Current Research Projects

Violence, risk, and leisure lifestyle in gangs: The impacts on health, wellbeing, and life prospects

Liza Berdychevsky, Monika Stodolska, & Kim Shinew

6 people standing in park on sunny dayThe goal of this project, funded by the University of Illinois Research Board, is to establish the impacts of gang involvement on health and wellbeing, to identify the roles of leisure as risk and protective factor, and to offer directions for programs addressing gang involvement. Based on the in-depth interviews with former gang members and practitioners, we have determined multiple detrimental effects of gang involvement on physical, mental, and sexual health, as well as on life prospects and social functioning of former gang members. This project provides valuable input for prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation programs addressing youth violence and gang involvement.

Sexual wellbeing and tailored sexual health education for older adults

Liza Berdychevsky, Galit Nimrod, and Wendy Rogers

elderly couple dancingDue to ageist stereotypes, needs of older adults are often neglected by both researchers and healthcare practitioners. The goal of this project is to establish older adults' needs for sexual health education, to investigate their willingness to adopt technology tools to receive such education, and to develop innovative Internet-based sexual health education messages tailored to their needs. This sequential mixed method study started with in-depth interviews with sexual health experts and older adults and will proceed to a largescale survey. The qualitative findings provide an in-depth understanding of the roles of sex as leisure activity in later life, highlighting its importance, leisurely qualities, and benefits for health and wellbeing.

A longitudinal mixed-method study of Korean transnational-split families’ sport and recreation participation, acculturation, and subjective well-being

Sunhwan Hwang, Monika Stodolska, and Jerry Lee

man taking photos of airport tarmacTransnational-split family is a family unit whose members reside in different countries across the world. Korean transnational-split families (KTSF) have emerged in the 1990s as a response to the economic globalization, Korea’s over-competitive and exam-oriented education system, and a desire among Korean citizens for better social mobility. Those KTSF have been commonly referred to as “wild geese” or “기러기 (kirogi)” families. The purpose of this longitudinal mixed-method study, funded by the National Research Foundation of Korea, is to examine the relationship between sport/recreation participation, the subjective well-being and acculturation among Korean transnational-split families (KTSF). A survey and interviews with Korean mothers, fathers, and children, residing both in Korea and in the United States are being conducted.

Increasing Involvement among Underrepresented Groups in Parks and Recreation Programs

Monika Stodolska and Kimberly Shinew

urbana-440.jpgOne of the challenges of park managers is to meet the needs and expectations of culturally and ethnically diverse groups. This project, funded by a grant from the Urbana Park District, IL, examines the needs, interests, benefits, and constraints regarding the utilization of Urbana Park Districts’ programs among underserved residents. Individual and group interviews are being conducted with the residents of Urbana, IL and managers of the Urbana Park District. The study focuses on African Americans, Latino Americans, and Asian Americans residing in Urbana, Illinois.

Sex, health, and wellbeing in leisure travel: Toward designing sexual health education

Liza Berdychevsky

red and blue-colored zipperMany leisure travel experiences offer opportunities for increased sexual mixing, which can be a cause of morbidity. Nevertheless, current sexual health education strategies for leisure travelers are unsatisfactory and severely under-researched. The purpose of this project is to explore the necessity of sexual health education for leisure travelers and to identify the characteristics of potentially successful sexual health messages. This projects implements a sequential qualitative-to-quantitative mixed method design. This work offers practical recommendations for addressing this public health issue through designing gender-, age-, and context-specific sexual health education strategies.

Recreational drug use among college students in/as leisure and impacts on the sense of self

Iulia Fratila and Liza Berdychevsky

assortment of pillsThe processes of drug liberalization and decriminalization shift the attitudes toward recreational drug use. College students comprise one of the largest groups of drug abusers in the United States (Addiction Center, 2018). The purpose of this phenomenological study is to clarify the essence of drug consumption in/as leisure experience and its potential links to the sense of self, as perceived by U.S. college students. This study can provide relevant insights for drug prevention and education programs around U.S. college campuses based on the improved understanding of drug consumption in/as leisure experience.

Recreation/sports-based prevention and intervention programs for vulnerable youth: Meanings, motivations, and impacts

Hwayong Son and Liza Berdychevsky

close-up view of chain link fence, background is blurryUnsupervised afterschool hours are a risk factor for vulnerable youth living in disadvantaged communities as it increases their chances of getting involved in violent, delinquent, and risky activities. Recreation/sports programs can be used to prevent and intervene with youth’s risk taking. The purpose of this study is to investigate the motivations and experiences of vulnerable youth participating in recreation/sports-based prevention and intervention programs addressing risky behaviors. This study can offer practical recommendations to these programs regarding maintaining youth’s engagement in the program and achieving aspired outcomes.