MOVE Transfer Europe-China partners explore current barriers and opportunities at mid-term conference
MOVE Transfer Europe-China Project started in 2018, our visit to China and Hong Kong took place in May 2019 and all of the partners and advisory group (from Europe, Asia, the US and Latin America) met for the first time in October during the MOVE Congress 2019. These first meetings now feel like an age ago, but the partners have kept working together on the project from different sides of the globe with a determination to promote physical activity in three focus areas during the lockdowns and beyond. They showcased their progress in a mid-term conference on 16 June.
After the first physical meetings, the partners formed 3 online working groups: Active Schools, Outdoor Activities and Active Aging. These working groups started their online meetings regularly every month from December 2019. Being used to the online working style has enabled us to easily adapt to the “new normal” that entered our lives with COVID-19. We were already accustomed to meeting online, so the working groups continued their meetings without any challenge caused by the pandemic.
The mid-term conference, which brought together 52 participants from 35 organisations in 21 countries. The conference consisted of 3 main topics: Life after a lockdown and life with COVID-19, the 3 working group topics, and the sustainability of the MOVE Transfer Europe-China partnerships.
Naïs RIGOLLET from the DG EAC Sport Unit of the European Commission welcomed the group at the beginning of the conference, stating: “I would like again to congratulate you for your project activities. It is fully in line with the objectives and priorities of the European Commission. I encourage you to continue the work.”
She highlighted the importance of Mobility as a tool for learning, which is also an objective of this preparatory action by the EU.
The needs, barriers and the opportunities: Coping with fear and worry in a collective way
In the first session, we talked about COVID-19 which radically effected our lives and institutions. But this time we tried to look at it from a different angle. The new opportunities emerged as well as the barriers and needs, as shown by internal questionnaires conducted in the 3 working groups and shared by the group representatives. We saw that we actually had more or less the same needs, had trouble with similar issues, and had a similar motivation to capture opportunities.
Despite the distance of our countries, cultures or even working styles, the similarity of our experiences bonded us more than before in this process and we saw the magic power of being a team and sharing the experience. As Andreu Raya Demidoff from Spain underlined, we kept working as a committed and highly motivated team and profited from the online opportunities by participating V4Sport Foundation´s Physical Education Online World Record Attempt.
The needs expressed by the groups were mainly the urge to feel safe and secure again during sports activities at schools, in outdoor or indoor facilities, the need for a clear communication, the need for space/venues for postponed or cancelled activities, and the need to reach different social groups, such as isolated or disadvantaged groups.
When it comes to the barriers, the most important barrier expressed by the groups was financial problems. In particular, increasing expenditures and decreasing revenues, increasing organisational needs and decreasing human resources, uncertainty, fear, unclear guidance from authorities were underlined.
It also made us slow down our pace of life to see what really matters to us, as Thomas Larsen Schmitt from Denmark pointed out. We also learned to address our vulnerability, support each other, and increase our adaptability to a more uncertain future. In addition, the active use of technology such as online webinars, meetings and e-platforms that have increased during this period, are also listed among the important opportunities.
What have we learned from each other?
The cultural diversity of the participating organisations showed how each culture can add a different and creative perspective to the situation. So, too, can the area in which they work – with elderly, schools and outdoors.
In the Active Ageing Group, the main learnings were the emerging data, physical activity strategies, effect of culture on perception, interest and engagement within the different countries, as well as support made available from funding bodies.
The Active Schools Group covered the topics advocating physical activity and physical education, healthy lifestyle, teacher training, school sport events and active school networks. The most important outcome was being able to work together on the major problems and solutions that schools have in Europe and Asia due to COVID-19.
The Outdoor Activities Group worked on an effective promotion of outdoor activities involving the youth, community in play, sport projects or physical activity initiatives. The main learning is the knowledge sharing about outdoor activities in different countries, the effect of culture on our perception of sports, and the role of technology in promoting sport and physical activities.
What comes next?
The last month of the project, which officially started in January 2018, is December 2020. Therefore, the issue of maintaining the fruitful communication, cooperation and experience sharing has been one of our priorities. In our online meetings, we addressed the sustainability of the partnership in the three working groups, and we received more ideas through questionnaires. As it is foreseen, every organisation in the partnership is in favour of continuing this inspiring and creative learning process.
In the Active Aging Group, German Gymnastic Federation and YMCA initiated the use of the European Fitness Badge in few clubs in China/Hong Kong and Europe, implementing the fitness tests and compare the results. They suggested the ABC exercises from Sports Union of Slovenia to be used as a proven programme for active aging.
The Active Schools Group suggested joining the MOVING Schools Alliance as a platform for sustaining the cooperation, with regular webinars, forums, online meetings to combine and coordinate the efforts and share experiences.
The Outdoor Activities Group has decided to continue with their online meetings and webinars on topics such as Strategy and Policy, Promotion, Inspiration and Motivation, Impact Measuring and Evaluation, and the use of Smart Technologies in Outdoor Sports. There will also be action groups according to the partners’ specific knowledge and experience.
By Hilal Erkoca, ISCA