Data from the 2018-2021 Youth policy of the city of Prijedor show that, from a total of 650 students which were examined, various physiological disorders of the spine, shoulders, thorax, knees and feet were detected in 205 students. The systematic examination of young people indicated respiratory and allergy problems, obesity, poor teeth health, poor physical agility and excessive use of smartphones.
This data alarmed the Youth Council of Prijedor to start promoting healthy lifestyle choices and to emphasize the importance of improving healthy lifestyle habits and quality leisure activities. Thus, since April 2022, they began conducting the project “All for health – health for all”, implemented within the ReLOaD2 project (Regional Programme on Local Democracy in the Western Balkans) financed by the European Union, and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Some of the leisure activities enjoyed by the young people of Prijedor during the summer of 2022 included walking and exercising in nature, healthy cooking classes and hiking. More than 500 young people from this city had the opportunity to adopt a healthy lifestyle thanks to the efforts of the Youth Council of Prijedor which provided numerous workshops and trainings which were realized within this project.
One of the project participants, 24-year old Bojana Sučević, says she is happy to be a part of a quality program focused on mental and physical health of young people for the first time in her city.
“Lately, I noticed young people are becoming more active. However, some of them are still passive and uninterested. The main cause for this is the lack of motivation in pursuing activities which contribute to the quality of their lifestyle. “ Sučević claims.
Within the project “All for health – health for all”, Sučević and hundreds of other high school and college students visited the mountain ranges of Kozara, Gola Planina, Kozarački kamen and National Park Mrakovica accompanied by experienced guides. They were acquainted with equestrianism in the “Čokorska polja” club in Banja Luka, and enjoyed numerous workouts in nature with athletes and physical education teachers.
Besides physical activities, the Youth Council of Prijedor organized classes with famous athletes and experts on mental and physical health, nutrition and youth organization. The young people attended healthy cooking classes where they learnt how to prepare healthy meals by themselves.
“I am happy that my peers have acquired new knowledge and expanded their existing knowledge about mental and physical health, healthy nutrition and healthy habits. They are motivated to engage more in physical activities with the aim of raising awareness on a healthy lifestyle”, Sučević noted.
Employees of the Youth Council of Prijedor say their aim was to directly affect the lives of young people via project activities, encouraging them to adopt positive changes of their lifestyles. They say there was a need for such a project for decades because during that time there was no investment in education of young people on health or sport activities.
“We have decided to implement this project so we could encourage as many young people as possible to adopt a healthier lifestyle and to acquaint them with the basics of a healthy life. We achieved this goal in collaboration with psychologists, general practitioners, licensed coaches and lecturers”, said project coordinator Gorana Praštalo.
Praštalo says that most young people in Prijedor tend to have an unhealthy lifestyle, including excessive time spent online using social networks, and abuse of alcohol and tobacco. However, she says, many are actively engaged in sports, as it can be seen in many sport clubs in the city.
Through her experience of working with young people, Praštalo realized that they can become interested in adopting a healthy lifestyle through interesting programs that attract their attention.
“All participants reacted positively to our project and expressed their interest in similar activities in the future”, Praštalo added.
Project “All for health – health for all” provided the representatives of the Youth Center with new insights into the lifestyles of young people. This knowledge will be useful to them in creating youth programs in the future. In the coming period, the event “Sports Weekend“ will take place, gathering project participants at several locations in Prijedor, where they will engage in outdoor exercises with other citizens. After that, the Youth Council of Prijedor will organize a closing event to celebrate the successful project completion.