The vision is to prevent obesity and diabetes in vulnerable population groups by promoting physical activity and positive youth development among children and youth aged 8-25. The intervention applies street sport activities through a peer-to-peer approach to increase physical activity in the daily lives of children and youth living in less advantaged neighbourhoods and strengthening their social relations, well-being and empowerment.
Ample evidence shows that there is a social gradient in health; the lower in the social hierarchy you are positioned, the greater your risk of a number of preventable, non-communicable diseases (Marmot et al. 2008; Marmot & Bell 2016), e.g. T2D and heart disease. Living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods negatively affects mental and social health (WHO 2013). Because health risks accumulate throughout the life course, early interventions have greater health promotion potential than interventions targeting adults (Hanson & Gluckman, 2011).
In Denmark, children from ethnic minorities are less physically active in traditional sports associations than their peers with Danish background, and at the same time minority children and youth are more likely to use their neighbourhood sport facilities or playgrounds for activities (Ibsen et al., 2012). ASPHALT’s target group is children and youth from less advantaged neighbourhoods, where a majority of the residents have minority background and low socioeconomic status. Interventions applying peer-to-peer strategies appear to be particularly effective for reaching disadvantaged groups and youth as a target group (Fischer et al., 2014).
Peer-to-peer approaches using volunteers have had a positive impact within healthcare and prevention on coping and emotional distress, health behaviour and access to health care (Fisher et al. 2014). Building on reciprocity and respect, peer-to-peer initiatives have the potential to create trust and to positively affect health and well-being with an eye-level approach (Ahlmark et al. 2016).
The ASPHALT project will contribute both to our understanding of how to support peer-to-peer activities and leadership and on how to promote health, physical activity and well-being for children in less advantaged neighbourhoods and thereby address inequalities in health.
The aim of ASPHALT is to further develop GAME’s peer-to-peer approach and intervention based on a sound theoretical basis and to further our knowledge of mechanisms in peer-to-peer interventions. A thorough evaluation of intervention effects on peer-leaders and participants will be conducted, assessing effects on physical activity, well-being, social relations and empowerment. The goal is that 10,000 children and youth have been reached by the intervention by the end of the project period. Girls with minority background, and obese children have been identified, as high risk groups, when it comes to physical inactivity and health issues, and special attention will be given to inclusion of these groups in the project.
The non-profit organization GAME
GAME currently runs activities in 25 disadvantaged neighbourhoods (“GAME Zones”) in Denmark, where volunteers (“GAME Playmakers”) facilitate street sport activities for local children and youth. (www.gamedenmark.org)
University of Heidelberg – Centre for social investment (CSI)
Collaboration with Heidelberg about evaluating Social return on investment (SROI), which is a concept to account for social value when evaluating investments such as the intervention described in ASPHALT.
The ASPHALT project is a four-phased research and intervention project. The first two phases, development and feasibility/piloting of the intervention, are generously funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation.