Sporty Mentor

Mentoring as a tool to motivate young people with challenging behaviours to adopt a healthy lifestyle and engage in sports

Adolescence is considered a major period in structuring and establishing the personality, constituting a crucial time in
which mental and behavioural disorders may manifest. Challenging behaviour disorders can be associated with school difficulties (failure, expulsion, dropping out, and low grades) as well as high-risk behaviour (drug and alcohol abuse, and high-risk sexual behaviour) and problems in later life (delinquency, violence, problems of emotional dysregulation). Moreover, we also want to address the lack of physical activity in adolescents. According to World Health Organization (2020), physical activity has significant health benefits, preventing and managing cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes, decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety, improves thinking, learning, and judgment skills, ensures healthy growth and development in young people and improves overall well-being. Despite the benefits of physical activity, more than 80% of the world’s adolescent population is insufficiently physically active (WHO, 2020).

Of the countries that participate in the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey, only 23.1% of boys and 14.0% of girls aged 13–15 years reported that they met the WHO (2018) recommendation for daily physical activity. Following this fact, the new EU Work Plan for Sport 2021-2024 prioritizes physical activity promotion. Most concretely, the promotion of participation in sport and health-enhancing physical activity is listed as a key priority in the coming years. Furthermore, gender (in)equality in sport has been a central issue for the last twenty years. Compared to men, women are still largely absent, if not invisible, in sport. For example, at the global professional level, today only 4% of sports coverage is dedicated to sport practices by women.