I tech care is a project of the Associazione ProXXIma which offers an innovative approach to the promotion of health. It consists of the digital application of a method developed over several years' experience in primary schools. The project has been developed with the support of Foundations Cariplo and Valdese, in synergy with Asl Milano. The efficacy of I tech care lies in the method, centred on the involvement of children through a series of creative and social activities, using on-line digital content that encourages them to pass from digital to practical activities, strengthening the relationship with significant adults. During the on-line space cartoon episodes, the children become involved in a responsive feeding process to take care of their young alien guest. But the effect does not finish here since it influences its juvenile “parents” to explore further: through touch and participation it nourishes its own knowledge as well as theirs. A true example of Feeding knowledge.
ProXXIma Association - ItalyLead applicant
Research and development activities on the following themes: - Nutrition (in particular on the relationship between food and emotions to prevent eating disorders) - Life skills applied to Literature, from the Divina Commedia to I Promessi Sposi. Project I tech care and Being well at School. to develop a Culture of Health to accustom new generations to take care of themselves, others and the Planet.
Tavola Valdese - ItalyInitiative partner
The Waldensians are Christians who belong to the family of the churches of the Reformation of the sixteenth century: Protestant or evangelical. The Waldensian movement is present in Italy since the Middle Ages and has lived in the valleys of western Piedmont until 1848. Just at that time the Waldenses have got the freedom to express their faith without incurring persecution. They are widespread in the country with a work of witness and in South America (Rio de la Plata) with emigration. The Waldensian Church raises money from 8x1000 of the tax return to support social projects, humanitarian and cultural events in Italy and abroad.
ASL Milano - ItalyInitiative partner
Training programmes on life-skills education and peer education. Prevention, communication and surveillance HIV/STDs 2013-2015. Reading and Health - Read a book to your child, he will grow up happier and healthier! Programme on the Prevention of Dipendencies, drug free company policies With less salt in bread there’s more taste and … you gain in health. Campaign on the reduction of the salt content in bread. Stop to smoking. Knowing more about it. HPV Vaccination: It’s 4 u! Correct life-styles. Useful information for a better life. Walking groups. The promotion of physical activity in old age. Travel in good health. Prophylaxis and information on International vaccinations.
I tech care represents the digital version of positive and exemplary experiences that were successfully applied from 2004 to 2011 in Lombardy and Umbria, for the promotion of healthy life styles. With the help of entertaining educational materials that offer fun activities, it is possible to convey in an enjoyable manner educational messages based on consolidated scientific evidence (e.g. the importance of having breakfast and eating more fruit and vegetables, the “famous” 5 helpings). In addition, the section “FORMAZIONE” (TRAINING) from the web-site www.miprendocura.it, proposes activity modules considered suitable by educational experts, which utilize culturally relevant activities that are pleasant and involving, and which truly nourish the knowledge of children and grown-ups.
The main innovation consists of the development of a nutrition education programme that is progressive, interdisciplinary, in-line with National school guidelines on nutrition education (protocol n. 0007835 del 14/10/2011) and most of all capable of taking children from digital to practical activities, whilst encouraging/developing the relationship with significant adults (See the videos on: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcVuhfluROxKKHyw5x0lXfQ/videos).
We believe that particularly this last aspect may also work in non-Italian contexts.
In addition, the use of new technology and the creation of a multi-medial website, multiply the impact on food- and nutrition behaviours in children from ages 5½ to 11 and in their caregivers.
World-wide, a billion people eat insufficiently and inadequately, and another billion eat excessively and incorrectly. Since 2008, there has been a slight decline in overweight and obesity in children aged 8-9, but Italy remains in the top positions in Europe for infant excessive weight gain (surveillance system “Okkio alla Salute” 2012). Nutrition education is crucial. Overweight, obesity and un-healthy life-styles are a challenge to public health and their diffusion amongst children is of major concern as they are predictors of future health issues, considering the current epidemiological situation within the country with a high incidence of chronic degenerative diseases. In order to reduce inequalities, social and sanitary costs, ProXXima has created the multi-medial web-site www.miprendocura.it (visible from 15/09/2014), to reach adults and children and which, with the support of local institutions, offers lifelong learning for teachers.
School communities that decide to join this innovative programme for the promotion of health and which explore and exploit health determinants, obtain project results.
In practice, these are some of the changes that are observed:
• the established, shared consumption of healthy snacks
• the improvement and appreciation of school meals (menu, portions, consumption time, relational environment, reduction of food waste, waste recycling)
• the adoption of educational and learning processes regarding food culture and identity
• a change of attitude by students, thanks to the replication at home, with family members, of what has been learned at school (activity “ Adopt an… alien!” from digital to practical activities).
School community involved:
200 children: ages 5½ - 11 (in 2013).
Characteristics of the groups of children involved:
Before the programme: scarse familiarity with seasonal fruits and vegetables. After the programme: an improvement in the relationship with seasonal fruit in particular, which is used also by the school as snack.
Before: resistance with respect to some foods, especially during school lunch, often because they have never been tried. After: more willingness to try different foods and more knowledge about the process for the production of the foods the children are served at school and at home, with less food waste.
200 parents: thanks to the project they become more aware of the “food space” of their children.
20 teachers: thanks to the project they re-inforce their educational impact, so that they contribute to che creation of a real health and culture “imprinting” in the children.
- 1 programme manager, also trainer, educator and editorial designer.
- 1 educator/trainer
- 1 nutritionist, expert in eating disorders
- 1 health visitor
- 1 expert in statistical analysis
- 3 visual designers (1 for the web-site, 1 for the page-turning animation cartoons, 1 for the Alien cartoons)
- 2 computer technicians expert in multi-media web-sites
- 1 audio technician (for video music and audio)
DIFFICULTIES ENCOUNTERED IN THE CREATION OF THE ANIMATED CARTOONS
From the start we held group discussions on the necessity to create animated video cartoons of high impact, that would be adequate for the short time-span required for web-viewing. The format of the Alien cartoons is quite simple, instead the page-turning animation cartoons required more work and constant adjustments, particularly of the single animations (http://byimage.com/develop/sfoglialibro_eng/sfoglialibro_eng.html). To solve this, we tried over and over again until we were satisfied with the result.
One of the difficulties encountered has been the need to create from the start a school-family synergy, so that the children could strengthen at home the good practices experimented at school. Since in Italy families appear to be more computer literate than teachers, the web-site section “Prendersi Cura” (“Taking Care of”) was developed from the start along two separate themes “at home” and “at school”. In addition, the sections “Pillole di cartone” (“Cartoon Snippets”) and “Attivita’” (“Activities”) are open to teachers and children as well as parents.
One of the principal aims of the project is that of decreasing the environmental impact and the costs to public health, encouraging children and adults to take care not only of themselves, but also of others and of the Planet. Taking care signifies paying attention, moment by moment, to what we do, what we eat and how our food is cultivated and produced, i.e. the necessary care to go from seed to plate.
The promotional video of the "Adopt an...alien!” module, visible on YouTube, sends a clear message: if we don’t want to end up like the inhabitants of planet Crash, we cannot wait any longer, we must begin taking care, nourishing our knowledge and that of the young terrestrials and extra..terrestrials!
Results are sustained thanks to:
- the possibility to replicate at home, with one's family members, what has been learned at school (Adopt … an alien! module);
- the possibility for the teachers to continue with nutrition education from grades one to five, through an interdisciplinary approach;
- the internet-mediated relationship with users, which allows a wider public to participate but also to contribute, thus offering new opportunities for health education within a community, that can be under constant local monitoring through a virtual network.
Dissemination of the experience has so far been carried out in two ways:
- through the monthly newsletter of the Associazione (with 4 numbers dedicated to the project)
- through the presentation of the module Adopt an…alien! at the 2013 Erickson National Convention (Convegno Nazionale Erickson 2013).
From September 2014 it will be disseminated more widely through the web-site www.miprendocura.it (still inacessible to the public in order not to spoil the novelty effect and to launch it to all possible users jointly). From January 2015, thanks to the participation to the call for funds L.285 by the Milano town council, we are working to supply the password for access to the TRAINING section of the web-site to all of the primary school in Milano.
Please see the Letter of the Head of Education and Instruction Department Milan City Council: https://www.dropbox.com/s/y5u3okasshsi05x/Lettera%20Assessore%20Comune%20Milano.PDF