Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) is an international alliance of researchers that collaborate on cross-national surveys of school students: http://www.hbsc.org/. We have analysed their national reports and that generally problems are similar across partner countries: young people have problems with diet (body image, eating breakfast, consumption of sweet, fast food, etc.), sport activity (and computer games which substitute the activity), using dangerous substances (smoking, alcohol, drugs, medicine etc.) and emotional well-being. We recognised similar problems with young people in our schools and decided to focus our project on these problems.
An investigation into doping in sport carried out by Gausdal Vidergaendeskole noted that young people who were not involved in sport were far more likely to be involved in drugs than those who participated regularly in sporting activities. For males, this tended to be in order to improve physique quickly and without physical exertion by using anabolic steroids. Young females often develop eating disorders in a desperate attempt to appear slim and these are growing, with images of the 'ideal' look spread through social media.
Similarly, today's lifestyle can be hectic and stressful for young people as they try to keep up with technology, their studies, their social networks and ever-increasing expectations on them to succeed quickly. They rarely take time out to relax and are unfamiliar with relaxation techniques which might help them to concentrate better and achieve greater results.
Our objectives are:
- to create materials for teachers to enable them to help their students lead healthier life styles through diet, relaxation, sport and avoiding addictive substances by seeking alternative, safe 'high's with physical activity. We are also keen to disseminate our ideas to teachers involved with teaching refugees as we feel that the SHARE objectives are particularly relevant to them, in order to help integration into the local community. Materials will include a film and an e-book.
- to train students as ambassadors to help teachers to deliver these materials and become role models who their peers and younger students will look up to and follow. In this way, young people will enjoy their studies more and perform better thus improving their grades and their chances of gaining future employment and continuing with their studies.
- to reduce early school leaving and improve achievement by making students more healthy and therefore more focused on their learning and more motivated to achieve.
Our key target groups are our students and teachers, however other young people, parents and employers will also benefit from the results of the project.
The problems the partners are facing are not unique, so by working together internationally and sharing best practice we can find joint solutions to overcome these issues. We can also make our students more aware of what it means to be European and the opportunities available to them in their future lives. We are taking advantage of two partners with a lot of experience of the Olympic movement to go back to the grass root ethos of sport in order to encourage more participation. We are also teaching our students and teachers about the benefits of different diets in Europe to our health. Only by working internationally and visiting each other can students and teachers truly experience another culture and understand one another in order to create networks for future collaboration.