SUGAPAS project: using technology to improve the amount of pupils’ physical activity and their lifestyle

The three year SUGAPAS project (Supporting Gamified Physical Activities in & out of Schools), which is led by Lithuanian Sports University, ends in December this year. As part of the Project tasks in the 8 project partners’ consortium, the final conference on Technology Enhanced Physical Education (i.e. the Multiplier Sport Event #3) took place in the Hague, the Netherlands, on 11th November, 2022, which was hosted by the local partner, Games for Health Europe, at the beautiful and modern Sportcampus Zuiderpark of the University of Applied Sciences of The Hague (THUAS). The program featured the aims of the SUGAPAS project (presented by LSU); an introduction on Battle4Health, the SUGAPAS Steps Tracker, SUGAPAS Massive Open Online Course and the Observatory (given by partners from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece); highlighted the expert evaluation which showed the overall positive feedback of the developed application (provided by Spanish team from the Universidad Católica de Murcia). The keynote presentation by three guest speakers (THUAS) introduced the audience to several projects using technology to improve the amount of pupils’ physical activity and their lifestyle. After lunch break all participants – online and on site – could take part in a workshop led by EUPEA (European Physical Education Association) and ASVÖ (Austria) to get some ideas and practical implementation on how to use the SUGAPAS tools at school. The final part of the conference outlined the dissemination of the project (moderated by SHE – Schools for health in Europe Network Foundation). Between the single program points very interesting and fruitful discussions on technology and sports arose. The closure of the official event was dedicated to celebrate and announce the winners of SUGAPAS Battle4Health competition, which was held for the whole month, i.e. October 1st – 31st, 2022. The task was to collect as many points as possible in the game during this period of time. Almost 200 teenagers from different European countries took part, and the majority of the players were coming from Cyprus, Spain and Greece. The winners were identified in two different age categories: for 12 – 15 year-olds, and for 16 – 18 years old participants. The highest amount of points in October were achieved by 14 year old Cypriot „Evagelos“ and 18 year old „Martha“ from Greece. Both players took part in the conference and expressed their affection for the game. The winners were awarded with the smartwatch „Fitbit Charge 5“.

On the day before the final conference (on November 10th) the 5th (and the last) Transnational Project Meeting took place. The Project team discussed the accomplishments, summed up what still has to be done. With the Covid-19 Pandemic in 2020, right at the kick-off of the project, and several Lockdowns following, the start was quite rough. A major part of the meetings had to be held online, and only this year, in March, the team finally had the chance to meet face-to-face in Luxembourg. As for now, there are more than 1200 persons playing the game „Battle4Health“, using the SUGAPAS Steps Tracker to measure their daily physical activities. An only slightly lower number of people created an account in SUGAPAS Massive Open Online Course to expand their knowledge on physical activity, a healthy nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. The independent experts rated the Project’s applications and tools as positive and helpful to change students’ knowledge and behaviour concerning a healthy lifestyle. Although the project is officially reaching its end, all SUGAPAS tools and platforms will be available for at least three years after the project’s termination. All partners in their respective local organisations will keep working with and promoting SUGAPAS applications as they prove to be an effective, easily accessible and easily usable method to educate adolescents about a healthy lifestyle.

The LSU project is managed and represented by a team of researchers: project manager-researcher Assoc. prof. Dr. Sandrija Čapkauskienė and researchers Assoc. prof. Dr. Rita Gruodytė-Račienė and dr. Vaida Pokvytytė.

The partners in the project are: European University of Cyprus (Cyprus), Universidad Católica de Murcia (Spain), Schools for Health in Europe Network Foundation / SHE (Denmark), European Physical Education Association / EUPEA (Switzerland), the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece), Allgemeiner Sportverband Österreichs / ASVÖ (Austria), Games for Health Europe Foundation (the Netherlands).

The goal of the project is to change the sedentary lifestyle and eating habits of schoolchildren, promote a healthy lifestyle, and overcome barriers to physical activity among teenagers with the help of digital motivating games.

Supporting Gamified Physical Activities in & out of Schools (SUGAPAS) is an Erasmus+ funded project. Total project budget – 398 782 EUR. Project duration – 36 months (ending 2022-12-31).

Information by Assoc. prof. Rita Gruodytė-Račienė