Sporty Mentor

SPORTY MENTOR PROJECT – Mentoring as a tool to motivate young people with challenging behaviours to adopt a healthy lifestyle and engage in sports

SportyMentor Consortium is looking for a more participatory process in changing children and young people with challenging behaviours. This includes children/ young people aged between 13 and 19 years old who have behaviours that can be defined as “challenging” once they put them (or those around them) at risk, or leads to a poorer quality of life. Challenging behaviour can include aggression, self-harm, destructiveness, disruptiveness. Challenging behaviour is often seen in people with health problems that affect communication and the brain, such as learning disabilities.

The idea is to create a model that promotes and ensures children/ young people are listened to in a child-friendly, positive and informal environment. We are working to target children that are both, in community or institutionalized. In France, for example, Members of the Child Protection Commission of CNAPE (National Convention of Associations for Child Protection) estimates that 15-25% of children supported in child protection services are full-time residents in those services. As underlined in national and departmental orientations, it is crucial to avoid that child at the end of the time of their care, come out of facilities without proper support and solutions. Thus, any programme that is destined to reinforce self-confidence, autonomy, capacity to take decisions, capacities to cooperate with others, and pro-social behaviours, is essential for the future of the children, when they’ll come out of the facilities. SportyMentor will support partners to overcome some of these impacts and/or help us increase our mission of organisations’ capacity building. Adolescence is considered a major period in structuring and establishing the personality, constituting a crucial time in which mental and behavioural disorders may manifest (Stringaris et. al, 2013). Challenging behaviour disorders can be associated with school difficulties (failure, expulsion, dropping out, and low grades) as well as high-risk behaviour (drug and alcohol abuse, and high-risk sexual behaviour) and problems in later life (delinquency, violence, problems of emotional dysregulation) (APA, 2013).

Moreover, we also want to address the lack of physical activity in adolescents. According to WHO (2020), physical activity has significant health benefits, preventing and managing cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes, decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety, improves thinking, learning, and judgment skills, ensures healthy growth and development in young people and improves overall well-being. Despite the benefits of physical activity, more than 80% of the world’s adolescent population is insufficiently physically active (WHO, 2020). Of the countries that participate in the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey, only 23.1% of boys and 14.0% of girls aged 13–15 years reported that they met the WHO (2018) recommendation for daily physical activity. Following this fact, the new EU Work Plan for Sport 2021-2024 prioritizes physical activity promotion. Most concretely, the promotion of participation in sport and health-enhancing physical activity is listed as a key priority in the coming years. Furthermore, gender (in)equality in sport has been a central issue for the last twenty years. Compared to men, women are still largely absent, if not invisible, in sport. For example, at the global professional level, today only 4% of sports coverage is dedicated to sport practices by women.

What are our objectives?

SportyMentor proposes a methodology to develop a programme that is both, “child-centred” (designed around the needs and rights of children and young people) and where children & young people have time to relax, contact with sports and the environment. This will be possible through the promotion of contact with role models that, after having specific training, will establish a mentoring relationship with these children and young people, giving them a special place to have a real say and real choices. Given the research data on the benefits of mentoring & promotion of physical activity for youngsters, we intend to involve youngsters with challenging behaviour in a sport mentoring programme to boost their motivation to pursue a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, promoting structural cognitive-behavioural and affective changes in these young people. This project is also an occasion to bring young people into the digital world. Through the creation of a mobile application, users can be introduced to new technologies & new ways of interaction as it will involve the
mentors/mentees & invite them to share & challenge each other with play-full activities.

Project’s concrete objectives:

_During 3 years-long, to develop and pilot with 120 young people (mentors&mentees) with an evidence-based programme that supports adolescents lacking exercise’s self-efficacy, social support, guidance, and role modelling;
_To develop an innovative approach that combines the use of mentoring, sports & mobile app to support the promotion of a healthy lifestyle of adolescents and young people;
_Use young people’s active citizenship and volunteering as a strategic community resource to strengthen adolescents’ personal beliefs and motivation about their capacity to begin and sustain regular physical activity, and in a long period increase their lifespan prospects;
_Encourage a Positive Youth Development (PYD) approach in schools, local NGOs, Sports Clubs & local communities promoting a new perspective on how youth is perceived and youth role can be promoted at the social level;
_To introduce the digital means in a sport mentoring programme targeting social inclusion and active citizenship and doing so increasing the use of digital competencies for promoting the young people’s social inclusion.
_To use the potential of the sport mentoring programme to, simultaneously, promote contact with the environment and local territories.


Asociatia Vis Juventum Romania

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Posted on

7th April 2022