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BG Be Active: How we’re using advocacy to get Europe’s least active people MOVING

ISCA member and ActiveVoice project partner BG Be Active from Bulgaria is a young non-profit organisation, established in 2011, that is raising awareness and moving people in Europe’s least active country. How has BG Be Active succeeded in gathering support for the NowWeMOVE campaign and its activities in Bulgaria, securing funding, government support, media coverage and increasing participation? Bilyana Mileva shares some of her organisation’s secrets with us.


BG Be Active’s advocacy efforts over the past three years have been focused on one of the mission statements of the organisation – to change the behaviour (and attitudes) of Bulgarians (the country with most inactive population in Europe, according to the Eurobarometer 2014) towards being more active.


The NowWeMOVE Bulgaria campaign is our main advocacy tool and we are continuing its development through a number of EU projects that we have been involved in over the past four years. In 2017 we have secured support from relevant stakeholders on a national level, including the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youth and Sport, Ministry of Health and a number of municipalities. We rely on this cross-sector cooperation to have a wider impact on our target groups, so we try to get local and national governments, NGOs, sport clubs, and the media involved.


5 steps towards changing behaviour

Through the NowWeMOVE campaign we are taking fives steps towards creating behaviour change among Bulgarians.

Raising awareness and persuading are the first steps of the change we want to achieve and the ActiveVoice project has provided us with valuable support in that regard. From our recent experience, our efforts to engage inactive people are most effective in the school setting, so we have targeted our efforts and communication there.


We chose to implement the Active Healthy Kids report card in Bulgaria, so we can have more complete information about the situation in schools and the habits and behaviour of young people, also to identify the most problematic areas and work in that direction to solve them.


At the same time, we are working on initiatives to build the capacity of local providers of physical activity for health with programmes like Active School Communities – aiming at better collaboration between schools and local sports clubs to make schools more physically active places for all young people. We have also participated in education programmes targeting young people (peer education initiatives) like Youth on the MOVE and European Youth Health Champions. We combine those initiatives with opportunities for activation, such as NowWeMOVE campaign events like European School Sport Day, European Fitness Day and MOVE Week.


To reward our collaborative partners for their engagement, we introduced a national award scheme for the Most Active School and Most Active MOVE Agent, so we can further acknowledge, communicate and disseminate best practices in Bulgaria.


The keys to successful physical activity advocacy

We believe that providing credible information about levels and risks of inactivity, the benefits of physical activity, and sharing best practices in the field from our national context are the keys to successful advocacy and a way to build the capacity of our network.


Having a better understanding of our situation allows us to tune in our plans with different initiatives, awareness campaigns, and events. This way we can educate local providers about physical activity and help facilitate the actions, giving them the opportunity to make more Bulgarians physically active.


However, change does not happen overnight and we have to continue our work on different levels. The challenges we face are securing the necessary resources including funds, HR and information, and ensuring the sustainable development of the health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) in Bulgaria. That is why, we would like to develop a national HEPA network of experts, providers of physical activity and stakeholders. We plan to present our idea during a national conference for Heath-Enhancing Physical Activity in Bulgaria at the end of 2017 and find more supporters for the idea.


By Bilyana Mileva, BG Be Active


Find out more about the EU Erasmus+ supported ActiveVoice project


Interested in new solutions that get kids more active? Join the Active School Communities session at the MOVE Congress 2017