iLocal News Archives

Let’s Move: IOC Young Leader Berber Swart tackles mental health issue through sport

11 June 2024 – Inactivity and poor mental well-being pose significant problems for young people around the world. The mission at the heart of IOC Young Leader Berber Swart’s project, Mind Power, is to address those issues by combining access to sport with mental-health activities.

“I want to tackle mental health issues and inactivity of young people with the power of sport. My dream is to create a world where young people can enjoy their lives, have a positive mindset, taking on challenges and living active lives,” explains Berber.

The benefits of sport in improving mental health

It’s in this context that Berber, from the Netherlands, founded Mind Power, with the support of the IOC Young Leaders Programme. Its goal is to empower young people to live active lifestyles and provide them with positive life experiences through sport, thus improving their mental health and well-being.

Berber believes that the power of sport can lead to a more active, healthier, happier generation. “My goal is to help young people become the best version of themself through sport,” she explains. “Our youth worldwide are not active enough at the moment. That’s really concerning, and that’s why I wanted to set up Mind Power.”

Mind Power can make a difference in a world where 14 per cent of 10-19-year-olds – nearly one in seven – experience mental health conditions and 81 per cent of adolescents do not meet the recommended levels of physical activity, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Participants in Mind Power sessions engage in multi-sport activities alongside their peers, before taking part in discussion sessions on different aspects of mental health and well-being. They have the opportunity to try out new sports and discover the ways in which they like to be active, alongside exploring topics such as self-confidence and goal setting.

Inspiring positive action and active lifestyles

Sport has been a fundamental part of Berber’s life, and she has seen first-hand its potential positive impact through her work. “My love of sport started at a really young age. It has made me who I am today,” she explains. “It’s also why I would like to pass it on to others. I experience so many benefits of playing sports. We teach so much more than just a game. Sport teaches you how to work with others; it’s teaching you resilience, how to deal with setbacks.”

With the support of the IOC Young Leaders programme, Berber is developing Mind Power programmes for communities and schools. Last year, she conducted a pilot with a school class in New Zealand, and now a four-week pilot is running in Aruba (a Caribbean island) with local sports organisations. Each week features different sports and mental health themes. Berber hopes that Mind Power will eventually be able to offer programmes tailored to different countries, communities, schools and age groups, including adults.

“I would really like to set up a course where our sports coaches can become Mind Power coaches and where we can tackle mental health issues and inactivity amongst young people. I think there is a sport for everyone. We just need to encourage them to try out a lot of different sports.”

Berber Swart, IOC Young Leader

Getting active with Let’s Move

The promotion of physical activity among young people is a priority for the IOC, hence the importance of supporting projects like Berber’s. The IOC’s Let’s Move initiative – launched in collaboration with the World Health Organization – has been designed exactly to encourage and enable the world to move more every day.

The campaign will culminate on Olympic Day (23 June) and will be a warm-up for the Olympic Games Paris 2024 and a call to action to get more people moving. It builds on the success of last year campaign: with the help of more than 1,000 athletes, Let’s Move inspired over 15 million people to embrace the joy of movement and active healthy lifestyles.

Let s Move IOC Young Leader Berber Swart tackles mental health issue through sport

IOC Young Leaders Programme contributing to Olympism365 days a year

Launched in 2016, the IOC Young Leaders Programme empowers young people to leverage the power of sport to make a positive difference in their communities. The programme contributes to Olympism365, the IOC’s approach to using sport as an important enabler of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and specifically to Olympism365’s innovation portfolio, which aims to identify, sustain and scale innovative sports-based approaches that deliver concrete impact in targeted communities.

So far, with the support of the IOC, these inspiring young people have delivered over 160 sport-led projects in communities across the globe, promoting education and livelihoods, equality and inclusion, health, peace building and sustainability, directly benefitting more than 37,000 people.

Learn more about the IOC Young Leaders Programme and the Olympism365 strategy.

Worldwide Olympic Partner Panasonic’s continued support

The IOC Young Leaders Programme has been supported by Worldwide Olympic and Paralympic Partner Panasonic since 2017, and this will continue through to 2024. Panasonic, as the programme’s founding partner, is committed to supporting the IOC Young Leaders through various initiatives, for example providing its creative and technological expertise, along with its network of influencers and ambassadors, to inspire the Young Leaders and equip them with the skills and tools they need to enhance their projects.

Find out more about Panasonic’s support for the programme and sign up for the “IOC Young Leaders in Action” newsletter to get the latest updates.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *