Lawrence Allen, Dr. Bonnie Stevens, Mr. Rick Harwell, Ms. Karen Hurtes and Mr. Charles Lee.
National Recreation Foundation
National Recreation and Parks Association

The DEMONSTRATION PROJECT TO TEST BENEFITS BASED PROGRAMMING PRINCIPLES ON RECREATION DELIVERY SYSTEMS was the first national effort to implement a new recreation service delivery philosophy and system that directly addresses social problems facing society. This particular effort focused on addressing problems associated with youth-at-risk. However, the benefits based programming (BBP) approach to recreation services is a generic programming philosophy and strategy that can be used in all recreation settings with all recreationists.

This two-year national Project was the first critical step in establishing BBP as the new way of doing business in the recreation profession.

The five demonstration sites were:

All programs were required to involve multiple human service agencies and an evaluation scheme that included both quantitative and qualitative information. Pre- and post-testing was conducted at each site where the participants received the BBP program and at a matched control site where the participants did not receive the BBP program.

The demonstration programs at each site followed a specific planning model developed by the Project Team. This model utilized the concept of resiliency as a framework for establishing recreation programs and focused on building resiliency skills and attitudes in each youth.

Other areas that were evaluated for a positive change were:

The programs met for a minimum of ten weeks with at least four hours of direct contact per week; however, several of the programs lasted nine months or more.

Two pilot programs were offered in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The Mayor’s Teen Volunteer (MTV) program was designed for selected middle-school youth who were trained to volunteer for the City of Rock Hill Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department and various community agencies. An evaluation of the program found that the youth’s perceived competence relating to volunteer activities was significantly affected. Also, parents found the program to be very beneficial, stating that their children developed a stronger sense of responsibility and an increased sense of self-worth.

The second program offered in Rock Hill was the Discovery Station program. This was an after-school arts-based program for pre-teens. The children in the program were found to have significantly greater scores on global self-worth and attitudes toward the arts in comparison to children in a control group. The Chicago Park District conducted the Teen Outdoor Adventure Recreation Program that was a 12-week experience involving 24 male Hispanic gang members. As a result of participating in this program, the youth showed significant improvement on ten protective factors for which they were tested.

In addition, youth in the Outdoor Adventure Program showed increases in volunteerism, educational involvement, participation in job-training programs, and part-time work in comparison to a control group of members of a different gang. The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission conducted the Teen Connection Program and the Central Teen Connection Program. Both of these programs involved middle and high school students. The youth met on Friday and Saturday evenings to plan and participate in various events and activities at a recreation center as well as at facilities throughout the Washington, DC area.

For the first program, staff evaluations revealed that 98% of the students participating in the program remained in school and the youth’s respect for others increased greatly in the form of being willing to listen to others and contribute to group activities. Also, it was found in the second program that the youth’s ability to control their anger increased significantly in comparison to a control group. Finally, the youth in the second program developed greater social skills and a sense of social responsibility in comparison to the control group.

Project Hangtime, a program organized by the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department, was an after-school and evening program designed for youth ages 12-17. Compared to a control group, youth in the program revealed a significant increase on four of ten protective factors. A second offering of this program experienced some difficulty in conducting the evaluation and, thus, no valid conclusions of impact could be drawn. The Fort Lauderdale Parks and Recreation Department conducted a very ambitious program for Haitian teenagers called the Young Teen Heroes BBP Program.

This was a twelve-week recreational program involving educational, recreational, and environmental activities. In comparison to a control group of Haitian youth, the youth in the program showed a significant increase in their sense of neighborhood as well as their satisfaction with their neighborhood. Also, youth in the program developed a greater ability to control their anger and they became more resilient in six of seven areas in comparison to the control group.

Overall, the demonstration programs in the five cities revealed very strong and positive results suggesting that the Benefits Based Programming approach to recreation programming has a significant impact on those individuals who participate in recreation programs. And, as a result of participation in recreation programs, communities and society as a whole will experience cost savings and an overall enhancement of residents’ quality of life.

Clemson University Project Team

Lawrence Allen,
Project Director
[email protected]
Bonnie Stevens
[email protected]

Rick Harwell
[email protected]

Karen Paisley Hurtes
[email protected]

Benefits-Based Programming: Summary of  Demonstration Programs


Chicago, IL
Teen Outdoor
Program 1996
Prince George's County, MD

Rock Hill, SC

Seattle, WA Ft.Lauderdale,
Teen Connection Program 1996 Central Teen Connection
Mayor's Teen Volunter (MTV) Program 1996 -1997 Discovery Station
Fall '97
Project Hangtime
Teen Heroes
Program 1998
TARGET ISSUE(S): -volunteerism
-educational involvement

-job training /part time work
-decreased crime


-reduce impact of negative outcomes associated with living in at-risk communities on targeted youth -increase social resonsibility in the form of citizenship and volunteerism neighborhood empowerment through building success and achievement in youth -community involvement
-liarning skills
-cultural awareness


-Community Pride
TARGET GOALS: 10Protective Factors 10 Protective Factors 10Protective
scholastic competence
-social responsibility
-art attitude
insihgt, independence, relationships, initiative, creativity, humor,and morality
OUTSIDE SOURCES OF DATA: -arrest records -mentor assessments -instructor, parent, and supervisor assessments -program sataff evaluations -program sataff evaluations -program sataff evaluations
Chicago Park
neighborhood Youth Committee (Advisory Board)
Holy Cross /IHM Church
Chicago Police Department
Maryland-Mational Capital Park and Planning Commission
Board of Education
Black Entertainment Television (BET)
University of Maryland
Rock Hill Department of
Parks, Recreation and Tourism City of Rock Hill
Rock Hill School District #3
area businesses and agencies


Rock Hill Department of
Parks, Recreation and Tourism
Hagins/Fewell Community Group
Rock Hill Police Department
Rock Hill Neighborhood Empowerment
Boys and Girls Club


Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation
Ackerley Communications, Inc.
Ft. Lauderdale Parks and Recreation
Ft. Lauderdale Police Department
Birch State Park
Clemson University
increased job training and educational involvement
reduction in negative feelings (based on mentors' assessments) increased responsibility
(based on instructor and supervisor assessments)



-increased sense of community
-increased neighborhood satisfaction
SUCCESSES REGARDING TARGET GOALS: significant increase in all 10Protective


-significant increase in 1 Protective
improvement in 4 out of 5 anger dimension
-significant increase in
skill efficacy, efficacy with peers, and in social responsobility
significant increase in  1Protective
significant increase in  1Protective
significant increase
in global self-worth
significant increase in
global self-worth
signficant increase in art appreciation
significant increase in
4 out of 10
Protective Factors


significant increase in
all 10
Protective Factors
significant improvement in 4 out of 5 anger dimensions
significant increases in 7 out of 8 resiliency dimensions (including general resiliency)

Benefits-Based Programming:
Summary of Recreation Impacts on Target Goals by Program