Cross-border network creates diet and exercise expertise

An innovative ERDF-funded project has established a cross-border skills network with the aim of promoting nutrition and physical activity in both Denmark and Germany. A key element of the network has been its active cross-border collaboration to create joint teaching and learning materials and better learning environments.

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Various educational materials were produced under the project  © Nele Schlapkohl & Ulrike Johannsen Various educational materials were produced under the project © Nele Schlapkohl & Ulrike Johannsen

" As a result of this collaboration, existing national knowledge is being shared across the border and new, innovative practical and educational concepts are being developed and implemented. The focus is on boosting self-determination and a sense of responsibility in heterogeneous target groups such as pupils, functionally illiterate adults, people from an immigrant background and refugees in everyday life, backed by the peer education approach (learning through teaching) and the further development of Food & Move Literacy. "

Project managers Dr Ulrike Johannsen and Dr Nele Schlapkohl, Europa-Universität Flensburg

Tackling the root problem 

The prevalence of health issues that transcend national boundaries – such as childhood obesity and diabetes - has underlined the need for greater cross-border cooperation in the field of nutrition and physical activity. Up until now, very little interaction has taken place between educational institutions in Denmark and Germany - from nurseries and schools to educational associations and universities. 

Using innovative teaching and learning materials and methods, this ERDF-funded project sought to bridge the gap between systems and countries. Target groups that are particularly hard to reach, such as functionally illiterate adults (7.5 million people in Germany), are affected by poor education. This limits their ability to participate in society and to lead a healthy life. 

Another key objective of the project has been to ensure that the results would be sustainable. This has been achieved by providing participation and access opportunities to all, as well as disseminating materials across both sides of the border. 

Long-term local benefits

Some 19 German and Danish schools – comprising a total of 6 000 pupils – were involved in the project’s health-related interventions. These schools developed diet and exercise initiatives and presented them across the border in the context of their country-specific knowledge and experience. The sustainable impact of the project can be seen in changes to the amount of physical activity undertaken during breaks and changes to the food offered in canteens. 

Additionally, eight adult education centres developed and tested materials with 80 illiterate adults. Another 150 illiterate adults were reached through train-the-trainer courses. The materials have since been made available in 32 libraries.

These new teaching and learning materials were developed, tested and evaluated in workshops. Teachers, adult education tutors, students and university lecturers from both countries produced them together before using them in school and literacy courses. The materials have been designed as a fun way for both schoolchildren and adults to shape their daily diets and exercise regimes with self-determination and responsibility. 

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Cross-border network of expertise: new prospects for sustainable expertise in diet and exercise” is EUR 617 489, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 401 366 from the Operational Programme “Syddanmark-Schleswig K.E.R.N.” for the 2007- 2013 programming period.  

Draft date