Abstract

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the meaning of occupational therapy groups focusing on occupational engagement, group process, and social–emotional learning for a purposeful sample of low-income urban youths attending after-school care. Interviews and participant observation were used to study how the children made sense of their experience. Qualitative data analysis resulted in two thematic descriptions of the experience. First, the groups were fun because of engagement in novel and challenging leisure occupations within a supportive group context. Participation in creative activities that allowed choice transformed mood—children experienced happiness and wanted more of these experiences. Second, the participants valued being able to talk about feelings and learn strategies for dealing with anger. Findings provide a glimpse into the possibilities of enhancing occupational balance by engaging children in occupations they find to be fun.

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