S4D Definition:

A S4D intervention is one that is intentional in its’ use of sport and physical activity to attain specific social development objectives.

A S4D intervention aims to effect a series of changes for an intended target audience (we call these changes ‘outcomes’) and employs a particular approach to the design and delivery of a sport and physical activity intervention that helps leverage the positive attributes of sport, to optimise the social objectives achieved.

A S4D intervention gives priority to the achievement of these social objectives, above any sporting performance objectives.


The social outcomes (changes) that S4D projects aim to achieve are varied in nature, across the sector. They have been categorised under 7 Social Impact Areas (see the S4D Impact Framework diagram to the right hand side).

For a full list of the common S4D outcomes under each of these social impact areas, please review Table 1 below.

Table 1: Common Outcomes within each S4D Impact Area

Outcome Outcome Definition
Individual Development**
Improved Self-efficacy An improvement in the participants’ perceived self-confidence in their current abilities and future tasks. It is task specific; a person can view themselves as good at one task but not another. A participants’ sense of self-efficacy can play a major role in how they approach goals, tasks and challenges. It involves recognition that they can make a difference to their own life.
Improved Self- esteem An improvement in the participants’ overall sense of self-worth (personal value), self-respect, self-perception and self-awareness. It involves beliefs about the self, such as appearance (body image), emotions and behaviours.
Improved Motivation An improvement in how goal oriented the participants’ behaviour is. Motivation is what causes a person to act and achieve something: a person’s ambitions and aspirations. Sometimes, individuals are motivated by personal gratification and, other times, for external rewards (such as money, recognition or praise). Motivation involves initiating action (active initiative) and continued effort even though obstacles may exist (determination).
Improved Managing emotions An improvement in the participants’ ability to recognise their emotions and their effects (self-awareness) by examining and regulating emotions, thoughts and resulting actions (self-reflection, self-management) and keeping disruptive emotions and impulses in check (self-control, self-regulation, self-discipline).
Improved Resilience An improvement in the participants’ perseverance and persistence when faced with obstacles (grit) and their flexibility in handling change (adapting, coping).
Improved Social skills An improvement in how the participants interact and relate to others. It can apply to simple social contexts and work environments. It relates to confidence in social interactions (social competence), forming relationships, working effectively in teams and interpreting others. It includes the ability to lead peers and be a role model, and to empathise and motivate others. It also includes communication skills such as expressing, presenting and listening.
Improved life skills An improvement in the life skills of the participants. “Life skills” are defined as psychosocial abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. They are grouped into three broad categories of skills: cognitive skills for analysing and using information, personal skills for developing personal agency and managing oneself, and inter-personal skills for communicating and interacting effectively with others.
Improved self-discipline An improvement in the participants’ ability to control their conduct and overcome their weaknesses, for personal development.
Improved teamwork An improvement in the participants’ willingness to participate in a team.
Increased knowledge about rights An improvement in the participants’ knowledge about their rights. Rights are the legal, social or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement – the normative rules about what participants are allowed to do. These may include, but are not limited to, the rights of life, liberty, education, equality and freedom of thought and expression.
Health and well being
Improved physical wellbeing** An improvement in the participants’ fitness and physical wellbeing. This may include Improved functional fitness, cardio respiratory fitness, muscular strength, adiposity/ body composition; cholesterol levels, bone health, joint health and immune system function.
Improved mental wellbeing** Improved mood, feelings of happiness and life satisfaction, and reduced levels of stress and anxiety of the participants.
Positive health behaviour Improved diet (healthy eating), safe sex, reduced substance misuse, and smoking cessation of the participants.
Less need for health services An improvement in the participants’ physical health by increasing fitness and reducing obesity; preventing a number of chronic diseases (cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, strokes, osteoporosis, hypertension); and providing therapeutic benefits for the management of existing diseases and illnesses. Improvement in mental health by lowering the risk of depression; managing anxiety and stress; increasing an overall sense of wellbeing; and helping with some systems of clinically diagnosed personality disorders (such as schizophrenia).
Increased knowledge and understanding of health and health risks An increase in the participants’ knowledge of potential health risks, their potential consequences and how to prevent them.
Improved diet and nutrition An increase in the participants’ ability to apply their knowledge of diet and nutrition to their everyday lives to make ongoing positive and healthy food choices.
Reduced obesity A reduction in the number of overweight or obese participants (or rate of obesity).
Smoking cessation or reduced substance misuse A reduction in the rate of regular tobacco use by participants.
Reduced incidence of HIV/ AIDS A reduction in the incidence of HIV infection/ AIDS amongst the participants.
Employability
Enhanced career prospects Enhanced career prospects for the participants in a secure job or access to training opportunities.
Enhanced employability skills An increase in the participants’ skills and experience for job/ career prospects.
Young people gain work experience An increase in the number of young people participants with work experience.
Increase in self-employment An increase in the numbers of participants who are self-employed.
Education
Improved cognitive functioning The mental processes (such as perception, attention, memory and decision- making) involved in an individual’s problem-solving, time management, critical thinking, creativity and intellectual flexibility.
Improved access to education A reduction in the barriers that participants face to access education, resulting in an improvement in their access.
Improved attendance at school Reduced absenteeism.
Increased motivation and engagement in school Improved engagement with school and improved behaviour in school of the participants.
Fewer discipline problems A reduction in the incidence of behavior issues and disciplinary incidents amongst students.
Reduced school drop-out rates Reduced school drop-out rates of the participants.
Improved educational attainment and achieving qualifications Improved learning, academic performance, attainment at school and achievement of qualifications of the participants.
Social & Community Cohesion
Increased social capital and trust Increased social capital of the participants. Social capital describes the pattern and intensity of formal and informal networks among people and the shared values which arise from those networks. Aspects of social capital include increased levels of trust, increased membership of various groups and improved access to networks and amount of social contact individuals have in their lives. Different types of social capital can be described in terms of different types of networks: • Bonding social capital describes closer connections between people and is characterised by strong bond • Bridging social capital describes more distant connections between people and is characterised by weaker, but more cross-cutting ties • Linking social capital describes connections with people in positions of power and is characterised by relations between those within a hierarchy where there are differing levels of power.
Increased volunteering Frequent activity of the participants that involves spending time, unpaid, doing something that aims to benefit the environment or someone (individuals or groups) other than, or in addition to, close relatives. Volunteering must be a choice freely made by each individual.
Increased community cohesion and spirit Increased community cohesion and spirit of the participants. A cohesive community is one where there is a common vision and a sense of belonging for all communities; the diversity of people’s different backgrounds and circumstances is appreciated and positively valued; and those from different backgrounds have similar life opportunities.
Strengthened community through leadership and democratic participation Increased civic engagement of the participants (citizens participate in the life of a community in order to improve conditions for others or to help shape the community’s future); and greater social cohesion.
Reduced anti-social behaviour Participants demonstrate Improved pro-social values and reduction of behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to others. Increased positive social interactions.
Improved cultural awareness of participants Improved interaction and interconnection of the participants between cultural groups (this may include subcultures), specifically those who have a history of being excluded or hard to reach.
Reduced gang participation A reduction of the participants’ engagement with or participation in gangs which are involved in serious, violent or territorial behaviour.
Disability
Increased fairness and equality Improved equality of opportunity and reduced stigma and discrimination for all participants, at work, in public, social and political life, and in people’s life chances
Positive change in the perception of disabled people in communities Increased acceptance, understanding and a shift from negative to positive beliefs, values and dispositions of the participants towards and amongst disabled people. This is key to combatting prejudice and harmful practices.
Increased awareness of the issues affecting disabled people An increased awareness of participants of the issues affecting disabled people. Key issues affecting disabled people may include: stigma and discrimination, disability equality issues, access to services, independent living.
Disabled people feel more integrated in society Disabled people feel more integrated in society. Integration means people’s ability to play an active part within their community in terms of holding valued roles, participating in meaningful activities and developing lasting friendships. Being integrated into the community gives people a sense of purpose and identity. It also improves people’s self-esteem and quality of life.
Gender Equity and Equality
Improvement in awareness about gender inequality and gender roles An improvement of the participants’ awareness about the unequal treatment of individuals wholly or partly due to their gender. This may be demonstrated by positive language and behaviours used by participants when talking about the roles of women, girls, men and boys.
More female participants taking up pathways to become leaders An increase in the number of female participants taking up pathways to become leaders, such as becoming a sports coach or seen as a role model.
Increase in female role models An increase in the number of female persons looked to by others as an example to be imitated. Role models could be community leaders, coaches or youth workers, for example.
Increase in female participation in sports activities An increase in female participation (enrolment and sustained engagement) in sports activities.
Improved body confidence of female participants An improvement how female participants perceive their physical self and the thoughts and feelings that result from that perception. The feelings can be positive, negative or both, and are influenced by individual and environmental factors.
Improved advocacy by participants for womens’ and girls’ rights An increase in the numbers of participants who stand-up and advocate for womens’ and girls’ right. Womens’ and girls’ rights are the rights and entitlements claimed for women and girls worldwide. They differ from broader notions of human rights through claims of an inherent historical and traditional bias against the exercise of rights by women and girls in favour of men and boys.
Increased feeling of safety by female participants Increased feelings of the female participants that they do not anticipate either harm or hurt, emotionally or physically.
Safe spaces for females are provided A safe space is a place or environment in which female participants feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, unfair/ harmful criticism, harassment, or any other emotional or physical harm.

S4D Impact Framework

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