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04/29/2009

Griffith helping the homeless

A Gold Coast-based Griffith University researcher is helping a homeless program in the USA with his expertise in how people develop an interest in sport.

Griffith Business School’s Professor Dan Funk works with non-profit program Back on My Feet which encourages homeless people in Philadelphia and Baltimore to take up running.

The one year project, which started in January, promotes the self-sufficiency of homeless people by engaging them in running to build confidence, friendships and self-esteem.

Professor Funk said exercise was used to create a sense of community and stability through the regular running groups.

“My work is on how people develop their sport involvement, the internal and external factors that lead to people getting involved in sport which are personal, psychological and environmental,” Professor Funk said.

“In this case, we look at social and environmental factors.”

Professor Funk said sporting or hobby enthusiasts develop in four stages: first they become aware, then attracted, followed by attached, and finally develop an allegiance to the sport or hobby.

He will use the monthly feedback forms to gauge the success of the program and at which stage each participant is at.

“By identifying where each participant is in these four stages, the program can develop a strategy to encourage the participants to the next stage so they can tap into the full benefits of the program.
“As the program continues, the social network and comradery becomes meaningful and the running becomes secondary to social engagement.”

The project is a joint initiative among Griffith University, Temple University and Back On My Feet.
The Department of Health at Temple University have also proposed a stop smoking program to complement the running program.

Back on My Feet: http://backonmyfeet.org/main/index.html

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