Programs that Work
Healthy and Safe Children
Children experiencing good physical health
Age of Child
Middle Childhood (9-12)
Type of Setting
Out of School Time
Community-Based Service Provider
Type of Service
Type of Outcome Addressed
Evidence Level (What does this mean?)
Launched in 2005, "Triple Play: A Game Plan for the Mind, Body & Soul" is a Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) program that promotes healthy living among all youth ages 6-18 who attend participating Boys and Girls Clubs. The program is designed to be incorporated into multiple aspects of youth experiences at participating Boys and Girls Clubs. It is called "Triple Play" in reference to its three-pronged strategy of targeting youth's minds, bodies, and souls. To engage youth's "minds," youth attending these clubs are exposed to a 10-lesson Healthy Habits curriculum, which teaches nutrition and healthy living to three different age groups: 6-8, 9-12, and teens. The curriculum teaches such concepts as limiting portion size, setting personal goals, and making smart snack choices. To target the "body," youth attending participating Boys and Girls Clubs are encouraged to partake in non-competitive daily fitness challenges, which allow youth to challenge their own limits in physical activities. Triple Play clubs may also arrange inter-club competitions, which allow youth to compete against others in team sports and other games. Additionally, Triple Play club teens are engaged in club and community service efforts to promote health and physical activity. To target the "soul," Triple Play teaches club professionals how to design a program that encourages youth's personal development. These social recreation activities typically take place in the club's gamesroom, which is considered by many to be the hub of a club. Members strengthen their character, increase confidence, and enhance their ability to relate well to others through a well-run gamesroom. The "soul" aspect of Triple Play clubs is intended to promote feelings of belonging, influence, usefulness, and competence in youth.
BGCA youth participants, ages 6-18, who attend BGCA Clubs that offer the Triple Play program.
The purpose of the study was to examine whether BGCA's Triple Play program had an impact on youth outcomes in the areas of (1) healthy nutrition knowledge and behavior, (2) physical activity and increased exercise levels, and (3) social relationship skills.
Gambone et al. (2009) evaluated the effectiveness of Triple Play in improving health outcomes among 2,242 youth attending 30 Boys and Girls Club locations throughout the United States. The 30 Boys and Girls Clubs were selected to ensure adequate representation within five regions. Within each region, clubs that applied to receive grant funding to implement Triple Play were selected for the study if they scored well on the criteria that BGCA uses to award these grants. Clubs that agreed to participate were randomized to either implement Triple Play or to serve as a control group that would not receive funding to implement Triple Play until after the study ended. Randomized clubs were then contacted and invited to participate in the study. If a club refused participation, replacement clubs were contacted until four treatment and two control clubs were obtained per region. This resulted in a total of 20 treatment clubs (1,476 youth) and 10 control clubs (766 youth) that participated in the study. Youth were surveyed and asked to complete activity diaries to assess nutritional knowledge, physical activity, and developmental outcomes and experiences. Assessments were completed at baseline, in March 2006; at midpoint of the study, in December 2006; and at post-study, in December 2007. The study examined differences between treatment and control club youth over time in the outcome areas of interest, using statistical methods to adjust for similarities that may exist between youth that attended the same club.
Key Evaluation Findings
Gambone et al. (2009) found the following:
- Youth in Triple Play clubs increased their total knowledge of healthy eating significantly more than youth in control clubs (11 percent increase versus 2 percent increase).
- Youth in Triple Play clubs increased their knowledge of portion sizes significantly more than youth in control clubs (8 percent increase versus 1 percent decrease).
- Youth in Triple Play clubs ate significantly more healthy foods in a day than those in treatment clubs (7 versus 5.7). For Triple Play youth, the trend showed a drop in the number of healthy foods eaten the day before from baseline to the midpoint survey but an increase between midpoint and final survey. For the control youth, this number continued to drop over the study period.
- Youth in Triple Play clubs ate significantly more healthy fruits and vegetables than control club youth (0.32 increase in the number of fruits and vegetables eaten versus 0.55 decrease in fruits and vegetables eaten).
- The frequency of breakfast eating for youth in Triple Play clubs and control clubs both decreased. However, the number of days dropped at a slower rate for Triple Play youth than for youth a control club youth (0.6 versus 1.1).
- Youth in Triple Play clubs significantly increased their number of minutes spent exercising per day, compared with control club youth (6-minute increases versus a 4-minute decrease).
- Youth in Triple Play clubs showed a significant increase in the number of days spent exercising more than 60 minutes, compared with control club youth (0.8 increase in days versus 0.2 decrease in days).
- Youth in Triple Play clubs showed a significant decrease in the number of days spent exercising less than 30 minutes, compared to control club youth (.93 decrease in days compared to .02 increase in days).
- High-quality peer interactions, along the dimensions of communication, conflict, instrumental support and emotional support by peers, increased more for Triple Play club youth than control club youth (5 percent increase in youth reporting high-quality interactions versus a 4 percent decrease).
- Low-quality peer interactions, along the dimensions of communication, conflict, instrumental support and emotional support by peers, decreased more for Triple Play club youth than control club youth (10 percent decrease in youth reporting low-quality interactions verses 1 percent decrease).
- Triple Play club youth showed a significantly greater improvement in sense of mastery and control than control club youth (4 percent increase in youth reporting high sense of mastery and control versus a 5 percent decrease).
Most Boys and Girls Clubs are probable implementers. Some clubs receive funding to serve as sustainable models of effective implementation of the Triple Play initiative for young people ages 6-18.
Triple Play is funded with the assistance of the Coca-Cola Company and the WellPoint Foundation.
Triple Play is implemented as part of the Boys and Girls Club daily operations and is available to all youth who attend participating clubs.
Triple Play is implemented by Boys and Girls Clubs professionals on site at some 4,000 local club locations across the country and on military installations abroad.
Triple Play includes the 10 lesson Healthy Habits curricula targeted at three age groups: 6-8 years, 9-12 years, and teens. These curricula teach concepts around healthy living and nutrition, including limiting portion sizes, setting personal goals, and making smart snack choices.
In addition, a BGCA Leadership University offers several one-day workshops to teach BGCA staff how to develop physical education and nutrition programs, organize youth sports leagues, and develop social recreation programs. Triple Play offers The Smart Guide to Social Recreation: Effective Gamesroom Management and Leadership, to teach BGCA staff how to build a youth development-oriented gamesroom and a Back Pocket Program Hints guide for creating social recreation activities.
Issues to Consider
Triple Play has been listed as a "Promising" program. In the Gambone et al. (2009) study, 36 percent of youth who completed the baseline measurements did not complete the midpoint measurements, and an additional 19 percent of youth did not complete the post-study measurements. Youth who did not complete these follow-up measurements were more likely to be white, less likely to be black, less likely to have friends who encouraged them to participate in physical activity, and more likely to report high levels of peer conflict. In addition, more black youth in the treatment group did not provide follow-up measurements, and more white youth in the control group did not provide follow-up measurements. It is possible that this difference between types of youth who failed to complete the study could cause the control group and treatment group to differ in a way that could affect the study findings. Alternatively, if certain types of youth were less likely to complete the study, this could mean that any detected Triple Play effects might not apply to all youth who attend Boys and Girls Clubs. However, there were no differences in the measurement outcomes of interest between youth in the treatment and control groups who did not complete the study, suggesting that the study's findings were not affected by the differences between types of youth who completed the study and those who did not.
It should also be noted that the outcomes measured in the Gambone et al. (2009) study are intermediate outcomes. The study focused on measuring changes in youth behaviors that are associated with positive health outcomes, such as exercising and healthy eating, rather than direct measures of physical health, such as pulse rate or body mass index.
The Triple Play program was evaluated in 30 clubs across the United States.
Wayne B. Moss, Senior Director, Sports, Fitness and Recreation
1275 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
The Triple Play website contains an overview of the program and links to a parent guidebook: http://bgca.org/whatwedo/SportsFitnessRecreation/Pages/TriplePlayDetail.aspx
Gambone, Michelle Alberti, Theresa M. Akey, Kathryn Furano, and Lisa Osterman,
Promoting Healthy Lifestyles: The Impact of Boys & Girls Clubs of America's Triple Play Program on Healthy Eating, Exercise Patterns, and Developmental Outcomes: Final Evaluation Report,
Philadelphia, Pa.: Youth Development Strategies, August 2009.