Henrik Nørgaard, community consultant in BROEN Danmark, shares with us the goals and concerns of the organization in order to "help vulnerable children enjoy an active leisure life".
What's the guiding mission BROEN?
BROEN (ie. The Bridge) is a non-profit association that helps vulnerable children to enjoy an active leisure life. BROEN aims to support socially disadvantaged children and young people with quotas and equipment for sports or other leisure activities. The goal is to get the children out among other children, where they can be part of a positive community and mirror themselves in adult role models and thus gain some successful experiences and a strengthened belief in themselves.
What are the origins of the network and how it evolved over time?
In 2022 BROEN's local associations helped a total of 6,767 children and young people. In 2022 there were 33 locally based BROEN associations (on municipality level), all are driven by voluntary people and are independent in regard to economy and daily activity.
BROEN Danmark is an umbrella association for the local associations and help with fundraising, communication infra structure, public affairs and political connections, exchange of experiences, building and maintaining a voluntary base in the local associations etc.
BROEN was started by a private initiative from Hans Søgaard in 2002 in Horsens. Since 2009 BROEN Danmark has had the task of spreading the idea and the way of working to other municipalities in Denmark.
What type of activities do you offer?
We help the children to become active in local sports clubs or other leisure activities in 33 municipalities in Denmark. We pay for their equipment, subscription fees and fees for participation in competitions.
These events take place in local associations and clubs with sports, scouts, theatre, music, art school or other activities for children and young people as a focal point. We do also support special activities like competitions and camps during school holidays.
Do you operate across Denmark?
Yes, in 33 out of 98 municipalities.
What type of challenges are impacting children in Denmark these days, old and new, as perceived in the work of your network?
We see that some children are struggling with their self-confidence and are having problems with social relations to other children. Therefore, they are not able to participate in schools for shorter or longer periods of time.
Another group of children (approx. 50.000) are living in families with very poor economy, which means that they are less likely to be able to participate in leisure activities and social arrangements with other children if the activities are costing even a small amount of money.
What can BROEN projects offer to these kids?
We can help these children to be part of a positive community in leisure activities.
Why are leisure activities so important for a young person?
When children play sport or another activity, it happens that the child or young person builds self-confidence and self-esteem; is motivated to start and complete an education; gets into the labor market later in life and maintains a job since the the risk of a potential criminal career is minimized. It also helps to become part of a social community with other children, given the opportunity to make use of his or her potential thanks to experiencing healthy environments that makes a difference for him or her maintaining healthy habits and norms from the time in sport.
What's the role of volunteering in BROEN?
There are different roles like correspondence with applicants for support from BROEN and with the relevant leisure activity plus with equipment shops about the necessary equipment for the leisure activity. Besides that, there is registration of support to children, fundraising, pr etc.
What type of profiles participate? How do you collaborate /partner with local and national stakeholders?
Our volunteers range from young university students to retired persons, most have a connection to or experience from being part of sport clubs or other associations like scouting groups etc. or are coming from a professional background working with children.
We work together with local leisure associations and other social organizations with focus on children and rights of children.
BROEN will be attending the "Europa Social" debate, to be held next 16th November by Taula del Tercer Sector, PINCAT and DIPLOCAT: what are your expectations and what type of exchange would you like to have with local partners in the social sector to advance children rights?
We hope to learn more about ways to promote children’s possibilities to be active in their leisure life. We may be able to exchange experience on how to organize and collaborate between civil society groups and professionals in municipalities.