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The association between organized activity participation and emotional wellbeing among immigrant-origin and non-immigrant children Albanese, Carmela Melina Anthea

Abstract

Background: Emotional development during middle childhood is associated with thriving in adolescence and adulthood. Previous research has demonstrated an association between participation in organized activities (OA) and positive development, including emotional wellbeing. However, there is an absence of literature evaluating the role of immigrant background (i.e., immigrant-origin or non-immigrant) in the relationship between OA participation and emotional wellbeing. The objectives of this study were to test for an association between OA participation and immigrant background, to measure the association between OA participation and emotional wellbeing indicators (life satisfaction, depressive symptoms), and to examine whether the relationship between OA participation and wellbeing was dependent on immigrant background among a sample of schoolchildren. Methods: This study’s sample was composed of 14,406 Grade 7 children in British Columbia (BC) who completed the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI), a population-level self-report survey designed to measure children’s wellbeing and assets, between the 2012/2013 and 2016/2017 school years. Children who were born outside of Canada or who had at least one foreign-born parent were classified as immigrant-origin. Odds ratios and the χ² test were reported to test for an association between OA participation and immigrant background. Multiple linear regression analyses were used to examine the association between participation in OAs and indicators of emotional wellbeing and to examine whether this relationship varied based on immigrant background, while controlling for demographic factors. Results: Immigrant background was not associated with overall OA participation. Immigrant background was associated with participation in educational activities, arts and music lessons, and individual sports, while team sports participation was associated with non-immigrant background. Immigrant background modified the association between overall OA participation and emotional wellbeing, with stronger and beneficial associations generally observed among non-immigrant children. Conclusions: This study identified a stronger association between OA participation and emotional wellbeing among non-immigrant children than immigrant-origin children. The results underscore the importance of designing OAs sensitive to the diversity of schoolchildren, including those of immigrant-origin. Further research identifying factors that explain differences in this association based on immigrant background can inform the development of OAs that support the emotional wellbeing of immigrant-origin children.

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