The value of extracurricular activities for teens
Written by Karen Sampson
There are many positive things that come from students being involved in extracurricular activities after, and outside of, school. This is true for students of all ages but exploring interests and using free time to engage in beneficial activities is perhaps never more important than it is during the teenage years.
A 2020 University of British Columbia research study found that teens who participate in extracurricular activities like sports and art — especially girls — have better mental health and spend less time online, on their phones and on social media. The study also revealed that taking part in extracurricular activities is associated with higher levels of optimism and life satisfaction, and lower levels of depression and anxiety.
Developing a sense of personal identity is a crucial part of adolescence, and being involved in extracurricular activities can allow teenagers to “try on” different roles and help them figure out what their individual interests and talents are — as well as what kind of person they want to be. Extracurricular activities also provide opportunities for engagement and relationship building with peers, which is another important part of teenage psychosocial development.
Extracurricular activities of all kinds — including academic clubs, sports, community service, music and performing arts, tutoring, and technology and media arts — can also help teens channel their energy and curiosity in a positive way. Keeping teens engaged in focused, structured activities after the school day ends means they are less likely to get involved in high-stakes, risky behavior that can have lifelong consequences, such as drug and alcohol use.
Adolescence is also the time when students need to begin thinking about their future. There is a lot of pressure on teenagers to figure out whether or not they want to go to college and what they might want to study — and extracurriculars can help them explore different ideas, hobbies and potential career or academic pathways. Activities outside of school also, of course, play a critical part in college applications, as they help to demonstrate a student’s well-roundedness, drive and motivation.
Other numerous benefits of extracurricular activities for teens include:
- Increased self-esteem and resilience
- Improved academic engagement and performance
- Stronger community and peer connections
- Better self-discipline and time management skills
- Appreciation for collaboration and teamwork
- Understanding of personal accountability and responsibility
- Opportunity to learn and use leadership skills
Transportation and extracurricular activities
Though gaining independence by getting a driver’s license is a critical rite of passage for adolescents, transportation can continue to be a challenge in the teen years — especially for students who come from lower-income families and may not have access to a car or public transportation. This, unfortunately, means that many teenagers who may want to take advantage of extracurricular activities at their school or elsewhere may be limited in their ability to do so.
Our mission at HopSkipDrive is to create opportunity for all through mobility. As part of that mission, we partner with school districts, government agencies, organizations and families to help to arrange safe, reliable transportation for teenagers so they can reap the benefits of any extracurricular activities and events that may be available to them in their community.
“HopSkipDrive allows me to work without interruption during the day and gives my daughter an opportunity pursue her extracurricular activities, which might not have been possible without the service,” says one parent who relies on HopSkipDrive to help get her daughter where she needs to go.
Says another parent who uses the HopSkipDrive platform: “I want to be able to continue to work but still give my daughter all the opportunities she can have.”
One of HopSkipDrive’s education partners has this to say: “HopSkipDrive has been a tremendous resource for us, helping to get our students to off-campus activities and games, as well as in carpools to school. The drivers have been 100% reliable, and I feel so safe having my students ride with them.”
Interested in partnering with HopSkipDrive on transportation needs related to extracurricular activities or youth programs? Get a free quote here.