60 Participants and 13 Team Leaders from 8 countries, Belgium, Finland, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Italy, and Romania visited Malta for the second EU funded project between the Malta Judo Foundation (MJF) and the European Judo Union (EJU) at the University Residence in Hal Lija. The exchange ‘Change 4 life through sports’ was an Erasmus + Youth mobility project set up by the European Union for young people in the fields of education, training, youth and sport for the period 2014-2020. These can make a major contribution to help tackle socio-economic changes, the key challenges that Europe will be facing until the end of the decade and to support the implementation of the European policy agenda for growth, jobs, equity and social inclusion.
Judo is not just a sport, but a philosophy, an education system, and a way of life. Change 4 life through Sports was a project to promote healthy lifestyles through physical activities including sport, obesity awareness, and social inclusion. Sport is now widely recognized as an affective instrument of social progress and peaceful conflict resolution. This project is an initiative that exceeds far beyond sport. Sport is a powerful tool to promote education, health and development. Sport unites people of all social classes, cultures, religions and backgrounds in a positive and educational way.
This project was also open for the local community where 6 members from the Mosta Youth Empowerment Centre (MYEC) joined this adventure. The MYEC also had the opportunity to include 10 young youths in one of the main event of the change 4 life through sport project. The youths enjoyed the sports day and had the opportunity to try out various sports including Judo, some of which they had never tried before. The youths’ feedback was all very positive, and this proved again that sport has no geographical borders, and youths from various countries can all unite through sports.
Apart from the full packed program with activities, workshops, debates and role-plays, the participants were also given a taste of voluntary work. They were involved in the organising committee of an international Judo event, where they assisted in the set up of the hall, running of the event, and also had a taste of problem solving that is needed in real events. The rest of the participants took part in the competition. Those with Judo experience also assisted in the Fra Andrew Bertie Judo Kids Festival, where 70 Maltese youngsters had a fantastic experience meeting and playing Judo with these international Judoka. Thanks to this event, the participants had a great hands-on experience which involved team work, leadership and communication skills.
Without doubt, the highlight of this project was the Sports for All topic, where the participants had the opportunity to visit the Inspire Centre and learn how this centre provided students with the appropriate support and help through personalised and multisensory intervention. An intervention by Julian Bajada, a Maltese Paralympic athlete and Vilma Saarinen, one of the participants from Finland who works with children with disability during judo sessions, helped our participants understand more the importance of inclusion
During this exchange, the European Auxiliary Police Association (EAPA) were invited to give a lecture about drugs and alcohol, Agenzija Sedqa gave an intervention about Stress management, and the Malta tourism Authority (MTA) assisted with a cultural visit which helped the participants understand more about the Maltese traditions around Easter. Ms. Louisa Agius Galea, General Secretary of the Malta Judo Federation opened this project and presented the EJU participation certificates. HE. Vanessa Fraizer, Maltese Ambassador in Italy joined the Sports Day and explained the importance of sports, especially during a very busy life and presented the Sports Day certificates and medals. Mr. Envic Galea, CEO of the Malta Judo Foundation closed this project and awarded the Youth Pass certificate.