The Exercise Day of Your Dreams

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The Olympic Committé organizes yearly the event The Exercise Day of Your Dreams, to encourage everyone to move together and find new ways to exercise. The Day is acknowledged by a large number of actors, such as municipalities and sports organizations. However, anyone can organize a sports event to honor the day. I myself have arranged a pop-up event many times as a volunteer. This year, I got to participate in a new role, as an expert in the WELLcome -project.

Barn ligger runt i en cirkel och har roligt.

In my opinion, the name “The Exercise Day of Your Dreams” is brilliant. I can imagine a perfect sports day, where you can try something you have always dreamed of or never even knew to dream of. What’s great with The Exercise Day of Your Dreams is that you can offer someone else to try something new and exciting. For me the day has been right about this: the best feeling is to see a child or a young person succeed and smile.

“Sport has the power to change the world”.

In the project Wellcome we educate trainers, volunteers and those who are active in a sports organization in how to meet diversity. Together we reflect over solutions to how to get children and young people who have moved to Finland to join sports organizations. We believe strongly in what Nelson Mandela said in his legendary speech over 20 years ago: ““Sport has the power to change the world”. (Mandela, N. 2000). Through physical activity, sports and hobbies in general you get to be a part of the community, you learn languages and get the experience of succeeding. It doesn’t happen by itself, but physical activity offers great opportunities to do so.

Once a friend, always a friend

In Åbo IFK:s (ÅIFK), WELLcomes pilot sports club, web page it says “Once a friend always a friend”. After discussing with the active members of ÅIFK it was clear that the sports club wants to put in work for the club members to stay as members forever. It’s not a membership you can just get rid of, it’s something completely different. ÅIFK wants to put in effort for children and young people to grow up to active members who want to act as assisting coaches, coaches and volunteers in the future and through that affect their own environment. ÅIFK believes that strengthening friendships and activities reflects back as a positive behavior not only in locker rooms and sports fields but also in other aspects of life. I’m honored to work with a sports club like this. 

WELLcome, välkommen, tervetuloa!

In the Wellcome project we have discussed with a lot of active sports club members about meeting, including and welcoming. It is important as a new group member to be acknowledged in a new group. After the word welcome there is more to be required. Together with the active members in ÅIFK we have come up with practices that support the preservation of a new member. The practices are related to grouping, language, supporting the parents, accessibility and taking care of the coaches wellbeing. It has been a pleasure to see with what seriousness and enthusiasm ÅIFK has taken upon themselves this work. 

Let’s go back to the topic and The Exercise Day of Your Dreams. During the day there will surely be a lot of different events that are open for all. When you plan pop-up events, I want to encourage you to think about participation and hobbies also after the event. What kind of exercises can we offer in Finland daily? Accessible, inspiring and as a whole health promoting? The WELLcome team also offers support and education, especially for sports clubs. 

WELLcome – wellbeing and integration through sport is a project to support young refugees (age 7-16) to take part and engage in the local sport clubs in Finland. The project strengthens the cooperation with parties who promote integration (for example organizations) and sports clubs. In the WELLcome project we educate sports clubs in for example meeting and appreciating diversity and to develop an equal and accessible club that organizes family events. The objective for this project is to create new and innovative business models, both nationally and internationally, to promote exercise for young refugees. 

Anna-Maija Riutta