What is the Most Valuable Partnership for Building Active School Communities?
When ISCA released its report The Economic Cost of Physical Inactivity in Europe with Cebr in 2015 we revealed that four-fifths of European adolescents are insufficiently active. Growing reports of children “losing the right to roam” independently to and from school, competition from technology and other sedentary activities, reduced hours for physical education, and a lack of “physical literacy” point to the school as a setting that needs an overhaul when it comes to making physical activity attractive to its pupils.
Who can give school sport the innovative boost it needs? The Active School Communities project, in which ISCA is a partner, sees community sport organisations as a key stakeholder. The project partners are now testing a toolkit that will help these organisations join forces with schools and advocate for a more holistic approach to physical activity in the school setting.
Local authorities and policy-makers are also a vital piece of the puzzle. On 8 June, the project partners held a seminar at the Committee of the Regions of the European Union (CoR), in attendance of SEDEC members (the Committee responsible for Sport within the institution), and are developing recommendations for policy makers to create more integrated policies that include a wider range of sectors in delivering physical activity initiatives in schools.
“The cooperation between schools and community sport organisations is potentially powerful, and we need politicians to help boost this power,” Rose-Marie Repond, from the European Physical Education Association, who is coordinating the project partners’ policy recommendations, said as she introduced the project at the seminar.
Roberto Pella, CoR member and rapporteur on the opinion “Health in cities as the common good”, agreed that “promoting wellbeing and health is a transversal exercise. Transport, education, mobility, health and physical activity sectors cannot work in silos anymore. It is important to keep supporting initiatives like the Active School Communities project.”
Kieran McCarthy, Member of the CoR and the Cork City Council, also voiced his support for the project.
“The Committee of the Regions and the local authorities that it aims to represent is committed to fostering partnerships at local level. The Active School Communities project shows the vitality of the sport sector and its commitment to fighting sedentary lifestyles. We will keep welcoming and supporting such initiatives.”
ISCA President Mogens Kirkeby emphasised the school-sports club-local authority collaboration is the “Most Valuable Partnership” to help children exercise their right to move every day (read his full address to the CoR here).
“The local community – where the real life of the children takes place – is crucial when we want to change the habits of our youngest citizens. For children and young people the school and sport clubs are influential entities. The partnership between schools, sport clubs and municipalities has proven to be very powerful when successful collaborations have been established.”
As part of the project’s advocacy efforts, the partners will hold a public hearing in Brussels in September, and a session dedicated to Active School Communities will feature at the MOVE Congress in Birmingham, UK, on 6 October 2017.
Read project partner Sport and Citizenship’s story for more insights into the CoR seminar
The Active School Communities project is co-funded by Erasmus+ Sport Collaborative Partnerships. The partners include BG Be Active (Bulgaria, project lead), International Sport and Culture Association, European Physical Education Association, Willibald Gebhardt Institute (Germany), Youth Sport Trust (UK), Sport and Citizenship (France), Hungarian School Sport Federation, UISP (Italy), DGI (Denmark), South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture (UK) and SUS (Slovenia).