Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Kinesiology and Sport Sciences (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Arlette C. Perry

Second Committee Member

Joseph F. Signorile

Third Committee Member

Kevin A. Jacobs

Fourth Committee Member

Nicholas Myers

Fifth Committee Member

Mark Stoutenberg


The Healthy Start Summer Program (HSSP) is a seven-week summer program that strives to provide health and wellness education in a manner that is applicable to everyday living. The primary goal of the HSSP is to improve physical fitness levels and the psychosocial variables associated with exercise in a minority adolescent population, while providing the tools necessary for students to maintain these changes for four months after the program. Participants and control subjects were evaluated at the beginning and end of their respective summer programs, then followed up four months post-program to evaluate the maintenance of these changes. The students who participated in both the HSSP and the control summer programs were primarily of Hispanic, African-American, or Haitian descent and were recruited from high schools that serve low socioeconomic areas. Participation in the HSSP was associated with improved physical fitness levels that remained elevated at the follow-up evaluation; however, physical fitness improvement during the program was negatively associated with maintenance after the program. In general, the expected associations between physical fitness and psychosocial variables were not found in our population, nor did psychosocial variables change significantly during or following the program. Findings indicate that the expected associations between physical and psychosocial variables are either not present or that the tools used to measure them were not sufficiently sensitive in this minority population. However, the fact that cardiovascular fitness remained elevated above baseline four months after the program represents an improvement from interventions previously reported in the literature. Future research should be conducted to more fully understand the factors related to the maintenance of physical fitness.


fitness; physical activity; adolescents; minority; psychosocial