More than a place to play : evaluation of youth physical literacy at Play Streets.


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Play Streets are being implemented across the U.S. during the summer months as temporary street closures (recurring or episodic) that for a specified time, create safe, free (i.e., no cost for attendees) opportunities for outdoor play. Despite numerous benefits of physical activity, many youth, especially those from low-income and/or communities of color, fail to meet physical activity guidelines. Physical literacy is a multifaceted conceptualization of knowledge and skills, throughout experiences, required to realize physical activity potentials. Research examining the role of physical literacy in non-school based physical activity settings is lacking. PlayStreets provide one example of a free, safe physical activity opportunity for youth. The purpose of this study was to examine the structural validity of the PLAYself assessment tool and describe perceived physical literacy of youth attendees at an established Play Streets program in Chicago, Illinois (PlayStreets) during 2018. During summer 2018, trained researchers collected intercept survey data at 16 PlayStreets across 11 hosting organizations in Chicago, Illinois. Youth aged 7-17 years attending PlayStreets, with guardian permission and verbal assent, could participate by interview administered survey. Data were analyzed using SPSS v. 27 and AMOS v. 26. The original PLAYself (27-items) model did not provide acceptable fit. Modifications were made to the model using the physical literacy definitions as a guide. The final model resulted in a 11-item, 4-factor model that provided acceptable fit (χ2=40.47, df=37, p=0.32, CFI=0,96, TLI=0.94, GFI=0.91, RMSEA=0.04, SRMR=0.07). The average physical literacy score for youth (n=62) was 69.72 (SD=14.28) = moderate perceived physical literacy. Youth who participated in sports had higher physical literacy, physical competence, and affective psychological scores compared with their non-participating peers (p<0.05). Physical competence scores were also significantly higher for males than females (p<0.05). While this study provides some evidence of the validity of the 11-item modified PLAYself it should be revisited before it continues to be used in the field. Findings contribute valuable information to the limited literature regarding physical literacy in community-based settings. More research is needed to cross-validate the modified scale in larger and diverse samples and determine if Play Streets can facilitate increasing youth’s perceived physical literacy.



Physical literacy. Physical activity. Community based research.