Overview of the Icehearts Europe Model

Icehearts Europe is not a sport organisation! It’s an initiative, inspired by Icehearts Finland, that uses sport and physical activity as an educational tool. The following sections are here to help you provide the key elements of the model in a nutshell – so that you get a better understanding of your new playing field.

A Glossary of Key Terms

Icehearts Europe is a preventive programme oriented towards disadvantaged children and young people with a sport-centred approach where grassroots sports organisations recruit dedicated professionals – the Icehearts mentors – to support the children and young people involved in a variety of contexts (e.g., within and outside school hours).

In this section, we will define some essential concepts and key terms. This is a quick onboarding phase to ensure we all speak the same language.

Finland – where it all started

Icehearts Finland provides consistent, long-term, holistic support for disadvantaged children and young people. It is an evidence-based, highly impactful programme created in Finland in the ‘90s. Icehearts Finland was awarded the European Prize for Social Integration through Sport 2016, in the “Integration of Populations at Risk” category. It has also been recognised as a model of best practice within the European Union Marketplace for Best Practices for non-communicable diseases in 2021.

The following video provides the story of the origins of Icehearts Finland.

Please note that it has been a while since the video was released. After the release, the story of Icehearts Finland has continued and the activities have developed. The visual below provides a picture of where the programme is now:

Icehearts Europe: The concept

In this section, we will outline the model for Icehearts Europe. Using Icehearts Finland’s best practices, the independent partnership behind Icehearts Europe has created an adapted model for EU countries to consider the specificity of the Iceheart Europe project AND the various social contexts across Europe.

Through a comprehensive and supportive approach, the Icehearts Europe model is aimed at preventing social exclusion and promoting health and mental wellbeing through an active lifestyle, thus improving the psychosocial skills of disadvantaged children and young people.

While each country will adapt the Icehearts Europe model to suit its own context, we have identified key principles and elements that will serve as a common denominator.

  • PRINCIPLE: The child/young person ALWAYS comes first
  • TARGET GROUP: disadvantaged children and young people, aged from 6 to 18 years, in deprived, disadvantaged, and vulnerable circumstances, who need special support and attention.
  • CORE ACTIVITY: Sport team as the FUN activity
  • REFERENCE POINT: the Mentor as the one good adult
  • HOLISTIC APPROACH: All the activities, relationship building and networking serve the main goal of promoting every child’s mental health and well-being
  • COOPERATION: multi-level collaboration with schools; parents/guardians; community and municipalities.

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