”Food is tasty, time is short and exercise is hard” mentality exists in more students and adults all over the world. From inquiries conducted in our schools, whose results we implemented in the application, we found out that reasons, why students are not reaching the recommendations of 60 minutes per day of physical activity, are the lack of places where to be active, someone, a friend to be active with, and lack of time. Covid pandemic brought other difficulties and barriers to our lifestyles, one of them being social distancing. Before the pandemic students were active by participating in sport club activities or playing team games. Nowadays, things are harder and as a consequence, the amount of physically active time in a day has been reduced significantly for all.
Another issue we want to solve with this project is the low levels of active participation of students in school activities. There is a need in all six schools for increasing the capacity of teachers to motivate, mentor and help students to learn by reflection, to have agency, to be capable of acting by themselves to make plans, carry out actions, make an informed decision based on their knowledge, and be flexible in changing times. There are certain life skills and pedagogical strategies, which are best learned, acquired, and applied through non-formal, extracurricular activities, and afterward embedded into the curriculum.
The third need identified in all schools, from all six countries involved in the project, is a low level of active participation in the life of communities. We can help students discover the ways in which they can take action and improve the community, respecting principles of sustainable development, through service learning campaigns.
Briefly, what we want to achieve is more students, more active and healthy, more often. To obtain that, we have to build the capacity for teachers to become active and be prepared to motivate, mentor, and help students reflect on their progress. Therefore, teachers will obtain knowledge, attitudes, and experience by participating in the learning session about self-determination theory, time management, and reflection. They will develop a model and tools for helping students set a goal, make a plan, and reach the goal.
During the project, students will gain awareness and understanding of the importance of a healthy lifestyle by participating in conferences and presentations on the theme, will do in practice physical activities, and will change eating habits by participating in the challenges of the project or by setting their own goals. The challenges for physical activity and for changing eating habits will start gradually, and the targets will increase systematically. At the end of the project, the targets will reach, the WHO recommendations regarding physical activity (60 minutes per day of activity, with moderate to vigorous intensity training two times a week) and healthy eating habits (water intake, fresh vegetables, and fruit twice a day, healthy dish- half fresh veggies, o quarter protein and quarter carbohydrates and so on).
In addition, the students experiment with an approach for personal development based on competencies from Personal, social, and learning to learn Framework: set a goal, make a plan, achieve the goal. Moreover, in order to be able to establish their own principle of healthy eating and physical activities, students will have to acquire knowledge and apply knowledge of critical thinking and media literacy for the identification of fake news regarding healthy eating and safe physical training.
The last objective of the project refers to the involvement of students in community life; regardless the community is the school or the whole city. First, students will help to improve the school culture by embedding healthy eating habits and physical activity into the everyday life of schools, by replacing the vehicle transportation to school with walking or riding or reducing the time spent in a car or bus by leaving the bus or car at a walking distance from school. In order to assure their safety when walking or riding/cycling to school, we will create safe routes to walk and ride in the city, with the help of local authorities and local NGOs. For embedding healthy eating habits into school culture, the schools will establish periodically Special Days (Water Day, Fruit Day, The day without sweets, The Day without Fast Food, etc.). Moreover, students will extend the experience of creating those routes in the cities to neighborhood areas surrounding the cities, where we will set routes or places for individual or small group physical activities, such as hikes, walks, ride- and running sessions. The creation of the routes will be done by service-learning campaigns. Students already identified the need existing in the community as the lack of safe places for physical activity, so the service-learning campaigns will be based on that need.
In this process, students will learn to take into consideration when proposing solutions to the problem, all aspects of sustainable development, considering social, economic, and environmental aspects. Once created, students, teachers, the whole school will prove their commitment to physical activity by maintaining and periodically cleaning the routes and spaces and obviously using them, individually or by organizing outdoor events.
The main outcomes from our project are: Teachers equipped with know-how about motivating themselves and students to achieve personal goals, to active participation in the school community, to engage in the life of the local community, Students with the recommended level of PA, students with healthy eating habits, students with the ability of critical evaluation of information about PA, about healthy food, and able to transfer these abilities to other fields of interest, students with developed abilities for self-regulation (ability to understand, activate, monitor, control and adapt behaviors), students who act for and in the benefit of the school community and the local community.
As for outputs we intend to create at least 6 routes or adopted parks for doing PA, Several safe routes to schools, a Handbook about designing a service-learning campaign, for teachers, a Handbook for embedding Healthy Habits into school culture, guides (Step by step approach to… running, riding/cycling, dancing, outdoor games, hiking, healthy eating, orienteering -designed for students, teachers and parents), Recipe blog - recipes for students’ favorite dishes modified with healthy ingredients, At least 6 vlogs (video - recording of cooking healthy food), 4 types of lessons for PE classes and Counseling Classes, An online platform for monitoring the progress of PA and eating habits developed during the project
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