„This is a totally new experience for me“, says Mikko. “At first, I thought of football or something like that.” Mikko’s decision to join a Judo club came as a slight surprise to his family, who encouraged him to try a new sport. The 15-year-old boy with Asperger Syndrome was not expecting to start with Judo, but that changed when he joined the “Boosti” program.
“Boosti” is a three-year development project based in the Helsinki area. It is funded by the Youth Department and the Ministry of Education and Culture. The program itself is free of charge and voluntary. “Boosti” offers individual support in finding physical activities based on the individual’s needs. The activities can also be carried out in various groups and in cooperation with other operators (e.g. sport clubs, organizations, gyms). Another aspect is to increase the possibilities for physical activity among young people in daily routines.
Individual support for young people
In the beginning, there is an introduction to “Boosti” and it is important to find out more about the person’s situation, his or her exercise habits and to get to know each other. The participant tries to find 1-5 goals that he or she wants to achieve with help of the program. In the end, there is an evaluation of the goals.
According to Niklas, the project coordinator, 80 participants from the Helsinki area took part in the sports-oriented targeted youth work in Helsinki between September 2015 and March 2016. Overall, 61 % of the participants were male, 39% were female.
On average, the participants take part in the program for five months, and usually once per week. However, the duration and intensity of taking part in the program depends on the individual needs. According to official statistics, the program is very successful: About 90 % of the participants take part in physical activities regularly after leaving “Boosti”.
Joining “Boosti” provided Mikko with a great opportunity to stay active and make new friends. And while he was able to try a new sport, he was earning the admiration of his class mates.