The value of engaging with Scouts: CO-CREATE’s story of success
In the last 2 years, the Scouts have placed a spotlight on obesity prevention in Portugal and worked across Europe with fellow youth, policymakers, business leads, and experts to tackle this growing epidemic. This has been done through their involvement in the CO-CREATE project. CO-CREATE is a research project funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation Programme.
The core project activities thrive and anticipate the participation of young people aged 16 to 21 from six countries: Norway, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, and South Africa. The project aims to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity through policy proposals that promote healthier food and physical activity environments. Young people are trained and informed on the subject and consequently are guided to develop political proposals that they consider essential for addressing the epidemic of childhood obesity across Europe.
In Portugal, the project is led by CEIDSS who has worked with three Scout groups from the Lisbon region on these issues concurrently. In Cascais, youth from the 113- São Domingos de Rana Scout group are involved in the project; in Oeiras, youth from the 407 Scout group; and in Lisbon, youth from the 1100- Parque das Nações Scout group.
The policy ideas developed in Portugal are the following:
- “Physical Activity for All” (creation of public-private partnerships between schools, sports centres, and local transport regulators that facilitate and encourage young people to perform physical activity);
- “Nutrition in Schools” (implementation of some theoretical-practical classes on nutrition, healthy eating, and cooking to make young people more autonomous in terms of their diet);
- “Limiting Food Marketing” (creation of marketing regulatory measures that reach young people under the age of 18, based on the fact that they should not be influenced to buy unhealthy products).
This work is a matter of great pride for the scouts involved. It consumed a lot of time, but the results and opportunities that have emerged are extremely rewarding. In addition to working for a cause we believe in; we have had the opportunity to speak with important stakeholders from different who have shared advice and helped us improve our proposals. We met with three political parties who listened to us with great enthusiasm and kept our contact for future cooperation.
Recently, on September 20th,2021, we organised an in-person National Dialogue Forum, that brought together young people and stakeholders at Casa das Histórias da Paula Rego, Cascais. We had the opportunity to present our ideas and guide them through a guided conversation using the Dialogue Forum tool developed by EAT. The Dialogue Forum tool facilitated a balanced and equal discussion among all stakeholders, to refine political proposals and build a network, regardless of age or occupation. In the end, all participants committed to an action to advance the selected policy ideas.
CO-CREATE exemplifies the opportunities that scouting can bring to young people, and necessitates reflection of the values experienced in it. The effort and commitment of young people are characteristics that we develop and cultivate from an early age. The involvement of Scouts in the CO-CREATE project is evidence that Scouting is an excellent educational method that prepares young people for life and integration into working teams in non-Scout contexts.
Written by Mafalda Goncalves and Pedro Goncalves, CO-CREATE Youth Declaration Task Force Portugal
About the CO-CREATE project:
CO-CREATE (GA No 774210), a five-year (2018-2023) research project funded through an EU Horizon 2020 grant, aims to reduce the prevalence of obesity among adolescents in Europe through policy actions to promote a healthier food and physical activity environment. CO-CREATE vision is that before 2025, the rise in adolescent obesity will have come to a halt.
Visit the Website: www.co-create.eu
Follow the Twitter account: @EU_COCREATE.
Read the CO-CREATE Youth Alliance Policy Briefs, a compilation of youth-developed and refined policy ideas to address the systemic factors which influence adolescent obesity and health in their respective countries.