UNICEF and Sporter launched a sports project for Moldovan adolescents
The project's idea is to popularise sports among young people and motivate children to do sports consciously, especially while studying remotely.
The current pandemic negatively affected the health and well-being of young people, both in Moldova and worldwide. Distance learning and cancellation of activities forced many adolescents to renounce significant events in their lives, including sport activities. A U-Report survey with more than 3.500 participants revealed that nearly three-quarters of young people have not performed any physical exercises at home since the pandemic began. These results highlighted the need to find solutions to enhance adolescents’ physical activity.
Sport is an important aspect of children’s development. A number of researches were conducted and it was repeatedly proven that sport is an exciting and effective means of improving numerous areas of children and young people's well-being, including physical and mental health.
- Sport positively impacts children’s development and learning and contributes to their academic performance.
- Sport builds adolescents’ discipline and leadership skills.
- Sport may be used to create a safe and protective environment for children and to teach young people how to resolve conflicts non-violently.
- Sport facilitates developing the needed skills to succeed at school, in life and at work.
However, it is very difficult to do sports in the context of pandemic, remote communication and numerous restrictions. This is why the issue of allowing adolescents to practice regular physical activity becomes particularly relevant.
‘Sporter’ public organisation, supported by UNICEF Moldova and in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research of the Republic of Moldova and Youth Klinics launched the TeenZ sports project for boys and girls aged 10 to 18, aimed to popularise sport as a means of maintaining physical and mental health.
During project launch meeting, Galina Lesco, Director of the National Resource Center for Developing Youth Friendly Health Services NEOVITA and coordinator of the ‘Healthy Generation’ project, presented the results of a recent research on sport and physical activity among adolescents:
‘We, as professionals, are very concerned about the trends of the last years. Even before the pandemic, research revealed that physical activity among adolescents decreased by 14%. If in 2014, 24% of adolescents were practising physical activity for 60 minutes every day, in 2018 this figure amounted to 13%. Only 1 in 7 adolescents practiced physical activity for 1 hour per day, the rest of them practiced less’.
This figure declined even more during the pandemic, according to the U-Report survey data. Experts believe that problems are primarily due to the specific nature of teaching physical education online.
‘Currently, physical education teachers and trainers try to find new ways of teaching. We noticed that methods they use are more theoretical. We believe this project will help schools and pupils. Teachers will be able to use TeenZ project materials during their lessons: high quality videos that feature professional trainers and include a program for everyone’,
– said Alexandra Granici, manager of Studii.md remote learning platform.
‘Involving children and adolescents in physical activity is a good way to promote healthy lifestyle, balanced nutrition and to develop skills and abilities to make right conscious choices’, – said Polina Listopad, UNICEF Moldova Communication Consultant.
As part of this project, professional trainers and psychologists produce video training sessions, webinars and consultations on healthy lifestyle for adolescents. This project will be useful not only for children, but also for parents and teachers. TeenZ video trainings and webinars with psychologists can be used as supplementary teaching material during physical education classes or health and safety trainings. Vasilie Onica, chief consultant of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research underlined that:
‘I think if this process included the whole society, including teachers and parents, the results would be much better. Children, especially primary school pupils, copy everything adults do. If children see adults sitting at the computer more often than doing sports together with them, they will do the same. Sport is important not only for the growing-up period, but for the whole lifetime’.
Dmitry Voloshin, founder of ‘Sporter’ organisation, described how national amateur sport changed over the past 7 years:
‘Sporter’s current goal is to help to develop amateur sport in Moldova, including in the regions. Developing the amateur sport will make the nation healthier’.
Regular physical activity and sport have a direct positive impact on well-being and mood. Sport boosts adolescents’ self-esteem, which positively influences their mental health. UNICEF supports this project and will continue to work for the well-being of all Moldovan children and adolescents.