IncluPAS is a social sport project for the promotion of social inclusion through sport and exercise initiatives which receives funding from the European Union’s Erasmus+ sports programme. The project is set up for and by socially vulnerable adolescents aged 14 to 18 in three cities (Ghent, Thessaloniki, and Vilnius).
We accepted this challenge in collaboration with seven partners from five different countries (2012-2023): Research and expertise centre Vital Cities of Hogeschool West-Vlaanderen (Belgium), MySueño Sport & Health Marketing (Belgium), Lunex International University of Health, Exercise & Sports (Luxemburg), VIDC Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation (Austria), City of Ghent (Belgium), Active Vilnius (Lithuania), Major Development Agency Thessaloniki (Greece).
We can name plenty of reasons why sports participation remains a middle-class activity, while regular programmes frequently fail to reach young people from disadvantaged communities. Over the last couple of years, the idea of self-organising communities has been increasingly put forward as an alternative to the traditional offerings from local administrations. Under this approach, the creation of sports and exercise options is exclusively in the remit of local administrations and organisations, but also as involving young people in the community.
In this project, the young people from different neighbourhoods are called ‘community champions’. They decide for themselves what they want to undertake, assume a certain responsibility in the organisation of sport and exercise initiatives, and inspire their peers to participate. The success of community champions strongly depends on the engagement and motivation of these young people and their supervisors alike, as well as their willingness to take responsibility for the community. The concept of self-organising communities ties in with the current trend of decentralisation and empowerment, with people striving for greater control over their own lives and environments. Self-organising communities can also play an important role in encouraging social inclusion and community spirit.
In order to reach the young people living in vulnerable neighbourhoods, increase their opportunities for practising sports, and build their personal and social skills, we sought to answer the following questions:
- How can a community scan be used to get a clear view of the target group’s needs and requirements?
- How can young people themselves, as community champions, assume responsibility to create a sustainable impact?
- How can we set up an intersectoral collaboration to engage socially vulnerable youths?
- How can a digital communication strategy and an app provide support for this?
The IncluPAS toolbox offers a step-by-step explanation of how we shaped the entire process and provides tools and methodologies for you to work with.