"All the immigrant families here are working pretty hard": Perceived parental influence on sport participation in neighbourhood improvement areas in Toronto


Parents play a fundamental role in children's access, socialization, motivation, and behaviour in sport (e.g., Côté, 1999; Fraser-Thomas, Côté, & Deakin, 2008). As such, this study explored perceived parental support for sport participation among youth and young adults living in Neighbourhood Improvement Areas (NIAs) (i.e., Toronto communities that have higher rates of low-income, poor housing, immigrants, visible minorities, and reliance on social support; City of Toronto, 2014). The research draws upon Ecological Systems Theory (EST; Bronfenbrenner, 2005; Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998) and post-colonial feminist theory (PCF) to critically examine proximal (e.g., interpersonal relationships) and distal processes (e.g., social structures and institutions, changes over time), which influenced perceived parental support for sport participation in NIAs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 youth and young adults, using a narrative inquiry approach (e.g., Smith & Sparks, 2009). Findings offer insight into participants' sport journeys, and youths' perceptions of their parents' expectations and pressures, in the context of the challenges of immigration and settlement. Recommendations for how parental involvement within NIAs could be supported, as proposed by the participants is explored. This research highlights the benefits of adopting an interdisciplinary approach (e.g., sport psychology and sociology) to uncover complexities of parental support for sport participation.