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Be Active

Promoting integration with sports

Sports is a great way to bring students together. This package includes examples on how sports has been used to promote integration in two culturally diverse schools.

Finland 100


HundrED has selected this innovation to

Finland 100






March 2017
Sport unites us all, the whole school community! That’s our experience and outcome from an excellent year of sports.

About the innovation

What is it all about?

Useful social, psychological and physical skills can be attained through sport, which also affects students’ school satisfaction and well-being.

Sports is a great way to promote integration in school as well as outside of it, as it can be used to help students of different backgrounds integrate into the school and the local community. Students get to meet lots of different people, build relationships and establish a community.

Sports activities can be especially helpful for first-generation immigrant students and is one of the most essential ways for them to meet new people. During sports, an individual’s skills in the sport define their identity instead of other characteristics such as their ethnicity or their language skills, that can limit communication if they’re not yet fluent or are just starting to learn their new home language.

In 2016-2017, two schools experimented with adding more exercise to the school day in a way that best promotes integration. The following steps show some of the ways these schools have motivated students to exercise more.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability


This innovation provides students with social, psychological and physical skills while increasing a sense of togetherness.


This innovation increases students’ overall well-being by promoting common spirit as well as increasing the amount of physical exercise.


Sports can work as a tool for integration in all kinds of multicultural environments, anywhere in the world.

Implementation steps

Be Active week
The goal of Be Active week is to provide students with ideas about the different kinds of sport they could do.

The purpose of the demonstration is to inspire students to engage in sports activities. A demo class can motivate students to start a new hobby and help join the community.

You could launch the week with an event where you invite local sports clubs or athletes to introduce different types of sports.

Meri-Rastila Primary School:

During Be Active week, the following types of sports were presented at the school: baseball, cricket, taekwondo, capoeira, tennis, athletics, football, Finnish baseball, gymnastics, and frisbee golf. The students were offered 40 hours of sports during the five days.

The start of Be Active week was also the start to the whole sports year. Guardians were invited along to join this sporting event. Local sports clubs were also invited, as their input and efforts are a great promotion of student integration, create a welcoming atmosphere for the new foreign students, and can be an example to encourage others to help newcomers integrate into their new lives.

Collaboration with local sports clubs
Collaborating with local sports clubs is beneficial, as clubs often offer a new perspective into physical education and may have equipment needed for different kinds of sport that schools lack.

Game-specific rules of interaction ease communication between students, both breaking the ice and removing the language barrier. You could start collaborating with clubs long-term, for example in after-school activities, but even smaller scale 1-2 hour activities can make a difference.

Meri-Rastila Primary School:

A number of sports clubs have come to Meri-Rastila's primary school to show students their activities. This has allowed kids to experiment with different types of sports and equipment.

In collaboration with the Helsinki Sports Department, students were given a chance to participate in the Easy Sport ball games club once a week. Additionally, a special sports instructor from the city’s Sports Department came to the school once a week to hold a sports club for students attending extended compulsory education. These clubs were very popular.

One of Meri-Rastila’s partners has been the Finnish Multicultural Sports Federation (FIMU). FIMU works in Finland to promote equality and multiculturalism, and provide opportunities for immigrants and ethnic minorities to integrate into Finnish society through sports. For example, FIMU organized football lessons for students. They also successfully organized a football tournament for local preschoolers and the school’s younger students.

Making use of activity trackers
Activity trackers can be used to make students aware of their own body and how it functions.

Trackers help you pay attention to taking care of your body and can even motivate you to exercise. Remember that implementing new technology often takes time. Set aside some time for practice.

Kallahti elementary school:

In the Be Well unit, fifth graders monitored their sleep, exercise and other hobbies for a week, which encouraged students to be physically active. They could also receive “pulse awards” for activities that elevated their heart rate.

The activity trackers were also used to study the differences between how different sports and places to exercise affected the activity and heart rate profiles of people. The trackers were used in physical education classes from April to May. The experience meant students were able to observe their own heart rates and introduced them to the concept of sports technology.

The students organised an activity tracker checkpoint at the school fair, where the students showed other students and parents how to use activity trackers. You could also collect pulse awards and play games at the checkpoint.

The students also advised the neighbouring school on the use of trackers in January.

The trackers proved to be so useful, that the school will continue using them in the following years.

Spread of the innovation

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