Centralizing forced immigrant male youths’ stories in the development of socially just and inclusive community sport programs

Thierry Robert Frederic Middleton, Robert J. Schinke, Bahaa Habra, Diana Coholic, Deborah Lefebvre, Kerry R. Mcgannon, Cole E. Giffin

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Sport is often touted as a context that can foster the development of positive relationships between people from diverse cultures. Researchers seeking to develop knowledge about how integrative sport programs may be developed have rarely recognized the agency and expertise of asylum seeking and refugee (i.e., forced immigrant) youth. Our focus stems from a community-based participatory action research (CBPAR) project conducted with forced immigrant youth aimed at centralizing their stories around how socially just and integrative sport contexts which sustain their engagement can be developed. Storytelling relationships developed through arts-based conversational interviews and a reflexive thematic analysis, grounded in social constructionism, culminated in the collaborative writing of a polyphonic vignette featuring three composite characters. Scene 1 is used to portray how forced immigrant youth initially engaged informally in sport in the host community. The story transitions in the second scene to youths’ engagement in formal, organized sport programs available in the host community. Scene 3 concludes with descriptions of the relationships the youth developed through community sport programs and the corresponding influence on their (sustained) engagement. We then discuss the importance of broadening the focus on individual development and performance that underpin many community sport programs in North America to helping youth feel a sense of connectedness and belonging to their community. We conclude with methodological and practical considerations to affirm the expertise of forced immigrant youth in the development of socially just and integrative sport contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-173
JournalSport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date15 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022


  • creative non-fiction
  • community-based participatory action research
  • diversity
  • reflexivity
  • refugee


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