Department or Program



Mentorship relationships may be particularly beneficial for children with disabilities and serious illnesses in building their positive youth development and self-determination. The present mixed-methods study aimed to explore the characteristics of mentorship matches between children with disabilities and serious illnesses and collegiate sports teams that fostered psychosocial development among child participants. The study focused on program evaluation surveys (N = 169) completed by the parents of participants in the Team IMPACT organization at one to two time points between August 2022 and October 2023. Across all participating children, (Mage = 12.25, SD = 2.97) at Time 1, 36% were female and at Time 2, 42% were female. Participants had a wide range of diagnoses. Using thematic qualitative analysis of the open-ended survey responses and anecdotal data from a parent focus group, I identified a three-phase process of empowerment by the mentoring sports team as a precursor for growth in a range of support factors, internal assets, and social skills that supported participants’ positive youth development and self-determination. I also identified challenges (e.g., logistical obstacles, difficulties connecting in a meaningful way with the team) associated with program participation that may have influenced the development of the aforementioned elements (i.e. internal assets, social skills, positive emotions). Exploratory follow-up quantitative analyses were conducted, but the results were inconclusive. Findings allow Team IMPACT and youth mentoring programs to more broadly understand the developmental outcomes and implications of mentorship matches, and to consider future longitudinal qualitative and quantitative analyses.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Maker Castro, Elena

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Community Engagement


Open Access

Available to all.