Healthy lifestyles promotion for immigrant and Roma youth through sports
How to increase the participation of children from disadvantaged social groups (immigrants, Roma, etc.) to the sport activities and promote healthy lifestyles?
The main purpose of the ATHLISI study is to promote social inclusion and equal opportunities through increased participation in sport activities of children from disadvantaged social groups (Roma, immigrants, economically disadvantaged etc.). The study aims to promote the social inclusion of these children through their increased participation in sport activities in the framework of the activities of the sport clubs.
The study is in line with the European policies in the field of sport. Indeed, the Commission, “actively supports actions promoting social inclusion through sport” (COM (2007 391 final), with regard to the great importance of the role of sports in the field of social inclusion, integration and equal opportunities. Moreover, the Commission considers sports as having enormous potential for bringing people together, regardless of age or social origin.
In this framework, the ATHLISI study proposes an approach that enables professionals to deal better with integration activities through sports and supports young people of different backgrounds to develop through their participation on sports “a shared sense of belonging and participation” which could be a very important tool for the integration of immigrants and other groups.
The involvement of the local sport clubs is a very important element in order to achieve these objectives since it ensures sustainability of the activities and long term impact. In order to achieve the objective of the increased participation of children from disadvantaged target groups to the activities of the sport clubs, the ATHLISI study proposes as the most adequate solution the training of the representatives of the sport clubs and the coaches and the promotion of the cooperation of the sport clubs with the local community.
These objectives are also reiterated by the European Parliament resolution of 8 May 2008 on the White Paper on Sport. The European Parliament in this resolution, “stresses the particularly important role of sports for the social inclusion of those from less privileged backgrounds, in particular migrants, taking a positive view of the Commission’s stance in recognizing the role of sport as a useful instrument for integrating migrants and, more generally, as an instrument of social inclusion. It proposes that access to sport and integration in social sports infrastructures should be considered an indicator of social integration and a factor for analysing the phenomenon of social exclusion”.
The ATHLISI study also aims to prevent intolerance and xenophobia in sports by promoting the integration of diverse communities (immigrants, Roma etc.) in the sport clubs and by training the coaches to manage diversity between the sport clubs and manage also the tensions, due to racist or xenophobic incidents, that may appear inside the club.
Furthermore, the ATHLISI study promotes a community approach through the community consultation and much of the study will be based on the ABCD (Asset Based Community Development Approach).
Indeed, the methodology of this study is based on involving local communities, coaches and sport clubs through innovative elements that consist of:
- an Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) approach to the research, consultation and training needs analysis to understand key issues related with the role that coaches and sport clubs have in the promotion of social inclusion as well as the main skills and knowledge that the target group misses. This approach empowers communities and those working in the community to have an important role in the design and application of the research process encouraging and establishing participation and ownership of the process through a citizen action community solution framework. This is particularly important to work with disadvantaged target groups. As a result, the main training of the coaches and sport clubs is delivered online through the web.
- the concept of the training of sport clubs and coaches in the issue of social inclusion through sports. While in some cases the role of the sport clubs is important in the local communities regarding the social integration, until now there has not been implemented any specific training of the members of the sport clubs and coaches in this regard. The project aims to systematize the knowledge and skills of the sport clubs and coaches for this issue and transfer efficiently best practices developed in other countries.
- the organization of the training through the use of e-learning. E-learning until now has been used rarely in the field of trainings related with the integration of disadvantaged target groups and even more rarely for the training of sport clubs and coaches. The introduction of e-learning in the field is an important step in order to promote ICT based education and the digital inclusion in the field.
- the organization of training to members of the target groups outside the partner countries. Generally, the impact of EU funded projects in the field of sports is concentrated in the partner countries. The use of e-learning allows the project to have a wider European impact. For this reason the project wants to organize a pan-European e-learning course with participants exclusively from countries outside the partnership.
- having concrete and measurable impact to the local communities and therefore ATHLISI study provides particular attention to practical implementation of the skills acquired during the training. This increases significantly the impact of the project to the disadvantaged target groups that benefit from this initiative.
The main problem that the ATHLISI study tackles is that, even though the importance of sports for the social inclusion of children from disadvantaged target groups is evident in the EU and United Nations policy papers as well as in many relevant researches, the number of children from disadvantaged target groups that are involved in the activities of the sport clubs is very low. According to a study published by the World Health Organisation entitled “Promoting Sport and Enhancing Health in European Union countries”, the population groups that are less likely to engage in sports activities are the immigrants and the people living in deprived neighborhoods. As mentioned above, the potential of the sport clubs to improve this situation is very significant because the participation in sport clubs ensures continuous and systematic sport activity on the contrary with occasional sport events that could be organized in order to engage them in sport activity.
However, as shown also in the Sport Inclusion Network report on “Sport and Integration: Challenging Social Inclusion in and through Sports”, many times the sport clubs and the coaches working in them do not have the necessary contacts, knowledge and skills in order to work with the local communities and the disadvantaged people and engage them in the activities of the sport clubs.
Moreover, important stakeholders such as local authorities and schools need to recognize the importance of the coaches and sport clubs in this process, support them and promote the cooperation between local communities and sport clubs for the improvement of the social inclusion of the disadvantaged children.
The ATHLISI study tackles this problem by developing the skills of the coaches and members of the sport clubs and by supporting the cooperation and networking between the sport clubs, the local communities and important stakeholders in local level such as local authorities and schools.
The ATHLISI study is related with the European Week of Sport and more importantly on the topic related with “Sport Clubs and Fitness Centres”. According to the description that exists in the website of the European Week of Sports Sport clubs and fitness centres “support social inclusion and cohesive communities by enabling people to get together and have fun, whatever their age, gender and socio-economic background”. So, the study is important in order to reach a more diverse audience and to include groups from disadvantaged socio-economic background in the #beactive spirit of the European Week of Sport.
As it can be seen from the description above, all the main activities for the implementation are closely interrelated and interlinked. The problems, which are addressed by the study, could not be resolved without a transnational cooperation since they address an issue that is common in all the partner countries. The ATHLISI study has an impact upon several European countries allowing both the sharing of experience, ideas and know-how and multiplying the effect on the quality of the outputs.
The exchange of opinions, experiences and expertise between the stakeholders in the sector is a very valuable issue because in this way each country can learn from the experiences of the other and can benefit from each other’s experiences. This is the result of the complementary expertise that exists between the partners and between the countries. This is also why all the countries involved are going to contribute to the development of the training material in a way that the final training material is going to be a combination of complementary skills, knowledge and approaches.
Moreover the European partnership allows the sharing of ideas and experiences and the brainstorming between the partners and the stakeholders. Through this process all the partners are able to contribute to the solution of each other’s’ problems and to benefit from the expertise developed in another country.
- To promote the social inclusion of disadvantaged target groups in sport and promote equal access to sport for everyone independently from their socioeconomic background
- To support young people of different backgrounds to develop through their participation on sports “a shared sense of belonging and participation” and act as a tool for the integration of immigrants and other groups
- To prevent intolerance and xenophobia in sports by promoting the integration of diverse communities (immigrants, Roma etc.) in the sport clubs and by training the coaches to manage diversity between the sport clubs and manage also the tensions, due to racist or xenophobic incidents, that may appear inside the club
- Realisation of field research with the methodology of the Community Consultation Groups
- Production of a comparative research report (including concrete suggestions on the way forward) on the basis of the results in all the partners’ countries
- Development of networking and cooperation of the coaches and sport clubs with their local communities and mostly with the disadvantaged parts of these communities
- Creation of e-learning material inclusive of audio-visual elements (videos, sounds, interactive applications etc) in order to be more attractive for the users
- Organization of an online workshop for the training of the tutors in online tutoring
- Training Needs Analysis: comparative research report on training needs analysis for coaches and sport clubs in relation of social inclusion of children from disadvantaged target groups
- Development of training material for the training of the coaches and sport clubs
- ATHLISI E-Learning Platform and Course for the coaches, trainers, sport clubs
- Face to face seminars and online courses
- Coordinator: NPDD Koinonikhs Allileggyis Athlitismoy Irodoros Dimoy Megareo (Greece)
- Action Synergy SA (Greece)
- Foundation for the Promotion of Social Inclusion in Malta (Malta)
- Nacionalno Dvizhenie Obedinenie Za Razvitie Na Sporta I Sportn (Bulgaria)
- G.G. EUROSUCCESS Consulting LTD (Cyprus)
- Zavod APGA (Slovenia)
- CESIE (Italy)