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LEAP Program

Life Enhancement through Athletic & Academic Participation

The LEAP Mission
The mission of the LEAP program is to help at-risk children and adolescents to succeed in school and life – empowering them to make sound, thoughtful decisions. The "hook" of the LEAP program is participation in interactive and non-traditional games or in organized sports. LEAP uses sport participation as a catalyst to help youth learn more effective life skills and coping techniques.

Through participation in the LEAP program youth learn sport psychology techniques, such as positive self-talk, anger management, goal setting, motivation and team building in a supportive environment of positive reinforcement. Rather than focusing simply on sports, youth learn to use sport psychology to improve their life skills; they learn and practice the tools they need to recognize and evaluate their choices and develop respect for themselves and others.

The LEAP Program provides a bridge to opportunity by helping youth:

  • Improve personal decision making
  • Recognize choices have consequences
  • Promote personal responsibility and accountability
  • Improve positive self-concept, self-worth and self-confidence
  • Learn skills to deal with anger and frustration in appropriate ways
  • Learn to work together to solve problems
  • Learn the discipline necessary to be successful in sports, school and life

The LEAP program tailors the sport psychology principles and techniques to the needs of each specific group.

Who LEAP Works With

Student Athletes
The LEAP program works with at-risk high school student athletes on the field and in the classroom. With participation of teachers and coaches, the LEAP program provides students a positive environment where learning is possible — where they can receive academic support and life skills education in the classroom and learn team building skills and sport psychology techniques to improve their performance on the field.

Challenge Camp
The LEAP Challenge Camp is held at Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility (OAYRF), helping juvenile offenders learn to focus on their future. Through an interactive games environment, the youth have an opportunity to build social, communication, and listening skills; practice problem-solving, decision making, and planning skills; and learn cooperation and appropriate outlets for anger and stress.

Sport Specific Camp
The LEAP Sport Specific Camps focus on working with girls in sports, providing them an opportunity to learn "Mental Strategies" that can be used both in the sporting arena and in their life. Team building, communication and group problem solving skills, positive self-talk and goal setting are the focal points of the Camps. Girls learn these skills through participation in their sport and then apply them to the classroom and their life.

Life Skills Workshops
The LEAP Life Skills Workshops work with at-risk children and adolescents in the Pittsburg, California Community. Through an interactive and non-traditional games environment youth are taught life skills to help them make better choices and navigate the obstacles and stressors they face in life.

Why the LEAP Program Works
The strategy used by the LEAP Program is original. LEAP teaches youth to use the following well-established sport psychology techniques in all aspects of their lives:

  • Goal Setting
  • Positive Self-Talk
  • Focus & Concentration
  • Team Building & Group Problem Solving
  • Circle Breathing
  • Relaxation
  • Stress & Anger Management
  • Imagery
  • Centering
  • Communication & Listening Skills
  • Time Management

Within the high school setting the emphasis for the student athlete is not on winning but on having successful individual and team experiences. Within the Challenge Camp setting the emphasis is on specifically using the sport psychology techniques as life skills. In both settings, the goal for the youth is to work in communication with peers and authority figures, building mutual trust and support, staying positive and learning to face challenges in a healthy way.

How the LEAP Program Works

Applied Sport Psychology - LEAP teaches the proven sport psychology techniques - such as goal setting, relaxation, concentration and positive self-talk - in an interactive and non-traditional games environment of through sports participation and then helps youth apply the techniques to other aspects of their lives.

Education - LEAP workshops address topics that affect youth - such as anger and stress management, improving personal decision-making, career planning and pressure in high school sports.

Academic Support - LEAP works with teachers, coaches, school administrators and parents to help youth stay on course academically and maintain eligibility to participate in sports.

Research and Development - LEAP develops specific programs based on the needs of each population it serves. LEAP revises its program components as appropriate through continual self-evaluation.

Support Workshops
- LEAP provides educational workshops to address the needs of youth, coaches and parents. The workshops are called 'Be Your Best' (BYB) and the focus is on providing a positive environment for discussions on life topics.


John F. Kennedy University is an affiliate of the National University System.