The Physical Activity and Life Skills (PALS) Group at Northern Illinois University has been established with the support of the Collaborative on Early Adolescence (CEA) and is headquartered in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KNPE) at Northern Illinois University (NIU). The PALS Group is committed to promoting healthy development and teaching life skills through physical activity. We have a strong impact on children and youth in the local community and aspire to achieve national and international prominence.
While some centers of this type currently exist at other institutions, their focus tends to be on school athletics and organized youth sport programming. Heretofore, no center has emerged with a focus on the school- and community-based settings that are less oriented toward competitive sport and therefore provide increased opportunities to address educational and developmental goals. These settings, including physical education, after school programs, and summer camps, reach more children and youth than organized sport and provide a range of settings to work with underserved youth and members of marginalized communities.
Initial support for the establishment of the PALS Group such as graduate assistantships and administrative support has been provided by the CEA. The PALS Group is headquartered in KNPE to capitalize on the department’s current faculty expertise, community-connections, research capacity, and access to NIU facilities such as the teaching labs in Anderson Hall, the field house, and the Laredo Taft outdoor education campus. However, the PALS Group is interdisciplinary in nature and works in synergy with current university-wide initiatives related to research, engagement, and adolescent development.