The Sad Reason More Latino Kids Don’t Participate in School Sports, Activities


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Nearly 21% of Latino parents said their middle- and high-school children would not participate in any school activities in 2018-19, a higher rate than parents overall (18%), according to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan.

These kids miss the boost in educational achievement and personal development that stem from school extracurricular activities, from sports to student council.

So why aren’t more kids participating?

The Biggest Reason: Cost

Most middle- and high-schoolers will participate in at least one school activity in 2018-19. This includes 52% in sports, 43% in arts, and 51% in clubs/other, according to the poll.

But cost is the biggest reason keeping other kids from participating.

Many school require a participation fee.

29% of all parents said the cost of middle- or high-school activities is higher than they expected. Latino parents were even more likely (36.8%) to say this, according to the poll.

Pay to Participate Latino Kids Parents SchoolRequired school participation fees averaged:

  • $161 for sports
  • $86 for arts
  • $46 for clubs/other activities
  • Combining fees with equipment and travel expenses, average costs surged to $408 for sports, $251 for arts, and $126 for clubs/other.

On the flip side, fewer Latino than white parents said school activities are not worth the cost (8.7% to 9.9%).

“It is interesting that Hispanic parents were much more likely than white or black parents to say that the cost of school activities is higher than they expected, but less likely to feel the benefits are not worth the cost,” said Sarah Clark, co-director of the poll, via an email to Salud America!.

Take-Home Message

Beyond cost, transportation and having a job kept boys from participating.

No interest in activities kept girls from participating, according to the poll.

Children’s lack of extracurricular activities is bad news. Girls in Latino-majority schools engaged in 10 fewer minutes of vigorous activity than those in white majority schools, according to a Salud America! research review. Only 24% of kids ages 6-17 get the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity, according to a recent report.

Salud America! members did speak up to shape the federal Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which came out in November 2018.

Parents can talk to school leaders about cost issues.

Most schools strive to offer a range of activities, including some with no fees. Some schools provide scholarships or waivers to help students with fees.

According to the poll, only 7% of parents had ever requested a waiver or scholarship for participation fees. 19% said they didn’t know how.

“When costs are higher than expected, it’s important for parents to talk with school officials. Many schools have waiver or scholarship programs to reduce the cost of school activities – but often, parents don’t know about these options,” Clark wrote. “And don’t rely only on information from other parents – they might not know either!”

Read more about access to green, active spaces for Latino families!

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