Aspen Sports & Society Program / Joacă Pentru Viaţă
Joacă pentru Viaţă Program, inspired by Project Play Aspen US, is an exercise of reflection for leaders, aiming to stimulate involvement, promote a platform for non-partisan dialogue and identify solutions that help sport serve the public interest, with a focus on the development of healthy children and communities.
The Public Policy Programs of the Aspen Institute Romania seek to improve the formation of policy through transparent, non-partisan, evidence-based, multiple stakeholders’ dialogue. Based on the Aspen Method, our programs offer public decision-makers, private stakeholders and representatives of the non-governmental and academic sectors an exceptional platform for reflection, aiming to reach consensus on concrete policy recommendations in Romania’s most relevant policy fields. By engaging with public decision-makers from the start of the reflection process, in an informal and informed dialogue, mutual ownership of our policy recommendations is fostered.
Available data indicate the need to adopt measures supporting children to practice sport and physical activities. Scientific research shows decreasing worldwide sport participation and physical activity rates, while daily more and more time is spent on electronic devices, watching TV, surfing the internet and playing video games. Statistics show that 63% of the Romanian population never exercise or play sport, the 4th highest ranking among EU countries.
There is an evident need to support the healthy development of children and to prevent physical inactivity and obesity, factors which increase the risk of occurrence of cardio-vascular diseases, diabetes, orthopedic injuries and reduce the quality of life, putting individuals’ lives at risk and a burden on health budgets and the economy. The Romanian society needs to increase its awareness regarding the importance of physical literacy of children, a term defined as the ability, confidence and desire to be active for life, based on the proven connection between the development of motor skills at an early age and habits of physical activity through adolescence and into adulthood.
Joacă pentru Viaţă seeks to improve the formation of policy through transparent, non-partisan, evidence-based, multiple stakeholders’ dialogue. The main objective of our program is to initiate by 2020 a process of physical literacy development of the Romanian children between 5 and 12 years, aiming to stimulate their ability, confidence and desire to be active for life.
The public policy recommendations made within this program aim to:
- Recognize physical literacy as a national priority;
- Raise the attractiveness of sport among children;
- Increase the opportunities to practice sport and physical activities through better access to appropriate facilities, also from socially disadvantaged environments.
What we achieved
Since December 2017, together with our program partners we managed to:
- Create a dedicated and engaged Program Community, consisting of multiple stakeholders from the public, private, non-governmental and academic sectors;
- Establish a dedicated Program Task Force, identifying the program’s priorities and preparing policy recommendations;
- Organize three workshops largely covered by the media, attended by key public decision makers, private stakeholders, Romanian sport personalities and Olympic federations representatives:
- The Program Launching Event, organized at the premises of the Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee;
- The Thematic Workshop “Solutions for a Fit and Healthy Romania”, which debated the need for improved sports infrastructure;
- The Thematic Workshop “Active through sport: a chance which cannot be refused to the Romanian children”
Program Launching Event, December 2017
Thematic Workshop, June 2018
Joacă pentru Viață Summit, 2019
Joacă pentru Viaţă Summit, 25 – 26 September 2019
The first edition of the Summit debated the importance of physical activity among children and the need for the adoption of a National Physical Activity Plan. A Joacă pentru Viaţă 2022 dedicated community will contribute to the creation of an annual national State of Play report and the dissemination of tools, frameworks, metrics and best practices in Romania and beyond.
The Summit drew on the important success of the Project Play Summits organized in Washington and Detroit by the Aspen Institute United States and involved partnerships with the Aspen Institutes in the US, Mexico and France, aiming to transform Project Play into a global initiative.
Organized in partnership with the Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee, the Joacă pentru Viață Program has benefitted from the valuable support of the National Physical Education and Sport University of Bucharest, Romanian Presidential Administration, the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration, the Health Commissions in the Romanian Parliament, local authorities, parents’ organizations, sports federations and media organizations.
Institutional Agreement with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Education and Research
Signed on July 24th 2020 between Aspen Institute Romania, the Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee, the Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the agreement lays the foundations of an institutional partnership, declaring the physical literacy of children aged 5 to 12 a national priority and offering the framework needed to further develop and implement the Joacă pentru Viaţă Program.
The first initiative to be implemented under the program’s framework is the Sportul Se Joacă, a project initiated by the Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee, Aspen Institute Romania and BCR. The initiative aims to encourage children to be as active as possible, helping them discover various Olympic sports throughout the school year and find out which sports attracts them the most. The initiative also targets adults, providing information and easily applicable tools.