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YOUnite is a project aimed to help obese adolescents in overcoming challenges and improving their employability on the labour market. YOUnite project, supported by the ERASMUS+ programme is seeking to develop a new engaging and self-confidence building training programme to support young obese people to cope with socio-economic difficulties and any other potential source of discrimination.

The partnership is led by ÖSB Consulting (Austria) with partner organisations from Finland (ACR), Hungary (EMINA), Poland (Zdrowy Ksztalt), and Austria (ÖSB Social Innovation).

Obesity is a major health problem in the European Union (EU), with long-term consequences for health, society, and the economy. According to WHO’s Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) report from 2022, around 1 in 3 children in the EU already at the age of 6-9 years old were overweight in 2019, while the prevalence of obesity among this age group was 12% in the WHO European Region. Furthermore, there are serious concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic may have further exacerbated this problem. A systematic mitigation and reversing of childhood obesity is not in sight. Obesity affects the self-esteem and harmonious growing up of children, as many affected adolescents report bullying experience and social exclusion. The associated reduction in the quality of life and the lack of opportunities in education and the labour market are often disregarded or neglected. Overweight can pose a barrier for participation in the labour market and for professional success.

YOUnite will develop 6 training modules covering 6 topics (health/medical issues, sports, stress, nutrition, awareness raising, and employability) to integrate young obese people successfully and healthy into the labour market by offering techniques to build self-confidence, develop coping strategies and provide entry points for the creation of an individual approach to lead a healthy lifestyle.

The content of the modules will be developed in working groups with experts to advise on diverse approaches and necessary skills while working with obese youth. The modules will be designed in a way that enables young people to enjoy the programme and engage with the topic, engaging them in non-formal learning activities. The modules will be piloted in all four participating countries (Austria, Finland, Hungary, Poland). The prepared modules will be complemented by a handbook for trainers, so that interested trainers will receive a good overview of the topic, with latest scientific knowledge, background information and further references at hand while also getting practical tips enabling them to organise the modules on their own.