ISCA takes to the stage for #BeActive Awards ‘Promoting Healthy Lifestyles in the Community’ panel

11/30/2023 By Manal Najah, ISCA

On 23 November, at the annual #BeActive Awards ceremony in Brussels, ISCA Secretary General Jacob Schouenborg was invited by the European Commission to participate in the panel discussion "Promoting healthy lifestyles in the community". He shared the stage with the moderator Ine Beyen, sports journalist and former professional cyclist, and panel members Sandra Bergqvist, Minister of Youth, Sport and Physical Activity of Finland and Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, Director General of DG EAC.

Photo by the EC

In the discussion, Ine Beyen acknowledged that ISCA was among the first organisations to pledge a commitment to launch a European initiative for healthy lifestyle promotion in response to the former Commissioner Mariya Gabriel’s call for a #HealthyLifestyle4All. She asked Schouenborg to give more background on the pledge and why promoting healthy lifestyles is so important to ISCA.

He explained: "For the last 10 years the most important sector for ISCA was health, and health is a significant motivator for people to #BeActive, which is why so many public institutions invest in developing the grassroots sport sector. We could see that health is significantly important and we wanted to understand our role in that."

He continued: "When we asked ourselves who owns the health agenda, we realised that clearly the sports sector has a role to play in enhancing the health agenda, so we decided to launch a European Action for a HealthyLifestyle4All, together with JOGG/Youth Health Community and Schuttelaar & Partners (S&P), in collaboration with MEP host Tomasz Frankowski (EPP, Poland), and several key partners. A call to action was launched at the kick-off event on 27 June 2022 in the European Parliament, requesting a European action plan for prevention of non-communicable diseases and healthy lifestyle promotion and so many European countries have signed it."

Ine Beyen highlighted ISCA’s contribution to various projects that inspire physical activity and inquired about key learnings regarding motivators and barriers to physical activity.

Jacob added: "Throughout the years, the main motivators and key drivers for people to #BeActive have become clearer to us, and we think that the main driver to maintain physical activity is fun! Having fun boosts our motivation and helps us stay committed. Additionally, creating a social dimension is very important, for example, engaging in physical activities with friends increases the likelihood of continued participation. Furthermore, emphasising the health aspect is essential. In our projects, we aim to focus on the key drivers of physical activity which are: fun, social engagement and health."

"Unfortunately, we still have an issue in the sports sector that sport is being communicated in a way that is ‘too perfect’. If you want people to be more active, you need to stop communicating this image of perfection, and rather communicate in a simple way that encourages people to join the movement. So it is really important to communicate in a simple, credible authentic and inviting way. This is the key to encourage people to #BeActive."

So the big question for our broader network is: are you prepared to actively promote a #HealthyLifestyle4All and become an integral part of this movement?