Physical Activity and Life Skills (PALS) Group

group of young children exercising in a gymWhat We Do

  • We model the principles of engaged scholarship by doing research that:

a) is directly related to a service/outreach mission; and

b) meets real-world needs through effective and mutually beneficial university-community partnerships

  • We serve as a national center and demonstration site for implementation, research, and training related to instructional models that promote positive youth development by teaching life skills such as leadership, communication, critical thinking and goal-setting. We currently have substantial expertise with the following models:
    • Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility
    • Adventure-based Learning
    • Sport Education
    • Teaching Games for Understanding
  • We promote best practice and generate revenue by hosting professional development, continuing education, and training workshops for the local, national and international network of practitioners and scholars committed to youth development through physical activity
  • We secure external funding to sustain the group’s various initiatives and programs through charitable donations as well as service and/or research grants
  • We secure external contracts to provide consulting and evaluation services to other physical activity and/or youth development programs
  • We allow KNPE and CEA students at the undergraduate and graduate levels to gain hands on experience in programs through service learning and action research projects
  • We generate high quality scholarly products such as peer-reviewed articles and academic presentations
  • We produce research briefs and policy briefs that target decision-makers at the state and national level to inform policy and funding decisions related to mission areas, e.g., YMCA of the USA and the recently formed Illinois Council on Youth Development
  • We disseminate recommendations and best practices through professional organizations, school districts, and youth serving agencies to support quality youth programming
  • We maintain a website and produce an annual newsletter highlighting center activities and accomplishments
  • We provide leadership within the national and international network of institutions and centers with similar missions and values
  • We provide direct service on an annual basis to hundreds of youth in the Northern Illinois region