align with such a viewpoint (Maton, 2000; Pedlar, 1996).

Problems and Assets

According to Maton (2000), there is a need for environmental transformation because promising programs can only make an impact on social problems (caused by violent neighborhoods, disaffected peer groups, family poverty, inadequate support systems, deeply troubled schools, and limited opportunities for purposeful social engagement), if they become firmly established within the community host environments. This does not go without challenges because social transformation can be faced with the following problems: discontinuation of demonstration projects; loss of effectiveness due to the term limits of funding sources; program advocates moving on to another community project/issue; or a reduction in resources caused by changes in priorities. Conditions promised initially (knowledgeable and influential program advocates, active staff collaboration in program planning, and resources for implementation) are frequently not sustained (Maton, 2000). Such issues evolved from the community organizing effort for recreation within the Glenview neighborhood for within the past year, funds were not re-established for the program, changes in key members occurred (several housing authority staff, several recreation staff, a city commissioner, and the mayor changed) and





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some distention between several external members developed. However, a purpose of this study is not to solely investigate these problems and absences, but as an important strategy of community organization, it will be necessary to also concentrate on what assets are present at this time (Pedlar, 1996). To hear the voices of all the members of the original group who advocated for recreation and to hear what the new members have to say will be an important aspect of this study.

In summary, the current study will try to identify the needs as well as the

strengths of the Glenview neighborhood in relation to its influences on the at-risk youth. Through a naturalistic approach, the phenomena of community social organization surrounding recreation for these youth will be explored.

Implications for Therapeutic Recreation and Public Recreation

Throughout the National Therapeutic Recreation Society's (NTRS) literature, the reader will find a general but very fundamental philosophy in the field of recreation, itself- that everyone has the right to experience leisure. Interestingly enough, the foundation of the Glenview neighborhood community organization effort was based on the same philosophy in their advocacy for recreation for the neighborhood at-risk youth. Accordingly, the NTRS (1996) Philosophical Position Statement conveys that a valued foundation of therapeutic recreation is its promotion for the right to leisure and states:

This value includes related concepts, such as leisure as part of a healthy lifestyle,
the importance of leisure for everyone, and other dialogues that articulate and explain the role of leisure as part of a healthy and productive life. The right to
leisure is grounded in the notion that the individual is entitled to the opportunity to express unique interests and pursue, develop, and improve talents and abilities
because of his/her potential. The right to leisure is a condition necessary for
human dignity and well being.





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To exemplify the last sentence of the NTRS statement, a consensus has grown within the parks and recreation literature that health and well-being are essential to life for individuals, families, neighborhoods, communities, and society (Godbey, 1998; O'Sullivan, 2001). With this in mind, Witt, Crompton, and Baker (1995) advocated for a need for parks and recreation departments to understand problems and issues faced by target populations before program goals and designs are established. Within the context of after-school programs, Witt (2001 a) emphasized the need for those in the field of recreation and therapeutic recreation to find a balance between the voices of service providers and other stakeholders within the community (the youth, parents, teachers, and public at large concerned with prevention of risk behaviors) in order to provide differing views of what programs should entail. O'Sullivan (2001) concurred within her statements on repositioning and advocacy of parks and recreation as essential to well being. She suggested that issues should be taken to the public to gather values surrounding recreation of the residents and youth of local neighborhoods. She also advocated that professionals in the field of recreation create and engage in the formation of ecological links and connections to its citizens.

Community social organization surrounding the issue for recreation for at-risk youth may be a process that exceeds the traditional boundaries of therapeutic recreation; however, as Sylvester, Voelkl, and Ellis (2001) professed:

[Community organization] points to the need for systematic change in how
professionals do their business. Empowerment is not simply teaching a social skill or a new leisure activity. It literally means power to the people, which implies that
people with disabilities [including at-risk youth] must be supported in assuming
more control over their lives, not just in terms of biopsychosocial functioning, but
socially, culturally, and politically as well. This will require new thinking,
models, and practices of therapeutic recreation. (p. 241)





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Within the current study, this new thinking and systematic change was attempted through an investigation and naturalistic approach of research surrounding the Glenview neighborhood. Through the theoretical frameworks of an ecological perspective and social community organization, the context of recreation was explored via the voices of the resident at-risk youth and the internal and external members of the neighborhood that directly and indirectly influence their lives. In giving them a voice, it is hoped that some beginning of empowerment will occur in the future for the Glenview neighborhood and the resident youth in the context of recreation.














CHAPTER 3
METHOD

The interpretive paradigm was used to guide the overall method of the current study regarding the ecological influences of the Glenview neighborhood and community organization effort for the resident youth in relation to the context of recreation. In addressing such issues within the theoretical frameworks of community social organization and an ecological approach to human development, a naturalistic approach using qualitative method facilitated a better understanding of the opinions, needs and desires of the internal and external members of the neighborhood (Bronfrenbrenner, 1979; Korbin, 2001; Mason, 1999; Rappaport, 1987; Sullivan, 2001). Such an approach also provided a more appropriate avenue in answering the research questions guiding this study.

The data were collected using the qualitative method of interviewing and was analyzed through the process of constant comparison (Glasser & Strauss, 1999; Henderson, 1991). The setting, participants, role of the researcher, and procedures of data collection and analysis for the study will be discussed in the following sections.

Setting

The setting for the study included the Glenview neighborhood-a low resource urban neighborhood that is immersed within a more affluent community of those that seem to have more. Although it is labeled "poverty-stricken" the census track for the city reveals percentages and numbers that do not formally designate it as so because



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Glenview exists as an island in a sea of upper to middle class residential neighborhoods. These higher income residential areas included in the census track tend to skew the numbers directly within the "Glenview" area. A 1990 census of the city stated that 47% of the population living in a "block group" that included "Glenview" was low- to moderate-income level and that approximately 50% of the students in the elementary school located in the neighborhood were eligible for free and reduced lunch. The respective numbers for the "Glenview" neighborhood were actually higher due to the data being a decade old and because the housing complexes surrounding the neighborhood are of higher socio-economic status. For example, 100% of the youth participants in the summer program who came from the Glenview neighborhood, qualified for free and reduced lunch.

It is important to describe the variety of spaces within the Glenview

neighborhood-the spaces open to and roamed by the children-where they live, walk to and from, and where they play. While the following description is seen from the point of view as the researcher, the reader into Glenview as we walk through the neighborhood together. Please refer to the map of Glenview while reading the following description of the setting (see Appendix A).

Most of the children in the neighborhood labeled as "Glenview" live in the housing authority complex, which is literally surrounded by a nine-foot fence of black iron-rod stakes, but you do not see this until you are further on site. When you first turn off a main avenue into the lane leading to the complex, you see a quaint sign on your left welcoming you to this community and there is newly paved black top road in front of you with bright green grass growing along side it and a new five-foot tall wooden fence to the





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right. About 50 yards ahead, there is a beige brick building to your right with white columns and a small porch that is known as the community center. The wooden fence follows behind this building. The grass is still bright green. There are flowers growing in beds surrounding the center. Directly in front of you, the apartments begin. They are the off-white stucco two-story apartment buildings typical of Florida. There is no distinction between each building except for its geographical position and the letter designating it as A, B, C, etc. You can turn left or right. You decide to do the latter. As you turn, you see the tall black spears sticking out of the ground one after the other. They make up the massive rod-iron fence. The wooden fence to its right is dwarfed. You take an immediate left to follow the road and your eyes follow the fence that is now to your right ... as you move along you see a narrow opening in this medieval looking enclosure. This break allows the residents to access an alley that leads to a side road and to a city bus stop. This is the only break in the fence for the entire 500 yards that surround the complex. Where else does this break in the fence and the alley lead? The explanation will come later.

As you take your eyes away from the odd fence, you see the line of apartment

buildings to your left. The grass is not as green, the paved road that encircles the complex is not as new. You decide to take a side road that leads you to a parking lot. As you walk to this dead end, in front is this community's pool. The water is sparkling blue with a deflated black inner tube floating near the shallow end steps. No one is in it and there is a paper poster sign that says "Closed" in sun faded letters. Although it is May and almost summer, you wonder if the pool will open in time for the intense heat that the Florida summers bring. There is no written announcement that indicates if it will or will not bring such a relief from the summer rays.





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You walk among the buildings now. You notice two separate playgrounds-the kind that are all metal and starting to rust, but are embedded in a soft pool of sand. There is a slide on each and swings that have rubber u-shaped seats. You also notice that the ground cover between the buildings is mostly dirt and leaves now. You walk over in front of a stairwell in one of the apartment buildings. It is 10:00 in the morning and you see bottles of beer in the hands of several male adults sitting on the steps, you step over a dirty diaper on the ground. You smell the unique odor of fresh smoked marijuana. At another stairwell an adult is braiding the hair of a teenager while several younger children watch. Other children are riding their bikes around the buildings and stopping occasionally to listen to the conversations of the adults on the steps. A few children are now at one of the playgrounds swinging on their bellies flying like birds in the sky.

After walking around other buildings, you decide to back track to the community center. You go back out the newly paved lane that led you in. There is a large metal box to your left with a US Postal service sign on the side. Several residents are talking while picking up their mail with small children sitting on their hips and slightly bigger/older ones fidgeting next to them. You keep on going a few more yards until you turn left onto a sidewalk that leads you between a bed of liriope (a green grass like landscaping border) growing on both sides. A few more feet and you open the door to the community center. As you walk in you find yourself in a large room with a white tiled floor and there are large dark brown bookshelves along the wall in front of you almost filled with books. You also see several games on the shelves and a TV with a VCR to the left on a cart butted against the far-left corner of the big room. You see tables set up in a u-shape in the room with metal chairs slid haphazardly underneath them waiting empty until the





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children and other occupants sit in them. You look to the far right and see two separate offices behind glass partitions with the typical office equipment of computers and phones on top of the desks.

To the immediate left there is a wall with a 3-feet tall natural wood bookshelf for the purpose of holding the homework and book bags of the children that come in after school. Direct center above this shelf there is a framed certificate of the resident school age child who is doing the "best in school" for the month. You also notice pictures the younger children have drawn with a multiple of colors taped haphazardly around the entire room that help "animate" various blank spots on the walls. To the right of the short book shelf is a long hallway that leads to a room known only to the office personnel but along this hallway are two restrooms-a men's and women's. You go into the women's restroom. It is large enough in that it holds two toilets but there are no stalls and a 6-feet long cabinet that holds two sinks. You walk back out and are facing the front door now and notice another 3-feet natural wood bookshelf to the left. On top of the shelf you see a small basket with what looks like candy for visitors and residents to take as a "thank you" for stopping by. As you pick up a piece on your way out the door, you quickly notice it is not candy in the basket, but condoms individually packaged in bright colors.

After you walk out the door you decide to find out where that lone break in the massive iron rod fence leads to, so you turn right and retrace your first steps. As you approach the opening, you notice the fence on one side is layered over the other with a 3feet gap to let people through. So you go straight in and then turn immediately to the left to get to the other side. You walk along an alley road about 4 yards. You notice the newness of the black pavement and that it is lined with a concrete curb that shows no





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signs of cracking from old age. Brush trees grow along the sides and as you look to your left you see an overturned grocery store cart lying on the pavement. It reveals signs of being left out in the rain too long. You walk approximately 6 more yards until you reach 12h street. To your left is a sign for the city bus stop. You look back at the fence-the overlapped gap is less visible further away perhaps to trick someone into not noticing that it is there in the first place.

You turn left walking north on the street. It is lined with tall trees whose branches occasionally hang over to try to form an archway. Although, you do not see many cars on this side road, you walk over a speed hump and see another straight ahead. As you walk away from the alley, you notice rows of houses to your right. They continue for two blocks down a side road that faces east. Chain link fences surround most of them and while some have kept lawns and landscape, a few have tall grass and a car in the yard that may not have been driven on a highway in years. While some houses have chipped paint on the exterior and rotting boards on the porch and underside, others look more recently painted. Some colors are earth-toned and neutral, some are bright aqua and pink, and some are pastels of yellow, pink or blue. You also notice the windows on most of the houses are covered on the outside by black metal bars You are reminded again of the black fence back at the housing project. You visualize a jail cell and you wonder if the true purpose of the bars is to keep strangers out. Or is it to keep the residents in?

You walk a few more yards and notice apartments to your left. There are three buildings each housing two single floor apartments. They are pale yellow with dark brown trim. There are no flowers or shrubs, but sun baked toys are scattered in front of





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several yards. They make up the landscape with cracked plastic and colors that you are sure were once bright red, blue, and yellow.

As you walk further, you come to a strip of land that parallels the housing project. There are tall trees, smaller brush trees and typical Florida foliage (you are sure it is some species of palm). You see the black fence even through the thickness of the leaves and brush. A few more yards and you finally see another building. It is a house tucked back off the road and its windows are boarded with solid wood panels. The paint that you are sure used to be white is now faded to gray and covered sporadically with dark green mold. The roof of a make shift carport on the left of the house is sagging and a board is about to break free of a nail that has possibly held it solid for years. You notice several boxes and unidentified metal objects sitting on the front porch. Trees, brush, and weeds have grown over, around, in and out of the house. There is a "Keep Out" sign posted on the front and a more official one from the city explaining the house is condemned and the legal ramifications of trespassing. You walk a few yards further and come upon another condemned house-an exact replica of the first. These are the houses you heard about in the neighborhood advocacy meeting-the houses that the community members are concerned about because even though they are condemned for no entry, the local police has labeled them as "crack houses". You wonder why the city has not torn them down? They seem beyond hope of restoration and the children in the neighborhood are potentially exposed to such action when they walk by or near them on their way to the park. You start to wonder if you walked by them every day, would you be aware of the chipped paint, the signs, and the weeds as much as you are now or would these houses blend into the "natural landscape" of this street?





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You walk further down the road, over another speed hump and notice more of the same houses on the right and on the left you come to another apartment complex. The buildings are not the same architecture as the others, but they are painted the same pale yellow with brown trim. The front yards are not as exposed to the street; however you do notice down one of the side streets that winds through the complex, a huge pile of trash almost blocking 1/3 of its access. You cannot make out what it consists of.. you just know it has been there for a while because it has that settled, expanded "look" from age and rain. Several residents walk by it, but do not look at it the way you do. Again, you wonder if it has become an inherent part of the scenery.

At the end of the street two yards in front of you, a parking lot comes into view. The street cuts a hard turn to the right, but you walk straight into the spacious lot that is filled with only four cars. As you return to observe other times, the average of cars does not increase by more than two. There are times when the 30 car capacity lot is empty. You turn right and walk past empty spaces designated with white lines. To your left there are five spaces marked for "handicapped parking". To your right the street that you were on continues past more houses and a big white church 50 yards down. As you are halfway in the parking lot, you turn left into the entranceway of"Glenview" park.

As you pass under a big arching sign 30 feet above you announcing the name of the park in 1 foot font letters, you come upon a 3-foot high brick wall to the right of you that encircles an ornamental tree and a 3 x 3-foot sign to the front-left of you that reads at eye level:

This park was planned and implemented by the [City] Club of [College] City
primarily to serve the physically impaired children and challenge them to develop
their physical skills to their maximum potential. Children of all abilities are
encouraged to use these facilities and to interact with those who might be limited





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by physical impairments. In all activities show respect and care for others and for
the equipment which was generously provided by the citizens, businesses, and
organizations of [City].

You are now aware a section of the park is an accessible playground, but wonder why the words embedded within the sign are not people-first for it was built recently after such political correctness was established.

After you read the sign, you look to your left and read another sign (with the same type of language) that "introduces" an open area of sand the size of a basketball court. Surrounding this sand area is a sidewalk that winds up and down like a roller coaster on one side and lies flat for the rest of the circumference. To the right of the sign is a 4 x 4 foot black paved ramp that connects to the sidewalk... it is meant to lead a wheelchair into the sea of sand? Within this large area of sand stands a huge live oak tree, one accessible swing set, one "regular" swing set with two swings, and a huge blue and orange jungle gym (JG) that has seemingly complex mechanisms of slides, ramps, and shelters as extensions. You conclude that it looks like a combination of a big octopus and a castle all in one. On the other side of the JG you see two wooden picnic tables and two benches lining the sidewalk on the other side. One large trashcan sits next to a picnic table. It is full of trash and smells of a strong odor almost like fish.

You return your view to the accessible playground and notice that two ramps connect the JG to the sidewalk and are approximately 6 feet long. One is labeled with a small rusted sign stuck in the sand as an entrance and the other labeled the same way as an exit. The accessible swing set has two types of swings. One is a 4 x 3-foot long pouch made out of yellow canvas and is connected at the corners by a thick chain that attaches to the top bar of the swing set. The other is made out of 5 x 4-foot metal flooring with 6-





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inch catchment sides made out of the same material. Again, it hangs at the comers by a huge metal chain that attached to the top bar. There is left over chain lying on the floor of the swing. Both swings hang about two feet above the sand. (As you have returned to visit the playground over the past year, you notice that the yellow pouched swing is slowly being dismantled. One corner is dragging the sand. The next time the canvas is shredded. It is presently nonexistent. There is no canvas, not even the chains are left. Just an empty space exists beside the huge metal swing.)

Except for the accessible sign to the restrooms and parking signs, the area in the sand is the only portion of the whole playground that is formally designated for those with disabilities. Although it is the only accessible playground in the city, of all the times you have been to visit, there have never been any children with visible signs of disabilities playing. However, you have noticed that the octopus-castle is a perfect spot for the children who visit from the neighborhood to zoom around on their bikes and other children with no visible signs of disabilities seem to enjoy romping around in the maze of it all.

You decide to walk around through the rest of the park and head back to the front entranceway. You walk to a wooden shelter that has a concrete floor. Four wooden picnic tables reside under the shelter and you can tell they have been used. Bits of food have been left for the squirrels and birds to eat and they are covered with graffiti and carvings from visitors marking their existence. You notice the shelter is landscaped with pine bark, small shrubs and ground covering. You see that a few paths have been trampled with people wanting to take short cuts to the rest of the park areas. As you look closer at the pine bark, your eyes adjust to detecting objects that should remain foreign to a





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playground. Many cigarette butts litter the ground, a few whippet containers are scattered about, a needle lies almost hidden underneath a shrub, and a black condom is out in the open on the pine bark for everyone to see. As several large waste cans sit next to the shelter, you wonder why these objects are not in them. But you are also afraid to look at what is inside them just in case there was more.

To the right of the shelter is a playground for children under five years old (it is not designated as accessible) and it consists of a rocking horse and several strange looking animals painted a muted gray/blue color; a mini sandbox; a large pipe that a three year old could walk through without bending his/her head; and a swing set with two harnessed swings. In between the mini playground and the parking lot is a building that houses two restrooms and a storage closet. While all are supposed to be locked due to sexual activity occurring in the stalls, you can open the door to the girls' restroom. You notice it is painted with dark green paint, there are two stalls with doors, a sink, and no mirror is on the wall. You check to see if there is toilet paper- there is. You inspect the floor- there are no "foreign objects." However, you do notice a strong odor of mildew and quickly leave to get some fresh air.

You walk around to inspect more of the park. You notice that this area of the park (a large portion of it, in fact) incorporates a track and field motif In the middle is a fivelane track that surrounds a basketball court, a swing set, a running/jump pit, a discus throwing path, and an area with grass and trees. You notice that the grass is long and wiry and wonder when the last time it was cut. There are also benches intermittently placed around this area of the park so spectators can sit to watch the players, runners, jumpers, throwers, or swingers. Although, at any one time there may be a range of three to 15





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children playing at the park, a few people may be walking/running on the track, and a few may be playing a pick up game of basketball, but rarely do you see people sitting on those benches. And of all the times you have been to visit in the last year, you are not surprised to see at least one child who is no more than seven years old taking care of and playing with a younger child (perhaps a sibling) and there is no adult near by or even in a house across the street watching to supervise.

Participants

As the Glenview neighborhood was the target setting for the community organization effort and consequently for this study, the people who affected the community organization effort directly and indirectly in bringing recreation to the neighborhood youth were the target population for this study. This included the parents of the youth and members from the church, university, city parks and recreation department, the police, city government, the local elementary school, and the Glenview neighborhood. Because the researcher was involved in going to meetings for the community organization effort for the past three years, a rapport and formal relationship had been established with most of the participants in this study over this length of time. As a result, the participants were recruited for the current study through purposive sampling, which is a theoretical sampling technique commonly used in qualitative studies and "is used to get the most comprehensive understanding of a phenomenon" (Henderson, 1991, p. 133). The number of participants targeted to interview included representation from the above-mentioned groups, were recruited until new information ceased and the same issues emerged, and included as many people as possible to explore





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the phenomenon surrounding the establishment and disbandment of the community organization effort for recreation for the Glenview youth (1991).

As a result of using purposive sampling, the sample for the study consisted of the following participants: five single mothers from the Glenview housing authority complex; two residents from the Glenview neighborhood; three recreation and park personnel and administrators; the local elementary school principal; two police officers who patrolled the neighborhood; four local church members and leaders; two people from the local university in therapeutic recreation; a former city commissioner; and a former mayor. As part of the ecological system surrounding the at-risk youth targeted within the community organization effort and subsequently in this study, 21 participants were interviewed (see Table 1).

The single mothers had at least one child and four out of the five had two children. Carla who had lived in the complex for approximately five years, had a six year-old daughter and eight year old son and lived on the second floor apartment of a two story apartment building. She was in the process of having a house built during the time of the interview and was moving out within the next month. Isabel, a friend of Carla's lived directly below her on the first floor apartment. She had a four-year-old son and a six year-old daughter. She had lived in the complex a little less than Carla had. Elizabeth had a two-year-old son and had lived in the complex in a ground floor apartment for only three months. Mika and Molly were sisters and had lived in the complex for five years, but they lived in separate buildings in apartments on the first floor. Mika had a six-yearold daughter and a two-year-old son. Molly had two-year-old and four-year-old daughters. Most of the mothers had toys, games, dolls, paper, coloring books, crayons





42


around the apartment and art on their refrigerators from their children. While they interviewed, their children were either in their room with computer games, right outside the door playing with other children, or listening to their mother being interviewed.

The other participants, the external members in the study ranged in backgrounds and their jobs will not be described here so as to remain as confidential as possible in their identification. A majority of the members (Bilobar, Joe, Jeff, Grandma, Jake, Michael, Barbara, Paul, William, and Joseph) had grown up or lived in the city for at least 20 years. Others (Al, Suzie, Amanda, Sallie, and Iris) had moved to the city at least seven years ago. Jack, who grew up and lived in the city, had recently moved within the past year to another recreation department.

Procedure

As previously stated, three years prior to the study, the researcher began to attend formal and informal meetings as part of the community organization effort that focused on bringing recreation to the Glenview youth. This involvement lends itself to explaining the researcher's role in the study. As a member of the university group, the primary role for such personnel was to be a consultant during the community organization effort and we strategically remained a neutral entity when some of the other groups found themselves at odds. Although, the city recreation department made the ultimate decision and/or was persuaded by other groups to provide programs for middle-school age youth instead of elementary age children, we did provide advice for a needs assessment and for the contents and issues related to the summer program. The university group was an important layer in the community organization effort; however, it was secondary and more supportive to all members rather than primary, politically action-oriented, or part of





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the ultimate decision-making regarding recreation. Furthermore, while objectivity was not always useful or even the focus for this type of research (Kraus & Allen, 1997), the researcher knew she would be engaged in a future interviewer/interviewee relationship with most of the group members. Thus, she contributed more fact and less opinion during meetings or in 1:1 conversation with potential participants. Most of the time, she listened and took notes during the public meetings and received e-mails for the next meetings or articles related to at-risk youth and recreation. The group members knew the researcher's educational background, interest in at-risk youth and recreation, and they regarded her as a member in the network that was part of the community organization effort. Overall, her role as the investigator was immersed more in subjectivity than objectivity "in the sense that the subjective experience of the researcher helps her understand the realities under study" (Kraus & Allen, 1997, p. 22).

Data Collection

The interpretive or naturalistic paradigm used for this study promoted the idea that the participants were the experts in the research project and that the researcher was the instrument in which to gather the data that included the social realities and multiple perspectives from the participants (Henderson, 1991). The qualitative method of active semi-structured in-depth interviewing was used as the primary source to collect the data for the study (Henderson, 1991; Holstein & Gubrium, 1995).

After the institutional review board approval was received from the university (see Appendix B), a flyer asking for parental/guardian participation was placed at the main office at the community center in the housing authority complex with permission from the manager. However, two parents, Isabel and Carla, contacted the researcher after





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two church participants in the study relayed messages to them about the study. Overall, the first direct contact with the researcher involved the parents calling her on the phone and all other participants were contacted by phone or through e-mail as she already had their contact information as a result of networking and attending meetings with such community organization members. During this initial contact, the study's purpose and method of interviewing were explained and an informal verbal informed consent was determined. As all the interviews were conducted face-to-face, during the day of the interview a formal documented informed consent was gathered from each interviewee and all participants consented verbally and in writing to have their interview audiorecorded. Each interview was transcribed by a professional word processor who declared and signed a document of confidentiality.

The length of the interviews varied from one and half-hours to four hours and the average length among all 21 interviews was two hours. A majority of the interviews took place at the participants' work or home and two were conducted in the researcher's office. Two interviews were completed in two meetings while the rest of the interviews were conducted within one meeting. After the interview, the participants were offered fifteen-dollar gift certificates to an unnamed store for compensation of their time.

Data triangulation using secondary methods of data collection was used to clarify information and to enhance the primary data collected from the interviews (Henderson, 1991). These data were collected by taking notes while observing behavior and nonverbal cues during the interview, transcribing audio-tapes, reviewing local newspaper articles about the park, reviewing the city parks and recreation documents concerning the





45

implemented recreation program, and notes from public informal and formal meetings regarding the advocacy of the recreation program for the youth.

The primary technique in the data collection was most importantly centered on the active semi-structured in-depth interview. For, the goal of this research project was to find out how the participants in their own words viewed at-risk youth and to find out what their perceptions of the needs, concerns, and desires that surrounded this population were in reference to recreation and collaboration between the different ecological agents. The interview "allows for those people being studied to ascribe their own words and meanings to situations" (Henderson, 1991, p. 27). According to Holstein and Gubrium (1995), active interviewers can enrich their research and incorporate indigenous resources and perspectives by tying in his/her background knowledge. This knowledge can be "an invaluable resource for assisting respondents to explore and describe their circumstances, actions, and feelings. Indeed citing shared experience is often a useful way of providing concrete referents on which inquiries and answers can focus" (p. 45). Holstein and Gubrium (1995) also regard the experience of interviewing as producing background knowledge itself and while information shared between interviews should be limited, "active interviewing takes advantage of the growing stockpile of background knowledge that the interviewer collects in prior interviews to pose concrete questions and explore facets of respondents' circumstances that would not otherwise be probed" (p. 46). Overall, prior experience can be a resource for both researcher and participant and helps to bridge the concrete with the abstract in that the interviewer can use such circumstances to link his/her familiarity with conceptual issues and questions with the respondents' experience and concrete attachment to their own narratives (1995).





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The interview guides (see Appendix C) for the parent/guardian and community organization member participants were divided into four sections: 1) the neighborhood, 2) the park, 3) recreation, and 4) roles and collaboration. Overall, the interview questions were derived and incorporated from conceptual issues which can be found in the literature in Chapter Two. As reviewed in the literature, concepts within community social organization (trust, connectedness, reciprocity, and use of space and time) were explored and were included as major components of several of the questions asked during the interviews. In addition, interview questions regarding neighborhood, safety, at-risk youth, recreation, and collaboration were also derived from the review of literature guiding the study. Major topics within the interview questions included what the neighborhood meant to them and what they thought it meant to the resident youth; what their definition of a neighborhood was; what the wall around the housing authority complex meant to them; where they thought the children were safe; where they thought the Glenview youth played safely; what the park meant to them; what they thought it meant to the youth; what recreation meant to them and what they felt were the benefits of recreation for at-risk youth; who they thought should collaborate in the effort to bring recreation to the Glenview youth; what they thought their role was in the community organization effort; and what they thought were solutions to the disbandment of the recreation program in the park.

In addition, through the technique of interviewing, the voices of the ecological agents who directly and indirectly affect and/or are influenced by the at-risk youth were heard. These "voices" were then interpreted and analyzed through the technique of constant comparison.





47


Data Analysis

The information gathered and transcribed from the interviews was analyzed using the process of constant comparison which "is a systematic method for recording, coding, and analyzing data" (Henderson, 1991). The focus of this analytical technique was to compare individuals, groups of individuals, and the data within a study to maximize credibility of the data and overall trustworthiness of the research (Glasser & Strauss, 1999; Henderson, 1991).

Trustworthiness of the research was also addressed by conducting member checks during the data discovery and analytical phases of the study with several participants for review and confirmation of the major categories that were emerging from the data. Member checks were used to maximize the credibility of the research and in essence to work with several of the interviewees as "co-researchers" (Glasser & Strauss, 1999; Henderson, 1991). Another area of trustworthiness addressed within this qualitative research study occurred through investigator triangulation in which two researchers (the primary investigator and her committee chair of this dissertation) separately read through all 21 interviews and produced initial coding, categorization, and broad themes from the transcribed data (Henderson, 1991). They then met multiple times to address additional stages of the constant comparison technique together.

The technique for constant comparison in this study began for the primary researcher during her interviews with each of the participants and occurred for both researchers by reading through and re-reading all the transcripts and notes. Then, "incidents" or units of responses from the interviews were placed into categories or themes which were identified and coded by how the incidents "fit" together (Glasser &





48

Strauss, 1999; Henderson, 1991). The categories and their properties were then reevaluated through review of all the interviews and through comparing categories and properties with one another and with the data (Glasser & Strauss, 1999; Henderson, 1991; Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Finally, categories or themes and their properties were again reviewed to confirm the data have reached saturation (Glasser & Strauss, 1999; Henderson, 1991; Lincoln & Guba, 1985). As a result of using constant comparison as the data analysis technique for this study, continuity between the responses of the participants determined major themes or categories that were constructed from the data. These themes ultimately lead to the establishment of grounded theoretical concepts (Glasser & Strauss, 1999; Henderson, 1991; Henderson, Bedini, Hecht, & Schuler, 1995; Lincoln & Guba, 1985).

Constant comparison generates "a theory that is relevant to the behavior and content in which it is observed" (Henderson, 1991, p. 148). In this study, this generated or grounded theory began to develop through the process of constructing conceptual categories and themes and then these themes were illustrated through evidence (i.e. quotes from the participants) (Glasser & Strauss, 1999). Similarities and convergences with concepts from the literature review were established after the core categories and themes were constructed from the data to ultimately establish grounded theory (1999). Within the current research, such theory pointed to and shaped relatively universal principles in which the themes converged with support from concepts from new literature as well as with concepts that were presented in the original literature review in Chapter Two (Babbie, 1998).










Table 1

Participant Demographics


Pseudonym Group Affiliation Age Gender Race Highest Degree Earned


Bilobar Church 56 M Caucasian B.S. Joe Church 63 M Caucasian Doctorate Jeff Church 37 M Caucasian M.S. Grandma Church 63 F Hispanic Highschool Al University 55 M Caucasian Ph.D Suzie University 28 F Caucasian M.S. Amanda City Parks & Recreation 45 F Caucasian B.S. Sallie City Parks & Recreation 39 F Caucasian M.S. Jack City Parks & Recreation 55 M Caucasian M.S. Paul Former City Commissioner 38 M Caucasian M.S. Barbara Former Mayor 50 F Caucasian B.A. Jake Police Officer 38 M Caucasian A.A. Michael Police Officer 46 M Caucasian B.S. Iris Neighborhood Resident 32 F Caucasian B.S. Joseph Neighborhood Resident 20 M Other A.A. William Local School Principal 51 M Caucasian Ed.D. Carla Parent 32 F Asian-American GED Isabel Parent 38 F Hispanic N/A Elizabeth Parent 24 F Caucasian A.A. Mika Parent 20 F African-American 11 I grade Molly Parent 22 F African-American GED













CHAPTER 4
RESULTS

Themes were constructed from the data using the constant comparison method of analysis, which facilitated the development of grounded theory, which will be presented in the next chapter. Through the examination and saturation of key concepts, categories, and units, four major themes developed from the process of interviewing and reading/rereading transcripts of the 21 participants in the study which included five parents, two neighborhood residents, two police officers, one principal, two university personnel in therapeutic recreation, three city parks and recreation personnel, one former mayor, one former city commissioner, and four members from the local church. These four themes included 1) Neighborhood Environment; 2) Despondence in Glenview: A Lack of Hope and Trust; 3) Parental Conditions: Influences on Youth and Recreation Involvement; and 4) Parents: The Key to Community Organization.

Conceptually, the four themes that developed from the participants' perceptions regarding recreation, the Glenview neighborhood and park, the at-risk youth and their parents, and collaboration and relationships between members within the community organization effort, interrelated with one another and embraced the Glenview youth as their central link (see Figure l). These themes and links are products of the ecological and community social organization frameworks that guided the research questions and the study overall and provide an intricate explanation for the phenomenon that took place in the Glenview neighborhood two years ago-a phenomenon that assembled and



50





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disassembled the offering of structured recreation programs within the neighborhood for the resident at-risk youth.

An important factor must be emphasized and preface the discussion of the four themes. In Chapter One, it was stated that the current study was not about the recreation program that was provided to the youth of Glenview. This statement cannot be truer after reviewing the participants' collective perceptions surrounding the phenomenon of the construction and disintegration of the program. The stronger themes that emerged did not focus on programmatic ideals. However, some of the interview questions asked for answers about the program and why participants thought it did not continue. For example, some of the participants answered that a facility to house the recreation program in the park was needed, that a fair disciplinary process was not in place for the youth who were not used to rules in the park, that the wrong age group was targeted, and/or that the problem was that the kids simply stopped coming and money should be spent on other constituents in the city that did want a program. While all these statements are credible and important, the phenomenon of there not being a program after so many people worked on bringing one to the Glenview youth will be directed by a bigger picture that "steps outside the box" of the program, itself This picture will be illustrated by and amassed from the four themes that were derived from the perceptions of the ecological agents who directly and indirectly affected the at-risk youth in the community organization effort.

Neighborhood Environment

Intricacies and distinct characteristics of the neighborhood environment prevailed throughout the participants' interviews and as a result, sub-themes emerged within this





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context of the environment surrounding the Glenview youth. The sub-themes were constructed in direct or indirect relation to the youth and revealed similar and/or varying perceptions of neighborhood conditions between the interviewees. They included a) meaning of neighborhood: meaning of Glenview, b) the "wall" of Glenview, c) a park in a neighborhood vs. a neighborhood park, and d) recreation as a means. Meaning of Neighborhood: Meaning of Glenview

A common perception among the participants in the study focused on the isolation, lack of unity, impoverished nature, criminal/deviant influences, and safety issues within the Glenview neighborhood. Although, the youth were not always mentioned directly in their statements within this sub-theme, these meanings have direct effects on the youth and make them at-risk.

Prior to presenting the perceptions that support these characteristics, a summary of how the participants defined a neighborhood be will be addressed. When asked to give a definition of a neighborhood, common answers included that a neighborhood is a place where people live and play together, where they share, help each other, and feel safe, where people have a sense of responsibility for each other and pride in the neighborhood, where people have a vested interest in a specific geographic area even if it is a series of streets or a subdivision, and where people have similar values and look to each other for support. Whether the reader believes that these descriptions are ideal or not for today's neighborhoods in our entire society, it was clear that the participants in this study perceived them important for a neighborhood and did not view Glenview as adhering to such definitions.





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Many participants voiced their perceptions on how the Glenview neighborhood was isolated, disconnected, and lacked unity. Al, a professor at the local university who began to consult with the community organization group after its initiation, stated:

[The people in Glenview] seem so isolated from the environment around them. So
isolated.... They're kind of a neglected group of people.... I guess it wouldn't
really be a neighborhood then, because it does not seem to me that the people in
the neighborhood really come together and work together to improve the
neighborhood. There's not much common unity in the community. Later he explained:

I see a lot of houses and streets and nobody outside.... You don't see people
outside in their yard. You don't see people strolling their children on the
sidewalks. You don't see people standing out talking, neighbors talking. You don't
see people.

Grandma, a retired mental health technician who was involved with the local church that initiated the community organization effort, explained:

Actually the neighborhood is surrounded by other nice neighborhoods. It's kind of
in the center. It's like all this neighborhoods, and big expensive homes built around it, then it's a little intermediate here, and then [Glenview is] this little
group here.

Elizabeth, a mother of a two-year old son who had lived in the housing authority complex for only three months, already had gained a sense of loss within her community. She professed, "I miss having the community, you know, in unity, in fun, looking out for the kids and having fun ourselves with the children." Sallie, a current employee of the city who was in the parks and recreation department at the time of the organization effort, described Glenview as "ill-defined, isolated, contained, actually hidden is probably the best ... the hidden neighborhood."





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Other participants recognized its isolation, but also talked about Glenview's impoverished nature, criminal/deviant influences, and issues concerning safety. For example, Jack, also a former employee of the city parks and recreation department stated:

[Glenview] is a community that really is seeking an identity, doesn't really have
one. I think for me, it is a community that is on the lower side of the economic
scale that is facing a lot of challenges economically. I think there's also challenges
based on that neighborhood in terms of family structure.... I think the
neighborhood is dealing with a lot of difficult issues, not just economically, you
know, in terms of crime, in terms of vandalism, in terms of any sense of unity. Another mother, Carla, who also lives in the housing authority complex, stated, "I think it's just a place where people live and try to make it. You know, just try to survive with the income that they have", but later explained that her son did not like living there 'because there are mean people.'

Bilobar, Joe, and Jeff, three leaders within the church who initiated the

community organization effort, all explained that Glenview was the nearest neighborhood to them (the church) that was in need and they felt they had a responsibility to address those needs. In addition, they all were educated about and in their interviews cited statistics for the Glenview area that involved its low economic status, drug trafficking, and overall criminal activity. Paul, a former city commissioner who was incumbent during the initial community organization effort, remembered that Glenview had experienced "a murder, shootings, and some crack house [activity]... that were brought to the attention of the police and the city commission" while he was in office.

In relation to the neighborhood and its surrounding areas, the participants were asked in their interviews where the resident youth and families go to and/or play safely. They talked about the lack of safety in Glenview and recognized a few places (school, the





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park, or home) that could be considered safe havens (or not) for the youth and residents. Jeff answered, "School-I think that's the only place." Joe reported:

Probably the only safe haven those kids have is the few hours per day that they
spend in public school. There they're protected, they're in a fairly safe
environment, they are supervised, their activities are monitored, they are fed.

Al answered, "I'm going to assume that they can go to school and those kinds of locations and get there and get back safely." He also went on to say, "I think they can probably go to [the park] and be safe, but I don't think that they could go there after dark and be safe." Grandma, was resolute about the park being unsafe, but thought it could improve. She stated:

[The park] is not safe. I mean it's not safe right now. I'm saying if it were in the
right shape and run properly with the adequate facility, it would be a great deal for
the kids who live there that don't have to go somewhere else.... [Then] I think, to
the kids it would mean that it's a safe haven for them.

She further talked about the lack of safety within the Glenview residential area itself and declared, "It's not a place I would feel very comfortable going out on a night by myself, or even during the day."

In addition to Grandma, other participants, who were residents as well as nonresidents of Glenview provided their perceptions concerning the safety of the neighborhood. Michael, a police officer in charge of a district that includes Glenview, stated, "I don't know if there really would be a safe place other than inside somebody's apartment or home." William, who has been a principal for over 18 years and who had been at the local elementary school for two and a half years at the time of the interview, remarked, "Many parents keep their kids locked in because it's so unsafe." Isabel, a single mother of a two and six year old, who lives in the Glenview housing authority complex, confirmed his sentiment. She declared, "It's just not safe around this area.... I feel safe





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when I'm inside my house with the door locked.... I feel safe when I see the Sheriffs Department parked in the office." When asked where she felt most safe, Mika, a single mother of a two and six year old and resident in the complex, answered, "In my house." When asked where her children play safely, she answered, "In the house. Sometimes I let them go out right here in the street." Where she pointed was only a few yards from her apartment door in an isolated parking lot. Elizabeth, also a resident and single mother of a two year old, described common occurrences in the complex. She reflected:

I think it's very scary at night. You have to watch what you do and who you talk
to, even during the day.... At night you'll hear gunshots and you'll hear loud
music and hear bottles breaking and fighting and yelling and screaming.

Carla, a resident and single mother of a six and eight year old, also recounted, "[The police] only come because of the bad things that go on and the bad people that come here and the fighting and drug dealings, things like that."

Further sentiments about the safety and criminal/deviant activity concerning Glenview were explained by the two police officers who participated in the study. Michael, a commander in charge of the entire district that encompasses the zone that includes the neighborhood, reported:

[Glenview] is probably the busiest call for service zone in the entire city. We have a lot of activity in there. In my district it's the zone that has the highest amount of
police officers assigned to it.... So between the proactive and probably the
reactive calls for service in that area, an average would be around 30, probably a
month.

Jake, a sergeant of the zone, further explained that there is a clear distinction in criminal activity between two different areas of Glenview. One is an older housing area (which will be referred to as Glenview OHA) which has been in existence for over 60 years, but has become run down and impoverished in the last few decades. The other is a Section 8





57


housing authority complex (Glenview HAC), which is privately owned but funded through Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and only available to single-female parents. Jake also stated, "You have more problems with the people who are coming to visit [Glenview HAC] than you do with the people who actually live there...you have the crack dealer boyfriends and the burglar boyfriends." He later added, "If they took [Glenview HAC] out of that neighborhood the crime would be almost nonexistent. Unfortunately, there's a reason there's a fence around that complex." The "Wall" of Glenview

Jake points out directly that there is a fence that separates the two main residential areas of Glenview. As reported in the description of the setting in Chapter 3, a 9-foot black rod-iron fence "looms" around the housing authority. After interviewing the participants, it clearly played an important role in the division of the Glenview neighborhood. It was enough to warrant it as a separate sub-theme that contributes to the overall space where the Glenview youth live and play. While some participants mentioned this fence as an environmental and necessary boundary around Glenview HAC, other participants also talked about physical and psychological "walls" and a separation from other neighborhood areas that the residents and youth face. In addition, in talking about the Glenview neighborhood, the participants' focus throughout their interviews was predominately on the housing authority complex. Within this sub-theme, the "wall" will first be illustrated through a physical sense followed by the participants' perceptions that were more psychosocial and neighborhood based.

The Glenview HAC actually has two physical barriers around it, a concrete wall and the rod-iron fence. Michael, a police officer in charge of the entire district that





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includes the zone encompassing Glenview, stated that the rod-iron fence was "about a $180,000 project that actually was paid for in large by the Federal Government." He further explained that "it's not necessarily to keep the [Glenview HAC] people from pilfering surrounding neighbors as much as it probably is to keep the apartment complex contained from those that may want to come in to do illegal activity." Jake also explained that the fence "helps ebb the flow of criminals from the complex into the neighborhood." He further stated:

They raised the [concrete] wall another three feet, because they would jump the wall... right on top of it and into the neighborhood. So they raised that up three feet and it's a nine-foot [rod-iron fence] so you need two people to get to the top
of it now.

Joseph who is twenty years old and a resident all his life of the older housing area of Glenview, also stated, "I guess it's the effective strategy of the police department to round up, I mean, any suspected criminals." In the same sentiment, Molly a resident of the housing authority for five years and mother of four and two year old daughters also explained:

They put the fence up to make it harder to escape the police. That's what they put it up for, and to make it where you have only one way in and one way out, so it's
easier to catch the bad person.

While previous comments from participants focused on the policing nature of the fence, other perceptions targeted on the sense of containment and potential psychosocial effects of its presence on the neighborhood residents. William, the principal of a local elementary school one-mile down the street, thought the wall meant "a way to contain, if you will, that low housing development there." Al, a professor in a human service field for over 30 years, surmised a negative societal repercussion of the wall:





59

When you have housing authority projects like [the Glenview HAC], it's kind of a
black eye on our society. It says that we have to build low-income housing for people and then ... it's almost like we don't want to see them. So if we build a
fence and a wall around it, then we can drive by and we don't even notice that it's
there.

Elizabeth, a single mother living in the housing authority complex, also professed the presence of the fence meant, "they're trying to keep us in almost, and keep everything else out."

Isabel, also a single mother of a six-year-old daughter and four-year-old son living in the complex brought in the perception that not only did the fence contain the residents, but it also separated them from the rest of Glenview neighborhood. She explained:

I think because we are in this complex and fenced in, this is really the
neighborhood--even across the fence, it's not really our neighborhood. I don't think so. It's more like, because we're so fenced in and enclosed and confined
almost.

Another mother, Molly, also declared, "Actually that wall is like, in a sense, labeling someone as-this is a bad neighborhood, that is a good neighborhood." Grandma who had considered living in the housing authority complex when she first moved to the city over 30 years ago, felt strongly about the wall even then. She expressed, "That wall means to me that it's fenced in. That's one of the things I never liked about that place." She went on to say, "When they fenced it up, it's like a jail-like you are incarcerated. That wall is telling the other neighborhood that we don't want you. You cannot associate with these people." Joseph, who is dedicated to being a positive role model, has for over three years voluntarily tutored and led bible studies and other activities for the children in the housing authority complex. (In fact, when one of the mothers was being interviewed he was outside leading activities with her and about 20 other children on blankets in the





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grass.) Joseph also revealed during his interview that he was considered to have been an at-risk youth in his childhood and teens. He brought in a vivid psychosocial perspective of the wall, stating, "Maybe it adds to the whole glass ceiling effect to their lives, reinforces their bondage to poverty and alienates them from a lot of the other neighborhoods and from normal society."

While some perceptions focused on the physical and psychosocial effects of the "wall", other participants felt that the Glenview neighborhood was overall divided. Sallie, a city employee and Suzie, a graduate student from the university and former employee of the city parks and recreation department who worked in the summer recreation program with the youth, both thought that Glenview HAC was its own neighborhood and the residential areas outside of it encompassed a separate neighborhood. Iris, who has lived in Glenview OHA for five years and who was the President of the Neighborhood Crime Watch during the community organization effort, was asked if she thought the housing authority complex was part of her neighborhood. She answered, "No. I wouldn't really include that in our neighborhood. I know it's a big influence in our neighborhood, but I don't feel a sense of community from [Glenview HAC]." Amanda, who became an employee with the city parks and recreation department just as the community organization effort started, explained:

[Glenview HAC] is the neighborhood unto itself and there are even walls there,
which really distinguish it from the rest of the community, and infiltrating or
getting into that neighborhood was another part that was difficult, which kept us
out. There was no trust.

In contrast to the opinions surrounding the physical and psychosocial divisions within Glenview, other participants did believe that Glenview was one neighborhood even though they were cognizant of divisions and a physical wall. For example, Al





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brought in a culminating and socioeconomic perspective, which combined its separation and integration. He explained:

It seems like there's somewhat of a separation at the same time, and the
separation is probably due to the socioeconomic class, the differences between the
two. [Glenview OHA] is low and [Glenview HAC is] lower and has a physical
structure, that being the fence.... But I think they're [both] part of the
neighborhood.

After reading such perspectives on the intricacies that divide the residential areas, the impact of such divisions on working with the youth in the neighborhood are important to consider even before planning a recreation program. The above opinions do not directly include how the wall affects the youth, but they do focus on the "bigger picture" of how it may impact the residents overall. As will be discussed later in the second theme, Amanda, Joseph, Isabel, Carmen, Molly and others in this section brought in concepts of segregation, labeling, trust, and hopelessness that can occur from having "walls" around and within the neighborhood. Recreation first must assess "these walls" along with their influences and try to understand and break down psychosocial as well as physical barriers before even trying to provide a formal program "inside" for the at-risk youth and residents.

A Park in a Neighborhood vs. a Neighborhood Park

In this next sub-theme, the perceptions of "walls" and barriers permeated into the voiced opinions surrounding the city park, which is physically located adjacent to both Glenview OHA and HAC. Again, disparity existed between participants as to if this park is even included within the Glenview neighborhood or not. Overall, the participants in their comments integrated the residents and youth into their perceptions about the park.





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To begin this section, a brief description of the park that was presented in Chapter Three will be reviewed. Looking from the asphalt parking lot, the rectangular shaped piece of land for the Glenview Park includes about 15 acres. It has two baseball fields in the right back corner; a large playground right center; a large track left center with track and field stations, playground equipment, and a basketball court in the middle; a large accessible playground in the front left corner; and a shelter with picnic tables, a tot playground, and a restroom/storage facility front center. To the right of the restroom facility is a fenced in adult day care facility that leases its land from the city parks and recreation department. In the far right front corner is a fenced in area with a playground and soccer field that was constructed for a new private school across the street in a church that is located in the Glenview neighborhood. (This church is not to be confused with the church that had members that initiated the community organization effort). The church bought the land from the city recreation and parks department. In the back, left and center is a fenced in soccer field, playground, basketball court, and recreation facility for girls and the land for this private organization was donated by the city parks and recreation department. In addition, this facility has regular access to the track and field and storage areas of the park. After describing the setting of the park and entities that are adjacent to it, the concerns and comments that the participants had about the park will hopefully be more clear.

Collectively the participants asserted how the park embraced outsiders more than the neighborhood youth and how this facilitated programmatic and psychosocial barriers. In her interview, Suzie, a graduate student in therapeutic recreation who worked with the youth directly in the summer recreation program, talked about the fact that there was an





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accessible playground and the park as a whole did not nurture such a concept. She professed, "I ultimately wanted [the park] to be a barrier-free playground, where we would be removing the barriers that society has added and to break down that barrier that's between these kids and the [private recreation facility for girls]." She further explained:

If you're not part of one of those organized groups, then you don't really belong,
you know. I mean if the [recreation facility for girls] is out there running
programs and you're not part of the [recreation facility for girls], then you don't belong, you're an outsider. If you're not part of the baseball program, you don't
belong, you're an outsider.

Barbara, the former mayor who was involved in the town hall meetings early in the community organization effort and who also was known throughout the city as the "Queen of Recreation", also stated, "In fact, most of the activities were not available to the children that live in the area." Al, who observed such a trend after multiple visits to the park, also explained, "[The recreation facility for girls and the baseball leagues] play their games, and they leave. They come and they go. [The park] is not utilized by the residents of the neighborhood."

There were also direct and indirect perceptions from the viewpoints of a Glenview resident and the resident youth, respectively, in regards to the park not being a part of the neighborhood. Joseph, who grew up in the older housing area of Glenview, proclaimed:

It seems like there was something about the [accessible playground]. It seemed
like it was alienated from us at first. It was like it was not really our park-it
seemed to be a park for someone else. The target wasn't the kids and the people
that were living in the neighborhood.... They keep the doors locked [to the
restrooms]- I don't hear of anybody from the neighborhood ever really getting the
keys. It's like somehow they have to know people to get the keys. I guess the
[recreation facility for girls] comes out there and runs the track, so is that track
really for us? It's been different things like that.





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Suzie expressed, "I think that [the Glenview youth] felt that the park belonged to the [recreation facility for girls] or the grownups who played basketball at four o'clock and the people who would sit in the park and drink on the weekends." Several of the church leaders had interviewed some of the resident youth early in the process of the community organization effort. Bilobar recalled,

[Courtney said] 'this is my neighborhood but I can't use my park'.... The children
that live in the neighborhood said--'it ain't my park'. They feel like outsiders in
their own neighborhood, pushing them to the streets to play and for their
recreation.

Jeff also had the similar observations and comments. He expressed:

A lot of child-care centers and day care centers would bus kids in to use the
facility there. But again, it wasn't with kids from the neighborhood.... Some of the kids said [the park] is a place where you go and you watch other kids play,
that you can't-it's not really a place for them. It's where they go and they watch
and dream about themselves participating.

Several participants made a connection between the organized "outsider"

recreation use and the emptiness of the park. Jeff stated, "When you organize people together, they use the park, but when it's disorganized, it's seldom used." Al also added, "I think there's more children in the neighborhood than what I would ever see even a small percentage of them in the park. And you never see adults there." Joe's sentiments were the same, professing, "But what impresses me about the park more than anything else is its emptiness. You know you almost never see anything going on there." In addition, when participants were asked what they thought the neighborhood park meant to the youth, their answers were dismal. For example, Al commented, "Probably not much", Joe added, "I don't think it means anything good to the kids", and Sallie stated, "I don't think it means anything to be honest with you. I don't because I don't feel it's part of the neighborhood."





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Sallie's comment leads into other observations from some of the participants' declarations of the park not being viewed as part of the neighborhood. An example included Mika, a single mother of a six and a two year old living in the housing authority who thought it was too far to walk to the park with one of the gates in the back of the complex always being locked. (It is a gate that opens directly to the park.) She said, "Oh yeah, I would [go] if they opened that one." Amanda and Sallie, who both were employees of the city parks and recreation department at the time of the community organization effort, both believed the park was not part of the Glenview neighborhood and focused on social and physical barriers in explaining their views. Amanda stated, "No. I think that was one of the problems. We were taking [the resident youth] out of their neighborhood, in essence, and I think that was the problem and I think parents thought that way also."

Sallie professed that the park was not part of the neighborhood because "it's the way the park is physically designed and its location." She explained that the focal points and more heavily used areas of the 15 acres are the recreation facility for girls, the older adult day care, the baseball fields, and the accessible playground. She felt these areas were open to "outsiders" and presented barriers to the resident youth using the park even during the summer recreation program. She expressed:

I think you need to do some physical changes to the park.... Why [would] I, as a
10-year-old want to come hang out in the park if I'm not part of the [recreation
facility for girls], I'm not part of the baseball team, I'm not physically challenged,
I'm not a senior. I mean, what do I want to do there? Why would I want to go hang out at that facility?... So there's a whole bunch of physical barriers and
other things.... That's why I don't perceive [the park] as part of the
neighborhood.





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However, many of the participants revealed the opposite view to Amanda, Mika, and Sallie. For example, Bilobar, Jeff, Grandma, Al, Suzie, Carla, Elizabeth, Molly, Barbara, Paul, Jake, Michael, Iris, Joseph, and William all regarded the park as part of the neighborhood, geographically and/or socially. Joe even thought the park was "the focal point of the neighborhood", and Jack explained:

Yeah, I happen to [think the park is part of it], partly because of the way the park
would draw from [the Glenview OHA and HAC] neighborhoods....it was the primary park that served both of those neighborhoods. So from a practitioner
perspective, I see it from what it would typically draw from. The flip side is that I
think some of the residents, like in other neighborhoods in [the city], see it
different.

Overall, the participants felt there was potential for the park to be part of or to contribute positively to the neighborhood. As previously reported, Sallie had said that physical changes needed to be made. Jeff and Al both said that it had tremendous potential and Bilobar stated that "it lacks direction.... and that it's an area of ground that isn't being used to its fullest potential." Joe expressed, "I see that park as being a gold mine of opportunity that is wasted." In reference to the park and the resident youth she worked with, Suzie emotionally stated, "If they were given a chance, that space would be theirs. I think they felt a sense of ownership that summer. I really think that they were proud of what we did that summer."

Recreation as a Means

While the perceptions of the previous conditions within this neighborhood seem overwhelming and desolate, participants also explained and truly believed that recreation with the resident youth could be a vehicle to help improve the neighborhood, as well as benefit the family unit and society. Before providing such opinions, examples of distinct





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benefits as professed by other participants (in addition to Suzie) regarding the actual summer recreation program will be provided. Joe observed:

We saw marked improvement and there was less of the negative crowd hanging
out. The kids were able to utilize the facilities of the park in a positive way under
some good supervision and I think it was just a very positive thing.

He and others also commented on the deterrent on crime that the program provided. He further stated:

Well, even though the limited time that [the recreation program was] in that
neighborhood, we saw improvement. The Police Department reported to us that the incidents of crime declined, that drug trafficking was less evident, just in the
little short time that we were there in that one summer. So I think it has an
immediate impact on the neighborhood.

Amanda also was aware there "was a decrease in crime in the area when the program was there on a daily basis for those hours, so that was a positive." As Suzie passionately talked about the summer recreation program she added, "The crime did decrease some, so if that's not a success story I don't know what is."

Additional perceptions from the participants included how a recreation program with the youth could help the families, neighborhood, and society. In regards to families, participants expressed the benefits of recreation to the children and parents. From experience, Molly sincerely felt:

It brings you and your child closer together. It's like 'I have the best mommy because we always go do this, and we always go do that.' If you're not doing
anything and you don't have any recreation activities and sit home everyday, then
your child is all bored and rebellious.... You make your child have fun and give her activities. There's different things going on and they know they get to go do
these type of things. Sometimes it makes them behave better.

Jeff expressed, "It would help their parents because [the kids] wouldn't be so crabby when they come home. It would help the overall quality of life in their home." Bilobar felt that "if the recreation department provides positive role models... and an infectious





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attitude with positive attitudes, that they can shape the outlooks of the children and the families." Jack, in conveying the potential of leisure education for the Glenview children and families, professed:

I think recreation is also education in many ways, in teaching. I think in that case,
focused in on learning value systems and creating opportunities for family
involvement together, as a family, and then maybe even as individual neighbors, is a role recreation really could play very successfully there. That would help the
parents maintain that involvement with their kids' lives and also broaden their
knowledge and relationships, and adult relationships within that neighborhood. Addressing recreation as facilitation for a family-community bond, as well, Elizabeth reported, "Parents could meet parents. That's a good way to get a community instead of just a group of people living by each other."

In regards to benefits of recreation for the neighborhood, participants in the study mentioned how it could help the youth, families, and residents in finding ownership, pride, and community within Glenview. They also said that recreation could be therapeutic in a community, facilitate a sense of care about the neighborhood and again, help decrease crime. Al, a professor in therapeutic recreation, stated:

I really believe that if you have recreation in the parks it could just do so much for
the neighborhood in terms of getting the people out and getting them to the
park.... I think recreation could be a vehicle to really build a community.... I've
been referring to it as recreation, because that's just a general umbrella, but I see it
as therapeutic recreation. We used to be there and we kind of left the community
and now we need to go back to the [community], because that's where so much of
the problems begin.

Jack, a professional in recreation for over 30 years and former director of the city parks and recreation department, also communicated how specific types of recreation programming would benefit the Glenview neighborhood. The following was a reflective solution after the recreation program in the park had discontinued:





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I think if we used the right approach to programming in there, ... I think it would build... self-respect and pride.... I don't think they have a whole lot right now. I feel like sometimes they're like that lost child. That would do a lot for them [and]
that's why I thought more of neighborhood events rather than individual athletic sports or after school programs. It could bring that neighborhood together to be proud and have self-esteem and care. I think also it's hard for people to change.
But I think you could move them from what I think is a lot of apathy right now,
into a neighborhood that cares.... I think through these kinds of neighborhood
programming, we could pull people together in a positive way and show people it's okay to care.... it's not just this city government out there... to hurt you and
make your life difficult. I think that could break down a lot of those type of
barriers.... [and] going out there and being part of that can produce some real
positive things.

Sallie, a former employee of the city parks and recreation department with over 15 years

of experience in the recreation profession, also believed that recreation "could increase

the camaraderie amongst the residents as a way of celebrating neighborhood." Jeff,

currently a community organization leader of 13 churches in the city (including the

church targeted in this study), also added, "Well, I think it would give the kids greater

ownership over that neighborhood too." Paul, a former city commissioner and current

leader within the city community, stated:

Well by improving the kids and the people, giving them more choices in terms of
things to do, more activities and a greater sense of ownership and pride in the
neighborhood and the park, I think that helps the neighborhood, helps strengthen
the social fabric overall. I think it potentially can create a safer neighborhood, which is always, for any neighborhood these days, an issue, especially, in the
poorer neighborhoods.

A number of participants also remarked on the benefits of recreation in helping to

create safer neighborhoods and to reduce crime and delinquent behaviors. Several

mothers who are residents of the Glenview housing authority complex provided such

sentiments. Elizabeth expressed:

I think that it could maybe, possibly stop them, maybe even just for that day, of doing something that they shouldn't have done. Maybe it's just that one day, but
that one day could have made a big difference.





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Carla, another concerned parent for the children in Glenview, also professed:

If [recreation] keeps the kids busy and does something with them, then they are
not vandalizing, they are not setting the laundry room garbage on fire, or breaking
windows. I know there are little kids doing major sexual activity because they
don't have anything else, they don't have anything else to think about.

Isabel also felt that recreation could help curb crime and also declared that the Glenview youth "need [recreation]. They are playing unsupervised, getting hurt, hurting each other and not having other means to be directed."

Other participants who were external members of the community organization effort and who were non-residents of Glenview also provided feedback regarding recreation as a means to decrease crime. Joe, a prominent leader among church communities in the city, admitted:

Whether recreation is the answer for [the problems surrounding the Glenview
youth], may or not may be arguable, but I can't come up with a better solution....
[Recreation] would interest those kids, would get them off the streets, [and] would
keep them from hanging out in the park and selling drugs.

Michael, an officer in law enforcement for over 20 years and advocate of recreation, also stated:

I think [recreation] provides them an opportunity to do something and get some structure in a safe environment.... [It gets] the kids to do something constructive [to where] they won't have that extra free time to go break a window or whatever
else.

Jack also stated, "When kids [are] involved in some type of organized recreation, they're... significantly less juvenile crime rates." In providing the benefits of leisure education in relationship to crime, Al professed:

Educate [the youth] about how to use their free time, because they really don't
have any idea how to use [it].... If they're engaged in worthwhile recreation
before school and after school, weekends and so forth, then they're probably not
spending that time, that free time, engaging in something illegal and destructive. I
think it can curb crime.





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Along the same conviction, Suzie expressed:

I think once you increase self-esteem and social skills and the behaviors [of the
youth] that that will ultimately help the whole community grow and then as a
result, crime will be reduced and all those good things that are secondary societal
benefits.

As the participant perceptions of recreation have moved from benefits for the youth and families to the neighborhood and community, opinions in addition to Suzie's comments, were also shared in how recreation could positively impact the youth at more of a societal level. Barbara, the former mayor of the city, stated:

If we put the resources into place to provide recreation, which local government
has historically done-it is a municipal service, a local government service then
we would, I think, see some improvement in our juvenile justice and our school
systems. We might have happier people in neighborhoods because they felt better
about things. I just think it's an important service that we have really neglected. Jeff, in reaction to hearing about gang activity in the Glenview Park, avowed:

We need to organize [the youth] into their own gangs but we'll call it the
Glenview basketball team and we'll socialize and educate and teach and develop
moral and ethical ideas and behaviors within them. Give them a little bit of an
outlet for some... of their social/economic conditions.

Sallie remarked, "I think [recreation] would help [the youth] become productive members of society... that it will help you become a better person, improve the quality of your life, improve how you feel about yourself" In a similar sentiment, Joe also declared that recreation could have a positive impact on the future lives of the Glenview youth. He expressed, "It will have a long-term impact because if we can change those kids hearts and lives when they're in the 5th grade, when they're in the 7" grade they are not going to be as likely to get in trouble. So it's just a matter of changing them one life at a time.





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Despondence in Glenview: A Lack of Hope and Trust

In the first theme, the neighborhood environment was described by the

participants in a variety of characteristics illustrating the isolation, multiple divisions, and criminal/delinquent invasion within Glenview and recreation was perceived as a tool to be able to address such characteristics in relation to the youth, parents, neighborhood and society. What impact do these characteristics have on the people themselves? The second theme addresses deeper psychosocial issues that help illustrate the connection between the environment and the person-the neighborhood environment and the residents that live in Glenview. This theme was constructed from the participants' perceptions regarding the overall despondency that seemed to pervade the Glenview neighborhood residents as a whole and is divided into two sub-themes that convey direct or indirect perspectives of the resident youth and parents around issues of a) hopelessness and b) a lack of trust.

After these two sub-themes emerged from the data, it was interesting to find that a synonym for "hope" was "TRUST" and vice versa, for "trust" was "HOPE" (Webster, 1985). After reading this, it was more apparent that the participants had already made the connection between these two concepts, which vividly illuminated from the Glenview residents and they did so without citing the dictionary. Hopelessness

The participants talked about hopelessness in four different contexts: how

recreation could decrease hopelessness, the impact of not having a recreation program for the youth, hopelessness surrounding the parents and the children, and a relationship to social structure.





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In talking about decreasing hopelessness, this section will start where Joe left off in the first theme in how recreation could help change the hearts and lives of the resident youth one life at a time. In essence, he said recreation could help facilitate a positive future in society and in looking deeper, it could give them hopefor such a future-hope is where change can begin. To illustrate the concept of hope further, a quote from one of the resident mothers from Glenview will be used as an example and examined. Carla, who was resourceful in getting her children involved with a variety of recreation activities, provided some insight into how she felt when her daughter had the opportunity to be a part of the [recreation facility for girls'] track activities at the park one day. She expressed:

And the [recreation facility for girls] even let [Brittany] join in on their track
running. She trained with them. I almost felt like I was normal. I was like, wow,
there's normal people here who actually are here for a reason.

Being able to have her daughter participate in recreation with others, gave Carla hope. In examining her perceptions, hope can come from realizing that youth through recreation came together for a purpose... for a social (and physical) reason. Hope encompasses knowing what to expect from social institutions and social roles (Seligman, 1997; Snyder, 2000). Thus, Carla also signified that because people were at the track in the park for a reason, it made her feel a part of "normal" society in contrast to her life in the Glenview HAC where normalized social roles and expectations of the residents are not usually clear and if so, they are not likely adhered to.

As with Carla and Joe, other participants had similar sentiments in how recreation could facilitate potential, talents, and strengths in the Glenview youth to help them gain





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hope for their future and by experiencing social norms within such a context without obstacles or barriers to safety or security. To illustrate, Isabel stated:

If the community gets together in these [recreation] programs and gets these kids
from those [negative]crowds, and they know there is something else better for
them, there is hope. Show them there is hope and show them that there is a better way. See, the time that they spend growing up like this, behaving certain waysthat's what's going to show when they grow up. If they don't have [recreation
early in life], they don't have that bond where they can explore their talents, their strengths. Nobody is there to help them how to find that [and guide them]... they
will never know.

Jeff, in reference to describing the background to the community organization effort to have recreation provided for the Glenview youth, remarked, "I think we have to look at how we [can create] opportunities for people to help themselves as opposed to creating institutional obstructions to keeping them from achieving their greatest potential." William reflected, "Maybe the only bastion [or fortification] of hope that some of those kids have is to have a safe and secure place to play."

So, what if there is not a safe and secure place to play? What if the community does not get together? What if the children and residents do not know what to expect anymore because organized recreation was at the park for the summer, continued for a few weeks into the school year, and then it was dropped? Some of the participants were asked how they felt about there not being a recreation program at the park anymore for the Glenview youth. Isabel simply answered, "Hopeless." Jeff passionately answered, "Hopelessness and despair are addressed through empowerment of people and not by punishing people or creating obstacles and putting, institutional obstacles for people to overcome." After being asked the question, Bilobar talked about the effects that the lack of the program would have on the children's lives within the institutional setting of school. He declared, "I think that's a detriment. I think this feeds the hopelessness. I think





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this feeds the unruliness. I think this feeds the discipline problems in the school. I think this feeds into the truancy."

After there was disbandment of the recreation program, Bilobar professed that it "fed" the hopelessness. He was quite aware that hopelessness already existed and "swarmed" within the Glenview neighborhood. The following are perceptions from other participants about the residents, specifically the parents, in the Glenview neighborhood (primarily the Glenview HAC) regarding hopelessness and the effects of it on their children. Jeff stated, "I think the larger problems that are [in Glenview] are conditions of hopelessness and despair and they have to be addressed." Isabel, who had recently almost moved with her children to the homeless shelter in fear of their safety at the Glenview HAC (until she was moved to a front apartment), wavered between the use of "we" and "they" in talking about the mothers. She recited:

Remember these are really mothers that, they are so overwhelmed. They have lost
hope. They can't see that there is-if we voice our voice, if we let-if we speak our feelings and the way things are, for us to be heard, our voice and that that is
very important. They don't-it seems to me like they don't believe that can
happen.

Joseph who volunteers with the children in Glenview HAC on weekends, also provided such sentiments about the mothers. He explained, "They're just unaware of their kind of voice, the voice of a community speaking out, and unmotivated and different things like that." Jake, a police officer who patrols the area felt the mothers were in despair "because I think of the situation they're already in. It's like no one likes me, no one loves me anyway except the crack head dealer/boyfriend I have. They don't know anything better."





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Several participants talked about the perpetuation of hopelessness from the parents to their children. Al suggested:

They just feel trapped. A lot of the [Glenview residents] were born in that kind of
a situation and they've grown up in it and now they are adults themselves and
they're still in it and they can't get out of it. They've fallen into a black hole. It's
the only life they know, the only culture that they know. They feel trapped.

Carla also talked about this entrapment and stated, "Some of [the families]-they've been living here before me and they don't plan to leave and it's sort of hopeless. The kids are like, 'this is life'." Jack also conveyed, "Honestly, I think some of that actually comes from it may be being beaten down too much and giving up hope, not thinking there's a life line there anymore. And then it passes on to the kids."

Other participants specifically focused on the hopelessness surrounding the children of Glenview. Bilobar stated, "The children in the neighborhood just generally lack purpose and direction... the kids are hopeless.... [there is] sense of hopelessness." Suzie, who worked as a supervisor and directly with the youth in the summer program, explained:

I swear [the kids] just felt like they were beat down so much.... When they were
sitting there telling me that they were going to run away and they didn't know
how to get out.... The kids are almost giving up. They feel helpless. They aren't really sure where they're going to go or what they're going to do, but they know
they don't want to be there for the rest of their lives. And yet they seem to feel like
they're stuck here.

Suzie went on to tell stories of despair concerning the youth that participated in the summer recreation program with her. She explained that she knew some of the children had to get food and/or clothes out of the neighbor's trash. And because there was only one pair of shoes in the household (adult size), one child would come with sneakers that were many sizes too big. Others only owned flip flops that you can get at the store for $1





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and when they would visit other recreation facilities in the city during the summer

program, they ended up getting kicked out that day for improper attire. She also added

that sometimes a parent(s) would come down to the summer program at noon just to eat

the free lunch that was designated for their child by way of federal grant funding.

Carla, who was very dedicated to her children and to making Glenview better

while she lived there, had worked very hard towards a way out of the system and was

moving out the next month with her children into her own home. Her perspective into

Glenview HAC was insightful and forthright. She told several stories of despair and

hopelessness concerning the youth and their families. The following was one example:

There [are] so many families [in] poverty in [Glenview HAC]. I remember five
brothers, they were probably a year apart...and they lived over there [the next
building]. They were so poor, instead of washing their clothes so the other kids
wouldn't pick on them, (their parents didn't wash their clothes), they would
exchange clothes every day. What [Bobby] wore one day, he would give his other
brother to wear the next day, and he would swap with him. The clothes were
filthy.... And then when the big kids have to wear the little kids' clothes, they
were too small. They would switch their clothes like that. So there were families that were, I'm talking poverty... When you're doing that, you're dirt poor. And
they had nothing to eat. They never had food... Nobody in the neighborhood
cared about these kids because they would always be begging and so people got
tired of it. They never had anything to offer. All [the boys] wanted was other
people to take care of them because they weren't getting it at home.

Other participants provided insight into these stories of hopelessness in regards to

the impact of the socioeconomic status and social structure within low-income and

poverty-stricken neighborhoods. Joe proclaimed:

I think unfortunately, people whose day is consumed with just trying to figure out how I'm going to put food on the table tomorrow [and] because this neighborhood is on the lower socioeconomic level, I think their higher priority is simply making
a living and the kids unfortunately are the victims.





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Other participants also verbalized the socioeconomic impact on the lives of the Glenview residents. Barbara asked, "What's the most stressful thing that happens in your life? It's when you're short of money and you can't pay your bills." Paul pointed out:

[The Glenview] area is struggling economically to make ends meet.... So the
sense of hopelessness and not caring, fear and those kinds of things, do all
connect together as part of the whole social-I hate to call it a social structure,
because it's a lack of social structure, actually. Lack of Trust

The second sub-theme of mistrust emerged in clear relation to the hopelessness of the parents and children in Glenview as connecting to what Paul referred to as a lack of social structure. As with hope, trust should precede and can be constructed when members know what to expect in social roles, performances, and behaviors in a normalized setting. A greater degree of trust is needed when these expectations and boundaries are less clear and more open (Seligman, 1997).

In their interviews, the participants answered questions regarding whom they

trusted and whom they perceived trusted each other among the parents and youth and also groups that were involved in the community organization effort. The sub-theme that emerged clearly focused on how a lack of trust permeated through the residents of Glenview. Within this context, this second sub-theme will be illustrated by the participants' perceptions surrounding parental mistrust of governmental entities and of other groups with which the parents and youth come in direct or indirect contact. Jack summarized:

I think there is somewhat of a distaste by a lot of the local neighborhoods for
government. There's not a trust. I think part of [the problem], when I look at it,
was the lack of trust by the [Glenview] neighborhood, because it's had that
experience with government.





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Other participants noted a general mistrust in government and/or also specified a particular entity from the city/county. The following remarks involved the city parks and recreation department. Al professed:

I think there's a lack of trust between the parents and almost all of the other
groups. I don't sense a trust between the parents and the government at all. Zero.
The parents and the [city] department of recreation and parks-probably no trust
either.

Joe also specifically cited the city parks and recreation and conveyed:

Now when somebody comes along and says we want to provide a recreational
program for your kids after school, their reaction is to say yeah, yeah, yeah, we've
heard that before, you know, we'll believe it when we see it, you know, and they
really don't trust anybody.

Amanda, a staff of the recreation department realized, "I don't think the trust was there for the parents to be willing to participate in the program." Suzie also conferred a similar perception about the youth and their parents. She said, "I don't think that the kids trusted the program to the point where they thought it was going to be around any longer ... Parents I don't think cared so the issue for trust wasn't there."

Two other governmental entities that were discussed by the participants in

relation to mistrust were the school and the police department. For example, William, the principal of the local elementary school conveyed:

We have probably less cordial and familial relations with [the Glenview parents]
than we do with the parents from nice middle class neighborhoods, and that's a
function of, I think, distrust or uncomfortableness working back and forth across
those lines.

Al reflected on the residents' perceptions of the police and stated, "I think [residents] do have a respect for the police and they think that the police are probably on their side, trying to keep the place in law and order and so forth. Trust the police? I don't know about trust. I said respect, trust I don't know." Jake, one of the police officers in the study,





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admitted, "I don't know that there is trust even though we've tried to go in there." Michael, a district commander in the police office with over 30 years experience, responded, "For us it takes time to build trust."

Lastly, the perceptions surrounding a general lack of trust from the parents as

viewed by the participants (including the resident mothers themselves) will be presented. Al and Joe provided general comments regarding the parents and the concept of trust. Al stated, "Parents have, throughout their lives, they've been promised a lot and it's not been delivered, so they just start out with a lack of trust." Joe with similar sentiments asserted:

I don't think the parents trust anybody.... They are a deprived section of society
and they have adopted the feeling that the world is against them and they're
having to muscle their way through life the best they can.... They are so
environmentally adapted to not trusting that it's just not their nature to trust
people.

Most of the mothers made reference to not being able to trust the other residents in Glenview or had only a limited number of people that they could trust in their immediate family. After being asked whom she trusted in her life, Molly confessed, "Myself I trust myself because I know-I trust myself to make the right decisions and not just jump into something. I think about it first before I do it." Mika, Molly's younger sister answered:

My children... [and] my sister. I grew up with her, in the same house. I know if I don't have it, she's going to give it to me. If I need to go somewhere, she's going to take me.... If you want to trust someone, I think they have to-they can't lie to
you, I mean.

Elizabeth expressed, "Like for my son, I don't ever let him go to anyone's house. If they want to play, they need to come over here and play. But that's just me. I guess I'm a little nervous. But I don't know. I don't trust a lot of the people [in Glenview]." Carla explained, "I would just say most people that live around here, I could not [trust]."





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Parental Conditions: Influences on Youth and Recreation Involvement

What happens when a lack of hope and trust exist within a neighborhood, whether it is with governmental, private, or other human service entities, with others who live in the neighborhood, or within themselves as parents and youth? What happens when the only person you can trust is yourself and maybe those family members that are close to you? What happens when most specifically, hopelessness and mistrust surround the parents and it is passed on to their children? This next theme includes some of the issues that are a result of, but more importantly are intertwined with hopelessness and mistrust. This theme emerged as a result of exploring what created the at-risk conditions of the Glenview youth and factors that influenced the recreation involvement of the youth. Throughout the interviews, the most frequent and strongest issue that emerged focused on the parents of Glenview. The third theme is divided into two sub-themes: 1) parents and at-risk youth, and 2) parents and recreation involvement with the Glenview youth. Parents and At-Risk Youth

The first sub-theme emerged as a result of reviewing the participants' perceptions of what factors in the neighborhood made the Glenview youth at-risk. Several factors were mentioned such as, low economics, poverty, outside negative influences, high crime and violence, low IQ, and school failure. However, the participants always commented on some aspect of parental/familial involvement (or lack of) that facilitated or caused the youth to be at-risk. After asking what conditions in the neighborhood made the children at-risk, Amanda simply and quickly replied, "The parents." In addition, Michael, Bilobar, Sallie, and Paul's primary explanations included the risk factor of living in single-parent households. Joseph expounded on this factor in introducing another component of youth





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who live within a single-female headed household. As a 20 year-old male who selfprofessed to not be included in any racial category except other, Joseph explained:

[The youth] don't even have their father in their life. So, I would think the breakdown in the father figure and just the relationships that they see their
mothers going through and being exposed to really a lot more crime, a lot more things that would harbor your own consensus that that's cool to do-that makes
them at-risk-not having [a father] and even their moms not giving them
whatever kind of support they as a mother could give them.

In her definition of at-risk youth Iris brought in similar concepts. She stated, "I think an at-risk youth is a youth that has become vulnerable to outside elements because he doesn't have the strength within him or herself ... because he doesn't have strong family values or support." With similar sentiment as to what makes a child at-risk, Jack concurred, "Circumstances that would impact their ability to receive guidance or direction or nurturing as a child.... They're coming home without adult leadership, adult direction." After being asked if the Glenview youth received supervision from the parents, William simply professed, "I would say they get little to none."

In addition to a lack of support and supervision, other participants discussed deviant behaviors of parents and residents that contributed to conditions of risk for the youth. Al professed:

I think there's a lack of adult supervision, for sure, a lack of quality parenting,...
poor parenting and attention, problems in the home, child abuse... alcohol abuse, drug abuse, crime, delinquency, vandalism... struggling academically.... I think
all of those factors, if any of them are present then the child is at-risk. Jake noted:

[The Glenview parents] encourage their children not to be nice to the police. It's
like they're not wanting to have that child see the law as something good. They
want them to see it as something bad, so therein lies yet another strike against the
child. They don't know what's right and what's wrong.





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Other participants cited direct observations of deviant behavior that contributed to a dysfunctional environment for the children. In visiting the housing authority complex, Jeff had seen "parents that were drinking at 10 o'clock in the morning." Elizabeth, in commenting about her neighbors, reflected, "[They] mostly drink or smoke pot. A lot of them sell pot. A lot of them steal." With even more disturbing observations, Carla explained in her interview that some of the resident youth were verbally and physically abused. She stated, "Most of the kids do get abused, they get slapped around, they get cussed out by their parents, by the time they are old enough to walk they've already been cussed out." She further talked about her frustrations with these parents:

They're aggravated and they don't know how to parent. It starts in the house, in the home that they live in. You can't make people be a better parent. [The kids]
even say they hate their mom. There are some really trouble-making parents here that are just, I mean, I just don't know where they come from. I don't. But they are
just so far out, they're just not, they can't do anything.

In a simple summary, Jake stated, "Sometimes the parents are worse than the children."

Other observations from the participants expounded on Jake's sentiments and included how the children, as a consequence of such poor parenting, became responsible for the household and even "parenting" themselves. Grandma explained, "Parents who they're into their own problems, they forget the kids. Sometimes the kids are running the homes." Jack professed:

You have kids there that are maybe coming home at 11 or 12 years old that they
are now responsible for their six or seven-year-old or younger sibling. That creates risk, not just for the older child, but for the younger child as well. So
you've got economics, you've got lack of adult supervision for children, from the
family.

Carla, from her experiences as a Glenview resident and observing how the children use their space and time at the complex or at the park, also conveyed:





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Well, they will usually be between the ages of nine and twelve, and they'll usually
have a younger sibling who is about two or three and they're in charge of them.
Sometimes I will see groups of younger ones that shouldn't be there by
themselves. You know six-year olds hanging out there by themselves.

In noticing that the children are taking care of each other and their siblings, Carla verifies another important condition of risk-the children are alone. With further discussion, she defined at-risk youth as "youth, who come home [and] nobody is home." Paul also believed the children in Glenview to be at-risk for similar reasons. He stated:

Them being from single parent households, not having a lot or any adult
supervision or responsible sibling supervision in many cases... not having
positive role models because they have a single working parent that's working 40,
50+ hours a week and not there when they get out from school.

Michael and Al both conveyed that a lot of "latchkey kids" lived in the Glenview neighborhood. Michael went on to say that "a number of the parents, you know, would lock the door and not even let their kids in until they came home from work." Suzie also had observed another type of exile. She stated, "Even at home they keep their kids out of the house during the day... so I don't even know if they have a space, except for maybe the street." Jack, who had visited the park weekly as the director of the department, had also observed a lack of adult and parental presence with the children. He asserted, "Go out walking down there. You know how many times I have been to that park and never saw a parent out there with their kid?!" Jake noted, "There are areas they can play in and run around the complex, but for the most part I don't think there's a lot of adult supervision, so I don't think their parents even know what they're doing during the day." Grandma also commented on the behaviors of the children and connected it to the lack of parental presence. She exclaimed, "They're wild. The kids are wild. But you don't find a parent around."





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When hopelessness and mistrust prevail within the residents of Glenview, unfortunately it is passed on to their children in attitudes and lack of parental care. According to Rodriguez-Hanley and Snyder (2000), hopelessness in theory leads to rage, despair, and ultimately, apathy. By definition, this last concept, apathy, is the lack of interest or concern in areas of importance or appeal. (Rodriguez-Hanley & Snyder, 2000; Webster, 1985). As constructed from the participants' perceptions regarding the Glenview parents and their lack of focus on their children, some of the phases, most particularly the last, were revealed.

Parents and Recreation Involvement with the Glenview Youth

As seen in the previous sub-theme, the conditions of the parents had direct influence on their children to where the parents themselves were seen as the major contributor to them being at-risk. Through the hopelessness to apathy path, the parents were also perceived as having a direct influence on their children being involved in recreation overall, most specifically, the recreation program, itself. The stages and ultimately, the lack of interest and concern were illustrated through several participants' comments.

Al stated, "They weren't [involved] because of that lack of trust.... They weren't because they're apathetic." Amanda professed, "[There was] a lack of parental involvement in every aspect." Elizabeth, a single mother who had lived in the housing authority complex only a short time, had already observed the apathy that surrounded the parents in relation to the lack of recreation involvement with their children. She explained:

I would assume that would be a major reason... mom and dad didn't want to do,
didn't want to take them, couldn't take them--I think that's probably one of the





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main reasons, if not the main. It's hard for them to make plans for themselves, let
alone just to take their kids to-even just to drop them off

Joseph who has lived in the neighborhood all his life, reflected "I don't think they have been too concerned with the kids anyway, so it's like even a lot the parents, you know, don't have a lot of concern about what their kids are doing."

In more direct relation to the summer recreation program, Iris commented, "We [were] trying to get this free after school program that we thought would be a safe place for the kids and a lot of the parents were just not involved, like [they] didn't have any interest." Joe, a church leader who was involved in the community organization effort from its very beginning, remarked:

We had a difficult time getting parents to even come out and sign permission slips for the kids to be involved.... I think a lot of it was also the lethargy of the parents
in the neighborhood. They didn't care.

As a culminating remark, a simple but complex comment from Carla, in relation to the children's well being, in relation to the neighborhood conditions, and in relation to the parents' involvement in recreation, will end this section. She stated, "The key ingredient to me is the parents."

Parents: The Key to Community Organization.

The hopelessness to apathy path prevailed throughout the lives of the parents and as a consequence it affected their children and their children's involvement in recreation, most specifically in the summer recreation program. However, the data also revealed that the participants believed parental involvement was still a key ingredient to successful community organization. Within this context, the fourth theme soundly emerged and was divided into three sub-themes: 1) parental responsibilities to recreation, 2) parents: the





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neglected members of the community organization process, and 3) solutions for parent involvement.

Responsibility

This sub-theme emerged from questions concerning whose responsibility it was and what roles should members who directly and indirectly affect the youth in the Glenview neighborhood take in providing recreation for these youth. While various entities (i.e. the city parks and recreation department, the church, the recreation facility for girls, and the housing authority community center) were specifically mentioned, all the participants did believe each group targeted in this study was responsible and each had a role to play. However, as constructed from the opinions and voices of the participants, they clearly also perceived the parents, family members, and residents to have a major if not the predominant role and responsibility in such a task.

As a simple example, Grandma answered, "It's everybody's responsibility, especially the parents." Sallie remarked, "It's gotta start with [the residents].... They have the responsibility to inquire and see what is out there and available." Jake also perceived in frustration that "it ultimately falls back on the parents or the parent to get that child involved in something other than sitting around doing nothing." Jeff gently answered, "Well, their roles are to do the best they can to get their kids involved in recreation for youth." Paul also stated, "Well, to start with, at the most basic level, they need to participate so there is a reason to have the program, as we talked about, that has actually been an issue with the [Glenview recreation] program." Iris and Molly's perspectives brought in the connection of the parents' primary role to the city recreation department's role. Iris concisely answered, "The parents, I'd say and it should be Parks





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and Recreation." Molly compassionately provided a point of view as a parent and declared:

I mean the recreation is there. They're doing their job. It is your job to get your
child involved in the recreation that's going on. It's really up to the parents to take
the child out to the recreation that they already have. Neglected Members

A second sub-theme that emerged from the data was constructed from the

participants' perceptions that although the parents were responsible and had a major role pertaining to the recreation program, they were left out of the process of the community organization effort. It was documented that some parents and children came or were brought to the town hall meetings at the church that took place during the beginning of the community organization effort. However, discrepancies existed between the participants' opinions that these parents were members of the church already, they were not from the Glenview neighborhood, and/or they were not deeply informed as to why they were really there. Despite such discrepancies, a majority of the participants in the study believed the parents were a neglected group in the community organization effort and interestingly enough, in the political system as a whole.

In regards to the parents not being involved in the community organization effort, some participants critiqued that agents in the organization effort took on more predominant roles to the exclusion of the group that needed to be involved the most-the parents/residents. For example, Jack who was the director of the city parks and recreation department at the time, professed:

Nobody could figure-there's no strong leadership that could help bring the
[Glenview] neighborhood together, and I think it has to come from the
neighborhood. It can't come from government or-it can't honestly come from
churches outside of the neighborhood, and it can't come from universities. It's got





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to-we can be a resource but it's got to come from the neighborhood and it's not
there. I never got that sense. Never did. Never did.

He further explained, "Parents-they never bought in. They never were there. They didn't go to any of the association meetings.... They weren't there. That whole link was missing. They've got to be a partner." Sallie, who was employed in the city parks and recreation department recalled:

This call for programming was not from the residents, it was from a group who
represented the residents.... I never heard anything from the parents in the
[Glenview] neighborhood that surrounds the park. So, even through this whole
process, I never had parents calling me and saying I really want my kid enrolled
in this program and tell us about the program, it just wasn't there.

Sallie, later concluded in her interview that the relationships which formed between the external groups of the Glenview neighborhood during the community organization effort "were forced" and as a result, the most important and necessary internal relationship with the residents was neglected. With similar sentiment from the point of view of the church, Joe recalled:

[The parents] didn't come and they didn't sign up and what little program we were able to force the city's hand and make them do, fizzled and died on the
launch pad because we didn't get the parental involvement.

He then was asked if he thought the parents in that neighborhood were informed about the program? He answered, "No, no I do not." Al, a professor at the local university who has studied, taught, and worked in the field of therapeutic recreation for over 35 years, also declared:

[The residents] have to be involved. I think you're making a very big mistake if
you just plan this program and you take it in and you deliver it. That would be like
someone delivering pizza that you didn't order. You might eat it if you're really hungry but it's a lot better if you're involved in deciding what kind of pizza it is.
... I think that the real true residents of the neighborhood should have been
involved and they weren't-they weren 't because they weren't asked.





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Not only did the participants believe that the Glenview parents/residents were a neglected group within the community organization effort, but they also believed this neglect is related to and has been created by, reinforced by, and engrained in the political system as a whole. Many participants provided similar comments regarding the political capital of residents in low income or poverty-stricken neighborhoods. For example, Bilobar remarked, "[What] we're creating in societies is the haves and the have nots... we need to provide for the less fortunate." Jack provided feedback that relates back to issues of mistrust with the government mentioned in previous themes. He professed, "Why is there not this willingness from the local neighborhood? I happened to believe some of it is somewhat mistrust, distrust, or no trust of outsiders, and that includes a lot of government." Al believed the Glenview neighborhood was neglected:

I think because of the politics. I don't think that commissioners pay any attention
to it, and that probably goes back to people who live in neighborhoods like
[Glenview] that have the lowest voter turnout and politicians know.... So they
don't pay much attention to them because they don't vote and they're not afraid to ignore them... [because] it won't affect their re-election. I think with that kind of thing-they just end up being neglected. They're not a power-base, they have no power. Like I said, I think because the neighborhoods surrounding them are okay,
politicians probably pay more attention to those neighborhoods and forget about
the neighborhood that we're discussing.

Joe, with similar sentiments, stated:

The places where there is structured recreation happen to be in the upscale
neighborhoods where there are political contributors and voters who put pressure
on the politicians. And because [Glenview] neighborhood is a lower
socioeconomic neighborhood where the people do not have a political clout, less
is being done. And I think that's abominable.

It is important to add that although remarks are heated about the political system in the city, overall a consensus of trust and respect from all the participants (including those above) existed for Paul, the commissioner who participated in the community





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organization effort from the beginning and who participated in this study. In both their interviews, Paul and Barbara, the former mayor, found challenges and frustrations within the political system during their terms in introducing issues and budgets regarding recreation, in general and in this case, recreation for the Glenview youth. Paul provided a simple explanation that rings so true when we hear about requests from voting constituents and when we talk about recreation, most specifically as prevention. People are less apt to work as hard on or vote on issues where it takes more time to actually be able to measure outcomes, especially if you are in a short-term position and a commissioner wants to be re-elected. He said, "People in general want to see more immediate results." During the time that the recreation program was being considered for Glenview, he admitted, "I had to work with my fellow commissioners." Solutions

The third sub-theme for this section was constructed from participants' comments regarding solutions that could facilitate the involvement of the parents and ultimately help them to become a "key ingredient" to community organization regarding recreation for their children. This section will start off where the second sub-theme left off and will be divided into three areas of solutions that include voicing a voice, internal leadership, and parents as collaborators.

The first area of solutions that were constructed from the participants' perceptions included the opinion that the residents needed to and still need to make their voice and needs heard within city government. Barbara exclaimed, "Let me tell you, if those neighborhoods [residents] had been advocating, the program would still be there." Amanda also felt, "The only people, the only thing, in my opinion, since I've been in [the





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city that] seems to get funded are things where the people come and demand it." Al also proposed, "Go back to the neighborhood and get the people involved and it will-the only way that city officials will listen is if the people themselves are the ones speaking." Isabel, a single mother living in Glenview said many time in her interview, "We have to keep voicing our-voicing that there is a need in this neighborhood and that the kids, they need it." Jack summarized that the neighborhood needed a voice, but that it also needed to find a voice of a leader internal to Glenview. He suggested:

The neighborhood needs to-it would be great if-the neighborhood really needs
to have a more vocal role. Somebody's got to be the torchbearer. Maybe this
group needs to find out who that, where that role is and vocalize those efforts to
reinforce those needs. I'd like to see them get more involved, even like the rec department and the others to go out [to the park] and start doing these kinds of
[things together].

In continuation of his suggestions Jack introduced a second area of this sub-theme of solutions that may be instrumental in helping the Glenview residents and parents to become a voice and important link within the community. He explained:

I think the presence, a strong leadership role has to be from the city. I think
there's also an expectation from the neighborhood that it would be from the city.
The question is, can you get somebody there that can also work through all those
other issues [and relationships] as it relates to the neighborhood, to allow that
family and that neighborhood to enjoy community recreation experiences. You've
got to have somebody who can work from the heart.

Suzie concurred, but also emphasized the long-term nature of and support that is needed for such a leader. She proclaimed:

That's all you need in that park is an adult present in order for those kids to be
able to do something... and the parents need to be really invested. Once it's there
you need to continue to support it.

Joseph, with similar sentiments suggested:

I think there will always have to be a presence there. Someone that's being paid.
That's the only way I think you're going to see stability, someone to kind of





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organize and head it up and start to pick out parents and pick out adults out of the
neighborhood that will be able to organize teams and individuals in the
neighborhood that would be good with working with kids, to tutor them in reading
and all that stuff... Involve parents, and first establish trust. Do it informally.
Bring it through and just be a presence there. An ongoing presence is going to
build that trust.

The third area of solutions to helping the residents become invested in their

community and their children's lives through recreation included participants'

perceptions involving collaboration, teamwork, empowerment, rapport building, and trust

as already suggested by Joseph. Al stated:

[The residents] have to be involved in the planning and to some degree even the
implementation of it.... [In addition] not only is there the apathy, lack of
motivation and so forth, but the lack of knowing how to do it. They don't know
how to get organized. So I think what [community organization members] should ... go to the [residents] and help them get organized, rather than get organized for
them....

Al talked further about the collaboration of residents with all the other ecological entities

that directly and indirectly affect the Glenview youth. He suggested:

I think it has to be teamwork. They all have to work together and they have to
share. They have to share the physical spaces, the parks, the schools, the churches,
the community center, the [adult day care], and so forth.... I still argue that it has
to start at the grass-roots.

Paul also suggested, "I think there needed to be the ongoing collaboration with the

neighborhood, individuals, and organizations." Jack provided a solution that involved the

importance of collaboration among the various ecological agents. However, with much

insight, he also emphasized a need for the transition from outside initial leadership to

internal leadership within Glenview. He recommended:

I think sometimes it may be necessary [for the city] to take a more assertive
leadership role [at first], but if you're going to do that, I think you've got to have a
plan for transition [of leadership to the residents]. Otherwise, I don't think it will
work. I really think it's got to come, a lot of that from the neighborhood.




Full Text
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admitted, I dont know that there is trust even though weve tried to go in there.
Michael, a district commander in the police office with over 30 years experience,
responded, For us it takes time to build trust.
Lastly, the perceptions surrounding a general lack of trust from the parents as
viewed by the participants (including the resident mothers themselves) will be presented.
A1 and Joe provided general comments regarding the parents and the concept of trust. A1
stated, Parents have, throughout their lives, theyve been promised a lot and it's not been
delivered, so they just start out with a lack of trust Joe with similar sentiments asserted:
I don't think the parents trust anybody.... They are a deprived section of society
and they have adopted the feeling that the world is against them and they're
having to muscle their way through life the best they can.... They are so
environmentally adapted to not trusting that it's just not their nature to trust
people
Most of the mothers made reference to not being able to trust the other residents in
Glenview or had only a limited number of people that they could trust in their immediate
family. After being asked whom she trusted in her life, Molly confessed, Myself. I trust
myself because I knowI trust myself to make the right decisions and not just jump into
something. I think about it first before I do it. Mika, Mollys younger sister answered:
My children... [and] my sister. I grew up with her, in the same house. I know if I
dont have it, shes going to give it to me. If I need to go somewhere, shes going
to take me.... If you want to trust someone, I think they have tothey cant lie to
you, I mean.
Elizabeth expressed, Like for my son, I dont ever let him go to anyones house. If they
want to play, they need to come over here and play. But thats just me. I guess Im a little
nervous. But I dont know. I dont trust a lot of the people [in Glenview]. Carla
explained, I would just say most people that live around here, I could not [trust].


22
(Avenilla & Singley, 2001, p.230) and will be presented in further detail to help explain
this framework.
Simply stated, social capital exists when social networks have value (Putnum,
1999). In more detail, it refers to connections among individuals in which social networks
and norms of reciprocity and trust are derived, which in turn, facilitate cooperation for a
common benefit (Putnum, 1999). This model incorporates norm-established networks
involving youth, their peers, parents, teachers, religious leaders, recreation personnel,
agents of criminal justice and businesses that serve youth (Sampson, 2001).
Neighborhoods high in social capital are more capable of realizing common values,
members are able to sustain social control in their community, and they exhibit lower
levels of crime (Putnam, 2000; Sampson, 2001). The presence of social capital facilitates
positive reinforcements for youth and offers them access to positive role models,
educational and vocational support, and mentors outside the neighborhood (Putnam,
2000).
Neighborhoods low in social capital are characterized as socially disorganized
communities and include residential instability, anonymous neighbors, homogeneity of
ethnic groups, few local organizations and resident youth have been prone to creating
their own social capital through gang membership (2000). In addition, research has
shown that neighborhoods weak in organizational structure and participation in local
activities (e g. recreation), faced an increased risk of crime and violence (Sampson,
2001).
In order to activate social networks within the community structure, collective
efficacy is necessary (Avenilla & Singley, 2001). Sampson (2001) defined this as:


99
political leaders are apathetic and detached to his/her needs, feel he/she cannot get ahead
in life and are regressing economically, believe social order is lacking, and perceive
personal networks to be inconsistent and non-supportive (1987).
In relation to engaging in dysfunctional integration into normative situations,
anomie encompasses the ideal that as a result of society not regulating approachable
goals, individuals are unable to set limits to their desires to reach such goals. As a result,
pressure builds and becomes too great because the goals are unrealistic and unattainable
(Agnew & Passas, 1997). In other words, society raises the bar to attain goals, there is no
regulation of this, individuals try to meet them because desires are high, then they fail,
and finally, pressure builds to meet these goals and deviant behaviors occur. This
pressure is referred to as structural strain (Passas, 1997).
Historically, anomie theory has been used as an analysis for lower class crime and
deviance (Passas, 1997). However, two circumstances refute this concept of strain within
anomie theory. According to Passas, the first situation includes, when successful
deviants become normative referents for the other members of the social group, deviance
without strain is a possible consequence (p. 87). The second is that sociologists have
recently taken this concentration on low socio-economic status a step further because of
the lack of an explanation for crime and deviance that occurs in upper to middle class
populations (1997). The concept behind such circumstances and expansion of anomie
theory is the link to institutional-anomie, which was constructed from the themes
surrounding the Glenview neighborhood, group members, at-risk youth, and parental
conditions in relation to social institutions, crime and deviance. This link from anomie to
institutional anomie includes social capital (Hagan & McCarthy, 1997).


19
research focused on prevention suggests an interest in the relationships among
individuals, professionals, programs, and policy over time with contextual meaning and
with promoting behavior change in a childs natural environment (Munger, 1998;
Rappaport, 1987). In his discussion regarding the implementation of preventive
interventions as the response to grass-roots groups who require not treatment, cure, or
re-education, but support with political, social and psychological resources, Wolff
(1987) advocated for the use of an ecological perspective because it views all people of
all cultures as worthwhile in their own right (p.154).
The aim in using an ecological approach to study at-risk youth and the
neighborhood is related to the concept of primary prevention. Primary prevention, in
association with at-risk youth, focuses on reducing the number of problems occurring
within such a population and can be defined as the primary promotion of health and
development (Simeonsson, 1994). It is also seen as a logical and needed strategy to
reduce physical, social, and psychological problems and programs using such a strategy
should target youth who are at an increased risk on the basis of group rather than on
individual characteristics (Simeonsson, 1994). As a result, primary prevention is
necessary in the call for health reform, school reform, welfare reform, and reform
related to human service systems at local, state, and national levels (Simeonsson, 1994,
P 1).
Simeonsson (1994) described the process of implementing community-wide
primary prevention programs to include several steps. The first step is to define a
geographic catchment area of sufficient size to provide an adequate base population for
service delivery, while at the same time remaining small enough to maintain a sense of


74
hope for their future and by experiencing social norms within such a context without
obstacles or barriers to safety or security. To illustrate, Isabel stated:
If the community gets together in these [recreation] programs and gets these kids
from those [negative]crowds, and they know there is something else better for
them, there is hope. Show them there is hope and show them that there is a better
way. See, the time that they spend growing up like this, behaving certain ways
thats whats going to show when they grow up. If they dont have [recreation
early in life], they dont have that bond where they can explore their talents, their
strengths. Nobody is there to help them how to find that [and guide them],.. they
will never know.
Jeff, in reference to describing the background to the community organization effort to
have recreation provided for the Glenview youth, remarked, I think we have to look at
how we [can create] opportunities for people to help themselves as opposed to creating
institutional obstructions to keeping them from achieving their greatest potential.
William reflected, Maybe the only bastion [or fortification] of hope that some of those
kids have is to have a safe and secure place to play.
So, what if there is not a safe and secure place to play? What if the community
does not get together? What if the children and residents do not know what to expect
anymore because organized recreation was at the park for the summer, continued for a
few weeks into the school year, and then it was dropped? Some of the participants were
asked how they felt about there not being a recreation program at the park anymore for
the Glenview youth. Isabel simply answered, Hopeless. Jeff passionately answered,
Hopelessness and despair are addressed through empowerment of people and not by
punishing people or creating obstacles and putting, institutional obstacles for people to
overcome. After being asked the question, Bilobar talked about the effects that the lack
of the program would have on the childrens lives within the institutional setting of
school. He declared, I think that's a detriment. I think this feeds the hopelessness. I think


21
(2001) advocated that neighborhood mechanisms appear with incredible strength. He
simply stated, in regards to research on at-risk youth and community influences,
something ecological is happening here, even if we dont know fully what it is (p. 27).
The current study will try to provide a minute contribution to such a phenomenon.
Community Social Organization
To address the issue of what factors need to be in place for the ecological systems
of the neighborhood to be able to work together for the at-risk youth, a second theoretical
framework centered on community social organization will be used to guide the current
study. As stated by Lee (2001), neighborhood structures (housing tenure, poverty, etc.)
can shape community social organization and also be altered by it. In the following
paragraphs such a framework will be discussed through the three mechanisms of, the role
of therapeutic recreation in, and issues facing community social organization.
Mechanisms
In a broad sense, several questions asked by Sampson (2001) were applied to the
current study. What are the collective aspects that make a neighborhood healthy for
resident youth and families? Are mechanisms of community social organization based in
citywide processes that cross over into local areas? By Sampsons (2001) definition,
community social organization is the ability of a community structure to realize the
common values of its residents and maintain effective controls (p.8.) and he maintains
that neighborhood influences on childhood development (positive and negative) are
derived from collective aspects of the community structure. Three mechanisms of
community social organization (social capital, collective efficacy, and routine activities)
link neighborhood level structural characteristics with associated individual outcomes


CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW
In 1921 Joseph Lee recognized play as an essential aspect in building character in
children and he advocated that play be part of their overall education (Witt, 2001a). A
significant story in recreations history that is passed on through generations of
professionals is that of the Boston Sand Gardensthe first playgrounds that were
developed by Lee (after the child welfare laws were passed) for the purpose of getting
the children off the streets and into activities that were more constructive rather than
destructive.
Today the year is different, but the story is the same if not more intense. More
than ever, we are observing the side effects of social and familial problems that are
plaguing our youth who are considered to be at-risk for developing and expressing
maladaptive and destructive behaviors (e g. substance abuse, violence, gang activity,
unprotected sex, truancy, and/or school dropout/failure). In addition, experts in the field
of therapeutic recreation and recreation continue to believe in the constructive nature of
recreation for these youth in helping them to develop immunity and fight against these
social diseases. Furthermore, we have other professionals in various fields of human
services (law enforcement, religious organizations, general/special education) that have
already noticed or are just beginning to see the therapeutic nature of recreation as
intervention and prevention for todays at-risk youth. This could not come at a better time
because it is becoming more apparent, within sources of the general
10


2
As reported by Matn (2000), the social problems of post-industrial society
(violence, drug use, delinquency, school failure, children living in poverty, etc.) are
deeply embedded within multiple levels of the social environment and if changes are not
made at all levels of this environment, efforts and programs to aid in helping to decrease
such problems can be unavailing. Change in individuals alone and/or interventions that
do not impact the community and societal environments cannot in and of themselves
make much of a difference (Matn, 2000). In addition, negative impacts from these
environments may prove stronger than the individual gains brought about from such a
program of intervention. For instance, a school-based intervention program that
enhances competencies or support systems of inner-city youth may not be sufficient to
prevent or reverse, negative trajectories sustained in the neighborhood, family, or peer
group environments (p. 29). The outcomes and targeted benefits from current attempts
with programs may be limited due to the significant and challenging nature of the social
environment in which the youth live and in which these child-linked social problems
exist. In addition, the attempts to bring about change can unquestionably be limited due
to lack of economic and political resources and support in the community (Matn, 2000).
Statement of the Problem
The Glenview neighborhood is considered to be poverty-stricken and lacks
available and affordable services such as mental health, after-school/day care, and
recreation Recreation is the focus of this study. For structured recreational programs
have not been provided to the youth in the Glenview neighborhood city park in the past
17 years. Other parks in the city similar to the Glenview park have included such
programs for the youth in surrounding neighborhoods. Starting in February 2000, agents


TABLE OF CONTENTS
page
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS iii
ABSTRACT vi
CHAPTER
1 INTRODUCTION 1
Statement of the Problem 2
Purpose of the Study. 7
Research Questions 8
Delimitations and Limitations 8
2 LITERATURE REVIEW 10
Neighborhoods and Child Development 11
An Ecological Approach 14
Community Social Organization 21
3 METHOD 29
Setting. 29
Participants. 40
Procedure 42
4 RESULTS 50
Neighborhood Environment 51
Despondence in Glenview: A Lack of Hope and Trust 72
Parental Conditions: Influences on Youth and Recreation Involvement 81
Parents: the Key to Community Organization 86
5 DISCUSSION 96
Anomie 98
Trust 103
Hope 107
Community Development 114
iv


101
recreation) faced an increased risk of crime and violence (Cullen & Wright, 1997; Hagan
& McCarthy, 1997; Sampson 1997, 2001).
According to Hagan and McCarthy (1997), social capital, in general, refers to a
variety of resources that originate in an ecological perspective where socially constructed
relationships connect individuals to families and to groups of other individuals in
neighborhoods, churches, schools, recreation, and law enforcement. They also stated:
Social capital is therefore embedded in relations with people, and it includes the
knowledge and sense of obligations, expectations, trustworthiness, information
channels, norms, and sanctions that these relations engender ... [In addition], the
most effective means of transmitting human capital of the parents to the child is
through the social capital represented in all connecting links between both parents
and the child, (p. 130)
With this in mind, the social network of the family is important, however, just as
important is networks within other social groups that connect the parent-child relation to
other parents, children, neighbors, teachers, police, recreation personnel, human service
personnel, and church members (1997).
Institutional-Anomie Theory
With the discussion of such ecological links, Hagan and McCarthy (1997)
postulated that social capital can broaden the theory of anomie and it can be used:
to represent causal forces involving strains and opportunities that derive not just
from the class position of families of origin but also from a variety of institutional
sources ... that contribute to the explanation of crime and delinquency, (p. 136)
According to Rosenfeld and Messner (1997), the institutional-anomie theory applies a
macrosocial explanation of crime which incorporates the idea that major social
institutions (e g. political, familial, educational, judicial, cultural, recreational, religious,
etc.) are concurrently interdependent and in conflict with one another. They are
interdependent because the capacity and social roles of one influences that of another and


REFERENCES
Agnew, R., & Passas, N. (1997). Introduction. InN. Passas & R. Agnew (Eds ), The
future of anomie theory (pp. 1-26 ). Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press.
Allison, K. W., Crawford, I., Leone, P. E., Trickett, E., Perez-Febles, A., Burton, L. M.,
& Le Blanc, R. (1999). Adolescent substance use: Preliminary examination of
school and neighborhood context. American Journal of Community Psychology,
27, 111-141.
Avenilla, F., & Singley, S. (2001). Neighborhood effects on child and adolescent
development: Assessing todays knowledge for tomorrows villages. In A Booth,
& A. C. Crouter (Eds ), Does it take a village? (pp. 230-243). Mahwah, NJ:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Babbie, E. (1998). The practice of social research (8th ed). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
Publishing Company.
Barr, R. D. & Parrett, W. H. (2001). Hope fulfilledfor at-risk and violent youth: K-12
programs that work. (2nd ed ). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Barker, R. G. (1968). Ecological psychology: Concepts and methods for studying the
environment of human behavior. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Bartoli, L, & Botel, M. (1988). Reading/learning disability: An ecological approach.
New York: Teachers College Press.
Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature
and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Bronfenbrenner, U. (1989). Ecological systems theory. In R Vasta (Ed), Annals of child
development: Vol. 6. Six theories of child development: Revised formulations and
current issues, (pp. 187-249). Greenwich, CT: Jai Press, Inc.
Children andfamilies at risk in deteriorating communities: Hearing before the
Subcommittee on Human Resources of the Committee on Ways and Means, House
of Representatives, 103rd Cong., 1 (1993) (testimony of Lloyd Street).
Colder, C. R., Mott, J., Levy, S., & Flay, B. (2000). The relation of perceived
neighborhood danger to childhood aggression: A test of mediating mechanisms.
American Journal of Community Psychology, 28, 83-103.
132


28
Within the current study, this new thinking and systematic change was attempted through
an investigation and naturalistic approach of research surrounding the Glenview
neighborhood. Through the theoretical frameworks of an ecological perspective and
social community organization, the context of recreation was explored via the voices of
the resident at-risk youth and the internal and external members of the neighborhood that
directly and indirectly influence their lives. In giving them a voice, it is hoped that some
beginning of empowerment will occur in the future for the Glenview neighborhood and
the resident youth in the context of recreation.


ID
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UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
3 1262 08556 6700


57
housing authority complex (Glenview HAC), which is privately owned but funded
through Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and only available to single-female
parents. Jake also stated, You have more problems with the people who are coming to
visit [Glenview HAC] than you do with the people who actually live there.. .you have the
crack dealer boyfriends and the burglar boyfriends. He later added, If they took
[Glenview HAC] out of that neighborhood the crime would be almost nonexistent.
Unfortunately, there's a reason there's a fence around that complex.
The Wall of Glenview
Jake points out directly that there is a fence that separates the two main residential
areas of Glenview. As reported in the description of the setting in Chapter 3, a 9-foot
black rod-iron fence looms around the housing authority. After interviewing the
participants, it clearly played an important role in the division of the Glenview
neighborhood. It was enough to warrant it as a separate sub-theme that contributes to the
overall space where the Glenview youth live and play. While some participants
mentioned this fence as an environmental and necessary boundary around Glenview
HAC, other participants also talked about physical and psychological walls and a
separation from other neighborhood areas that the residents and youth face. In addition,
in talking about the Glenview neighborhood, the participants focus throughout their
interviews was predominately on the housing authority complex. Within this sub-theme,
the wall will first be illustrated through a physical sense followed by the participants
perceptions that were more psychosocial and neighborhood based.
The Glenview HAC actually has two physical barriers around it, a concrete wall
and the rod-iron fence. Michael, a police officer in charge of the entire district that


61
brought in a culminating and socioeconomic perspective, which combined its separation
and integration. He explained:
It seems like theres somewhat of a separation at the same time, and the
separation is probably due to the socioeconomic class, the differences between the
two. [Glenview OHA] is low and [Glenview HAC is] lower and has a physical
structure, that being the fence.... But I think theyre [both] part of the
neighborhood.
After reading such perspectives on the intricacies that divide the residential areas,
the impact of such divisions on working with the youth in the neighborhood are important
to consider even before planning a recreation program. The above opinions do not
directly include how the wall affects the youth, but they do focus on the bigger picture
of how it may impact the residents overall. As will be discussed later in the second
theme, Amanda, Joseph, Isabel, Carmen, Molly and others in this section brought in
concepts of segregation, labeling, trust, and hopelessness that can occur from having
walls around and within the neighborhood. Recreation first must assess these walls
along with their influences and try to understand and break down psychosocial as well as
physical barriers before even trying to provide a formal program inside for the at-risk
youth and residents.
A Park in a Neighborhood vs. a Neighborhood Park
In this next sub-theme, the perceptions of walls and barriers permeated into the
voiced opinions surrounding the city park, which is physically located adjacent to both
Glenview OHA and HAC. Again, disparity existed between participants as to if this park
is even included within the Glenview neighborhood or not. Overall, the participants in
their comments integrated the residents and youth into their perceptions about the park.


130
External Members of the Neighborhood
Tell me a little about yourself (age, education, and anything else you would like to tell
me)? What do you do for a living? How long have you lived in [the city]?
The Neighborhood
1) What is your association with the [Glenview] neighborhood? And for how long?
2) Do you live in the neighborhood or have children living in this neighborhood?
3) Do you work/go to church/patrol/volunteer in or nearby this neighborhood?
4) In general, what does a neighborhood mean to you? Provide your own definition of a
neighborhood. What does the [Glenview] neighborhood mean to you? What do you
think it means to the residents and children?
5) Where do you feel that the neighborhood starts and ends (physically)? What does the
wall around the housing authority complex mean to you? What do you think it means to
the residents and children?
6) Where do you think the children in the neighborhood get to go safely? Where do the
children play safely in the neighborhood? How do you think they use their time and
space?
7) Provide a definition of at-risk youth. Do you think the youth in the [Glenview]
neighborhood are at-risk? If so, what aspects if any, of this neighborhood do you think
makes them at-risk?
8) Do you feel connected to others who live or are associated with this neighborhood?
Who might they be?
The City Park
9) What does the park in this neighborhood mean to you?
10) How often do you go to the park to recreate/volunteer/patrol/work?
11) Do you see children playing or hang out in the park? What types of things do you
think they do there? What do you know and what do you perceive that they do?
Recreation
12) What does recreation mean to you?
13) What are the benefits of recreation for at-risk youth?


114
informal/formal recreation programs, neighborhood events, and/or a constant recreation
presence in the park, could provide some stability for the residents and youth. In addition,
when given the opportunity for the residents to help plan and implement such recreation,
communal hope and eventually individual hope can prevail for those involved. The key
ingredient to hope within Glenview is the parents and the youth that live there. They have
to be involved with other community members in all phases of recreation
programming/events/presence. They cannot be left out anymore from any equation or
neither communal nor individual hope will exist within Glenview regarding recreation.
With hope, the residents can make the park in the neighborhood, a neighborhood park
and in doing so they can begin to take back their neighborhood.
Community Development
As noted in the above sections, the theoretical concepts of anomie, trust, and hope
as embedded within grounded theory were constructed from the data and these concepts
in some aspect intertwined and connected with each other within the social structural
paradigm. These concepts provide a lead in for the practical implication of this model,
which advocates for the further development of a community as opposed to solely
engaging in the organization of a community. At-risk youth along with parental
involvement will remain the centralized area to which all these theoretical and practical
concepts merge.
Community Development Defined
Before community development is formally defined, community organization will
first be presented as an opportunity for comparison due to the fact that the Glenview
neighborhood was targeted as a community to be organized and because the term exists


4
Although a continuation of an after school recreation program was advocated for
by some members of the neighborhood, several circumstances and problems developed
since the budget was approved for the original six month recreation program. These
included an inconsistent marketing of the program; an inconsistent enrollment of the
program and even some apathy towards it (a maximum of 30 children registered and an
average of 18 attended daily); a need to target a younger age group (over 80 % of the
children living in the Glenview housing authority were less than five years old); a need
for more resources (on site buildings/facilities, staff, volunteers, transportation, financial
support, etc.); and various opinions and political situations surrounding the availability
and fair distribution of these resources to this particular neighborhood.
A city-sponsored after-school recreation program for at-risk youth such as this
can have positive direct and indirect effects on the lives of these youth physically,
emotionally, academically, and socially (Witt, 2001b). A sincere community organization
effort to advocate for and have such recreation programs provided for the at-risk youth in
the neighborhood was apparent. However, the problems as mentioned above exist and
questions remain unanswered: Why did the original members see the issues surrounding
recreation as an important topic to begin and continue advocating for? Why did the
additional external members also see this as an issue of importance and join the original
group members? And how far were they willing to go in supporting recreation as a
preventative measure to at-risk behaviors? What factors and relationships were present in
order for the community to organize and were they enough for it to be successful? Did
the decision to provide recreation programs to this neighborhood involve political
processes? What place did the youth and families have in these processes?


83
Other participants cited direct observations of deviant behavior that contributed to a
dysfunctional environment for the children. In visiting the housing authority complex,
Jeff had seen parents that were drinking at 10 o'clock in the morning. Elizabeth, in
commenting about her neighbors, reflected, [They] mostly drink or smoke pot. A lot of
them sell pot. A lot of them steal. With even more disturbing observations, Carla
explained in her interview that some of the resident youth were verbally and physically
abused. She stated, Most of the kids do get abused, they get slapped around, they get
cussed out by their parents, by the time they are old enough to walk they've already been
cussed out She further talked about her frustrations with these parents:
They're aggravated and they don't know how to parent. It starts in the house, in
the home that they live in. You can't make people be a better parent. [The kids]
even say they hate their mom. There are some really trouble-making parents here
that are just, I mean, I just don't know where they come from. I don't. But they are
just so far out, they're just not, they can't do anything.
In a simple summary, Jake stated, Sometimes the parents are worse than the children.
Other observations from the participants expounded on Jakes sentiments and
included how the children, as a consequence of such poor parenting, became responsible
for the household and even parenting themselves. Grandma explained, Parents who
they're into their own problems, they forget the kids. Sometimes the kids are running the
homes. Jack professed:
You have kids there that are maybe coming home at 11 or 12 years old that they
are now responsible for their six or seven-year-old or younger sibling. That
creates risk, not just for the older child, but for the younger child as well. So
youve got economics, youve got lack of adult supervision for children, from the
family.
Carla, from her experiences as a Glenview resident and observing how the children use
their space and time at the complex or at the park, also conveyed:


110
group, work atmosphere, within community relationships, and/or even within society.
According to Rodrigues-Hanley and Snyder (2000):
[Apathy] is a vegetative, uncaring state that can last indeterminably, stifling ones
continued development.... Apathy is a tragedy in the sense that the person loses a
sense of joy, as well as any possibility of potential contributions to others and
society more generally, (p.42)
Whether a person reaches this final stage depends on the hope level (high or low) he/she
starts off with and on the importance level and perceived achievable nature of the goal.
In relation to children, a key ingredient for them to be able to develop hope is the
relationship that is shared with their parents or caregivers. Overall, it is important for the
parent/caregiver to be a positive role model, provide quality time and emotional
availability, set rules and consistencies, and enjoy participating in activities with their
children in order to facilitate this hope (Rodrigues-Hanley & Snyder, 2000). When such
characteristics are missing as a result of parental rejection (e g. abuse or neglect), the
child can experience a sense of worthlessness, loneliness, anger, hostility, resentment,
depression, or guilt and an overall inability to cope within their environment (Rodrigues-
Hanley & Snyder, 2000). Furthermore, low hope will probably result if a childs home is
filled with turmoil and uncertainty (Snyder & Feldman, 2000). In essence, the child is
considered to be at-risk if the parents/caregivers are experiencing low hope as a result of
their inability to develop appropriate goals or to negotiate alternatives if their goals are
blocked.
Other avenues that can facilitate hope for at-risk youth are the availability of
resources outside the home. These include positive role models (e.g. caring and attentive
adults from the school or community), a surrogate family atmosphere, and anchors (Barr
& Parrett, 2001; Snyder & Feldman, 2000). A surrogate family atmosphere can be


15
Bronfenbrenner, 1979, 1989; Germain, 1991). As most importantly noted, the ecological
system of a person is a sum of interacting and interdependent parts of a whole and
therefore, can be further defined by subsystems (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, 1989; Hippchen,
1982). While a more recent interpretation of the ecological systems theory includes an
interpersonal system (Bronfenbrenner, 1989, Germain, 1991; Howe-Murphy &
Charboneau 1987; Munson, 1991), Bronfrenbrenner (1979) originally focused on the
environment and divided it into the following: the micro-, meso-, exo-, and macro
systems. However, the definitions provided below are from a more updated version of his
theory as presented in the Annals of child development, Vol. 6(1989).
The microsystem contains a pattern of activities, roles, and relationships, which
are experienced by the person face-to-face with physical materials and others who share
similar characteristics, personality and beliefs (Bronfrenbrenner, 1989). The microsystem
includes the following setting/roles: family/son-daughter, school/student, and
work/worker (Munson, 1991). The mesosystem is comprised of the connections and
processes between two or more of the above settings and is basically a system of
microsystems (Bronfrenbrenner, 1989). The mesosystem contains the links and
interactions between family-school-workplace and parents/guardians-teachers-peers,
respectively (Munson, 1991). The exosystem is comprised of the links and interactions
between two or more settings, in which one does not include the person; however, this
system influences the person indirectly (Bronfrenbrenner, 1989). The exosystem includes
social structures such as the neighborhood, media, and government agencies (Munson,
1991). The macrosystem encompasses the overall pattern characteristic of a culture,
subculture, or other broad social context of the above three systems (Bronfrenbrenner,


20
community. These catchment areas might include a neighborhood, a school district, or
census tract. The next step is to develop a broad based coalition to include members such
as human service providers; business, education, religious, and law enforcement leaders;
community residents with children; and local government officials (Simeonsson, 1994,
p. 45). The third step is to build a database, which helps to determine problems that may
be targeted for prevention and the risk factors related to them that prevail within the
community. While the first two steps in primary prevention have been addressed through
the identification of services needed for the youth within a catchment area (e g. a
deteriorating neighborhood) and through the development of a broad based coalition, the
third step was targeted within the current research study.
Lawson (1997) and Kronick (1997) also advocated for the involvement of higher
education in addressing and playing a role in helping to prevent the problems of todays
youth. Lawson (1997) specifically explained, Universities that neglect, or abandon this
social responsibility will nevertheless be held accountable for it... and miss golden
opportunities to regain public trust and moral leadership (p. 8). At a university level, the
researcher intends to also address the social responsibility of first exploring the lives of
the at-risk youth within a person-environment context. Perhaps after such an exploration,
more comprehensive and collaborative preventive measures for these at-risk youth can be
implemented to meet the needs of this population.
In conclusion, the process of using an ecological approach in practice and
research is more complex, cyclical, dynamic, and contextual, rather than linear and
straightforward (Bartoli & Botel, 1988; Germain, 1991; Paul & Epanchin, 1991). While
recognizing that individual differences play a part in childhood development, Sampson


Table 1
Participant Demographics
Pseudonym
Group Affiliation
Age
Gender
Race
Highest Degree Earned
Bilobar
Church
56
M
Caucasian
B.S.
Joe
Church
63
M
Caucasian
Doctorate
Jeff
Church
37
M
Caucasian
MS.
Grandma
Church
63
F
Hispanic
Highschool
A1
University
55
M
Caucasian
PhD,
Suzie
University
28
F
Caucasian
M.S.
Amanda
City Parks & Recreation
45
F
Caucasian
B.S.
Sallie
City Parks & Recreation
39
F
Caucasian
MS.
Jack
City Parks & Recreation
55
M
Caucasian
M.S.
Paul
Former City Commissioner
38
M
Caucasian
MS.
Barbara
Former Mayor
50
F
Caucasian
B.A.
Jake
Police Officer
38
M
Caucasian
A.A.
Michael
Police Officer
46
M
Caucasian
B.S.
Iris
Neighborhood Resident
32
F
Caucasian
B.S.
Joseph
Neighborhood Resident
20
M
Other
A. A.
William
Local School Principal
51
M
Caucasian
Ed.D.
Carla
Parent
32
F
Asian-American
GED
Isabel
Parent
38
F
Hispanic
N/A
Elizabeth
Parent
24
F
Caucasian
A.A.
Mika
Parent
20
F
African-American
11th grade
Molly
Parent
22
F
African-American
GED


Ill
important for those youth who do not come from a caring or supportive family and can be
a place where the children feel safe, supported, cared for, and challenged (Barr &
Parrett, 2001). According to Synder and Feldman (2000), anchors are rituals,
institutions, places, or mechanisms that serve as stable foundations that we can count on
over the years (p. 402). Since a foundation of hope is also found within stability, hope
can occur as a result of having such anchors.
With further explanations about rituals and events that bring people together (e.g.
neighborhood activities and recreation) in common-unity, the authors also advocated that
there is a strength that comes from knowing one is part of a community. Such rituals
beget a sense of belonging and a hopefulness borne out of connectedness to others (p.
402). They further explained that anchors give people the opportunity to explore new
directions and help open the mind. As a result, anchors provide a stable base and at the
same time, they allow an openness to be able to create and establish goals (Synder and
Feldman, 2000). In doing so, anchors facilitate communal hope.
Furthermore, just as individually set goals can play a major role in establishing
individual hope, the ability to set long-term goals can facilitate hope within a community.
Another cycle forms within this reasoning. Snyder and Feldman (2000) also reported that
an advantage to establishing long-term goals is that the outcome benefits a collective
base. Their reasoning is that these goals are too big for one person to meet. Therefore,
people need to collaborate in order to achieve them. As a result, if goals are more
collective and less individual in nature and we get away from the whats in it for me?
thinking, communities may be more willing to work towards a variety of more difficult


41
the phenomenon surrounding the establishment and disbandment of the community
organization effort for recreation for the Glenview youth (1991).
As a result of using purposive sampling, the sample for the study consisted of the
following participants: five single mothers from the Glenview housing authority
complex; two residents from the Glenview neighborhood; three recreation and park
personnel and administrators; the local elementary school principal; two police officers
who patrolled the neighborhood; four local church members and leaders; two people from
the local university in therapeutic recreation; a former city commissioner; and a former
mayor. As part of the ecological system surrounding the at-risk youth targeted within the
community organization effort and subsequently in this study, 21 participants were
interviewed (see Table 1).
The single mothers had at least one child and four out of the five had two
children. Carla who had lived in the complex for approximately five years, had a six
year-old daughter and eight year old son and lived on the second floor apartment of a two
story apartment building. She was in the process of having a house built during the time
of the interview and was moving out within the next month. Isabel, a friend of Carlas
lived directly below her on the first floor apartment. She had a four-year-old son and a six
year-old daughter. She had lived in the complex a little less than Carla had. Elizabeth had
a two-year-old son and had lived in the complex in a ground floor apartment for only
three months. Mika and Molly were sisters and had lived in the complex for five years,
but they lived in separate buildings in apartments on the first floor. Mika had a six-year-
old daughter and a two-year-old son. Molly had two-year-old and four-year-old
daughters. Most of the mothers had toys, games, dolls, paper, coloring books, crayons


81
Parental Conditions: Influences on Youth and Recreation Involvement
What happens when a lack of hope and trust exist within a neighborhood, whether
it is with governmental, private, or other human service entities, with others who live in
the neighborhood, or within themselves as parents and youth? What happens when the
only person you can trust is yourself and maybe those family members that are close to
you? What happens when most specifically, hopelessness and mistrust surround the
parents and it is passed on to their children? This next theme includes some of the issues
that are a result of, but more importantly are intertwined with hopelessness and mistrust.
This theme emerged as a result of exploring what created the at-risk conditions of the
Glenview youth and factors that influenced the recreation involvement of the youth.
Throughout the interviews, the most frequent and strongest issue that emerged focused
on the parents of Glenview. The third theme is divided into two sub-themes: 1) parents
and at-risk youth, and 2) parents and recreation involvement with the Glenview youth.
Parents and At-Risk Youth
The first sub-theme emerged as a result of reviewing the participants perceptions
of what factors in the neighborhood made the Glenview youth at-risk. Several factors
were mentioned such as, low economics, poverty, outside negative influences, high crime
and violence, low IQ, and school failure. However, the participants always commented
on some aspect of parental/familial involvement (or lack of) that facilitated or caused the
youth to be at-risk. After asking what conditions in the neighborhood made the children
at-risk, Amanda simply and quickly replied, The parents. In addition, Michael, Bilobar,
Sallie, and Pauls primary explanations included the risk factor of living in single-parent
households. Joseph expounded on this factor in introducing another component of youth


48
Strauss, 1999; Henderson, 1991). The categories and their properties were then re
evaluated through review of all the interviews and through comparing categories and
properties with one another and with the data (Glasser & Strauss, 1999; Henderson, 1991;
Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Finally, categories or themes and their properties were again
reviewed to confirm the data have reached saturation (Glasser & Strauss, 1999;
Henderson, 1991; Lincoln & Guba, 1985). As a result of using constant comparison as
the data analysis technique for this study, continuity between the responses of the
participants determined major themes or categories that were constructed from the data.
These themes ultimately lead to the establishment of grounded theoretical concepts
(Glasser & Strauss, 1999; Henderson, 1991; Henderson, Bedini, Hecht, & Schuler, 1995;
Lincoln & Guba, 1985).
Constant comparison generates a theory that is relevant to the behavior and
content in which it is observed (Henderson, 1991, p. 148). In this study, this generated
or grounded theory began to develop through the process of constructing conceptual
categories and themes and then these themes were illustrated through evidence (i.e.
quotes from the participants) (Glasser & Strauss, 1999). Similarities and convergences
with concepts from the literature review were established after the core categories and
themes were constructed from the data to ultimately establish grounded theory (1999).
Within the current research, such theory pointed to and shaped relatively universal
principles in which the themes converged with support from concepts from new literature
as well as with concepts that were presented in the original literature review in Chapter
Two (Babbie, 1998).


103
neighborhood to where it is a caring, trusting, cohesive, and valued community by all. A
variety of human services could play a vital role in bringing the youth and
parents/families together to be an important voice and essential part of the Glenview
neighborhood. However, in the context of this study, recreation was chosen to do so and
it could have been a valid, realistic, and sensible social institution that started at the grass
roots level, within the neighborhood, and linked all other institutions together to help
develop the community of Glenview from the bottom up. But recreation was not a
positive link because institutional-anomie existed and concepts of trust, stability,
reciprocal involvement, and communication were not present within the entire
community organization effort. More importantly, the involvement, inclusion, and voices
of the parents were weak and parents were perceived to not have positive nor trustful
networks and links within and between the political, educational, judicial, recreational,
cultural, and religious social institutions surrounding them
Trust
As social capital is related to an institutional-anomie theory of crime, they both
directly link to trust. In low-income or poverty neighborhoods, a vicious cycle occurs in
which low levels of trust and cohesion lead to higher levels of crime, which lead to even
lower levels of trust and cohesion (Putnam, 2000, p. 317). High social capital intensive
strategies, which help to build hopeful and trusting relationships and partnerships
between neighborhood residents and external members in the human service fields, may
help break this cycle and can be a positive outlet for disadvantaged neighborhoods
(Putnam, 2000).


55
park, or home) that could be considered safe havens (or not) for the youth and residents.
Jeff answered, SchoolI think thats the only place. Joe reported:
Probably the only safe haven those kids have is the few hours per day that they
spend in public school. There they're protected, they're in a fairly safe
environment, they are supervised, their activities are monitored, they are fed.
A1 answered, I'm going to assume that they can go to school and those kinds of locations
and get there and get back safely He also went on to say, I think they can probably go
to [the park] and be safe, but I don't think that they could go there after dark and be safe.
Grandma, was resolute about the park being unsafe, but thought it could improve She
stated:
[The park] is not safe. I mean it's not safe right now. I'm saying if it were in the
right shape and run properly with the adequate facility, it would be a great deal for
the kids who live there that don't have to go somewhere else.... [Then] I think, to
the kids it would mean that it's a safe haven for them.
She further talked about the lack of safety within the Glenview residential area itself and
declared, It's not a place I would feel very comfortable going out on a night by myself,
or even during the day.
In addition to Grandma, other participants, who were residents as well as non
residents of Glenview provided their perceptions concerning the safety of the
neighborhood. Michael, a police officer in charge of a district that includes Glenview,
stated, I don't know if there really would be a safe place other than inside somebody's
apartment or home. William, who has been a principal for over 18 years and who had
been at the local elementary school for two and a half years at the time of the interview,
remarked, Many parents keep their kids locked in because its so unsafe. Isabel, a single
mother of a two and six year old, who lives in the Glenview housing authority complex,
confirmed his sentiment. She declared, It's just not safe around this area.... I feel safe


63
accessible playground and the park as a whole did not nurture such a concept. She
professed, I ultimately wanted [the park] to be a barrier-free playground, where we
would be removing the barriers that society has added and to break down that barrier
that's between these kids and the [private recreation facility for girls]. She further
explained:
If you're not part of one of those organized groups, then you don't really belong,
you know. I mean if the [recreation facility for girls] is out there running
programs and you're not part of the [recreation facility for girls], then you don't
belong, you're an outsider. If you're not part of the baseball program, you don't
belong, you're an outsider
Barbara, the former mayor who was involved in the town hall meetings early in the
community organization effort and who also was known throughout the city as the
Queen of Recreation, also stated, In fact, most of the activities were not available to
the children that live in the area. Al, who observed such a trend after multiple visits to
the park, also explained, [The recreation facility for girls and the baseball leagues] play
their games, and they leave. They come and they go. [The park] is not utilized by the
residents of the neighborhood.
There were also direct and indirect perceptions from the viewpoints of a Glenview
resident and the resident youth, respectively, in regards to the park not being a part of the
neighborhood. Joseph, who grew up in the older housing area of Glenview, proclaimed:
It seems like there was something about the [accessible playground]. It seemed
like it was alienated from us at first. It was like it was not really our parkit
seemed to be a park for someone else. The target wasnt the kids and the people
that were living in the neighborhood.... They keep the doors locked [to the
restrooms]-1 dont hear of anybody from the neighborhood ever really getting the
keys. Its like somehow they have to know people to get the keys. I guess the
[recreation facility for girls] comes out there and runs the track, so is that track
really for us? Its been different things like that.


78
Other participants also verbalized the socioeconomic impact on the lives of the Glenview
residents. Barbara asked, What's the most stressfiil thing that happens in your life? It's
when you're short of money and you can't pay your bills. Paul pointed out:
[The Glenview] area is struggling economically to make ends meet.... So the
sense of hopelessness and not caring, fear and those kinds of things, do all
connect together as part of the whole socialI hate to call it a social structure,
because it's a lack of social structure, actually.
Lack of Trust
The second sub-theme of mistrust emerged in clear relation to the hopelessness of
the parents and children in Glenview as connecting to what Paul referred to as a lack of
social structure. As with hope, trust should precede and can be constructed when
members know what to expect in social roles, performances, and behaviors in a
normalized setting. A greater degree of trust is needed when these expectations and
boundaries are less clear and more open (Seligman, 1997).
In their interviews, the participants answered questions regarding whom they
trusted and whom they perceived trusted each other among the parents and youth and also
groups that were involved in the community organization effort. The sub-theme that
emerged clearly focused on how a lack of trust permeated through the residents of
Glenview. Within this context, this second sub-theme will be illustrated by the
participants perceptions surrounding parental mistrust of governmental entities and of
other groups with which the parents and youth come in direct or indirect contact. Jack
summarized:
I think there is somewhat of a distaste by a lot of the local neighborhoods for
government. There's not a trust. I think part of [the problem], when I look at it,
was the lack of trust by the [Glenview] neighborhood, because it's had that
experience with government.


5
The offering of structured recreation programs for at-risk youth seems simple
enough. There has been research that reports recreation programs offered at target times
(i.e. after school, nights and summers) can help in providing a safe space, reducing the
crime rate, and decreasing maladaptive and destructive behaviors of the youth in the
neighborhoods targeted with such programs (Witt, 2001b). However, organizing a
community to come together for such an important cause is not a simple task and it is not
a simple issue. After a tremendous amount of time and effort was spent to finally get a
recreation program implemented in the Glenview park, it lasted only six months and
conflicts have arisen and still exist two years later.
The factors that influence a community driven endeavor in establishing such a
program can be numerous and complex. The links among the institutions (horizontal
and/or vertical) within and around the Glenview community seem to be weak or have yet
to be established. According to Komhouser (1978), if there are such weak links among
various institutions, the capacity to defend a local interest is weakened. Therefore, social
organization centered on a problem may be lost within the community. The need for both
public and individual efforts is important. Therefore, local neighborhoods must work
together with the forces of public control to achieve social order primarily through
interdependence among private (individual and family), parochial (neighborhood), and
public (city, county, and state) institutions (Hunter, 1985; Sampson, 2001).
Recreation can be used as a means to decrease and ameliorate problem behaviors.
However, if barriers exist within the links of the community that may inhibit the
development and provision of these programs, therapeutic recreation (TR) principles
should be used. A conceptual foundation of therapeutic recreation is to evaluate and


65
Sallies comment leads into other observations from some of the participants
declarations of the park not being viewed as part of the neighborhood. An example
included Mika, a single mother of a six and a two year old living in the housing authority
who thought it was too far to walk to the park with one of the gates in the back of the
complex always being locked. (It is a gate that opens directly to the park.) She said, Oh
yeah, I would [go] if they opened that one. Amanda and Sallie, who both were
employees of the city parks and recreation department at the time of the community
organization effort, both believed the park was not part of the Glenview neighborhood
and focused on social and physical barriers in explaining their views. Amanda stated,
No. I think that was one of the problems. We were taking [the resident youth] out of
their neighborhood, in essence, and I think that was the problem and I think parents
thought that way also.
Sallie professed that the park was not part of the neighborhood because it's the
way the park is physically designed and its location." She explained that the focal points
and more heavily used areas of the 15 acres are the recreation facility for girls, the older
adult day care, the baseball fields, and the accessible playground. She felt these areas
were open to outsiders and presented barriers to the resident youth using the park even
during the summer recreation program. She expressed:
I think you need to do some physical changes to the park.... Why [would] I, as a
10-year-old want to come hang out in the park if Im not part of the [recreation
facility for girls], Im not part of the baseball team, Im not physically challenged,
Im not a senior. I mean, what do I want to do there? Why would I want to go
hang out at that facility?... So theres a whole bunch of physical barriers and
other things.... Thats why I dont perceive [the park] as part of the
neighborhood.


116
not feel they can fight the system for their rights or for the rights of others (Rubin &
Rubin, 2001). Community development can help secure democracy and by making real
the democratic potential in society, community groups gain power to solve problems, and
in the process, they rebuild democracy (p. 9).
While talking about democracy in general, in regards to community, it is very
important to link this concept to recreation because it relates directly to our philosophical
foundation where citizenry and the community were enhanced during times of leisure.
Mullet (1995) linked the two concepts by defining what she terms communitarian leisure,
which encompasses an understanding of shared values and recognition of the profound
connections that we have with others, which in turn works against tendencies toward
alienation and anomie (p.232). Leisure and democracy both in their highest forms
embrace the equality and acceptance of diversity of others and are necessary in helping to
fight against isolation and deviance in society.
The purpose of democracy is to transfer the power of decision-making over to the
people. In its purest form, democracy is a means to an end and the end is empowerment.
In the same sentiment, leisure and recreation have also been advocated for as
transforming mechanisms to community development and valued as a process more than
a product within this development of community (Hutchinson & Nogradi, 1996; Pedlar,
1996; Reid & Druenen, 1996) Pedlar (1996) advocated:
Community development in its purest form incorporates flexibility, negotiation,
of social relations, redefinition of power relations, a realization that process is in
itself valuable (p. 13).... Concepts and ideas behind community organization and
communitarianism suggest the need for a closer connection between practitioner
and other citizens so that recreation is more clearly praxis than product. This in
turn will allow for the development of a genuine partnershipa community of
citizens who will play an active part in the re-emergence of recreation and leisure
as a good. (pp. 20-21)


119
recreation department could be responsible in providing a stable, long-term presence or
dedicated leader in the park. But even here the people have to be involved, to be heard,
and rapport needs to build with this person. Ultimately, Glenview should be nurtured, not
taken care of. Recreation should be part of the process of community development and
not praxis or product where a Band-Aid of a recreation program is provided for the
youth. Being a self-help neighborhood is also the ultimate goal for community
development where the residents are aware of what they want, can voice it, and are
involved with the decision-making and establishment of recreation. In this approach,
recreation could still be seen as the means for them to develop as a community; however,
they hopefully will be empowered to face other issues of need. Overall, it will be
repeated, the key ingredient to community development is the parents/families and the
youth themselves.
Implications for Therapeutic Recreation
Prevention, an area that has its roots in recreation but has not been a primary
focus with therapeutic recreation services, brings community development and recreation
together in perfect company. Since Hutchinson and Nogradi, (1996) found the recreation
practitioners in community development to have a more proactive role and less reactive,
the joining of recreation and community development are very conducive to prevention.
Community development focuses on long-term relationships and prevention involves
long-term goals and promises long-term success (Barr & Parrett, 2001; Rubin & Rubin,
2001; Simeonsson, 1994). The ability for larger issues to be addressed and for a diverse
group of people to come together and work on social change through community
development is a key ingredient for prevention services. Through such a paradigm,


121
the therapeutic process in our profession, TR is also inundated with the trend of how
reimbursement, cost effectiveness and outcome measures have influenced our services
and how they have directed our profession. While these trends are necessary within more
of the clinical model, they are not as conducive to working with clients in the community.
The atmosphere for community development and empowerment within an individual as a
social member does not lend itself to only focusing on the immediate outcome or even
the product The process rather than the praxis should and has to be the emphasis. The
adaptations and changes that the clients go through, just as those in Glenview, will not
happen within the same model of product or outcome-driven services that has been
emphasized within the TR profession in the last decade. Client services in the community
must address the process of democracy, we must give voice to all the ecological agents
within the community to see the whole picture, we must empower the people we work
with, and we must establish more long-term goals and plan for long-term results. In
addition, TR must find different ways to evaluate its services within such a paradigm
Future Research
Future research in direct relation to the current study would encompass a second
qualitative approach to studying more of the voices from the Glenview housing authority,
along with their children. The current study was focused on exploring the voices of the
community organization effort and some of the residents were included. Flowever, the
ability to receive more interviews from the parents and children was superceded by
targeting enough representation from each group of external members who were part of
the community organization effort. As concluded within the results of this study, the
voices of the parents and youth are key to the grass-roots approach to neighborhood


98
developed in the tradition of grounded theory. At-risk youth, along with parental
involvement, will remain the centralized area to which all these concepts will connect.
Anomie
In using a theoretical framework of community social organization to address the
issue of what factors need to be in place for the ecological systems of the Glenview
neighborhood to be able to work together for the at-risk youth, three components of such
a framework were explored in this study: social capital, collective efficacy, and routine
activities. The first concept will be the target of this section regarding its relationship to
crime and anomie. Then the discussion will progress towards the concept of institutional-
anomie as a basis to the grounded theory model as constructed from the themes and data.
General Background
Within its origin in the Greek language, anomie simply means lawlessness (Orrii,
1987). In a little more detail, Webster (1985) defined anomie as social instability
resulting from a breakdown of standards and values [or] personal unrest, alienation, and
uncertainty that comes from a lack of purpose or ideals (p. 88). According to Passas
(1997), anomia, refers to a persons state of mind to the breakdown of the individuals
sense of attachment to society (p. 80). And according to Orrii (1987), anomie is a
conflict of belief systems and conditions of alienation in which an individual progresses
into a dysfunctional ability to integrate within normative situations in his/her social
world.
As a result of this alienation, individuals perceive themselves to be and will
appear to be alienated from the political, economic, cultural, and primary socialization
group systems (Orrii, 1987). For example, an individual may feel community and


32
You walk among the buildings now. You notice two separate playgroundsthe
kind that are all metal and starting to rust, but are embedded in a soft pool of sand. There
is a slide on each and swings that have rubber u-shaped seats. You also notice that the
ground cover between the buildings is mostly dirt and leaves now. You walk over in front
of a stairwell in one of the apartment buildings. It is 10:00 in the morning and you see
bottles of beer in the hands of several male adults sitting on the steps, you step over a
dirty diaper on the ground. You smell the unique odor of fresh smoked marijuana. At
another stairwell an adult is braiding the hair of a teenager while several younger children
watch. Other children are riding their bikes around the buildings and stopping
occasionally to listen to the conversations of the adults on the steps. A few children are
now at one of the playgrounds swinging on their bellies flying like birds in the sky.
After walking around other buildings, you decide to back track to the community
center. You go back out the newly paved lane that led you in. There is a large metal box
to your left with a US Postal service sign on the side. Several residents are talking while
picking up their mail with small children sitting on their hips and slightly bigger/older
ones fidgeting next to them. You keep on going a few more yards until you turn left onto
a sidewalk that leads you between a bed of liriope (a green grass like landscaping border)
growing on both sides. A few more feet and you open the door to the community center.
As you walk in you find yourself in a large room with a white tiled floor and there are
large dark brown bookshelves along the wall in front of you almost filled with books.
You also see several games on the shelves and a TV with a VCR to the left on a cart
butted against the far-left corner of the big room. You see tables set up in a u-shape in the
room with metal chairs slid haphazardly underneath them waiting empty until the


23
A term meant to signify an emphasis on shared beliefs in a neighborhoods
conjoint capability for action to achieve an intended effect and hence, an active
sense of engagement on the part of the residents. [However,] the expectation that
neighborhood residents can and will intervene on the behalf of children depends
on conditions of mutual trust and shared values among neighbors, (p. 10)
Overall, collective efficacy engages the cultural expectation that mutual support for
children will be present in the community of adults who are internal members of the
neighborhood (Avenida & Singley, 2001). Sampson (2001) also asserted that the ability
of the community to activate links and support for children with external members of the
neighborhood (e g. police, fire, and recreation personnel) is important in maintaining
social capital. Research has shown that a neighborhoods collective efficacy was a better
predictor of crime victimization more than the existence of poverty or residential
instability and that reduction in violence can be attributed to cohesion between residents
(Putnam, 2000).
Taken from a criminology perspective, legal routine activities involve the
distribution of daily activities (transportation, work, school, and recreation/leisure) and
are influential in how and when youth come in contact with peers and adults. As a result,
the use of space and time within such structures can be a determinate on a daily basis of
opportunities for unsupervised, illegal, or deviant activities and in general, can influence
the well-being of children (Avenilla & Singley, 2001; Sampson, 2001).
While concentrating on community social organization as a theoretical
framework, the three components of social capital, collective efficacy, and routine
activities will be explored within the Glenview neighborhood through the voices of its
internal and external members who have direct and indirect association with the resident
youth. Through a lens of recreation, issues of trust, connectedness, reciprocity,


17
relationship), then people may actively change (adapt) themselves or their environment.
Consequences of maladaptive behaviors include disabling feelings such as guilt, anxiety,
helplessness, rage, despair, hopelessness, and lowered self-esteem. Four concepts
expressed through a positive person-environment relationship include human relatedness,
competence, self-direction, and increased self-esteem (1991). In therapeutic recreation,
the primary goal of intervention and prevention programs is to facilitate the attainment of
these concepts for our clients. Ultimately, we want to help them to help themselves
maximize their own quality of life (Howe-Murphy & Charboneau, 1987).
In 1999, Devine and Wilhite advocated for the application of several theories in
therapeutic recreation research in inclusive leisure situations. One of these was the
ecological theory. They advocated that if an individuals behavior is of primary concern,
then the person/group as well as the environment surrounding him/her/them (i.e. family,
neighborhood, community, social group, and peer group) must be considered in research.
At-risk youth will ultimately be studied by way of exploring a variety of voices of
people who exist in their ecological systems ... people and social systems that may affect
their lives directly and indirectly (Devine & Wilhite, 1999; Witt, 2001a).
In summary, the ecological approach will be used as a theoretical framework to
guide the current study to facilitate a much broader range of contextual understanding
(Rappaport, 1987, p.34). The members of the neighborhood (external and internal) or
subsystems contribute to what is known as the ecological system surrounding an
individuals life ... the at-risk youth. An individual has his/her own unique combination
and types of subsystems in his/her environment that s/he interacts with and affects. In
return, this environment (in addition to physiological and personality factors) ultimately


73
In talking about decreasing hopelessness, this section will start where Joe left off
in the first theme in how recreation could help change the hearts and lives of the resident
youth one life at a time. In essence, he said recreation could help facilitate a positive
future in society and in looking deeper, it could give them hope for such a futurehope
is where change can begin. To illustrate the concept of hope further, a quote from one of
the resident mothers from Glenview will be used as an example and examined. Carla,
who was resourceful in getting her children involved with a variety of recreation
activities, provided some insight into how she felt when her daughter had the opportunity
to be a part of the [recreation facility for girls] track activities at the park one day. She
expressed:
And the [recreation facility for girls] even let [Brittany] join in on their track
running. She trained with them. I almost felt like I was normal. I was like, wow,
there's normal people here who actually are here for a reason.
Being able to have her daughter participate in recreation with others, gave Carla hope. In
examining her perceptions, hope can come from realizing that youth through recreation
came together for a purpose... for a social (and physical) reason. Hope encompasses
knowing what to expect from social institutions and social roles (Seligman, 1997; Snyder,
2000). Thus, Carla also signified that because people were at the track in the park for a
reason, it made her feel a part of normal society in contrast to her life in the Glenview
HAC where normalized social roles and expectations of the residents are not usually clear
and if so, they are not likely adhered to.
As with Carla and Joe, other participants had similar sentiments in how recreation
could facilitate potential, talents, and strengths in the Glenview youth to help them gain


69
I think if we used the right approach to programming in there, ... I think it would
build self-respect and pride.... I dont think they have a whole lot right now. I
feel like sometimes theyre like that lost child. That would do a lot for them [and]
thats why I thought more of neighborhood events rather than individual athletic
sports or after school programs. It could bring that neighborhood together to be
proud and have self-esteem and care. I think also its hard for people to change.
But I think you could move them from what I think is a lot of apathy right now,
into a neighborhood that cares.... I think through these kinds of neighborhood
programming, we could pull people together in a positive way and show people
its okay to care... its not just this city government out there... to hurt you and
make your life difficult. I think that could break down a lot of those type of
barriers.... [and] going out there and being part of that can produce some real
positive things.
Sallie, a former employee of the city parks and recreation department with over 15 years
of experience in the recreation profession, also believed that recreation could increase
the camaraderie amongst the residents as a way of celebrating neighborhood. Jeff,
currently a community organization leader of 13 churches in the city (including the
church targeted in this study), also added, Well, I think it would give the kids greater
ownership over that neighborhood too. Paul, a former city commissioner and current
leader within the city community, stated:
Well by improving the kids and the people, giving them more choices in terms of
things to do, more activities and a greater sense of ownership and pride in the
neighborhood and the park, I think that helps the neighborhood, helps strengthen
the social fabric overall. I think it potentially can create a safer neighborhood,
which is always, for any neighborhood these days, an issue, especially, in the
poorer neighborhoods.
A number of participants also remarked on the benefits of recreation in helping to
create safer neighborhoods and to reduce crime and delinquent behaviors. Several
mothers who are residents of the Glenview housing authority complex provided such
sentiments. Elizabeth expressed:
I think that it could maybe, possibly stop them, maybe even just for that day, of
doing something that they shouldn't have done. Maybe it's just that one day, but
that one day could have made a big difference.


137
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Stormann, W. F. (1996). Recreations role in community development: Community re
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Sullivan, M. L. (2001). Hyperghettos and hypermasculinity: The phenomenology of
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Sylvester, C., Voelkl, J. E., & Ellis, G. D. (2001). Therapeutic recreation programming:
Theory and practice. State College, PA: Venture Publishing.
Witt, P. A. (1995). Evaluating youth recreation programs Journal of Physical Education,
Recreation and Dance, 66, 27-30.
Witt, P. A. (2001a). Re-examining the role of recreation and parks in after-school
programs. Parks and Recreation, 36(1), 20-28..
Witt, P. A. (2001b). Insuring after-school programs meet their intended goals. Parks and
Recreation, 36(9), 32-50.
Wolff, T. (1987). Community psychology and empowerment: An activists insights.
American Journal of Community Psychology, 15, 151-166.


92
city that] seems to get funded are things where the people come and demand it. A1 also
proposed, Go back to the neighborhood and get the people involved and it willthe
only way that city officials will listen is if the people themselves are the ones speaking.
Isabel, a single mother living in Glenview said many time in her interview, We have to
keep voicing ourvoicing that there is a need in this neighborhood and that the kids,
they need it. Jack summarized that the neighborhood needed a voice, but that it also
needed to find a voice of a leader internal to Glenview. He suggested:
The neighborhood needs toit would be great ifthe neighborhood really needs
to have a more vocal role. Somebodys got to be the torchbearer. Maybe this
group needs to find out who that, where that role is and vocalize those efforts to
reinforce those needs. Id like to see them get more involved, even like the rec
department and the others to go out [to the park] and start doing these kinds of
[things together].
In continuation of his suggestions Jack introduced a second area of this sub-theme
of solutions that may be instrumental in helping the Glenview residents and parents to
become a voice and important link within the community. He explained:
I think the presence, a strong leadership role has to be from the city. I think
theres also an expectation from the neighborhood that it would be from the city.
The question is, can you get somebody there that can also work through all those
other issues [and relationships] as it relates to the neighborhood, to allow that
family and that neighborhood to enjoy community recreation experiences. Youve
got to have somebody who can work from the heart.
Suzie concurred, but also emphasized the long-term nature of and support that is needed
for such a leader. She proclaimed:
That's all you need in that park is an adult present in order for those kids to be
able to do something... and the parents need to be really invested. Once it's there
you need to continue to support it.
Joseph, with similar sentiments suggested:
I think there will always have to be a presence there. Someone that's being paid.
That's the only way I think you're going to see stability, someone to kind of


59
When you have housing authority projects like [the Glenview HAC], its kind of a
black eye on our society. It says that we have to build low-income housing for
people and then ... it's almost like we don't want to see them. So if we build a
fence and a wall around it, then we can drive by and we don't even notice that it's
there.
Elizabeth, a single mother living in the housing authority complex, also professed the
presence of the fence meant, they're trying to keep us in almost, and keep everything
else out.
Isabel, also a single mother of a six-year-old daughter and four-year-old son
living in the complex brought in the perception that not only did the fence contain the
residents, but it also separated them from the rest of Glenview neighborhood. She
explained:
I think because we are in this complex and fenced in, this is really the
neighborhoodeven across the fence, it's not really our neighborhood. I don't
think so. It's more like, because we're so fenced in and enclosed and confined
almost.
Another mother, Molly, also declared, Actually that wall is like, in a sense, labeling
someone asthis is a bad neighborhood, that is a good neighborhood. Grandma who
had considered living in the housing authority complex when she first moved to the city
over 30 years ago, felt strongly about the wall even then. She expressed, That wall
means to me that it's fenced in. That's one of the things I never liked about that place.
She went on to say, When they fenced it up, it's like a jaillike you are incarcerated.
That wall is telling the other neighborhood that we don't want you. You cannot associate
with these people. Joseph, who is dedicated to being a positive role model, has for over
three years voluntarily tutored and led bible studies and other activities for the children in
the housing authority complex. (In fact, when one of the mothers was being interviewed
he was outside leading activities with her and about 20 other children on blankets in the


82
who live within a single-female headed household. As a 20 year-old male who self-
professed to not be included in any racial category except other, Joseph explained:
[The youth] don't even have their father in their life. So, I would think the
breakdown in the father figure and just the relationships that they see their
mothers going through and being exposed to really a lot more crime, a lot more
things that would harbor your own consensus that that's cool to dothat makes
them at-risknot having [a father] and even their moms not giving them
whatever kind of support they as a mother could give them.
In her definition of at-risk youth Iris brought in similar concepts. She stated, I think an
at-risk youth is a youth that has become vulnerable to outside elements because he
doesn't have the strength within him or herself... because he doesn't have strong family
values or support. With similar sentiment as to what makes a child at-risk, Jack
concurred, Circumstances that would impact their ability to receive guidance or
direction or nurturing as a child. .. Theyre coming home without adult leadership, adult
direction. After being asked if the Glenview youth received supervision from the
parents, William simply professed, I would say they get little to none.
In addition to a lack of support and supervision, other participants discussed
deviant behaviors of parents and residents that contributed to conditions of risk for the
youth. A1 professed:
I think there's a lack of adult supervision, for sure, a lack of quality parenting,...
poor parenting and attention, problems in the home, child abuse.. alcohol abuse,
drug abuse, crime, delinquency, vandalism... struggling academically.... I think
all of those factors, if any of them are present then the child is at-risk.
Jake noted:
[The Glenview parents] encourage their children not to be nice to the police. It's
like they're not wanting to have that child see the law as something good. They
want them to see it as something bad, so therein lies yet another strike against the
child. They don't know what's right and what's wrong.


90
Not only did the participants believe that the Glenview parents/residents were a
neglected group within the community organization effort, but they also believed this
neglect is related to and has been created by, reinforced by, and engrained in the political
system as a whole. Many participants provided similar comments regarding the political
capital of residents in low income or poverty-stricken neighborhoods. For example,
Bilobar remarked, [What] were creating in societies is the haves and the have nots...
we need to provide for the less fortunate. Jack provided feedback that relates back to
issues of mistrust with the government mentioned in previous themes. He professed,
Why is there not this willingness from the local neighborhood? I happened to believe
some of it is somewhat mistrust, distrust, or no trust of outsiders, and that includes a lot
of government. A1 believed the Glenview neighborhood was neglected:
I think because of the politics. I dont think that commissioners pay any attention
to it, and that probably goes back to people who live in neighborhoods like
[Glenview] that have the lowest voter turnout and politicians know.... So they
dont pay much attention to them because they dont vote and theyre not afraid to
ignore them... [because] it wont affect their re-election. I think with that kind of
thingthey just end up being neglected. Theyre not a power-base, they have no
power. Like I said, 1 think because the neighborhoods surrounding them are okay,
politicians probably pay more attention to those neighborhoods and forget about
the neighborhood that were discussing.
Joe, with similar sentiments, stated:
The places where there is structured recreation happen to be in the upscale
neighborhoods where there are political contributors and voters who put pressure
on the politicians. And because [Glenview] neighborhood is a lower
socioeconomic neighborhood where the people do not have a political clout, less
is being done. And I think that's abominable.
It is important to add that although remarks are heated about the political system
in the city, overall a consensus of trust and respect from all the participants (including
those above) existed for Paul, the commissioner who participated in the community


Future Research
.121
APPENDIX
A MAP OF GLENVIEW 125
B INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD APPROVAL FROM
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 127
C THE INTERVIEW GUIDES 128
REFERENCE LIST 132
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 138
v


25
Many disciplines (community psychology, health education, health promotion,
education, anthropology, and sociology) have incorporated such systems for societal
environmental change. Bringing about community change through grass-roots activity,
neighborhood revitalization, and the creation of coalitions is an integral part of the fields
of... community organizing (Matn, 2000, p. 26). However, there is a crucial need for
other allied disciplines, including the field of therapeutic recreation, to align with such a
viewpoint (Matn, 2000; Pedlar, 1996).
Problems and Assets
According to Matn (2000), there is a need for environmental transformation
because promising programs can only make an impact on social problems (caused by
violent neighborhoods, disaffected peer groups, family poverty, inadequate support
systems, deeply troubled schools, and limited opportunities for purposeful social
engagement), if they become firmly established within the community host environments.
This does not go without challenges because social transformation can be faced with the
following problems: discontinuation of demonstration projects; loss of effectiveness due
to the term limits of funding sources; program advocates moving on to another
community project/issue; or a reduction in resources caused by changes in priorities.
Conditions promised initially (knowledgeable and influential program advocates, active
staff collaboration in program planning, and resources for implementation) are frequently
not sustained (Matn, 2000). Such issues evolved from the community organizing effort
for recreation within the Glenview neighborhood for within the past year, funds were not
re-established for the program, changes in key members occurred (several housing
authority staff, several recreation staff, a city commissioner, and the mayor changed) and


56
when I'm inside my house with the door locked.... I feel safe when I see the Sheriffs
Department parked in the office. When asked where she felt most safe, Mika, a single
mother of a two and six year old and resident in the complex, answered, In my house.
When asked where her children play safely, she answered, In the house Sometimes I let
them go out right here in the street. Where she pointed was only a few yards from her
apartment door in an isolated parking lot. Elizabeth, also a resident and single mother of a
two year old, described common occurrences in the complex. She reflected:
I think it's very scary at night. You have to watch what you do and who you talk
to, even during the day.... At night you'll hear gunshots and you'll hear loud
music and hear bottles breaking and fighting and yelling and screaming.
Carla, a resident and single mother of a six and eight year old, also recounted, [The
police] only come because of the bad things that go on and the bad people that come here
and the fighting and drug dealings, things like that.
Further sentiments about the safety and criminal/deviant activity concerning
Glenview were explained by the two police officers who participated in the study.
Michael, a commander in charge of the entire district that encompasses the zone that
includes the neighborhood, reported:
[Glenview] is probably the busiest call for service zone in the entire city. We have
a lot of activity in there. In my district it's the zone that has the highest amount of
police officers assigned to it.... So between the proactive and probably the
reactive calls for service in that area, an average would be around 30, probably a
month.
Jake, a sergeant of the zone, further explained that there is a clear distinction in criminal
activity between two different areas of Glenview. One is an older housing area (which
will be referred to as Glenview OHA) which has been in existence for over 60 years, but
has become run down and impoverished in the last few decades. The other is a Section 8


26
some distention between several external members developed. However, a purpose of
this study is not to solely investigate these problems and absences, but as an important
strategy of community organization, it will be necessary to also concentrate on what
assets are present at this time (Pedlar, 1996). To hear the voices of all the members of the
original group who advocated for recreation and to hear what the new members have to
say will be an important aspect of this study.
In summary, the current study will try to identify the needs as well as the
strengths of the Glenview neighborhood in relation to its influences on the at-risk youth.
Through a naturalistic approach, the phenomena of community social organization
surrounding recreation for these youth will be explored.
Implications for Therapeutic Recreation and Public Recreation
Throughout the National Therapeutic Recreation Societys (NTRS) literature, the
reader will find a general but very fundamental philosophy in the field of recreation,
itself that everyone has the right to experience leisure. Interestingly enough, the
foundation of the Glenview neighborhood community organization effort was based on
the same philosophy in their advocacy for recreation for the neighborhood at-risk youth.
Accordingly, the NTRS (1996) Philosophical Position Statement conveys that a valued
foundation of therapeutic recreation is its promotion for the right to leisure and states:
This value includes related concepts, such as leisure as part of a healthy lifestyle,
the importance of leisure for everyone, and other dialogues that articulate and
explain the role of leisure as part of a healthy and productive life. The right to
leisure is grounded in the notion that the individual is entitled to the opportunity
to express unique interests and pursue, develop, and improve talents and abilities
because of his/her potential. The right to leisure is a condition necessary for
human dignity and well being.


24
motivations for internal and external links, and use of time and space within the
structures of the neighborhood will be investigated.
The Role of Therapeutic Recreation
In her review of recreation and leisure taking a role in community processes,
Pedlar (1996) asserted:
The widening gap between those who are advantaged and those who are
disadvantaged in society makes it increasingly urgent to more fully understand the
ways in which recreation and leisure can foster community development and the
role of the citizen and practitioner in that process, (p. 7)
She continued in her discussion that historically, community-based recreation has
concentrated more on service management and programming to foster change in
individuals and groups and advocates for a movement that is more process-based and less
outcome-oriented. She does not negate the value of a planned and prescriptive approach
by the therapist or programmer or the need for accountability through outcomes.
However, her argument is for the process-based trend of facilitating a closer connection
between the practitioners and other citizens so that recreation is more praxis than product.
This process would include reciprocity and co-learning between these groups. In
summary, Pedlar (1996) contended that, if the social reality of a community is recognized
and validated and a community is more invested in the service, the members of this group
would become more empowered. Empowerment comes from within the collective group
and a community of citizens who are included as genuine partners, may in turn play an
important and active role in establishing recreation and leisure as a public good. As a
result, a process that allows a community members to take control of their own lives will
also facilitate a realization of their ability to determine their own outcomes (1996).


77
and when they would visit other recreation facilities in the city during the summer
program, they ended up getting kicked out that day for improper attire. She also added
that sometimes a parent(s) would come down to the summer program at noon just to eat
the free lunch that was designated for their child by way of federal grant funding.
Carla, who was very dedicated to her children and to making Glenview better
while she lived there, had worked very hard towards a way out of the system and was
moving out the next month with her children into her own home. Her perspective into
Glenview HAC was insightful and forthright. She told several stories of despair and
hopelessness concerning the youth and their families. The following was one example:
There [are] so many families [in] poverty in [Glenview HAC], 1 remember five
brothers, they were probably a year apart. .. and they lived over there [the next
building]. They were so poor, instead of washing their clothes so the other kids
wouldnt pick on them, (their parents didnt wash their clothes), they would
exchange clothes every day. What [Bobby] wore one day, he would give his other
brother to wear the next day, and he would swap with him. The clothes were
filthy.... And then when the big kids have to wear the little kids clothes, they
were too small. They would switch their clothes like that. So there were families
that were, Im talking poverty... When youre doing that, youre dirt poor. And
they had nothing to eat. They never had food... Nobody in the neighborhood
cared about these kids because they would always be begging and so people got
tired of it. They never had anything to offer. All [the boys] wanted was other
people to take care of them because they werent getting it at home.
Other participants provided insight into these stories of hopelessness in regards to
the impact of the socioeconomic status and social structure within low-income and
poverty-stricken neighborhoods. Joe proclaimed:
I think unfortunately, people whose day is consumed with just trying to figure out
how I'm going to put food on the table tomorrow [and] because this neighborhood
is on the lower socioeconomic level, I think their higher priority is simply making
a living and the kids unfortunately are the victims.


APPENDIX C
THE INTERVIEW GUIDES
The Parent/Guardian of the Youth
Tell me a little about yourself? (Age, education, number of children and age(s), and
anything else you would like to tell me.)
The Neighborhood
1) How long have you lived in this neighborhood?
2) In general, what does a neighborhood mean to you? Provide your own definition of a
neighborhood. What does this neighborhood mean to you? What do you think it means
to your children?
3) Where does your neighborhood start and end (physically)? What does the wall around
the housing authority complex mean to you? What do you think it means to your
children?
4) Where do you and your children get to go safely in your neighborhood? Where do
your and other children play safely in the neighborhood? How do they use their time and
space?
5) Provide a definition of at-risk youth. Do you think your children are at-risk? If so,
what aspects if any, of the neighborhood do you think makes your children or other
children at-risk?
6) Do you feel connected to others in your neighborhood? Outside it? Who might they
be? Who around you helps you the most in your life? (Prompts... parents, grandparents,
siblings, recreation staff, people in the community center, neighbors, friends, church
members).
The City Park
7) What does the park in the neighborhood mean to you? How often do you go? Do you
allow or see your (the) children play, hang out there? What types of things do you do
there?
128


86
main reasons, if not the main. It's hard for them to make plans for themselves, let
alone just to take their kids toeven just to drop them off.
Joseph who has lived in the neighborhood all his life, reflected I don't think they have
been too concerned with the kids anyway, so it's like even a lot the parents, you know,
don't have a lot of concern about what their kids are doing.
In more direct relation to the summer recreation program, Iris commented, We
[were] trying to get this free after school program that we thought would be a safe place
for the kids and a lot of the parents were just not involved, like [they] didn't have any
interest. Joe, a church leader who was involved in the community organization effort
from its very beginning, remarked:
We had a difficult time getting parents to even come out and sign permission slips
for the kids to be involved.... I think a lot of it was also the lethargy of the parents
in the neighborhood. They didn't care.
As a culminating remark, a simple but complex comment from Carla, in relation to the
childrens well being, in relation to the neighborhood conditions, and in relation to the
parents involvement in recreation, will end this section. She stated, The key ingredient
to me is the parents.
Parents: The Key to Community Organization.
The hopelessness to apathy path prevailed throughout the lives of the parents and
as a consequence it affected their children and their childrens involvement in recreation,
most specifically in the summer recreation program. However, the data also revealed that
the participants believed parental involvement was still a key ingredient to successful
community organization. Within this context, the fourth theme soundly emerged and was
divided into three sub-themes: 1) parental responsibilities to recreation, 2) parents: the


91
organization effort from the beginning and who participated in this study. In both their
interviews, Paul and Barbara, the former mayor, found challenges and frustrations within
the political system during their terms in introducing issues and budgets regarding
recreation, in general and in this case, recreation for the Glenview youth. Paul provided a
simple explanation that rings so true when we hear about requests from voting
constituents and when we talk about recreation, most specifically as prevention. People
are less apt to work as hard on or vote on issues where it takes more time to actually be
able to measure outcomes, especially if you are in a short-term position and a
commissioner wants to be re-elected. He said, People in general want to see more
immediate results. During the time that the recreation program was being considered for
Glenview, he admitted, I had to work with my fellow commissioners.
Solutions
The third sub-theme for this section was constructed from participants comments
regarding solutions that could facilitate the involvement of the parents and ultimately
help them to become a key ingredient to community organization regarding recreation
for their children. This section will start off where the second sub-theme left off and will
be divided into three areas of solutions that include voicing a voice, internal leadership,
and parents as collaborators.
The first area of solutions that were constructed from the participants perceptions
included the opinion that the residents needed to and still need to make their voice and
needs heard within city government. Barbara exclaimed, Let me tell you, if those
neighborhoods [residents] had been advocating, the program would still be there.
Amanda also felt, The only people, the only thing, in my opinion, since I've been in [the


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31
right. About 50 yards ahead, there is a beige brick building to your right with white
columns and a small porch that is known as the community center. The wooden fence
follows behind this building. The grass is still bright green. There are flowers growing in
beds surrounding the center. Directly in front of you, the apartments begin. They are the
off-white stucco two-story apartment buildings typical of Florida. There is no distinction
between each building except for its geographical position and the letter designating it as
A, B, C, etc. You can turn left or right. You decide to do the latter. As you turn, you see
the tall black spears sticking out of the ground one after the other. They make up the
massive rod-iron fence. The wooden fence to its right is dwarfed. You take an immediate
left to follow the road and your eyes follow the fence that is now to your right... as you
move along you see a narrow opening in this medieval looking enclosure. This break
allows the residents to access an alley that leads to a side road and to a city bus stop. This
is the only break in the fence for the entire 500 yards that surround the complex. Where
else does this break in the fence and the alley lead? The explanation will come later.
As you take your eyes away from the odd fence, you see the line of apartment
buildings to your left. The grass is not as green, the paved road that encircles the complex
is not as new. You decide to take a side road that leads you to a parking lot. As you walk
to this dead end, in front is this communitys pool. The water is sparkling blue with a
deflated black inner tube floating near the shallow end steps. No one is in it and there is a
paper poster sign that says Closed in sun faded letters. Although it is May and almost
summer, you wonder if the pool will open in time for the intense heat that the Florida
summers bring. There is no written announcement that indicates if it will or will not bring
such a relief from the summer rays.


APPENDIX B
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD APPROVAL FROM
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


13
externalized (aggressive and violent) symptoms. They found in their research, African
American youth living in single parent households and low-income neighborhoods were
significantly more aggressive than youth living in middle class neighborhoods; however,
they professed a need for more research on the impact of dangerous neighborhoods on
youth development and behaviors (2000). Allison, Crawford, Leone, Trickett, Perez-
Febles, Burton, and Le Blanc (1999) also found that adolescents living in poverty and
single parent households exhibited high rates of substance abuse. Furthermore, they also
professed a need for more research on neighborhood contexts and influences on
maladaptive and at-risk behaviors of youth in addition to a concentration on family and
peers.
Accompanying the need for research to concentrate on a more ecological context
due to the complexity of influences on at-risk youth, Sullivan (2001) advocated that
processes related to childhood development be interpreted within a phenomenological
framework. Rappaport (1987) stated, In addition to a focus on professionals creating
programs, we need to study people in settings that are part of their ongoing life (p. 135).
Mason (1999) asserted that with such less developed topics of study, qualitative method
could facilitate a better understanding of the impact of risk factors (within the
neighborhood climate and culture and within family and peer interaction styles) upon
community-level behaviors and child-linked social problems.
Over 20 years ago and seemingly ahead of himself, Bronfrenbrenner (1979) also
suggested that scientific study of any ecological environment should include a
phenomenological view of how properties within a setting are perceived and experienced
by the persons in that environment. With this in mind, the incorporation of an ecological


119
recreation department could be responsible in providing a stable, long-term presence or
dedicated leader in the park. But even here the people have to be involved, to be heard,
and rapport needs to build with this person. Ultimately, Glenview should be nurtured, not
taken care of. Recreation should be part of the process of community development and
not praxis or product where a Band-Aid of a recreation program is provided for the
youth. Being a self-help neighborhood is also the ultimate goal for community
development where the residents are aware of what they want, can voice it, and are
involved with the decision-making and establishment of recreation. In this approach,
recreation could still be seen as the means for them to develop as a community; however,
they hopefully will be empowered to face other issues of need. Overall, it will be
repeated, the key ingredient to community development is the parents/families and the
youth themselves.
Implications for Therapeutic Recreation
Prevention, an area that has its roots in recreation but has not been a primary
focus with therapeutic recreation services, brings community development and recreation
together in perfect company. Since Hutchinson and Nogradi, (1996) found the recreation
practitioners in community development to have a more proactive role and less reactive,
the joining of recreation and community development are very conducive to prevention.
Community development focuses on long-term relationships and prevention involves
long-term goals and promises long-term success (Barr & Parrett, 2001; Rubin & Rubin,
2001; Simeonsson, 1994). The ability for larger issues to be addressed and for a diverse
group of people to come together and work on social change through community
development is a key ingredient for prevention services. Through such a paradigm,


84
Well, they will usually be between the ages of nine and twelve, and they'll usually
have a younger sibling who is about two or three and they're in charge of them.
Sometimes I will see groups of younger ones that shouldn't be there by
themselves. You know six-year olds hanging out there by themselves.
In noticing that the children are taking care of each other and their siblings, Carla
verifies another important condition of riskthe children are alone. With further
discussion, she defined at-risk youth as youth, who come home [and] nobody is home.
Paul also believed the children in Glenview to be at-risk for similar reasons. He stated:
Them being from single parent households, not having a lot or any adult
supervision or responsible sibling supervision in many cases... not having
positive role models because they have a single working parent that's working 40,
50+ hours a week and not there when they get out from school.
Michael and A1 both conveyed that a lot of latchkey kids lived in the Glenview
neighborhood. Michael went on to say that a number of the parents, you know, would
lock the door and not even let their kids in until they came home from work. Suzie also
had observed another type of exile. She stated, Even at home they keep their kids out of
the house during the day... so I dont even know if they have a space, except for maybe
the street Jack, who had visited the park weekly as the director of the department, had
also observed a lack of adult and parental presence with the children. He asserted, Go
out walking down there. You know how many times I have been to that park and never
saw a parent out there with their kid?! Jake noted, There are areas they can play in and
run around the complex, but for the most part I don't think there's a lot of adult
supervision, so I don't think their parents even know what they're doing during the day.
Grandma also commented on the behaviors of the children and connected it to the lack of
parental presence. She exclaimed, Theyre wild. The kids are wild. But you don't find a
parent around.


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Cari E. Autry received her Bachelor of Science degree in the biological sciences
in 1989 from North Carolina State University. In 1997, she graduated from the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Master of Science degree in recreation
administration with a specialization in therapeutic recreation. She received her Ph D.
degree in health and human performance with a concentration in therapeutic recreation
and a minor in special education in August 2003. Her research interests include
therapeutic recreation as prevention of at-risk behaviors in youth, neighborhood risk
factors involving youth and parents/families, and recreation as a means for community
development.
138


87
neglected members of the community organization process, and 3) solutions for parent
involvement.
Responsibility
This sub-theme emerged from questions concerning whose responsibility it was
and what roles should members who directly and indirectly affect the youth in the
Glenview neighborhood take in providing recreation for these youth. While various
entities (i.e. the city parks and recreation department, the church, the recreation facility
for girls, and the housing authority community center) were specifically mentioned, all
the participants did believe each group targeted in this study was responsible and each
had a role to play. However, as constructed from the opinions and voices of the
participants, they clearly also perceived the parents, family members, and residents to
have a major if not the predominant role and responsibility in such a task.
As a simple example, Grandma answered, It's everybody's responsibility,
especially the parents. Sallie remarked, Its gotta start with [the residents].... They
have the responsibility to inquire and see what is out there and available. Jake also
perceived in frustration that it ultimately falls back on the parents or the parent to get
that child involved in something other than sitting around doing nothing. Jeff gently
answered, Well, their roles are to do the best they can to get their kids involved in
recreation for youth. Paul also stated, Well, to start with, at the most basic level, they
need to participate so there is a reason to have the program, as we talked about, that has
actually been an issue with the [Glenview recreation] program. Iris and Mollys
perspectives brought in the connection of the parents primary role to the city recreation
departments role. Iris concisely answered, The parents, I'd say and it should be Parks


CHAPTER 4
RESULTS
Themes were constructed from the data using the constant comparison method of
analysis, which facilitated the development of grounded theory, which will be presented
in the next chapter. Through the examination and saturation of key concepts, categories,
and units, four major themes developed from the process of interviewing and reading/re
reading transcripts of the 21 participants in the study which included five parents, two
neighborhood residents, two police officers, one principal, two university personnel in
therapeutic recreation, three city parks and recreation personnel, one former mayor, one
former city commissioner, and four members from the local church. These four themes
included 1) Neighborhood Environment; 2) Despondence in Glenview: A Lack of Hope
and Trust; 3) Parental Conditions: Influences on Youth and Recreation Involvement; and
4) Parents: The Key to Community Organization.
Conceptually, the four themes that developed from the participants perceptions
regarding recreation, the Glenview neighborhood and park, the at-risk youth and their
parents, and collaboration and relationships between members within the community
organization effort, interrelated with one another and embraced the Glenview youth as
their central link (see Figurel). These themes and links are products of the ecological and
community social organization frameworks that guided the research questions and the
study overall and provide an intricate explanation for the phenomenon that took place in
the Glenview neighborhood two years agoa phenomenon that assembled and
50


79
Other participants noted a general mistrust in government and/or also specified a
particular entity from the city/county. The following remarks involved the city parks and
recreation department. A1 professed:
I think there's a lack of trust between the parents and almost all of the other
groups. I don't sense a trust between the parents and the government at all. Zero.
The parents and the [city] department of recreation and parksprobably no trust
either.
Joe also specifically cited the city parks and recreation and conveyed:
Now when somebody comes along and says we want to provide a recreational
program for your kids after school, their reaction is to say yeah, yeah, yeah, we've
heard that before, you know, we'll believe it when we see it, you know, and they
really don't trust anybody.
Amanda, a staff of the recreation department realized, I don't think the trust was there
for the parents to be willing to participate in the program. Suzie also conferred a similar
perception about the youth and their parents. She said, I don't think that the kids trusted
the program to the point where they thought it was going to be around any longer. ...
Parents I don't think cared so the issue for trust wasn't there
Two other governmental entities that were discussed by the participants in
relation to mistrust were the school and the police department. For example, William, the
principal of the local elementary school conveyed:
We have probably less cordial and familial relations with [the Glenview parents]
than we do with the parents from nice middle class neighborhoods, and that's a
function of, I think, distrust or uncomfortableness working back and forth across
those lines.
A1 reflected on the residents perceptions of the police and stated, I think [residents] do
have a respect for the police and they think that the police are probably on their side,
trying to keep the place in law and order and so forth. Trust the police? I don't know
about trust. I said respect, trust I don't know. Jake, one of the police officers in the study,


12
services they receive (p. 43). In addition, social institutions (the school, welfare, justice,
and human service systems) and parents can experience and even facilitate failure and
hopelessness for these at-risk youth (Children and Families At Risk, 1993). Furthermore,
individuals living in neighborhoods with crime, abandoned buildings, noise, alcohol and
drugs, vandalism, and litter have been reported to experience high levels of fear and
mistrust of other people, which in turn facilitates isolation of the neighborhood from the
larger community (Ross & Jang, 2000).
However, in a positive sense, Korbin (2001) emphasized that impoverished
neighborhoods appearing to be structurally weak may encompass strengths that facilitate
more positive outcomes than might be expected for some parents and children. In
addition, Children and Families A t Risk (1993) reported:
A neighborhood can be defined as a face-to-face place for social interaction, for
education, and human service. A neighborhood is a place for preparing for life,
engaging in employment, going out into activities of the life span.... A
neighborhood is a key setting for human development, (p. 66)
Korbin (2001) also presented a challenge to better understand and disentangle the
interrelationships among individual, family, neighborhood, and larger sociocultural
influences (p.85).
Overall, there is a need for more research on the context of the neighborhood and
its impact on childhood development. Very little is known about the infrastructures by
which neighborhoods can influence the well-being of resident youth, and conditions and
capacities to get activities implemented for these youth need to be better understood
(Connell & Kubisch, 2001; Small & Supple, 2001). Colder, Mott, Levy, and Flay (2000)
stated that previous research suggests children growing up in impoverished or violent
neighborhoods may be at-risk for both internalized (depressive and anxious) and


14
approach to the current research will encompass the neighborhood as subjectively
experienced (Korbin, 2001). In other words, what stories do the external and internal
members have to tell about the neighborhood in relation to the property of recreation
for the at-risk youth ... and overall, what story does the neighborhood tell about itself
(Rappaport, 2000)?
An Ecological Approach
Ecological Systems
In order to examine the person-environmental interaction surrounding at-risk
youth, an ecological systems approach is being used to guide this study in exploring the
concerns and in determining how the needs for this group can best be met. Ecology is the
science of studying the relationships between an organism and its environment. In
relation to the study of humans, this science adopts a more holistic view in seeing the
person and his/her environment as a unit. This unit can only be understood within the
context of its relationship between and within the transactions of the two entities (Farmer,
1997; Germain, 1991). A more formal definition of ecology, as presented by
Bronfenbrenner (1989), follows:
The ecology of human development is the scientific study of the progressive,
mutual accommodation, throughout the life course, between an active, growing
human being, and the changing properties of the immediate settings in which the
developing person lives, as this process is affected by the relations between these
settings and by the larger contexts in which the settings are embedded, (p. 188)
Ecological Subsystems
The content and management style of positive adaptations are influenced by the
personality, physiological factors (disability/condition) within a person and the resources,
experiences, nature of environment and culture that surrounds a person (Barker, 1968;


76
Several participants talked about the perpetuation of hopelessness from the
parents to their children. A1 suggested:
They just feel trapped. A lot of the [Glenview residents] were bom in that kind of
a situation and they've grown up in it and now they are adults themselves and
they're still in it and they can't get out of it. They've fallen into a black hole. It's
the only life they know, the only culture that they know. They feel trapped.
Carla also talked about this entrapment and stated, Some of [the families]theyve been
living here before me and they dont plan to leave and its sort of hopeless. The kids are
like, this is life. Jack also conveyed, Honestly, I think some of that actually comes
from it may be being beaten down too much and giving up hope, not thinking theres a
life line there anymore. And then it passes on to the kids.
Other participants specifically focused on the hopelessness surrounding the
children of Glenview. Bilobar stated, The children in the neighborhood just generally
lack purpose and direction... the kids are hopeless.... [there is] sense of hopelessness.
Suzie, who worked as a supervisor and directly with the youth in the summer program,
explained:
I swear [the kids] just felt like they were beat down so much.... When they were
sitting there telling me that they were going to mn away and they didn't know
how to get out.... The kids are almost giving up. They feel helpless. They aren't
really sure where they're going to go or what they're going to do, but they know
they don't want to be there for the rest of their lives. And yet they seem to feel like
they're stuck here.
Suzie went on to tell stories of despair concerning the youth that participated in the
summer recreation program with her. She explained that she knew some of the children
had to get food and/or clothes out of the neighbors trash. And because there was only
one pair of shoes in the household (adult size), one child would come with sneakers that
were many sizes too big. Others only owned flip flops that you can get at the store for $1


30
Glenview exists as an island in a sea of upper to middle class residential neighborhoods.
These higher income residential areas included in the census track tend to skew the
numbers directly within the Glenview area. A 1990 census of the city stated that 47%
of the population living in a block group that included Glenview was low- to
moderate-income level and that approximately 50% of the students in the elementary
school located in the neighborhood were eligible for free and reduced lunch. The
respective numbers for the Glenview neighborhood were actually higher due to the data
being a decade old and because the housing complexes surrounding the neighborhood are
of higher socio-economic status. For example, 100% of the youth participants in the
summer program who came from the Glenview neighborhood, qualified for free and
reduced lunch.
It is important to describe the variety of spaces within the Glenview
neighborhoodthe spaces open to and roamed by the childrenwhere they live, walk to
and from, and where they play While the following description is seen from the point of
view as the researcher, the reader into Glenview as we walk through the neighborhood
together. Please refer to the map of Glenview while reading the following description of
the setting (see Appendix A).
Most of the children in the neighborhood labeled as Glenview live in the
housing authority complex, which is literally surrounded by a nine-foot fence of black
iron-rod stakes, but you do not see this until you are further on site. When you first turn
off a main avenue into the lane leading to the complex, you see a quaint sign on your left
welcoming you to this community and there is newly paved black top road in front of you
with bright green grass growing along side it and a new five-foot tall wooden fence to the



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Copyright 2003
by
Cari E. Autry


129
8)Did your child participate in the after school or summer recreation program at the park
two years ago? If so, tell me about his/her experience.
Recreation
9) What does recreation mean to you? What do you feel are benefits of recreation? What
are the benefits for your and other children in the neighborhood? What are the benefits of
recreation for at-risk youth?
10) How do you feel recreation can help improve your life and your childs life?
11) How do you feel recreation can help improve the lives of the children in the
neighborhood?
12) How do you feel recreation can help improve the neighborhood?
Roles and Collaboration
The next set of questions involves different groups of people I am interviewing that were
part of the effort to bring recreation to the youth in the neighborhoodpeople from the
[name] church, police officers, school principal, neighborhood residents, recreation
personnel, university personnel, former mayor and commissioner, and parents.
13) What roles and responsibilities do the people who live in the neighborhood have in
providing recreation for the youth? What roles and responsibilities do the parents have?
14) What roles and responsibilities does the recreation department have in providing
recreation for the youth in the neighborhood? What roles and responsibilities do any of
the other groups have in providing recreation for the youth in the neighborhood?
15) What do you see your role as in helping to improve this neighborhood? ...through
recreation? .. with others?
16) With whom do you see yourself collaborating with to help improve your life and the
lives of the children in the neighborhood through recreation?
17) What groups of people previously listed do you trust the most? Explain why. Among
all those groups, who do you think trusts or does not trust each other? Explain why.
18) Were you a part of the group to bring recreation to the youth? What do you feel
drove the initial advocacy of getting more formal/structured recreation programs
available for the youth in the neighborhood?
19) How do you feel about there not being structured recreation available in the park to
the youth in the Glenview neighborhood? What do you think happened? What would be a
solution(s) to implementing direct recreation services to the youth?


122
community development. This approach from the parental and youth point of view would
be a target for future research and such questions will be askedwhat meanings and
opinions would they have about and what resources would they be able to contribute
within such a process of recreation?
In addition, the theoretical concepts of hope and trust are limited in scope within
the recreation and therapeutic literature. A more naturalistic investigation of these
concepts or taking a quantitative approach to applying a scale to measure involvement
within neighborhoods such as Glenview may be beneficial to developing a deeper
understanding of conditions surrounding at-risk youth. This may help to grasp a better
understanding of youth, parents, families, and neighborhoods and to help in thinking
outside of the box of researching recreation as only a product for at-risk youth. In
addition, a greater understanding of recreation as a process for community development
needs to be explored as it relates to neighborhoods and at-risk youth.


93
organize and head it up and start to pick out parents and pick out adults out of the
neighborhood that will be able to organize teams and individuals in the
neighborhood that would be good with working with kids, to tutor them in reading
and all that stuff.... Involve parents, and first establish trust. Do it informally.
Bring it through and just be a presence there. An ongoing presence is going to
build that trust.
The third area of solutions to helping the residents become invested in then-
community and their childrens lives through recreation included participants
perceptions involving collaboration, teamwork, empowerment, rapport building, and trust
as already suggested by Joseph. A1 stated:
[The residents] have to be involved in the planning and to some degree even the
implementation of it.... [In addition] not only is there the apathy, lack of
motivation and so forth, but the lack of knowing how to do it. They don't know
how to get organized. So I think what [community organization members] should
... go to the [residents] and help them get organized, rather than get organized for
them...
A1 talked further about the collaboration of residents with all the other ecological entities
that directly and indirectly affect the Glenview youth. He suggested:
I think it has to be teamwork. They all have to work together and they have to
share. They have to share the physical spaces, the parks, the schools, the churches,
the community center, the [adult day care], and so forth.... I still argue that it has
to start at the grass-roots.
Paul also suggested, I think there needed to be the ongoing collaboration with the
neighborhood, individuals, and organizations. Jack provided a solution that involved the
importance of collaboration among the various ecological agents. However, with much
insight, he also emphasized a need for the transition from outside initial leadership to
internal leadership within Glenview. He recommended:
I think sometimes it may be necessary [for the city] to take a more assertive
leadership role [at first], but if you're going to do that, I think you've got to have a
plan for transition [of leadership to the residents]. Otherwise, I don't think it will
work. I really think it's got to come, a lot of that from the neighborhood.


EXPLORING THE VOICES OF THE GLENVIEW NEIGHBORHOOD: AN
ECOLOGICAL APPROACH TO STUDYING AT-RISK YOUTH, RECREATION,
AND COMMUNITY SOCIAL ORGANIZATION
By
CARI ELAINE AUTRY
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
2003


94
As a resident mother, Mollys advice stressed the importance of finding central
parental leaders and the importance of having invested parents who know they have a
voice. She professed:
So in order for something to really connect and go smoothly, one strong parent
reaches out to other parents and makes the other parents come in and want to do
it. Its not going to work unless people are together. You have to come together
on something for something to work out, and if everybodys not together, then its
just going to fall apart. So you cant just ask for the kids youve got to get the
parents involved in the activity too because if the parents arent involved theyre
going to send their children the first night, but after a while theyre not going to
want to send them, so youve got to get them to want to come. So its not really
hard to get the parents involved, its just making it attractive to the parents, to
make them want to get up and come and do whatever it is.
Isabel, also a resident mother, emphasized the need for parents to be seen as a constant
and visible force and to be regarded as an empowered group in the community. She said,
[We need to have] more parents involved and having like a parents organization where
we all take turns to be there... and then not let anything happen without a parent being
there, from our part. In summary, a simple but powerful African proverb that was
recited by Carla will provide the culmination for the data that have been presented in this
entire chapter.
It takes a village to raise a child.


3
associated with the Glenview neighborhood (several leaders from a nearby church,
parents, and the housing authority staff) advocated for recreation programs. They
believed structured recreation could be used as a tool to help the youth counter the factors
that made them at-risk. Additional members external to Glenview (city recreation and
parks personnel, police, the neighborhood school principal, and university therapeutic
recreation faculty) were asked to provide expertise and assist in establishing such
programs. During the next year, many formal and informal meetings transpired that
involved collaboration between these members. In addition, several town hall meetings
that brought in the mayor, city commissioners, police officers in charge of the Glenview
area, and approximately 150 concerned citizens (members and leaders from local
churches, schoolteachers, Glenview residents, parents and youth, and members
mentioned above) took place.
In March 2001, the city Department of Recreation and Parks with the support of
constituents from the neighborhood proposed to the city commissioners a funding plan
for a six month recreation program at the Glenview park specifically targeted for the
youth living in the neighborhood housing authority. A budget of $30,000 was approved
for an after school program and a summer program starting in April and June,
consecutively. Since over 60 % of the approximate 100 youth living in the Glenview
neighborhood qualified for free and reduced lunch, no fee was charged to the participants
who registered for the program. The budget included fees (for snacks, supplies,
transportation to other centers/parks, etc.) for a maximum of 60 participants ages 6-12
and salaries for staff to cover a 1:15 ratio.


APPENDIX A
MAP OF GLENVIEW


43
the ultimate decision-making regarding recreation. Furthermore, while objectivity was
not always useful or even the focus for this type of research (Kraus & Allen, 1997), the
researcher knew she would be engaged in a future interviewer/interviewee relationship
with most of the group members. Thus, she contributed more fact and less opinion during
meetings or in 1:1 conversation with potential participants. Most of the time, she listened
and took notes during the public meetings and received e-mails for the next meetings or
articles related to at-risk youth and recreation. The group members knew the researchers
educational background, interest in at-risk youth and recreation, and they regarded her as
a member in the network that was part of the community organization effort. Overall, her
role as the investigator was immersed more in subjectivity than objectivity in the sense
that the subjective experience of the researcher helps her understand the realities under
study (Kraus & Allen, 1997, p. 22).
Data Collection
The interpretive or naturalistic paradigm used for this study promoted the idea
that the participants were the experts in the research project and that the researcher was
the instrument in which to gather the data that included the social realities and multiple
perspectives from the participants (Henderson, 1991). The qualitative method of active
semi-structured in-depth interviewing was used as the primary source to collect the data
for the study (Henderson, 1991; Holstein & Gubrium, 1995).
After the institutional review board approval was received from the university
(see Appendix B), a flyer asking for parental/guardian participation was placed at the
main office at the community center in the housing authority complex with permission
from the manager. However, two parents, Isabel and Carla, contacted the researcher after


104
In seeing how important social capital is to a neighborhood, it is also important to
address its link to trust. In addition, how this link internally and externally affected a
neighborhood like Glenview and how it affected a community organization effort to bring
recreation to the Glenview at-risk youth will be explored.
The Theory of Trust
In general, we are seeing a downfall within our society in that we are becoming
less and less a part of the social membership that is so engrained within our genes. While
ignoring such genes, the American culture encompasses a me instead of we and a
what can you do for me attitude. In essence, this culture facilitates the individual self
(Seligman, 1997). What we have created in our society with individualism is a lack of
preparation on how to handle such a state. Only a few have strong enough voices and in
turn, are clear about how they can individually perform as a social member. A majority of
people within our culture do not have this capability or are unaware of this voice even if
they have it. This is not a sermon to preach about how we need to move towards
socialism, but it does provide the background necessary in explaining the relationship
that trust has with social capital.
According to Seligman (1997), trust is rooted in social interaction. In addition, it
exists within neighborhoods that have high levels of social capital (Putnam, 2000;
Sampson, 2001). Simply, this relationship can be reversed. When social interaction is
weak and social capital is low, a lower degree of trust exists within a neighborhood. But
this relationship is more complicated and intermittent links exist within the social-trust
path.


113
for the parents. As a result, the apathy may decrease towards the recreation program and
ultimately towards their children. The parent would then have the knowledge and
planning skills to be able to build personal and higher hope and to be a positive role
model for his/her child. In turn, through parental influence in goal setting and planning,
the child could be more empowered to set realistic goals and plan to meet these goals and
also be a child of higher hope in line with the ideas of Rodrigues-Hanley and Snyder
(2000).
In this discussion on hope, it was noted that it was necessary for the parent to
become a positive role model in his/her childs life to help reduce risk. More so, within
community-based programs that directly involve the parents in decision making, goal
setting, planning, and implementation, these parents may have the opportunity to
experience hope as a result of such involvement. In addition, the youth could also be
exposed to more stability through the use of a surrogate familial system as well with
other positive role models. And the means for this to happen could be through the use of
recreation as an anchor within the neighborhood.
Jack, Suzie, and Joseph suggested that a stable paid or even informal presence of
neighborhood leaders providing recreation were necessary in the park. These leaders
could serve as role models and stability for the Glenview youththey ultimately could
provide hope. This presence could also be a source of stability as well as hope for the
adults and parents.
A1 suggested that all types of recreation should be provided in the park for
everyone in the neighborhoodfor adults, youth, and the families. Jack proposed starting
off slowly with neighborhood events. These anchors from recreation, whether they are


38
inch catchment sides made out of the same material. Again, it hangs at the comers by a
huge metal chain that attached to the top bar. There is left over chain lying on the floor of
the swing. Both swings hang about two feet above the sand. (As you have returned to
visit the playground over the past year, you notice that the yellow pouched swing is
slowly being dismantled. One comer is dragging the sand. The next time the canvas is
shredded. It is presently nonexistent. There is no canvas, not even the chains are left. Just
an empty space exists beside the huge metal swing.)
Except for the accessible sign to the restrooms and parking signs, the area in the
sand is the only portion of the whole playground that is formally designated for those
with disabilities. Although it is the only accessible playground in the city, of all the times
you have been to visit, there have never been any children with visible signs of
disabilities playing. However, you have noticed that the octopus-castle is a perfect spot
for the children who visit from the neighborhood to zoom around on their bikes and other
children with no visible signs of disabilities seem to enjoy romping around in the maze of
it all.
You decide to walk around through the rest of the park and head back to the front
entranceway. You walk to a wooden shelter that has a concrete floor. Four wooden picnic
tables reside under the shelter and you can tell they have been used. Bits of food have
been left for the squirrels and birds to eat and they are covered with graffiti and carvings
from visitors marking their existence. You notice the shelter is landscaped with pine bark,
small shrubs and ground covering. You see that a few paths have been trampled with
people wanting to take short cuts to the rest of the park areas. As you look closer at the
pine bark, your eyes adjust to detecting objects that should remain foreign to a


36
You walk further down the road, over another speed hump and notice more of the
same houses on the right and on the left you come to another apartment complex. The
buildings are not the same architecture as the others, but they are painted the same pale
yellow with brown trim. The front yards are not as exposed to the street; however you do
notice down one of the side streets that winds through the complex, a huge pile of trash
almost blocking 1/3 of its access. You cannot make out what it consists of... you just
know it has been there for a while because it has that settled, expanded look from age
and rain. Several residents walk by it, but do not look at it the way you do. Again, you
wonder if it has become an inherent part of the scenery.
At the end of the street two yards in front of you, a parking lot comes into view.
The street cuts a hard turn to the right, but you walk straight into the spacious lot that is
filled with only four cars. As you return to observe other times, the average of cars does
not increase by more than two. There are times when the 30 car capacity lot is empty.
You turn right and walk past empty spaces designated with white lines. To your left there
are five spaces marked for handicapped parking. To your right the street that you were
on continues past more houses and a big white church 50 yards down. As you are
halfway in the parking lot, you turn left into the entranceway of Glenview park.
As you pass under a big arching sign 30 feet above you announcing the name of
the park in 1 foot font letters, you come upon a 3-foot high brick wall to the right of you
that encircles an ornamental tree and a 3 x 3-foot sign to the front-left of you that reads at
eye level:
This park was planned and implemented by the [City] Club of [College] City
primarily to serve the physically impaired children and challenge them to develop
their physical skills to their maximum potential. Children of all abilities are
encouraged to use these facilities and to interact with those who might be limited


131
14) How do you feel recreation can help improve the lives of the children in the
neighborhood?
15) How do you feel recreation can help improve the neighborhood?
Roles and Collaboration
The next set of questions involves different groups of people I am interviewing that were
part of the effort to bring recreation to the youth in the neighborhoodpeople from the
[name] church, police officers, school principal, neighborhood residents, recreation
personnel, university personnel, former mayor and commissioner, and parents.
16) What roles and responsibilities do the people who live in the neighborhood have in
providing recreation for the youth? What roles and responsibilities do the parents have?
17) What roles and responsibilities does the recreation department have in providing
recreation for the youth in the neighborhood? What roles and responsibilities do the other
groups have in providing recreation for the youth in the neighborhood?
18) What do you see your role as in helping to improve the Glenview neighborhood?...
through recreation? ... with others?
19) What groups of people previously listed do you trust the most? Explain why. Do you
think that trust exists between members of the groups who were associated with getting a
recreation program for the youth in this neighborhood? Among all those groups, who do
you think trusts or does not trust each other? Explain why.
20) With whom do you see yourself collaborating with to help improve the lives of the
children in the neighborhood through recreation?
21) Were you a part of the group to bring recreation to the youth? What do you feel
drove the initial advocacy of getting more formal/structured recreation programs
available for the youth in the neighborhood?
22) How do you feel about there not being structured recreation available in the park to
the youth in the Glenview neighborhood? What do you think happened? What would be a
solution(s) to implementing direct recreation services to the youth?


133
Connell, J. & Kubisch, A. C. (2001). Community approaches to improving outcomes for
urban children, youth, and families: Current trends and future directions. In A.
Booth, & A. C. Crouter (Eds ), Does it take a village? (pp. 177-201). Mahwah,
NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Cullen, F. T., & Wright, J. P. (1997). Liberating the anomie-strain paradigm: Implications
from social support theory. In N. Passas & R. Agnew (Eds), The future of anomie
theory (pp. 187-206). Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press.
Devine, M. A., & Wilhite, B. (1999). Theory application in therapeutic recreation
practice and research. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 33, 29-45.
Farmer, J. E. (1997). Epilogue: An ecological systems approach to childhood traumatic
brain injury. In E. D. Bigler, E. Clark, & J. E. Farmer (Eds ), Childhood traumatic
brain injury: Diagnosis, assessment, and intervention. Austin, TX: PRO-ED.
Foster-Fishman, P. G, Salem, D. A., Allen, N. E., & Fahrbach, K. (1999). Ecological
factors impacting provider attitudes towards human service delivery reform.
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Glaser, B. G. & Strauss, A. L. (1999). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for
qualitative research. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.
Godbey, G. (1998). Toward another century of parks and recreation. Americas Public
Parks: A Centennial Celebration, 29-33.
Gordon E. & Yowell, C. (1994). Cultural dissonance as a risk factor in the development
of students. In R. Rossi (Ed ), Schools and students at risk (pp. 51-69). New York:
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Passas & R. Agnew (Eds), The future of anomie theory (pp. 124-141). Boston,
MA: Northeastern University Press.
Henderson, K. A. (1991). Dimensions of choice: A qualitative approach to recreation,
parks, and leisure research. State College, PA: Venture Publishing, Inc.
Henderson K. A., Bedini, L. A., Hecht, L., & Schuler, R. (1995). Women with physical
disabilities and the negotiation of leisure constraints. Journal of Leisure Studies,
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Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.


89
towe can be a resource but its got to come from the neighborhood and its not
there. I never got that sense. Never did. Never did.
He further explained, Parentsthey never bought in. They never were there. They didn't
go to any of the association meetings.... They weren't there. That whole link was
missing. Theyve got to be a partner. Sallie, who was employed in the city parks and
recreation department recalled:
This call for programming was not from the residents, it was from a group who
represented the residents.... I never heard anything from the parents in the
[Glenview] neighborhood that surrounds the park. So, even through this whole
process, I never had parents calling me and saying I really want my kid enrolled
in this program and tell us about the program, it just wasn't there.
Sallie, later concluded in her interview that the relationships which formed between the
external groups of the Glenview neighborhood during the community organization effort
were forced and as a result, the most important and necessary internal relationship with
the residents was neglected. With similar sentiment from the point of view of the church,
Joe recalled:
[The parents] didnt come and they didnt sign up and what little program we
were able to force the citys hand and make them do, fizzled and died on the
launch pad because we didnt get the parental involvement.
He then was asked if he thought the parents in that neighborhood were informed about
the program? He answered, No, no I do not. Al, a professor at the local university who
has studied, taught, and worked in the field of therapeutic recreation for over 35 years,
also declared:
[The residents] have to be involved. I think you're making a very big mistake if
you just plan this program and you take it in and you deliver it. That would be like
someone delivering pizza that you didn't order. You might eat it if you're really
hungry but it's a lot better if you're involved in deciding what kind of pizza it is.
... I think that the real true residents of the neighborhood should have been
involved and they werentthey weren't because they weren 7 asked


18
affects the behaviors and beliefs of that person. As a result, there is not just one
subsystem where the interaction with one environment takes precedence over another.
Within the ecological system one person does not own a disturbance/disability/
condition and no one is blamed for it (Paul & Epanchin, 1991).
At-Risk Youth and the Environment
In providing a definition of at-risk youth Gordon and Yowell (1994) explained:
At-risk status is a function of the inappropriateness of developmental
environments to meet the needs of the person, and that a focus on these deficient
environments may be more productive than a focus on the characteristics of the
persons. We can then define at-risk as referring to a category of persons whose
personal characteristics, conditions of life, situational circumstances, and
interactions with each other make it likely that their development and/or
education will be less than optimal, (p. 53)
This definition places an emphasis on the person-environmental interaction and in order
to prevent failure for those who are at-risk, all parts of this person-context system must be
included within such preventative measures (Kronick, 1997).
Ecological analysis and prevention
The ecological paradigm can provide a more comprehensive approach to studying
at-risk youth and assumes that individual attitudes and behaviors are influenced by the
settings in which they live and play (Bronfrenbrenner, 1979; Foster-Fishman, Salem,
Allen, & Fahbarch, 1999; Siedman, Chesir-Teran, Friedman, Yoshikawa, Allen, &
Roberts, 1999). Repucci (1987) reported a need for multi-level ecological analysis of
issues that impact on children and families in order to increase the likelihood that
effective preventative interventions can be mounted (p.3). In his evaluation of using
organized sport as a vehicle for prevention of at-risk behaviors in youth, he supports the
use of an ecological approach to guide research in this area. An ecological approach to


37
by physical impairments. In all activities show respect and care for others and for
the equipment which was generously provided by the citizens, businesses, and
organizations of [City].
You are now aware a section of the park is an accessible playground, but wonder why the
words embedded within the sign are not people-first for it was built recently after such
political correctness was established.
After you read the sign, you look to your left and read another sign (with the same
type of language) that introduces an open area of sand the size of a basketball court.
Surrounding this sand area is a sidewalk that winds up and down like a roller coaster on
one side and lies flat for the rest of the circumference. To the right of the sign is a 4 x 4
foot black paved ramp that connects to the sidewalk... it is meant to lead a wheelchair
into the sea of sand? Within this large area of sand stands a huge live oak tree, one
accessible swing set, one regular swing set with two swings, and a huge blue and
orange jungle gym (JG) that has seemingly complex mechanisms of slides, ramps, and
shelters as extensions. You conclude that it looks like a combination of a big octopus and
a castle all in one. On the other side of the JG you see two wooden picnic tables and two
benches lining the sidewalk on the other side. One large trashcan sits next to a picnic
table. It is full of trash and smells of a strong odor almost like fish.
You return your view to the accessible playground and notice that two ramps
connect the JG to the sidewalk and are approximately 6 feet long. One is labeled with a
small rusted sign stuck in the sand as an entrance and the other labeled the same way as
an exit. The accessible swing set has two types of swings. One is a 4 x 3-foot long pouch
made out of yellow canvas and is connected at the corners by a thick chain that attaches
to the top bar of the swing set. The other is made out of 5 x 4-foot metal flooring with 6-


This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the College of Health
and Human Performance and to the Graduate School and was accepted as partial
fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
August 2003
Dean, Graduate School


3
associated with the Glenview neighborhood (several leaders from a nearby church,
parents, and the housing authority staff) advocated for recreation programs. They
believed structured recreation could be used as a tool to help the youth counter the factors
that made them at-risk. Additional members external to Glenview (city recreation and
parks personnel, police, the neighborhood school principal, and university therapeutic
recreation faculty) were asked to provide expertise and assist in establishing such
programs. During the next year, many formal and informal meetings transpired that
involved collaboration between these members. In addition, several town hall meetings
that brought in the mayor, city commissioners, police officers in charge of the Glenview
area, and approximately 150 concerned citizens (members and leaders from local
churches, schoolteachers, Glenview residents, parents and youth, and members
mentioned above) took place.
In March 2001, the city Department of Recreation and Parks with the support of
constituents from the neighborhood proposed to the city commissioners a funding plan
for a six month recreation program at the Glenview park specifically targeted for the
youth living in the neighborhood housing authority. A budget of $30,000 was approved
for an after school program and a summer program starting in April and June,
consecutively. Since over 60 % of the approximate 100 youth living in the Glenview
neighborhood qualified for free and reduced lunch, no fee was charged to the participants
who registered for the program. The budget included fees (for snacks, supplies,
transportation to other centers/parks, etc.) for a maximum of 60 participants ages 6-12
and salaries for staff to cover a 1:15 ratio.


UNIVERSITY OF
FLORIDA
Institutional Review Board
8-Oct-2002
Ms Cari E. Autry
PO Box 118208
Campus
C. Michael Levy, Chair cj*l/-p
University of Florida
Institutional Review Board
Approval of Protocol #2002-U-769
Exploring the Voices of the Glenview Neighborhood: An Ecological Approach to Studying At-
Risk Youth, Recreation, and Community Social Organization
Varnes Scholarship
1 am pleased to advise you that the University of Florida Institutional Review Board has recommended approval
of this protocol. Based on its review, the UFRB determined that this research presents no more than minimal
risk to participants. Given your protocol, it is essential that you obtain signed documentation of informed
consent from the parent or legal guardian of each participant. When it is feasible, you should obtain signatures
from both parents. Enclosed is the dated, IRB-approved informed consent to be used when recruiting
participants for the research.
If you wish to make any changes to this protocol, including the need to increase the number of participants
authorized, you must disclose your plans before you implement them so that the Board can assess their impact
on your protocol. In addition, you must report to the Board any unexpected complications that affect your
participants.
If you have not completed this protocol by 25-Sep-2003, please telephone our office (392-0433), and we will
discuss the renewal process with you.
It is important that you keep your Department Chair informed about the status of this research protocol.
DATE:
TO:
FROM:
SUBJECT:
TITLE:
SPONSOR
98A Psychology Bldg.
PO Box 112250
Gainesville, FL 32611-2250
Phone: (352) 392-0433
Fax: (352) 392-9234
E-mail: irb2@ufl.edu
http://rgp.u fl.edu/irb/irb02
CML:dl/jw
cc: Vice President for Research
Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Institution


53
Many participants voiced their perceptions on how the Glenview neighborhood
was isolated, disconnected, and lacked unity. Al, a professor at the local university who
began to consult with the community organization group after its initiation, stated:
[The people in Glenview] seem so isolated from the environment around them. So
isolated.... They're kind of a neglected group of people.... I guess it wouldn't
really be a neighborhood then, because it does not seem to me that the people in
the neighborhood really come together and work together to improve the
neighborhood. There's not much common unity in the community.
Later he explained:
I see a lot of houses and streets and nobody outside.... You don't see people
outside in their yard. You don't see people strolling their children on the
sidewalks. You don't see people standing out talking, neighbors talking. You don't
see people.
Grandma, a retired mental health technician who was involved with the local church that
initiated the community organization effort, explained:
Actually the neighborhood is surrounded by other nice neighborhoods. It's kind of
in the center. It's like all this neighborhoods, and big expensive homes built
around it, then it's a little intermediate here, and then [Glenview is] this little
group here
Elizabeth, a mother of a two-year old son who had lived in the housing authority complex
for only three months, already had gained a sense of loss within her community. She
professed, I miss having the community, you know, in unity, in tun, looking out for the
kids and having fiin ourselves with the children. Sallie, a current employee of the city
who was in the parks and recreation department at the time of the organization effort,
described Glenview as ill-defined, isolated, contained, actually hidden is probably the
best... the hidden neighborhood.


51
disassembled the offering of structured recreation programs within the neighborhood for
the resident at-risk youth.
An important factor must be emphasized and preface the discussion of the four
themes. In Chapter One, it was stated that the current study was not about the recreation
program that was provided to the youth of Glenview. This statement cannot be truer after
reviewing the participants collective perceptions surrounding the phenomenon of the
construction and disintegration of the program. The stronger themes that emerged did not
focus on programmatic ideals. However, some of the interview questions asked for
answers about the program and why participants thought it did not continue. For
example, some of the participants answered that a facility to house the recreation program
in the park was needed, that a fair disciplinary process was not in place for the youth who
were not used to rules in the park, that the wrong age group was targeted, and/or that the
problem was that the kids simply stopped coming and money should be spent on other
constituents in the city that did want a program. While all these statements are credible
and important, the phenomenon of there not being a program after so many people
worked on bringing one to the Glenview youth will be directed by a bigger picture that
steps outside the box of the program, itself. This picture will be illustrated by and
amassed from the four themes that were derived from the perceptions of the ecological
agents who directly and indirectly affected the at-risk youth in the community
organization effort.
Neighborhood Environment
Intricacies and distinct characteristics of the neighborhood environment prevailed
throughout the participants interviews and as a result, sub-themes emerged within this


CHAPTER 5
DISCUSSION
The current study included 21 participants who two years ago began to directly
and indirectly affect the youth of the Glenview neighborhood by engaging in a
community organization effort to establish structured recreation programs in the local
park specifically for these youth. Although crime was reported to decrease in the
neighborhood with the presence of the program in the park and the youth began to feel
newfound ownership of a park that was in their neighborhood, unfortunately, the
existence of the program was short-lived.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the successes and challenges within
this phenomenon from the viewpoint of the participants and focused on issues
encompassing recreation, the Glenview neighborhood and park, the resident youth and
parents, and the collaboration surrounding the different groups that were involved in the
effort. As a result of exploring these ecological voices that surrounded the youth, four
major themes were constructed from the data. Within these four themes, through the
perceptions of the participants, the neighborhood environment in which the youth were
exposed was described, the embedded characteristics of mistrust and hopelessness within
the parents and youth of Glenview were addressed, the impact of these characteristics on
the youth was illustrated through descriptors of the behaviors and attitudes of the parents,
and lastly, the impact that parents have on community organization was established.
96


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45
implemented recreation program, and notes from public informal and formal meetings
regarding the advocacy of the recreation program for the youth.
The primary technique in the data collection was most importantly centered on the
active semi-structured in-depth interview. For, the goal of this research project was to
find out how the participants in their own words viewed at-risk youth and to find out
what their perceptions of the needs, concerns, and desires that surrounded this population
were in reference to recreation and collaboration between the different ecological agents.
The interview allows for those people being studied to ascribe their own words and
meanings to situations (Henderson, 1991, p. 27). According to Holstein and Gubrium
(1995), active interviewers can enrich their research and incorporate indigenous resources
and perspectives by tying in his/her background knowledge. This knowledge can be an
invaluable resource for assisting respondents to explore and describe their circumstances,
actions, and feelings. Indeed citing shared experience is often a useful way of providing
concrete referents on which inquiries and answers can focus (p. 45). Holstein and
Gubrium (1995) also regard the experience of interviewing as producing background
knowledge itself and while information shared between interviews should be limited,
active interviewing takes advantage of the growing stockpile of background knowledge
that the interviewer collects in prior interviews to pose concrete questions and explore
facets of respondents circumstances that would not otherwise be probed (p. 46).
Overall, prior experience can be a resource for both researcher and participant and helps
to bridge the concrete with the abstract in that the interviewer can use such circumstances
to link his/her familiarity with conceptual issues and questions with the respondents
experience and concrete attachment to their own narratives (1995).


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Rodreguez-Hanley, A., & Snyder, C. R. (2000). The demise of hope: On losing positive
thinking. In C.R. Snyder (Ed.), Handbook of hope: Theory, measures, and
applications (pp. 39-54). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Ross, C. E. & Jang, S. J. (2000). Neighborhood disorder, fear, and mistrust: The
buffering role of social ties with neighbors. American Journal of Community
Psychology, 28, 401-420.
Rossenfeld, R, & Messner, S. F. (1997). Markets, morality, and institutional-anomie
theory of crime. In N. Passas & R. Agnew (Eds), The future of anomie theory
(pp. 207-224). Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press.
Rubin, H. J. & Rubin, I. S. (2001). Community organizing and development. (3rd ed ).
Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Sampson, R. J. (2001). How do communities undergrid or undermine human
development? Relevant contexts and social mechanisms. In A. Booth, & A. C.
Crouter (Eds ), Does it take a village? (pp. 3-30). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates.
Sampson, R. J. & Morenoff, J. D. (1997). Ecological perspectives on the neighborhood
context of urban poverty: Past and present. In J. Brooks-Gunn, G. J. Duncan, & J.
L. Aber (Eds ), Neighborhood Poverty: Vol. 2. Policy implications in studying
neighborhoods (pp. 1-22). New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.
Seligman, A. B. (1997). The problem of trust. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Siedman, E., Chesir-Teran, D., Friedman, J. L., Yoshikawa, H. Allen, L., & Roberts, A.
(1999). The risk and protective functions of perceived family and peer
microsystems among urban adolescents in poverty. American Journal of
Community Psychology, 27, 211-237.
Simeonsson, R J. (1994). Risk, resilience, and prevention: Promoting the well-being of
all children. Baltimore, MD: Paul. H. Brooks Publishing.
Small, S., & Supple, A. (2001). Communities as systems: Is a community more than the
sum of its parts? In A. Booth, & A. C. Crouter (Eds ), Does it take a village?
(pp. 162-174). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Snyder, C. R. (2000). Hypothesis: There is hope In C.R. Snyder (Ed ), Handbook of
hope: Theory, measures, and applications (pp. 3-21). San Diego, CA: Academic
Press.


42
around the apartment and art on their refrigerators from their children. While they
interviewed, their children were either in their room with computer games, right outside
the door playing with other children, or listening to their mother being interviewed.
The other participants, the external members in the study ranged in backgrounds
and their jobs will not be described here so as to remain as confidential as possible in
their identification. A majority of the members (Bilobar, Joe, Jeff, Grandma, Jake,
Michael, Barbara, Paul, William, and Joseph) had grown up or lived in the city for at
least 20 years. Others (Al, Suzie, Amanda, Sallie, and Iris) had moved to the city at least
seven years ago. Jack, who grew up and lived in the city, had recently moved within the
past year to another recreation department.
Procedure
As previously stated, three years prior to the study, the researcher began to attend
formal and informal meetings as part of the community organization effort that focused
on bringing recreation to the Glenview youth. This involvement lends itself to explaining
the researchers role in the study. As a member of the university group, the primary role
for such personnel was to be a consultant during the community organization effort and
we strategically remained a neutral entity when some of the other groups found
themselves at odds. Although, the city recreation department made the ultimate decision
and/or was persuaded by other groups to provide programs for middle-school age youth
instead of elementary age children, we did provide advice for a needs assessment and for
the contents and issues related to the summer program. The university group was an
important layer in the community organization effort; however, it was secondary and
more supportive to all members rather than primary, politically action-oriented, or part of


120
clients or at-risk youth can voice their voices and become engaged in a democratic
process with other social actors from a variety of ecological systems. In addition, they
could learn from the other actors and become empowered to be able to take control over
their life and change maladaptive behaviors towards more of the social norm.
Another practical implication for therapeutic recreation that needs to be discussed
is the difference between recreation as a means for community development and
recreation as a community-based service. Pedlar (1996) argued that just because
recreation and therapeutic recreation services are in the community, does not mean that
they are operating out of the community development paradigm. A common
characteristic within the community-based service paradigm is that the therapist or
practitioner remains the expert (Pedlar, 1996). In addition, within such a paradigm, the
number of clients required to run the program, the outcome measures, and cost
effectiveness/reimbursement issues can take precedence over the democratic process,
sharing, empowerment, and decision-making capabilities of the people who are receiving
such services.
Furthermore, it can be argued with this comparison in mind, that therapeutic
recreation (TR) professionals, who do work in community-based settings, would be able
to adapt and shift quite easily to the community development paradigm. In academia,
they are already trained in how to look at recreation as a process, and self-determination
and empowerment for clients are prominent foundations of the profession. However, a
concern that relates to the advocacy for community development with TR clients in the
community, especially with at-risk youth, is that of the outcome/product vs. process
characteristic that is necessary for community development. Although we do emphasize


117
Hutchinson and Nogradi (1996) also advocated that recreation could be used as a hook
to get citizens involved into the community development process because people tend to
feel more comfortable in such an atmosphere. Then if more social issues wanted to be
addressed, the practitioner could work with the community on other pressing issues.
Overall, recreation is seen as a means to an end for community development and
empowerment for the community members involved. Reid and Druenen (1996), also
regarded leisure as a safe and comfortable context where marginalized individuals and
groups feel the most comfortable in expressing their thoughts as citizens. The authors
explained:
Leisure, when defined as a transformational mechanism, provides the forum,
which encourages people to redefine themselves and their community through the
creation of activity, which focuses on ameliorating a negative individual or
societal condition or through self-development or community betterment
However, leisure activity pursued as a mechanism for social and individual
transformation is a means to an end and not an end in itself. In other words,
leisure is the activity through which emancipation and reflection occurs, leading
to individual and community development, (p. 48)
Recreation and leisure as a context for social transformation for community
development would have an effect on the type of roles the practitioner would take on
with this process. Hutchinson and Nogradi (1996) investigated community development
in relation to leisure and recreation settings. Their findings revealed that practitioners
carried out more proactive rather than reactive roles, which included the following:
research/reconnaissance, education, group development, group facilitation, and advocacy.
In addition, in order for the practitioner to embrace community development and view
recreation as praxis rather than product, he/she needs to become a reflective-practitioner.


67
benefits as professed by other participants (in addition to Suzie) regarding the actual
summer recreation program will be provided. Joe observed:
We saw marked improvement and there was less of the negative crowd hanging
out. The kids were able to utilize the facilities of the park in a positive way under
some good supervision and I think it was just a very positive thing.
He and others also commented on the deterrent on crime that the program provided. He
further stated:
Well, even though the limited time that [the recreation program was] in that
neighborhood, we saw improvement. The Police Department reported to us that
the incidents of crime declined, that drug trafficking was less evident, just in the
little short time that we were there in that one summer. So I think it has an
immediate impact on the neighborhood.
Amanda also was aware there was a decrease in crime in the area when the program was
there on a daily basis for those hours, so that was a positive. As Suzie passionately
talked about the summer recreation program she added, The crime did decrease some, so
if that's not a success stoiy I don't know what is.
Additional perceptions from the participants included how a recreation program
with the youth could help the families, neighborhood, and society. In regards to families,
participants expressed the benefits of recreation to the children and parents. From
experience, Molly sincerely felt:
It brings you and your child closer together. Its like I have the best mommy
because we always go do this, and we always go do that. If youre not doing
anything and you dont have any recreation activities and sit home everyday, then
your child is all bored and rebellious.... You make your child have fun and give
her activities. Theres different things going on and they know they get to go do
these type of things. Sometimes it makes them behave better.
Jeff expressed, It would help their parents because [the kids] wouldn't be so crabby
when they come home. It would help the overall quality of life in their home. Bilobar
felt that if the recreation department provides positive role models... and an infectious


52
context of the environment surrounding the Glenview youth. The sub-themes were
constructed in direct or indirect relation to the youth and revealed similar and/or varying
perceptions of neighborhood conditions between the interviewees. They included a)
meaning of neighborhood: meaning of Glenview, b) the wall of Glenview, c) a park in
a neighborhood vs. a neighborhood park, and d) recreation as a means
Meaning of Neighborhood: Meaning of Glenview
A common perception among the participants in the study focused on the isolation, lack
of unity, impoverished nature, criminal/deviant influences, and safety issues within the
Glenview neighborhood. Although, the youth were not always mentioned directly in their
statements within this sub-theme, these meanings have direct effects on the youth and
make them at-risk.
Prior to presenting the perceptions that support these characteristics, a summary
of how the participants defined a neighborhood be will be addressed. When asked to give
a definition of a neighborhood, common answers included that a neighborhood is a place
where people live and play together, where they share, help each other, and feel safe,
where people have a sense of responsibility for each other and pride in the neighborhood,
where people have a vested interest in a specific geographic area even if it is a series of
streets or a subdivision, and where people have similar values and look to each other for
support. Whether the reader believes that these descriptions are ideal or not for todays
neighborhoods in our entire society, it was clear that the participants in this study
perceived them important for a neighborhood and did not view Glenview as adhering to
such definitions.


34
signs of cracking from old age. Brush trees grow along the sides and as you look to your
left you see an overturned grocery store cart lying on the pavement. It reveals signs of
being left out in the rain too long. You walk approximately 6 more yards until you reach
12th street. To your left is a sign for the city bus stop. You look back at the fencethe
overlapped gap is less visible further away perhaps to trick someone into not noticing that
it is there in the first place.
You turn left walking north on the street. It is lined with tall trees whose branches
occasionally hang over to try to form an archway. Although, you do not see many cars on
this side road, you walk over a speed hump and see another straight ahead. As you walk
away from the alley, you notice rows of houses to your right. They continue for two
blocks down a side road that faces east. Chain link fences surround most of them and
while some have kept lawns and landscape, a few have tall grass and a car in the yard that
may not have been driven on a highway in years. While some houses have chipped paint
on the exterior and rotting boards on the porch and underside, others look more recently
painted. Some colors are earth-toned and neutral, some are bright aqua and pink, and
some are pastels of yellow, pink or blue. You also notice the windows on most of the
houses are covered on the outside by black metal bars You are reminded again of the
black fence back at the housing project. You visualize a jail cell and you wonder if the
true purpose of the bars is to keep strangers out. Or is it to keep the residents in?
You walk a few more yards and notice apartments to your left. There are three
buildings each housing two single floor apartments. They are pale yellow with dark
brown trim. There are no flowers or shrubs, but sun baked toys are scattered in front of


102
when the demands of one differs and contradicts another, inconsistencies,
miscommunication, mistrust, hopelessness, and overall conflict may arise within and
between such social institutions (1997).
Implications for Glenview
In relation to the Glenview neighborhood and the community organization effort
to bring recreation to the resident youth, institutional-anomie theory has direct
implications. The results and discussion provide the reality that social capital does not
exist within Glenview itself and conflict existed within and between the various groups
involved in the community organization effort, most importantly the parents. The
participants in the study perceived the parents of Glenview, as a whole, to not be engaged
with their children, to not trust any of the other members of the community organization
effort or other parents in Glenview, and as a whole, did not have the desire to pursue nor
were they offered in-depth social network, communication, or support systems
surrounding this social institution of family, most specifically within the context and link
to recreation. In addition, lack of trust and conflict was strong between some of the other
members of the community organization effort, including the church, recreation, school,
political system, and neighborhood.
To decrease such institutional-anomie, these social institutions need to come
together and reduce the conflict between them, but more specifically to build trust and
develop positive relationships with the parents. The parental involvement is the key
ingredient and, as stated earlier, parents are the link to developing human capital within
their children (the at-risk youth) with the help of other institutions. A grass-roots effort
accompanied with characteristics of social capital is needed to build the Glenview


58
includes the zone encompassing Glenview, stated that the rod-iron fence was about a
$180,000 project that actually was paid for in large by the Federal Government. He
further explained that it's not necessarily to keep the [Glenview HAC] people from
pilfering surrounding neighbors as much as it probably is to keep the apartment complex
contained from those that may want to come in to do illegal activity. Jake also explained
that the fence helps ebb the flow of criminals from the complex into the neighborhood.
He further stated:
They raised the [concrete] wall another three feet, because they would jump the
wall... right on top of it and into the neighborhood. So they raised that up three
feet and its a nine-foot [rod-iron fence] so you need two people to get to the top
of it now.
Joseph who is twenty years old and a resident all his life of the older housing area of
Glenview, also stated, I guess it's the effective strategy of the police department to round
up, I mean, any suspected criminals. In the same sentiment, Molly a resident of the
housing authority for five years and mother of four and two year old daughters also
explained:
They put the fence up to make it harder to escape the police. That's what they put
it up for, and to make it where you have only one way in and one way out, so it's
easier to catch the bad person.
While previous comments from participants focused on the policing nature of the
fence, other perceptions targeted on the sense of containment and potential psychosocial
effects of its presence on the neighborhood residents. William, the principal of a local
elementary school one-mile down the street, thought the wall meant a way to contain, if
you will, that low housing development there. Al, a professor in a human service field
for over 30 years, surmised a negative societal repercussion of the wall:


44
two church participants in the study relayed messages to them about the study. Overall,
the first direct contact with the researcher involved the parents calling her on the phone
and all other participants were contacted by phone or through e-mail as she already had
their contact information as a result of networking and attending meetings with such
community organization members. During this initial contact, the studys purpose and
method of interviewing were explained and an informal verbal informed consent was
determined. As all the interviews were conducted face-to-face, during the day of the
interview a formal documented informed consent was gathered from each interviewee
and all participants consented verbally and in writing to have their interview audio-
recorded. Each interview was transcribed by a professional word processor who declared
and signed a document of confidentiality.
The length of the interviews varied from one and half-hours to four hours and the
average length among all 21 interviews was two hours. A majority of the interviews took
place at the participants work or home and two were conducted in the researchers
office. Two interviews were completed in two meetings while the rest of the interviews
were conducted within one meeting. After the interview, the participants were offered
fifteen-dollar gift certificates to an unnamed store for compensation of their time.
Data triangulation using secondary methods of data collection was used to clarify
information and to enhance the primary data collected from the interviews (Henderson,
1991). These data were collected by taking notes while observing behavior and nonverbal
cues during the interview, transcribing audio-tapes, reviewing local newspaper articles
about the park, reviewing the city parks and recreation documents concerning the


54
Other participants recognized its isolation, but also talked about Glenviews
impoverished nature, criminal/deviant influences, and issues concerning safety. For
example, Jack, also a former employee of the city parks and recreation department stated:
[Glenview] is a community that really is seeking an identity, doesn't really have
one. I think for me, it is a community that is on the lower side of the economic
scale that is facing a lot of challenges economically. I think there's also challenges
based on that neighborhood in terms of family structure.... I think the
neighborhood is dealing with a lot of difficult issues, not just economically, you
know, in terms of crime, in terms of vandalism, in terms of any sense of unity.
Another mother, Carla, who also lives in the housing authority complex, stated, I think
its just a place where people live and try to make it. You know, just try to survive with
the income that they have, but later explained that her son did not like living there
because there are mean people.
Bilobar, Joe, and Jeff, three leaders within the church who initiated the
community organization effort, all explained that Glenview was the nearest neighborhood
to them (the church) that was in need and they felt they had a responsibility to address
those needs. In addition, they all were educated about and in their interviews cited
statistics for the Glenview area that involved its low economic status, drug trafficking,
and overall criminal activity. Paul, a former city commissioner who was incumbent
during the initial community organization effort, remembered that Glenview had
experienced a murder, shootings, and some crack house [activity],.. that were brought to
the attention of the police and the city commission while he was in office.
In relation to the neighborhood and its surrounding areas, the participants were
asked in their interviews where the resident youth and families go to and/or play safely.
They talked about the lack of safety in Glenview and recognized a few places (school, the


75
this feeds the unruliness. I think this feeds the discipline problems in the school. I think
this feeds into the truancy .
After there was disbandment of the recreation program, Bilobar professed that it
fed the hopelessness. He was quite aware that hopelessness already existed and
swarmed within the Glenview neighborhood. The following are perceptions from other
participants about the residents, specifically the parents, in the Glenview neighborhood
(primarily the Glenview HAC) regarding hopelessness and the effects of it on their
children. Jeff stated, I think the larger problems that are [in Glenview] are conditions of
hopelessness and despair and they have to be addressed. Isabel, who had recently almost
moved with her children to the homeless shelter in fear of their safety at the Glenview
HAC (until she was moved to a front apartment), wavered between the use of we and
they in talking about the mothers. She recited:
Remember these are really mothers that, they are so overwhelmed. They have lost
hope. They cant see that there isif we voice our voice, if we letif we speak
our feelings and the way things are, for us to be heard, our voice and that that is
very important. They dontit seems to me like they dont believe that can
happen.
Joseph who volunteers with the children in Glenview HAC on weekends, also provided
such sentiments about the mothers. He explained, They're just unaware of their kind of
voice, the voice of a community speaking out, and unmotivated and different things like
that. Jake, a police officer who patrols the area felt the mothers were in despair
because I think of the situation they're already in. It's like no one likes me, no one loves
me anyway except the crack head dealer/boyfriend I have. They don't know anything
better.


106
with physical and psychosocial barriers. Furthermore, the parents isolated themselves,
they were not involved with their children, they were not involved with the recreation for
their children, they did not feel they had a voice where they live, and they were left out of
the community organization effort. Above all, the participants including the resident
mothers did not trust anyone or only trusted a few family members close to them.
Because of this isolation within a variety of social institutions (i.e. family, law,
neighborhood, recreation, and school), there were no boundaries of what social roles the
residents played and the expectations were more open and less limited in what behaviors
would be performed. From the perspective of participants, including the mothers
themselves, they observed the inability of parents in Glenview to take on normative roles
within the social institutions of family, neighborhood, law, school, recreation, and
society. The neighborhood conditions influenced a lack of communication between
parents as well as between members of the community organization effort. And as a
result of this lack of communication, the members did not negotiate their role
performances. Members did not really know what to expect from each other nor was
there a clear awareness of their own role. According to Seligman, (1997), with such a
situation, there is a great need for trust in order to negotiate such role performances, and
as constructed from the data, the trust was not there from parents because
communication, teaching, or negotiation of roles was not established on either end And
this familiarity and trust did not exist between key groups within the community
organization effort. Furthermore, a lack of trust already existed among the residents of
outsiders, police, government, each other, etc. However, this lack of familiarity in role
expectations facilitated even more mistrust in the external members engaged in the effort.


68
attitude with positive attitudes, that they can shape the outlooks of the children and the
families. Jack, in conveying the potential of leisure education for the Glenview children
and families, professed:
I think recreation is also education in many ways, in teaching. I think in that case,
focused in on learning value systems and creating opportunities for family
involvement together, as a family, and then maybe even as individual neighbors,
is a role recreation really could play very successfully there That would help the
parents maintain that involvement with their kids' lives and also broaden their
knowledge and relationships, and adult relationships within that neighborhood.
Addressing recreation as facilitation for a family-community bond, as well, Elizabeth
reported, Parents could meet parents. That's a good way to get a community instead of
just a group of people living by each other.
In regards to benefits of recreation for the neighborhood, participants in the study
mentioned how it could help the youth, families, and residents in finding ownership,
pride, and community within Glenview. They also said that recreation could be
therapeutic in a community, facilitate a sense of care about the neighborhood and again,
help decrease crime. Al, a professor in therapeutic recreation, stated:
I really believe that if you have recreation in the parks it could just do so much for
the neighborhood in terms of getting the people out and getting them to the
park.... I think recreation could be a vehicle to really build a community.... I've
been referring to it as recreation, because that's just a general umbrella, but I see it
as therapeutic recreation. We used to be there and we kind of left the community
and now we need to go back to the [community], because that's where so much of
the problems begin.
Jack, a professional in recreation for over 30 years and former director of the city parks
and recreation department, also communicated how specific types of recreation
programming would benefit the Glenview neighborhood. The following was a reflective
solution after the recreation program in the park had discontinued:


70
Carla, another concerned parent for the children in Glenview, also professed:
If [recreation] keeps the kids busy and does something with them, then they are
not vandalizing, they are not setting the laundry room garbage on fire, or breaking
windows. I know there are little kids doing major sexual activity because they
don't have anything else, they don't have anything else to think about.
Isabel also felt that recreation could help curb crime and also declared that the Glenview
youth need [recreation]. They are playing unsupervised, getting hurt, hurting each other
and not having other means to be directed.
Other participants who were external members of the community organization
effort and who were non-residents of Glenview also provided feedback regarding
recreation as a means to decrease crime. Joe, a prominent leader among church
communities in the city, admitted:
Whether recreation is the answer for [the problems surrounding the Glenview
youth], may or not may be arguable, but I can't come up with a better solution....
[Recreation] would interest those kids, would get them off the streets, [and] would
keep them from hanging out in the park and selling drugs.
Michael, an officer in law enforcement for over 20 years and advocate of recreation, also
stated:
I think [recreation] provides them an opportunity to do something and get some
structure in a safe environment.... [It gets] the kids to do something constructive
[to where] they wont have that extra free time to go break a window or whatever
else.
Jack also stated, When kids [are] involved in some type of organized recreation,
theyre... significantly less juvenile crime rates. In providing the benefits of leisure
education in relationship to crime, A1 professed:
Educate [the youth] about how to use their free time, because they really don't
have any idea how to use [it].... If they're engaged in worthwhile recreation
before school and after school, weekends and so forth, then they're probably not
spending that time, that free time, engaging in something illegal and destructive. I
think it can curb crime.


123
RECREATION AS A
MECHANISM FOR SOCIAL
TRANSFORMA TION
Church
Therapeutic Recreation
SOLUTIONS
Parental Involvement
Internal Leadership
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
The Glenview Neighborhood
CAUSES
School
PROBLEMS
i / Neighborhood Environment / \ Parents
Mistrust {
Hopelessness
ANOMIE
t i
X
j AT-RISK YOUTH
Ss.
V--.
Police
..y
.***£
...* /
University
Government
Figure 2. Recreation as a Mechanism for Social Transformation: An Ecological
Approach to Community Development in Neighborhoods with At-Risk Youth


27
To exemplify the last sentence of the NTRS statement, a consensus has grown
within the parks and recreation literature that health and well-being are essential to life
for individuals, families, neighborhoods, communities, and society (Godbey, 1998;
OSullivan, 2001). With this in mind, Witt, Crompton, and Baker (1995) advocated for a
need for parks and recreation departments to understand problems and issues faced by
target populations before program goals and designs are established. Within the context
of after-school programs, Witt (2001a) emphasized the need for those in the field of
recreation and therapeutic recreation to find a balance between the voices of service
providers and other stakeholders within the community (the youth, parents, teachers, and
public at large concerned with prevention of risk behaviors) in order to provide differing
views of what programs should entail. OSullivan (2001) concurred within her statements
on repositioning and advocacy of parks and recreation as essential to well being. She
suggested that issues should be taken to the public to gather values surrounding
recreation of the residents and youth of local neighborhoods. She also advocated that
professionals in the field of recreation create and engage in the formation of ecological
links and connections to its citizens.
Community social organization surrounding the issue for recreation for at-risk
youth may be a process that exceeds the traditional boundaries of therapeutic recreation;
however, as Sylvester, Voelkl, and Ellis (2001) professed:
[Community organization] points to the need for systematic change in how
professionals do their business. Empowerment is not simply teaching a social skill
or a new leisure activity. It literally means power to the people, which implies that
people with disabilities [including at-risk youth] must be supported in assuming
more control over their lives, not just in terms of biopsychosocial functioning, but
socially, culturally, and politically as well. This will require new thinking,
models, and practices of therapeutic recreation, (p. 241)


9
generalizable to the overall population of at-risk youth in that the study was limited to the
Glenview neighborhood. A delimitation for the study existed from the focus being on the
Glenview neighborhood and from the deliberate nature of exploring a phenomenon that
existed in the neighborhood when recreation was established and discontinued for the
resident youth. A second delimitation occurred from the purposeful selection of the
ecological agents who lived in the Glenview neighborhood (the parents) and those who
were a part of the community organization group (members from the church, police,
university parks and recreation, city parks and recreation, city government,
neighborhood, and local school) that was involved in helping to address the issue of
recreation for the at-risk youth.
Limitations
Limitations involved conditions that could not be overcome or strengthened
within the study (Kraus & Allen, 1997). Several limitations within the current research
study included various aspects of the data. Issues surrounding the timing of the data
collection must be noted in that some of the interview questions were based on the
establishment and disengagement of the recreation program that had occurred over a year
before the interviews. Therefore, the collection of the data in general as well as on this
particular issue was based and dependent on the accuracy of the responses within the
interviews. In addition, another limitation involved the data analysis in that the
interpretation was guided by the researcher who is a white middle-class female academic
whose specialization is in therapeutic recreation.


66
However, many of the participants revealed the opposite view to Amanda, Mika,
and Sallie. For example, Bilobar, Jeff, Grandma, Al, Suzie, Carla, Elizabeth, Molly,
Barbara, Paul, Jake, Michael, Iris, Joseph, and William all regarded the park as part of the
neighborhood, geographically and/or socially. Joe even thought the park was the focal
point of the neighborhood, and Jack explained:
Yeah, I happen to [think the park is part of it], partly because of the way the park
would draw from [the Glenview OHA and HAC] neighborhoods... .it was the
primary park that served both of those neighborhoods. So from a practitioner
perspective, I see it from what it would typically draw from. The flip side is that I
think some of the residents, like in other neighborhoods in [the city], see it
different.
Overall, the participants felt there was potential for the park to be part of or to
contribute positively to the neighborhood. As previously reported, Sallie had said that
physical changes needed to be made. Jeff and A1 both said that it had tremendous
potential and Bilobar stated that it lacks direction.... and that its an area of ground that
isnt being used to its fullest potential. Joe expressed, I see that park as being a gold
mine of opportunity that is wasted. In reference to the park and the resident youth she
worked with, Suzie emotionally stated, If they were given a chance, that space would be
theirs. I think they felt a sense of ownership that summer. I really think that they were
proud of what we did that summer.
Recreation as a Means
While the perceptions of the previous conditions within this neighborhood seem
overwhelming and desolate, participants also explained and truly believed that recreation
with the resident youth could be a vehicle to help improve the neighborhood, as well as
benefit the family unit and society. Before providing such opinions, examples of distinct


62
To begin this section, a brief description of the park that was presented in Chapter
Three will be reviewed. Looking from the asphalt parking lot, the rectangular shaped
piece of land for the Glenview Park includes about 15 acres. It has two baseball fields in
the right back comer; a large playground right center; a large track left center with track
and field stations, playground equipment, and a basketball court in the middle; a large
accessible playground in the front left comer; and a shelter with picnic tables, a tot
playground, and a restroom/storage facility front center. To the right of the restroom
facility is a fenced in adult day care facility that leases its land from the city parks and
recreation department. In the far right front comer is a fenced in area with a playground
and soccer field that was constructed for a new private school across the street in a church
that is located in the Glenview neighborhood. (This church is not to be confused with the
church that had members that initiated the community organization effort). The church
bought the land from the city recreation and parks department. In the back, left and center
is a fenced in soccer field, playground, basketball court, and recreation facility for girls
and the land for this private organization was donated by the city parks and recreation
department. In addition, this facility has regular access to the track and field and storage
areas of the park. After describing the setting of the park and entities that are adjacent to
it, the concerns and comments that the participants had about the park will hopefully be
more clear.
Collectively the participants asserted how the park embraced outsiders more than
the neighborhood youth and how this facilitated programmatic and psychosocial barriers.
In her interview, Suzie, a graduate student in therapeutic recreation who worked with the
youth directly in the summer recreation program, talked about the fact that there was an


7
Purpose of the Study
The intent of the study was to explore the infrastructures of the Glenview
neighborhood itself and give voice to the parents, residents, and external agents of the
neighborhood whom directly and indirectly affected the youth regarding recreation. The
study also focused on recreation as an issue for advocacy and as a target for prevention.
The members who were involved in the community organization effort for Glenview
chose to focus their attention on recreation as a means for helping the resident at-risk
youth counter and cope with child linked social problems.
Through a naturalistic approach, the concerns, needs, meanings, opinions, and
shared values of various issues and problems surrounding recreation for the at-risk youth
in a low resource community were explored. Using a theoretical framework of an
ecological systems approach to guide the study, voices of the person-environmental
system surrounding the youth (parents/guardians/family members, neighborhood
residents, school personnel, police, recreation personnel, church members, university
faculty, city administrators/officials) who had a direct and indirect association with the
at-risk youth were used to identify such concerns, needs, and meanings surrounding
recreation. To better understand how the links between the agents/institutions of the
Glenview neighborhood fit together, in relation to the local interest of recreation for the
resident youth, a second theoretical framework was applied. This second theoretical
framework centers on community social organization, which is the ability of a
community structure to realize common values of its residents and maintain effective
social controls (Sampson, 2001, p 8).


88
and Recreation. Molly compassionately provided a point of view as a parent and
declared:
I mean the recreation is there They're doing their job. It is your job to get your
child involved in the recreation that's going on. It's really up to the parents to take
the child out to the recreation that they already have.
Neglected Members
A second sub-theme that emerged from the data was constructed from the
participants perceptions that although the parents were responsible and had a major role
pertaining to the recreation program, they were left out of the process of the community
organization effort. It was documented that some parents and children came or were
brought to the town hall meetings at the church that took place during the beginning of
the community organization effort. However, discrepancies existed between the
participants opinions that these parents were members of the church already, they were
not from the Glenview neighborhood, and/or they were not deeply informed as to why
they were really there. Despite such discrepancies, a majority of the participants in the
study believed the parents were a neglected group in the community organization effort
and interestingly enough, in the political system as a whole.
In regards to the parents not being involved in the community organization effort,
some participants critiqued that agents in the organization effort took on more
predominant roles to the exclusion of the group that needed to be involved the mostthe
parents/residents. For example, Jack who was the director of the city parks and recreation
department at the time, professed:
Nobody could figuretheres no strong leadership that could help bring the
[Glenview] neighborhood together, and I think it has to come from the
neighborhood. It cant come from government orit cant honestly come from
churches outside of the neighborhood, and it cant come from universities. Its got


47
Data Analysis
The information gathered and transcribed from the interviews was analyzed using
the process of constant comparison which is a systematic method for recording, coding,
and analyzing data (Henderson, 1991). The focus of this analytical technique was to
compare individuals, groups of individuals, and the data within a study to maximize
credibility of the data and overall trustworthiness of the research (Glasser & Strauss,
1999; Henderson, 1991).
Trustworthiness of the research was also addressed by conducting member checks
during the data discovery and analytical phases of the study with several participants for
review and confirmation of the major categories that were emerging from the data.
Member checks were used to maximize the credibility of the research and in essence to
work with several of the interviewees as co-researchers (Glasser & Strauss, 1999;
Henderson, 1991). Another area of trustworthiness addressed within this qualitative
research study occurred through investigator triangulation in which two researchers (the
primary investigator and her committee chair of this dissertation) separately read through
all 21 interviews and produced initial coding, categorization, and broad themes from the
transcribed data (Henderson, 1991). They then met multiple times to address additional
stages of the constant comparison technique together.
The technique for constant comparison in this study began for the primary
researcher during her interviews with each of the participants and occurred for both
researchers by reading through and re-reading all the transcripts and notes. Then,
incidents or units of responses from the interviews were placed into categories or
themes which were identified and coded by how the incidents fit together (Glasser &


108
The Theory of Hope
According to Snyder (2000), hope can be defined as the sum of perceived
capabilities to produce routes to desired goals, along with perceived motivation to those
routes (p. 8). In trying to understand hopelessness, a description of those who are
considered to be high hope people will first be discussed and then compared to those
with low hope. According to Rodrigues-Hanley and Snyder (2000), people who have an
ongoing ability to believe that they can adapt to adverse situations and barriers and they
have the motivation to establish realistic and reachable goals for themselves have high
hope. More so, they hold and exhibit beliefs that are self-referential (e.g. I can) and
view barriers as challenges to overcome, rather than as obstacles that facilitate failure
(2000). People with high hope are not to be viewed as those who do not experience
difficulty; however, their coping mechanisms are embedded in a more positive emotional
response to such difficulties. In addition, hope is facilitated when people have the ability
to negotiate blocked goals with alternative goals and to do so in a variety of areas of their
lives (e.g. relationships, recreation, work, school, etc) (2000).
In comparison, people who are less skilled in developing attainable and realistic
goals have low hope. Low hope is also exhibited when a more intense and higher
negative emotional response exists when their goals are blocked or when they are faced
with barriers. All these reactions can create a cycle of hopelessness for the individual.
Furthermore, those with low hope are less likely to have the ability to negotiate
alternative goals when faced with barriers or a blocked original goal and are less likely to
view themselves as being able to successfully adapt to such situations. They are caught in
a cycle of hopelessness (Rodrigues-Hanley and Snyder, 2000). In summary, people who


135
Mullett, S. (1995). Education for leisure: Moving toward community. In G. Fain (Ed.),
Leisure and ethics: Reflections on the philosophy of leisure (pp. 229-256). Reston,
VA: American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.
Munger, R. L. (1998). The ecology of troubled children. Cambridge, MA: Brookline
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Munson, W. W. (1991). Juvenile delinquency as a societal problem and social disability:
the therapeutic recreators role as ecological change agent. Therapeutic
Recreation Journal, 25(2), 19-30.
National Therapeutic Recreation Society (1996). NTRS Philosophical Position Statement,
Retrieved May, 2001 from http://www.nrpa.org
Omi, M. (1987. Anomie: History and meanings. Winchester, MA: Allen & Unwin, Inc.
OSullivan, E. (2001). Repositioning parks and recreation as essential to well-being.
Parks and Recreation, 36(10), 89-94.
Passas, N. (1997). Anomie, reference groups, and relative deprivation. In N. Passas & R.
Agnew (Eds), The future of anomie theory (pp. 27-51). Boston, MA:
Northeastern University Press.
Paul, J. L., & Epanchin, B C. (1991/ Educating emotionally disturbed children and
youth: Theories and practices for teachers. (2nd ed). New York: Macmillan
Publishing.
Pedlar, A. (1996). Community development: What does it mean for recreation and
leisure'' Journal of Applied Recreation Research, 21(5), 5-23.
Putnam, R D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community.
New York: Touchstone.
Rappaport, J. (1987). Terms of empowerment/exemplars of prevention: Toward a theory
for community psychology. American Journal of Community Psychology, 15,
121-147.
Rappaport, J. (2000). Community narratives: Tales of terror and joy. American Journal of
Community Psychology, 28, 1-24
Reid, D. & van Dreunen, E. (1996). Leisure as a social transformation Mechanism in
community development practice. Journal of Applied Recreation Research, 27(1),
45-65.
Repucci, N. D. (1987), Prevention and ecology: Teen-age pregnancy, child sexual abuse,
and organized youth sports. American Journal of Community Psychology, 15, 1 -
22.


95
Figure 1. Relationship of Themes with At-Risk Youth


100
Social Capital
Social capital exists when social networks have value (Cullen & Wright, 1997;
Hagan & McCarthy, 1997; Putnum, 2000). In more detail, it refers to connections among
individuals in which social networks and norms of reciprocity and trust are derived,
which in turn, facilitate cooperation for a common benefit (Putnum, 2000). The presence
of social capital facilitates positive reinforcements for youth and offers them access to
positive role models, recreational, educational and vocational support, and mentors
outside the neighborhood (Putnam, 2000). Residents of neighborhoods high in social
capital have the capability to realize common values, have higher trusting networks, the
ability to sustain social control in their community, and they exhibit lower levels of crime
(Cullen & Wright, 1997; Hagan & McCarthy, 1997; Putnam, 2000; Sampson, 2001). In
relation to low crime, organized neighborhood watch programs are most likely to succeed
in areas that least need such programs because the residents already exhibit
characteristics of social capital such as cohesion, reciprocity, trust, and networks
embedded within the relationships of the neighborhood (Putnum, 2000).
Neighborhoods low in social capital are characterized as socially disorganized
communities and include residential instability, anonymous neighbors, homogeneity of
ethnic groups, few local organizations, and resident youth have been prone to creating
their own social capital through gang membership (2000). According to Putnam
(2000), in areas where social capital is lacking, the effects of poverty, adult
unemployment, and family breakdown are magnified, making life that much worse for
children and adults alike (p. 317). In addition, research has shown neighborhoods that
have a weak organizational structure and low participation in local activities (e g.


71
Along the same conviction, Suzie expressed:
I think once you increase self-esteem and social skills and the behaviors [of the
youth] that that will ultimately help the whole community grow and then as a
result, crime will be reduced and all those good things that are secondary societal
benefits
As the participant perceptions of recreation have moved from benefits for the
youth and families to the neighborhood and community, opinions in addition to Suzies
comments, were also shared in how recreation could positively impact the youth at more
of a societal level. Barbara, the former mayor of the city, stated:
If we put the resources into place to provide recreation, which local government
has historically doneit is a municipal service, a local government service then
we would, I think, see some improvement in our juvenile justice and our school
systems. We might have happier people in neighborhoods because they felt better
about things. I just think it's an important service that we have really neglected.
Jeff, in reaction to hearing about gang activity in the Glenview Park, avowed:
We need to organize [the youth] into their own gangs but we'll call it the
Glenview basketball team and we'll socialize and educate and teach and develop
moral and ethical ideas and behaviors within them. Give them a little bit of an
outlet for some, of their social/economic conditions.
Sallie remarked, I think [recreation] would help [the youth] become productive members
of society... that it will help you become a better person, improve the quality of your life,
improve how you feel about yourself. In a similar sentiment, Joe also declared that
recreation could have a positive impact on the future lives of the Glenview youth. He
expressed, It will have a long-term impact because if we can change those kids hearts
and lives when they're in the 5th grade, when they're in the 7th grade they are not going to
be as likely to get in trouble. So it's just a matter of changing them one life at a time.


72
Despondence in Glenview: A Lack of Hope and Trust
In the first theme, the neighborhood environment was described by the
participants in a variety of characteristics illustrating the isolation, multiple divisions, and
criminal/delinquent invasion within Glenview and recreation was perceived as a tool to
be able to address such characteristics in relation to the youth, parents, neighborhood and
society. What impact do these characteristics have on the people themselves? The second
theme addresses deeper psychosocial issues that help illustrate the connection between
the environment and the personthe neighborhood environment and the residents that
live in Glenview. This theme was constructed from the participants perceptions
regarding the overall despondency that seemed to pervade the Glenview neighborhood
residents as a whole and is divided into two sub-themes that convey direct or indirect
perspectives of the resident youth and parents around issues of a) hopelessness and b) a
lack of trust.
After these two sub-themes emerged from the data, it was interesting to find that a
synonym for hope was TRUST and vice versa, for trust was HOPE (Webster,
1985). After reading this, it was more apparent that the participants had already made the
connection between these two concepts, which vividly illuminated from the Glenview
residents and they did so without citing the dictionary.
Hopelessness
The participants talked about hopelessness in four different contexts: how
recreation could decrease hopelessness, the impact of not having a recreation program for
the youth, hopelessness surrounding the parents and the children, and a relationship to
social structure.


118
This is one who finds a larger social purpose in finding interests of the communities they
support and for the common good of the public (Pedlar, 1996).
Two approaches that can be embraced within the community development
paradigm involve different roles for the practitioner. They include the self-help approach
and the technical assistance approach (Karlis, Auger, & Gravelle, 1996). The self-help
approach is the highest goal level within a community because it is characterized by
people who are willing to initiate, carry through and implement change and they are at a
point where they can assess, diagnose, and improve themselves and the community all by
themselves. The technical assistance approach is where the community is not at a point to
be able to address the issue independently without guidance. An expert in the area of
interest to the community is brought in to help set goals, consult, etc, with the community
members. Eventually, the technical expert would transfer the responsibilities back to the
community (Karlis, Auger, & Gravelle, 1996). Jack, engaged this point in his interview
and described this type of role as the key to getting recreation back in the neighborhood
for the Glenview youth.
Implications for Glenview
The need to introduce a democratic process through community development and
recreation for the Glenview neighborhood is a direct implication from this study. While
organizing around the issue of recreation for the at-risk youth in the neighborhood is very
important and noble, this is a strategy for a higher level of empowermentcommunity
development. Community development embraces even more so, the need for the
residents to become a shared and collective group. Someone may have to help them
become organized and recreation can provide technical assistance to guide them. The


33
children and other occupants sit in them. You look to the far right and see two separate
offices behind glass partitions with the typical office equipment of computers and phones
on top of the desks.
To the immediate left there is a wall with a 3-feet tall natural wood bookshelf for
the purpose of holding the homework and book bags of the children that come in after
school. Direct center above this shelf there is a framed certificate of the resident school
age child who is doing the best in school for the month. You also notice pictures the
younger children have drawn with a multiple of colors taped haphazardly around the
entire room that help animate various blank spots on the walls. To the right of the short
book shelf is a long hallway that leads to a room known only to the office personnel but
along this hallway are two restroomsa mens and womens. You go into the womens
restroom. It is large enough in that it holds two toilets but there are no stalls and a 6-feet
long cabinet that holds two sinks. You walk back out and are facing the front door now
and notice another 3-feet natural wood bookshelf to the left. On top of the shelf you see a
small basket with what looks like candy for visitors and residents to take as a thank you
for stopping by. As you pick up a piece on your way out the door, you quickly notice it is
not candy in the basket, but condoms individually packaged in bright colors.
After you walk out the door you decide to find out where that lone break in the
massive iron rod fence leads to, so you turn right and retrace your first steps. As you
approach the opening, you notice the fence on one side is layered over the other with a 3-
feet gap to let people through. So you go straight in and then turn immediately to the left
to get to the other side. You walk along an alley road about 4 yards. You notice the
newness of the black pavement and that it is lined with a concrete curb that shows no


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
A community is concerned for the youth of a neighborhood (Glenview) and
forms an advocacy group to improve the lives of these children through recreation. The
group consists of a variety of people from the community: members from several local
churches; neighborhood residents; area police officers; teachers and the principal of the
neighborhood elementary school; the city parks and recreation administrators and staff;
city commissioner; consultants in therapeutic recreation and psychology from the local
university; administrators of the neighborhood housing authoritys community center; a
tutor for the housing authority youth; parents/guardians/family members of the
neighborhood youth; and the youth themselves. The members of the community are
concerned because of the deterioration of the Glenview neighborhood in that the resident
youth are facing an increase in problems involving high rates of crime, gangs, drugs, teen
pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, abuse, truancy, and school failure. These
problems are the reasons why the youth in the neighborhood are considered to be at-
risk. When such problems are concentrated within a neighborhood and coexist with
factors of poverty and residential instability, they are detrimental to child development
and termed child-linked social problems (Sampson, 2001). The Glenview
neighborhood is characterized by such co-existing factors.
1


109
have less success in establishing positively directed goals and/or in planning an
appropriate means to meet goals can be plagued with low hope as a result (Snyder, 2000).
What happens when a person remains within this demise of hope? According to
Snyder (1994), he/she follows a path to apathy through a variety of stages. These stages
are not engrained within such a particular pattern, but do encompass a general
progression from hope, to rage, to despair and then to apathy (Rodrigues-Hanley &
Snyder, 2000).
Rage, the first emotional response that can commonly be experienced after a goal
is blocked, can manifest itself into higher intensity with those with low hope, as discussed
earlier in this section. However, most people in this stage often have the ability to still be
able to negotiate alternatives even if they are not always successful.
Despair is the next emotional response that is usually experienced after rage and
also results from a blocked goal; however, the person with low hope is more apt to
engage in a why-bother attitude (Rodrigues-Hanley & Snyder, 2000). Despair can also
result from the culmination of obstacles and even if a seemingly benign event occurs, this
emotion is hard to overcome. More so, people can enter this stage more often if they do
not have the knowledge or skills to be able to problem-solve (Rodrigues-Hanley &
Snyder, 2000). Again, even if the person has the ability to set an alternative goal within
the phase of rage and if he/she has reached a point of despair, he/she may not be able to
make plans to meet that alternative goal even if it is a constructive goal (Snyder, 2000).
Lastly, a stage of apathy can be reached within the demise of hope and can be
considered detrimental to ones ability to exist productively within the family, peer


107
From theory to practice, if a familiarity in roles facilitates trust, then members of
the community organization effort needed to engage in all the steps necessary for
developing a trusting relationship. Communication with each other and the residents
needed to occur. In addition, open discussions, negotiations, and compromise for clearer
role expectations within the institution of recreation for each social actor was vital.
Furthermore, expectations between the horizontal and vertical networks involving
recreation and the other institutions needed to be addressed. If such measures had been
taken, the dissonance of role behavior would have decreased. As boundaries would have
become clearer and role expectations more familiar, then hopefully a greater degree of
trust would have been facilitated between the residents and members of the community
organization effort who worked on the establishment of a recreation program for the
Glenview youth.
Hope
While the current study was guided by theoretical concepts that are embedded
more within a social structural or top-down framework, the concept of hope that evolved
from the data and embedded within the model of grounded theory was derived from an
agency-driven perspective. However, Snyder and Feldman (2000), advocated for the
enhancement of individual as well as shared future goals to advance the greater good of
hope for communities and society in general. With such agent-driven hope and
communal hope perspectives in mind, the theory of hope will embrace a bottom-up
approach in its relationship to the social conditions that surround the Glenview parents
and their children.


11
media, research studies, and funding entities that it takes the collaboration and
cooperation of various people in the lives of the youth to make a meaningful and
generalizable impact. So, if we have a consensus among several types of human services
that recreation can be used as a tool to enhance the lives of at-risk youth in some way,
physically, socially, psychologically, academically, etc., then how can we all work
together to implement quality services that meet the needs of the youth and their
families?
The question does not lend itself to a simple answer for it quickly can be broken
down into many levels and as a result became the premise to the current study. The
question can even be changed to incorporate a phase that needs to be addressed in
addition to the how of it all. In other words, what factors do we need in place as a
community to be able to work together? Through two theoretical frameworks centering
on an ecological systems approach and on community social organization, these multiple
levels engaged by the above questions will be explored within an environment where a
targeted group of at-risk youth live and play the Glenview neighborhood.
Neighborhoods and Childhood Development
As previously described, the Glenview neighborhood has the potential of
positively and negatively influencing the lives of the youth. In a negative sense, the
neighborhood has substantially been losing its economic base over the past decade.
According to Children and Families At Risk (1993), once a neighborhood begins to
experience this loss, adults and children can become socially isolated which might cause
a decrease in networks that help to prevent deviant behavior. Olsen and Scharf (as cited
in Witt, 2001b) stated, Where a young person lives determines what level and quality of


64
Suzie expressed, I think that [the Glenview youth] felt that the park belonged to the
[recreation facility for girls] or the grownups who played basketball at four o'clock and
the people who would sit in the park and drink on the weekends. Several of the church
leaders had interviewed some of the resident youth early in the process of the community
organization effort. Bilobar recalled,
[Courtney said] this is my neighborhood but I can't use my park.... The children
that live in the neighborhood saidit aint my park. They feel like outsiders in
their own neighborhood, pushing them to the streets to play and for their
recreation.
Jeff also had the similar observations and comments. He expressed:
A lot of child-care centers and day care centers would bus kids in to use the
facility there. But again, it wasn't with kids from the neighborhood .... Some of
the kids said [the park] is a place where you go and you watch other kids play,
that you can'tit's not really a place for them. It's where they go and they watch
and dream about themselves participating.
Several participants made a connection between the organized outsider
recreation use and the emptiness of the park. Jeff stated, When you organize people
together, they use the park, but when it's disorganized, it's seldom used. A1 also added,
I think there's more children in the neighborhood than what I would ever see even a
small percentage of them in the park. And you never see adults there. Joes sentiments
were the same, professing, But what impresses me about the park more than anything
else is its emptiness. You know you almost never see anything going on there. In
addition, when participants were asked what they thought the neighborhood park meant
to the youth, their answers were dismal. For example, A1 commented, Probably not
much, Joe added, I dont think it means anything good to the kids, and Sallie stated, I
don't think it means anything to be honest with you. I don't because I don't feel it's part of
the neighborhood.


6
reduce such barriers to individuals with special needs (Howe-Murphy & Charboneau,
1987). At-risk youth is a population with such needs and have historically and currently
been targeted for therapeutic recreation (TR) services. TR can provide prevention as well
as intervention programming. However, there is a need to evaluate the barriers and
problems to providing recreation programming and there is a need to use an ecological
framework in such an evaluation (Howe-Murphy & Charboneau, 1987; Munson, 1991).
If limited or ineffective programming is provided due to various causes, an evaluation of
the neighborhood itself and the opinions concerning recreation of the internal and
external members that surround and influence the at-risk youth in the neighborhood is an
important step to take. Such an evaluation is commonly seen as a means of primary
prevention for at-risk youth (Simeonsson, 1994).
Thus, this study was not primarily concerned with the recreation program itself
(i.e. the effects of recreation as intervention or the content and implementation of a
program). From the perspective of the parents, residents, and external members of
Glenview, the focus of the study centered on the neighborhood and the multi-level
processes and links that encompassed the community organization effort involving the
issue of recreation for the resident at-risk youth.
It is hoped that by identifying and exploring such voices and links, the potential
for effective recreation services may result in community-wide primary prevention for
the at-risk youth in the Glenview neighborhood. In order to provide effective services,
primary prevention encompasses the process of assessing common values and
collaborating within such a person-environmental system.


85
When hopelessness and mistrust prevail within the residents of Glenview,
unfortunately it is passed on to their children in attitudes and lack of parental care.
According to Rodriguez-Hanley and Snyder (2000), hopelessness in theory leads to rage,
despair, and ultimately, apathy. By definition, this last concept, apathy, is the lack of
interest or concern in areas of importance or appeal. (Rodriguez-Hanley & Snyder, 2000;
Webster, 1985). As constructed from the participants perceptions regarding the
Glenview parents and their lack of focus on their children, some of the phases, most
particularly the last, were revealed.
Parents and Recreation Involvement with the Glenview Youth
As seen in the previous sub-theme, the conditions of the parents had direct
influence on their children to where the parents themselves were seen as the major
contributor to them being at-risk. Through the hopelessness to apathy path, the parents
were also perceived as having a direct influence on their children being Involved In
recreation overall, most specifically, the recreation program, itself. The stages and
ultimately, the lack of interest and concern were illustrated through several participants
comments.
A1 stated, They weren't [involved] because of that lack of trust.... They weren't
because they're apathetic. Amanda professed, [There was] a lack of parental
involvement in every aspect. Elizabeth, a single mother who had lived in the housing
authority complex only a short time, had already observed the apathy that surrounded the
parents in relation to the lack of recreation involvement with their children. She
explained:
I would assume that would be a major reason... mom and dad didn't want to do,
didn't want to take them, couldn't take themI think thats probably one of the


115
throughout previous chapters. Although definitions for both vary between texts and
authors, Rubin and Rubin (2001) provided the clearest distinction between the two terms
and define community organization as the ability to bring people together to combat
shared problems and to increase peoples say about decisions that affect their lives (p.
3). Efforts come from immediate and urgent problems faced by people in a similar
situation and goals may differ from person to person and from time to time (Rubin &
Rubin, 2001). Mattessich and Monsey (1997) further distinguished the term as a strategy
for community development. According to Rubin and Rubin, (2001):
Community development occurs when people strengthen the bonds within their
neighborhoods, build social networks, and form their own organizations to
provide a long-term capacity for problem-solving. When many people and many
organizations join together to combat injustice and inequality they create a social
movement, (p. 3)
In addition, it can importantly be defined as a process for empowerment and
transformation, which focuses on identifying and resolving problems of a physical,
social, and political nature and is embedded within the community members abilities to
change conditions (Reid & Druenen, 1996).
Overall, community development requires long-term democratically guided
organizations in order to bring about social change (Rubin & Rubin, 2001; Stormann,
1996). When democracy is present in social change, it involves informed participation,
shared and equal power between participants, government access to all involved, and a
clearly communicated and fair decision-making process (Rubin & Rubin, 2001;
Stormann, 1996). Democracy is the process that binds citizens together in equal
participation into a genuine community (Stromann, 1996). However, democracy is
delicate and can be destroyed if people feel powerless or isolated to a point where they do


perceptions of the neighborhood environment, despondence, parental conditions, and
parental involvement in community organization were constructed from the transcribed
data using constant comparison as the method of analysis. Such analysis led to the
construction of institutional-anomie, trust, and hope as grounded theory. Practical
implications involved recreation as a means for community development in low-resource
neighborhoods. At-risk youth and their parents/families remained the centralized area to
which all these concepts connected.
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105
When social interaction and social capital exists, people are more aware of their
social role and the connections they have with others. When the social actors are isolated
or do not have the ability to establish and foster networks within such social institutions
as family, neighborhood, recreation, work, church, or school, these individuals are faced
with fewer boundaries as to what constitutes their social role in the institution (Seligman,
1997). As a result, role expectations are more open. With this openness, there is a greater
need for the negotiability in role performance between actors because there are fewer
boundaries to fall back on and guide the social performers. People may experience
dissonance within their role behavior (Seligman, 1997). They do not know what their role
is, let alone others roles, when the platform for negotiation is so broad. This lack of or
loss of familiarity produces an inability to engage in trust. Moreover, the high negotiation
of a role performance (because expectations are so unclear) facilitates an inability to
engage in trust. The inability to engage in trust causes greater role segmentation and
isolation (Seligman, 1997).
On the other hand, a social bond can form when negotiations are present and
when people trust each other. There is communication and compromise within the
negotiation, but trust is also a necessary factor for the bond to seal.
Theory to Practice
In regards to Glenview, themes and sub-themes constructed from the data
pertaining to mistrust and isolation provided an opportunity for the discussion of trust
within the model developed as the basis for grounded theory within this study. The
participants perceived the neighborhood to be isolated from other nice neighborhoods, the
Glenview HAC actually had a wall around it, and the neighborhood and park were laden


CHAPTER 3
METHOD
The interpretive paradigm was used to guide the overall method of the current
study regarding the ecological influences of the Glenview neighborhood and community
organization effort for the resident youth in relation to the context of recreation. In
addressing such issues within the theoretical frameworks of community social
organization and an ecological approach to human development, a naturalistic approach
using qualitative method facilitated a better understanding of the opinions, needs and
desires of the internal and external members of the neighborhood (Bronfrenbrenner,
1979; Korbin, 2001; Mason, 1999; Rappaport, 1987; Sullivan, 2001). Such an approach
also provided a more appropriate avenue in answering the research questions guiding this
study.
The data were collected using the qualitative method of interviewing and was
analyzed through the process of constant comparison (Glasser & Strauss, 1999;
Henderson, 1991). The setting, participants, role of the researcher, and procedures of data
collection and analysis for the study will be discussed in the following sections.
Setting
The setting for the study included the Glenview neighborhooda low resource
urban neighborhood that is immersed within a more affluent community of those that
seem to have more. Although it is labeled poverty-stricken the census track for the city
reveals percentages and numbers that do not formally designate it as so because
29


60
grass.) Joseph also revealed during his interview that he was considered to have been an
at-risk youth in his childhood and teens. He brought in a vivid psychosocial perspective
of the wall, stating, Maybe it adds to the whole glass ceiling effect to their lives,
reinforces their bondage to poverty and alienates them from a lot of the other
neighborhoods and from normal society.
While some perceptions focused on the physical and psychosocial effects of the
wall, other participants felt that the Glenview neighborhood was overall divided. Sallie,
a city employee and Suzie, a graduate student from the university and former employee
of the city parks and recreation department who worked in the summer recreation
program with the youth, both thought that Glenview HAC was its own neighborhood and
the residential areas outside of it encompassed a separate neighborhood. Iris, who has
lived in Glenview OHA for five years and who was the President of the Neighborhood
Crime Watch during the community organization effort, was asked if she thought the
housing authority complex was part of her neighborhood. She answered, No. I wouldn't
really include that in our neighborhood. I know it's a big influence in our neighborhood,
but I don't feel a sense of community from [Glenview HAC]. Amanda, who became an
employee with the city parks and recreation department just as the community
organization effort started, explained:
[Glenview HAC] is the neighborhood unto itself and there are even walls there,
which really distinguish it from the rest of the community, and infiltrating or
getting into that neighborhood was another part that was difficult, which kept us
out. There was no trust.
In contrast to the opinions surrounding the physical and psychosocial divisions
within Glenview, other participants did believe that Glenview was one neighborhood
even though they were cognizant of divisions and a physical wall. For example, A1


39
playground Many cigarette butts litter the ground, a few whippet containers are scattered
about, a needle lies almost hidden underneath a shrub, and a black condom is out in the
open on the pine bark for everyone to see. As several large waste cans sit next to the
shelter, you wonder why these objects are not in them. But you are also afraid to look at
what is inside them just in case there was more.
To the right of the shelter is a playground for children under five years old (it is
not designated as accessible) and it consists of a rocking horse and several strange
looking animals painted a muted gray/blue color; a mini sandbox; a large pipe that a three
year old could walk through without bending his/her head; and a swing set with two
harnessed swings. In between the mini playground and the parking lot is a building that
houses two restrooms and a storage closet. While all are supposed to be locked due to
sexual activity occurring in the stalls, you can open the door to the girls restroom. You
notice it is painted with dark green paint, there are two stalls with doors, a sink, and no
mirror is on the wall. You check to see if there is toilet paper there is. You inspect the
floor there are no foreign objects. However, you do notice a strong odor of mildew
and quickly leave to get some fresh air.
You walk around to inspect more of the park. You notice that this area of the park
(a large portion of it, in fact) incorporates a track and field motif. In the middle is a five-
lane track that surrounds a basketball court, a swing set, a running/jump pit, a discus
throwing path, and an area with grass and trees. You notice that the grass is long and wiry
and wonder when the last time it was cut. There are also benches intermittently placed
around this area of the park so spectators can sit to watch the players, runners, jumpers,
throwers, or swingers. Although, at any one time there may be a range of three to 15


35
several yards. They make up the landscape with cracked plastic and colors that you are
sure were once bright red, blue, and yellow
As you walk further, you come to a strip of land that parallels the housing project.
There are tall trees, smaller brush trees and typical Florida foliage (you are sure it is some
species of palm). You see the black fence even through the thickness of the leaves and
brush A few more yards and you finally see another building. It is a house tucked back
off the road and its windows are boarded with solid wood panels. The paint that you are
sure used to be white is now faded to gray and covered sporadically with dark green
mold. The roof of a make shift carport on the left of the house is sagging and a board is
about to break free of a nail that has possibly held it solid for years. You notice several
boxes and unidentified metal objects sitting on the front porch. Trees, brush, and weeds
have grown over, around, in and out of the house. There is a Keep Out sign posted on
the front and a more official one from the city explaining the house is condemned and the
legal ramifications of trespassing. You walk a few yards further and come upon another
condemned housean exact replica of the first. These are the houses you heard about in
the neighborhood advocacy meetingthe houses that the community members are
concerned about because even though they are condemned for no entry, the local police
has labeled them as crack houses. You wonder why the city has not tom them down?
They seem beyond hope of restoration and the children in the neighborhood are
potentially exposed to such action when they walk by or near them on their way to the
park. You start to wonder if you walked by them every day, would you be aware of the
chipped paint, the signs, and the weeds as much as you are now or would these houses
blend into the natural landscape of this street?


46
The interview guides (see Appendix C) for the parent/guardian and community
organization member participants were divided into four sections: 1) the neighborhood,
2) the park, 3) recreation, and 4) roles and collaboration. Overall, the interview questions
were derived and incorporated from conceptual issues which can be found in the
literature in Chapter Two. As reviewed in the literature, concepts within community
social organization (trust, connectedness, reciprocity, and use of space and time) were
explored and were included as major components of several of the questions asked during
the interviews. In addition, interview questions regarding neighborhood, safety, at-risk
youth, recreation, and collaboration were also derived from the review of literature
guiding the study. Major topics within the interview questions included what the
neighborhood meant to them and what they thought it meant to the resident youth; what
their definition of a neighborhood was; what the wall around the housing authority
complex meant to them; where they thought the children were safe; where they thought
the Glenview youth played safely; what the park meant to them; what they thought it
meant to the youth; what recreation meant to them and what they felt were the benefits of
recreation for at-risk youth; who they thought should collaborate in the effort to bring
recreation to the Glenview youth; what they thought their role was in the community
organization effort; and what they thought were solutions to the disbandment of the
recreation program in the park.
In addition, through the technique of interviewing, the voices of the ecological
agents who directly and indirectly affect and/or are influenced by the at-risk youth were
heard. These voices were then interpreted and analyzed through the technique of
constant comparison.


97
Almost 900 pages of interviews were analyzed before these four themes were
coded, compared, and constructed, re-coded, re-compared, and re-constructed (two more
times), and then organized. In addition, it will be noted that the use of the ecological
framework to guide the study facilitated the use of participants with a variety of
backgrounds. They also had different levels of education and were diverse in age, race,
and gender. Moreover, differences in opinions between particular members and groups
targeted in this study were well known by the researcher. Despite the number of pages
and despite such diversity, after using qualitative method and most specifically, the
constant comparison method, themes substantially emerged within similar perspectives.
To say the least, the differences and the similarities told a story of the Glenview
neighborhooda story that was complex, intricate, and meaningful in its relation to at-
risk youth.
This current chapter is presented as the epilogue to the collective story that was
told by the participants in Chapter Four. Major issues and concepts that were constructed
from their voices will be the focus and how they contribute to grounded theory will be
discussed. By intertwining relevant literature from previous chapters, which helped to
guide the study, new literature will be included and expound upon the relationship
between problems, causes, and solutions within the Glenview neighborhood that were
introduced as themes which were constructed from the participants perceptions (see
Figure 2). Theoretical concepts surrounding anomie, trust, and hope and practical ideals
concerning community development in neighborhoods and therapeutic recreation will be
discussed within this review of new literature and will be the basis to the model


112
and larger issues such as the issue of the lack of parental involvement with the Glenview
youth regarding recreation.
If such collective issues and long-term goals are embraced by a community or
neighborhood such as Glenview, the opportunity and establishment of programs that
include prevention rather than intervention should also be embraced since prevention
involves long-term goals and promises long-term success (Barr & Parrett, 2001;
Simeonsson, 1994). Recreation can be a means for prevention in working with at-risk
youth (Kronick, 1997; Simeonsson, 1994). According to Snyder and Feldman (2000),
recreation is considered to be an anchor in the community. Therefore, recreation as
prevention can facilitate communal hope in the end because within this type of anchor of
neighborhood recreation, the Glenview community organization would have to establish
more long-term collective goals. Furthermore, they would know to expect long-term
outcomes and success rather, as Paul stated, than to expect to see immediate results when
working on preventative issues with parents and their children who are at-risk. As
reported earlier, these expectations and abilities to establish and plan long-term goals by a
community can in turn facilitate communal hope.
Theory to Practice
If residents and parents from disempowered neighborhoods such as Glenview
were asked by other community members to become involved (as A1 suggested) to make
decisions and plan for the neighborhood, they would eventually become an empowered
voice in the community. This communal and collective experience of goal setting and
planning for recreation as prevention for at-risk youth in turn could provide a model for
and begin to facilitate the cycle of goal setting, planning, and eventually individual hope


I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Step%h C. Anderson, Chair
Professor of Recreation, Parks and Tourism
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Robert Beland
Associate Professor of Recreation, Parks and Tourism
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Heather Gibson
Associate Professor of Recreation, Parks and Tourism
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Professor of Special Education


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to express my sincerest appreciation to my committee chair, Stephen
Anderson for providing consistent and unconditional support, insight, mentoring,
collaboration, and commitment to this dissertation. With his persistence and utmost
patience, I was able to successfully make it to the end of this process. I would also most
sincerely like to acknowledge my committee members, Robert Beland, Heather Gibson,
and Stephen Smith for their extensive support, professional feedback, and for being such
a harmonious committee. In addition, a notable appreciation goes out to Diane Davis,
Nancy Gullic, and Donna Walker for always being so supportive and helpful.
I would like to acknowledge the participants in this study for their time, energy,
and commitment to providing such insight and richness to the data. As deserved, I hope
they feel their voices were represented well. And please know that I will be dedicated to
making such voices heard in the future, as well. I also want to express my gratitude to the
Allen, Holyoak, and Varnes families for their generous scholarship award, which funded
a portion of this research study.
With personal and extreme appreciation, I would like to thank my friends, Gloria,
Jen, and Kim, for always being behind me with cheers and laughs. And most importantly,
I would like to thank my family my sisters, their husbands, and their children for all
their energetic support and love. But most of all, I would like to thank my parents for
their unconditional support, encouragement, patience, and love. Ye ha no ha.
iii


16
1989). The patterns of culture included in the macrosystem may include economic,
educational, legal, and political patterns (Munson, 1991).
The Ecological Perspective and Therapeutic Recreation
What is the role of the therapeutic recreation profession in studying and
addressing the needs and strengths of our clients? It is the opinion of this researcher that
our duty to our clients is to evaluate circumstances and environments surrounding the
individual in addition to individual characteristics and behaviors. As we research and
target the physical, cognitive, social, emotional and leisure needs and strengths of our
clients, we have to realize that they also have family, peers, school, law enforcement,
church, and other societal factors that influence their behaviors and thoughts. Within the
therapeutic process and through our research efforts, our profession must look at the
person with his/her environment.
In relating the definition to people with disabilities, Howe-Murphy and
Charboneau (1987) explained the ecological perspective as the process by which
purposeful change occurs is variable, encompassing both the promotion of abilities
(individual, community, environment) and the elimination of individual and
environmental barriers (p. 10) of persons with disabilities. In her testament to adaptation
being central to the ecological concept, Germain (1991) concurred with the above authors
in defining adaptation versus adjustment. In contrast to adjustment (which is a passive
accommodation to the environment), adaptation is an action oriented and purposeful
process where humans strive to achieve the best person-environment fit between needs,
rights, aspirations, capacities and the quality of their environment. According to Germain
(1991), if this fit is not positive (e.g. life stress creates a negative person-environment


40
children playing at the park, a few people may be walking/running on the track, and a few
may be playing a pick up game of basketball, but rarely do you see people sitting on
those benches. And of all the times you have been to visit in the last year, you are not
surprised to see at least one child who is no more than seven years old taking care of and
playing with a younger child (perhaps a sibling) and there is no adult near by or even in a
house across the street watching to supervise.
Participants
As the Glenview neighborhood was the target setting for the community
organization effort and consequently for this study, the people who affected the
community organization effort directly and indirectly in bringing recreation to the
neighborhood youth were the target population for this study. This included the parents of
the youth and members from the church, university, city parks and recreation department,
the police, city government, the local elementary school, and the Glenview
neighborhood. Because the researcher was involved in going to meetings for the
community organization effort for the past three years, a rapport and formal relationship
had been established with most of the participants in this study over this length of time.
As a result, the participants were recruited for the current study through purposive
sampling, which is a theoretical sampling technique commonly used in qualitative studies
and is used to get the most comprehensive understanding of a phenomenon
(Henderson, 1991, p. 133). The number of participants targeted to interview included
representation from the above-mentioned groups, were recruited until new information
ceased and the same issues emerged, and included as many people as possible to explore


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in
Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
EXPLORING THE VOICES OF THE GLENVIEW NEIGHBORHOOD: AN
ECOLOGICAL APPROACH TO STUDYING AT-RISK YOUTH, RECREATION,
AND COMMUNITY SOCIAL ORGANIZATION
By
Cari E. Autry
August 2003
Chair: Stephen C. Anderson
Major Department: Recreation, Parks and Tourism
The purpose of this interpretive study was to explore the voices of the ecological
agents that directly and indirectly affected the at-risk youth of Glenview, a low-
resource neighborhood and to gain various perspectives of the phenomenon and multi
level processes that involved the establishment and discontinuation of a community
organization effort to have structured recreation programs provided for the resident
youth. Two theoretical frameworks surrounding the ecological systems approach and
community social organization were used to guide the study. Using in-depth, semi-
structured interviewing as the primary source of data collection, 21 participants including
parents from Glenview; local church members; members from the universitys recreation
department; city parks and recreation personnel; a former mayor and city commissioner;
police officers assigned to Glenview; neighborhood residents; and the local elementary
school principal were asked to reflect upon issues concerning the neighborhood, the local
park, recreation, the at-risk youth, and collaboration. Four major themes encompassing
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8
Research Questions
To address the issues surrounding the social community organization efforts
among several ecological levels involving recreation for the resident at-risk youth in the
Glenview neighborhood, the following research questions guided the study.
As identified by the internal and external neighborhood agents who directly and
indirectly influenced the at-risk youth in the neighborhood in relationship to the
community organization effort for a recreation program:
1) What were the perceived concerns, needs, and meanings surrounding the Glenview
neighborhood, the local park, at-risk youth, and recreation?
2) What were the opinions and shared values regarding recreations influence on the
childhood development and on the prevention of maladaptive (internalized and
externalized) behaviors of the youth in the Glenview neighborhood? And how could
recreation impact the neighborhood overall?
3) Was there mutual trust among internal and external neighborhood agents in
addressing issues and problems concerning recreation for the at-risk youth in the
Glenview neighborhood?
4) How did the internal and external neighborhood agents view themselves and each
other as collaborators in meeting the recreation needs of the at-risk youth in the
Glenview neighborhood?
Delimitations and Limitations
Delimitations
Although the current research study has theoretical and practical implications in
recreation and specifically within therapeutic recreation, the results may not be