On 31 August 2022, TAFISA, the Association for International Sport For All, organized an event as part of their pledge for the HealthyLifestyle4All campaign. Their pledge, ‘For a better world through sport for all’, aims to raise awareness of the many benefits of physical activity, including its societal value.
In his opening remarks, TAFISA Vice-President Denis Karakasis explained that the aim of their pledge is to encourage everyone to be physically active, promote the benefits of Sport for All, and engage people of all backgrounds throughout the world to be physically active. Their conference was therefore the opportunity to discuss experiences and practices from several countries.
Prof. Uwe Pühse, UNESCO chair on physical activity and health in educational settings, then explained how sport for all cannot be achieved in all countries in the same way. Indeed, some countries experience more challenges than others, such as difficulties with accessing appropriate infrastructure. The question is then how to achieve the WHO Global Action Plan for Physical Activity in developing countries. It is of particular importance for children, whose cognitive development is strongly impacted by how active they are. Prof. Pühse presented two of their initiatives in South Africa and in Kazakhstan and explained how they provided opportunities for children to be active.
A panel then took place, presenting other initiatives. Ms Marisa Fernandez-Esteban, Deputy Head of the European Commission, presented the context of The HealthyLifestyle4All Initiative. There are currently 74 pledges, including 13 from Member States, and 33 from the sport movement. There is one year left for more pledges to be submitted and completed. Mr Mansiir Alsughayer, Director of Community Programmes at the Saudi sports for all federation, then explained how they are planning to achieve their target of increasing the weekly physical activity participation rate by 40% by 2030. For instance, they are organizing a yearly lifestyle enhancement conference. Ms Claudia Cassia Campos, managing campaigner for healthy lifestyle at SESC in Sao Paulo, explained that they have regular campaigns such as Move Week, to encourage physical activity in the city. Lastly, Mr Sombwa Musunsa, Programme Manager at the African Union Sports Council Region 5, presented the Morning Doctor progamme, a weekly thirty-minutes programme which aims to educate sport practitioners about healthy routines in the context of the pandemic.
A discussion then took place, emphasising the role of physical activity on inclusion and mental health, as well as for physical health. The programmes and initiatives above were then highlighted as best practices to overcome the COVID-19 challenges, during which mental health struggles grew alongside global inactivity levels.