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Sustainable lifestyle and health from a public health perspective

Actions for sustainable education and health among youth (ACTION)

The aim of the project is to investigate the importance of meaningful leisure time among adolescents in high school (upper secondary school) and the importance of leisure time and health to enable managing school. The long-term goal is to get more adolescents to complete high school and thereby facilitate their establishment in the labor market and increase their chances of good health in the future.

Project manager at MDH

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Description of the project

The aim of the project is to investigate the importance of meaningful leisure time among adolescents in high school (upper secondary school) and the importance of leisure time and health to enable managing school. The long-term goal is to get more adolescents to complete high school and thereby facilitate their establishment in the labor market and increase their chances of good health in the future.

Purpose of the project

The aim of the project is to investigate the importance of meaningful leisure time and good health for increasing the chances of completing high school. We will investigate this issue from the perspective of adolescents, of those who provide leisure activities, and of civil servants whose work is related to school, leisure time activities, and health.

Objectives of the project

A completed high school education increases opportunities for work and can provide major health benefits. However, a quarter of Sweden's high school students do not graduate. Different background variables, including low socio-economic status and physical or mental disabilities, can affect their ability to finish school. We intend to highlight leisure time as an important component for young people's development and school results. Research shows a link between increased school performance and physical activity, eating habits, sleep, mental health, and parental support. Studies also indicate that young people's participation in creative and non-academic activities can promote their involvement in schooling and, in addition, increase school performance.

Also, the opportunity to receive support from an adult outside the family can be beneficial. By participating in an organized group activity, adolescents may increase their self-confidence and foster new social relationships, which, in turn, may reduce the risk of suffering from poor mental health

Three sub-projects

The project consists of three sub-projects that will contribute new knowledge about sustainable education and health among adolescents. These subprojects are:

  • Sub-project 1: An interview study with individuals who provide leisure activities and with officials in the public sector linked to school, leisure and health about their views on the importance of meaningful leisure and health.
  • Sub-project 2: An interview study with high school students to capture their views on the importance of meaningful leisure and health.
  • Sub-project 3: A citizen science research study in which high school students are involved in developing activities at a youth center designed to contribute to meaningful leisure, good health, and schooling.

The project will be carried out within the framework of the Social Contract and its partners (Region Västmanland and Sörmland, Västerås and Eskilstuna Municipality). The project is interdisciplinary and researchers at Mälardalen University are active at both the School of Health, Care and Welfare 8HVV) and the School of Education, Culture and Communication (UKK). We collaborate with researchers at Linköping University as well as with Professor Abby King at Stanford University who is a visiting professor in memory of Alva Myrdal at Mälardalen University (2020-21).

Team:
Sara Karvonen, research assistant focusing on health among adolescents, HVV
Karl Asp, lecturer in pedagogy, UKK
Abby King, visiting professor in memory of Alva Myrdal, HVV
Camilla Eriksson, lecturer in public health, HVV

The project is based on previous studies regarding sustainable lifestyle and health among adolescents, including the NESLA study together with Terence Fell at the School of Economics, Society and Technology (EST). The NESLA study (Neighborhood, Sustainable Lifestyle and Health among Adolescents) has resulted in a number of publications, see below.




This research relates to the following sustainable development goals

Good health and well-being. Sustainable development goal 3.

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

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Quality education. Sustainable development goal 4.

Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.

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Decent work and economic growth. Sustainable development goal 8.

Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all.

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Reduced inequalities. Sustainable development goal 10.

Reduce inequality within and among countries.

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