EASO congratulates the Croatian project “Polygon for Physical Activity of School-Aged Children,” which has been designated by DG SANTE (European Commission's Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety) Joint Research Centre’s best practices team Evaluation Committee, as one of 16 European public health best practice programmes conducive to reaching Sustainable Development Goal 3.4 “…by 2030 reduce by one-third pre-mature mortality from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) through prevention and treatment, and promote mental health and wellbeing.”
Sedentary lifestyles mean children today often undertake less physical activity, which has major impact on youth health and wellbeing. It is thus important to influence healthy levels of physical activity among children from the earliest ages, and particularly in grades 1-4 in elementary school when children transition to school and become significantly more sedentary.
In Croatia, approximately 14% of the main elementary schools and 83% of peripheral schools do not have school sports facilities. To help support enable children to meet the recommendations of 60 minutes of daily physical activity in spite of restricted physical space and to support teachers, project “Polygon for Physical Activity of School-Aged Children“ was developed.
The main idea behind the initiative was to work toward equal opportunities for physical activity among children who attend schools with and without school sport halls to help support child health in Croatia. The “Polygon for Physical Activity of School-Aged Children“ consists of 25 moveable elements which are safe and fun for children to use and easy to assemble. These physical activity aids serve as an alternative solution for the purposes of implementing Physical Education classes in schools lacking school gyms, to enable children to be regularly physically active. This provided an innovative way to enable and motivate teachers to implement physical activity into the school curriculum.
In 2015, the Croatian Institute of Public Health within the framework of our National Program “Healthy Living,” has, with support from the Ministry of Health secured financial means for implementation of the “Polygon for Physical Activity of School-Aged Children“ project in 120 main elementary schools in the Republic of Croatia that did not have a school sports gym. The initiative is ongoing, and we are pleased to report that in 2020, will be implemented in all peripheral schools without sports facilities at a national level.
“This award is a recognition of our continuous work in health promotion and efforts in enabling equal opportunities for physical activity and healthy development to all Croatian children. We are proud that the ‘Polygon for Physical Activity of School-Aged Children’ project was well accepted both at the decision-making level and among children,“ said assistant professor Sanja Musić Milanović, MD, PhD , MPH, head of the project and of the Division for Health Promotion at the Croatian Institute of Public Health during a reception held in Brussels for this important award.
Croatian Institute of Public Health, as the national public health institution, implements the health promotion program „Healthy Living“ in cooperation with a network of county public health institutes. The „Healthy Living“ project is based on the National program and is co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) from 2016 to 2022. The aim of the „Healthy Living“ project is to improve the health of the population by reducing the negative effect of behavioral, biomedicinal and sociomedicinal risk factors.