Active Afternoons at Harte School: #BeActive Education Award nominee from Denmark

09/09/2021 By Maria Malyshkina, ISCA

Being physically active from our early years means we have a better chance to stay interested in sports in adulthood. This is why it is so important to help children find their way to move in a school setting. The #BeActive Awards is the European Commission’s recognition of outstanding work and commitment at local levels to promote sport and physical activity in Europe. The competition is an integral part of the annual European Week of Sport (EWOS). One of the three categories is the #BeActive Education Award which celebrates innovative ways to encourage kids to #BeActive in an academic setting (in addition to the standard physical activity (PA) classes).

The International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA), as the National Coordinating Body for EWOS in Denmark, is entitled to submit the Danish nominations for the #BeActive Awards. ISCA collaborates with the Danish School Sport Federation to identify the nominee for the Education category.

Harte School in Kolding was in the process of developing its active school profile when it was chosen by the municipality to become part of Moving Kolding project. Its aim was to establish collaboration between schools and the local community, including local sports associations, to support children being physically active during and after school.

To achieve the project’s goal, Harte School initiated “Active Afternoons”: a program which includes three weekly modules, one module during school hours – which is mandatory for all children – and two modules after school. Each module runs over a period of ten weeks with changing activities, for example, gymnastics with a twist of parkour, handball or outdoor play.

After each period, the children make a new selection. In this way, the children encounter diverse activities throughout the school year, which gives the opportunity to try different things and find out which sport motivates them the most to be active.

As school teachers are generally not trained in a wide range of sports, the school collaborates with instructors from local sports associations to deliver the sessions. In the long term this approach can encourage the children to sign up for sport in their spare time because they are already familiar with coaches, having met them in a familiar environment during school hours.

Another key feature is the fact that parts of the program are scheduled within school hours and thereby mandatory for all children. This helps children from homes where physical activity and sports are not part of everyday life to get familiar with being physically active.

The program is designed to ensure that all children can participate irrespectively of physical and motor skills. In total 170 children at Harte School have participated in the program in age groupings (from grade zero to three and grade four to six), whereby the activities are adapted to the children’s age and developmental stage.

Acting headmaster at Harte School, Helle Mandrup, says: “We can tell that it makes a difference. It provides a unique collaboration with the associations, and it makes the students curious about many types of activities that they have the opportunity to try.” By August 2021 six additional schools will initiate the Active Afternoons program.