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ASFALT

The aim of the research and innovation project called ASPHALT´is to prevent obesity and diabetes among children and young people with social and health-related disadvantages.

 

Street sports project aims to prevent obesity and diabetes among disadvantaged children and young people

The effects of inequity in health are especially noticeable in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Financial, social and cultural barriers result in many children and young people living in these neighbourhoods not participating in sports clubs and activities.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has therefore awarded a grant of DKK 9.4 million to support a new research and innovation project called ASPHALT. The aim is to prevent obesity and diabetes among children and young people with social and health-related disadvantages. The project will carry this out by encouraging 8–25 year-olds to become more physically active in daily life by participating in street sports and by strengthening their social and community relationships.

ASPHALT (Activities and Street Sports Promoting Health, Physical Activity, Quality of Life and Well-being) will be implemented in a partnership between GAME Denmark, a nonprofit street sports organization, and the Health Promotion Department of Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen, Capital Region of Denmark, a research and development unit focusing on patient education and disease prevention.

The project is based on GAME Denmark’s initiatives in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, in which young volunteers are trained as street sports instructors (called Playmakers) to serve as role models and organize weekly sessions in street sports, such as football and basketball, for children and young people in the neighbourhoods.

“GAME Denmark has good experience of working with street sports and volunteers as role models, but not much research has been done to understand this more deeply. Our ambition is to reduce inequality in access to communities and a physically active life. We therefore want to learn more about how GAME Denmark in collaboration with Denmark’s municipalities and local actors can accelerate the social transformation required to accomplish this,” says Morten Bo Andersen, Managing Director of GAME Denmark.

ASPHALT comprises two closely related initiatives. One is the practical task of developing new and improved methods and tools that can help GAME Denmark’s volunteer Playmakers in organizing street sports. The other is a research approach in which Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen monitors the activities and assists in developing the methods and tools.

“ASPHALT innovatively combines health-promoting initiatives and research. By supporting this project, the Foundation seeks to contribute to developing new concepts, tools or technologies that can encourage more children and young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods to participate in physical activity and developing local communities and thereby improve their health,” says Thomas Alslev Christensen, Head of Operations, Novo Nordisk Foundation.

The project’s goal is to have 10,000 children and young people participate by the end of the project. The concepts developed will be tested and implemented in four of Denmark’s largest municipalities – Copenhagen, Aalborg, Viborg and Esbjerg – and many disadvantaged neighbourhoods throughout Denmark. This grant covers the first two phases, to be implemented in 2018–2019, of the four total project phases.

“The ASPHALT research and intervention project is important and interesting for the Health Promotion Department of Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen, because it has great potential to reach out to many children and young people who could otherwise be difficult to reach. This research can provide new knowledge on the members of this target group and the challenges they face. The close collaboration planned in the project between GAME Denmark’s developers, practitioners, Playmakers and users will substantially shorten the path between developing knowledge and intervention and implementation,” says Peter Bentsen, Team Leader and Senior Researcher, Health Promotion Department, Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen, Capital Region of Denmark.