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Good Sports and Positive Youth Development (PYD)

Ellen Markowitz is a social entrepreneur who uses sports to help youth become their “super selves.” She studied Sport Psychology and Positive Youth Development through sport at the Curry School of Education. She founded SuperStarters Sports which offers sports-based youth development programs and consulting. Markowitz received a BA from Yale University, an MBA from New York University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia’sCurry School of Education, in 2010.

Playing sports as a young girl, changed my life. When I was in high school, being part of a team helped me feel good about myself, and gave me tools to connect with others. So it has been my passion to help other girls feel connected and competent through physical activity and sport.

In the ‘90’s, when I started working in the world of after school programs in New York IMG_hands-in-25051-859x1024City, there were no acronyms like “PYD” or “SBYD (sports-based youth development).” Practitioners and researchers understood that after school programs could provide many diverse opportunities — as safe spaces for youth to connect with peers and adults, as growth places for youth to explore new activities and identities, and as home bases where youth could learn skills and competencies that could open doors to unimagined futures.

As a practitioner in the world of out-of-school-time, I try to create contexts that facilitate positive youth development, and allow youth to feel connected to others, while they learn sports skills. As a lifelong athlete, I have always been passionate about the power of sport to foster connections and competence. As a coach, I use sports to help youth be better, and find their “super self.”

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