The Meaning of the Virtual YMCA After School Program for Former Participants: An Exploratory Study
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Research has shown that after school programs can provide children with opportunities that help foster positive development and adaptation. Current research meets the need for identifying short term outcomes, program standards, and short term evaluation techniques, however less understood is the lasting meaning of participation for previous participants after their participation. The purpose of this study was to explore the meaning and perceived impacts of participation in a preventative, skill-building after school program for former participants. Using an exploratory case study approach, interviews were conducted with six previous participants of the Virtual YMCA and a former school principal. Reconstructed narratives and analyzed transcripts show that participants do still derive meaning and significance from their participation in the program, although highly individualized. Significant aspects of the program are identified, as well as the participant’s perceived impacts which are still present today. Discussion for practitioners, researchers, and funders is provided.