- Research Project
Eat Breathe Move A mobile app to support Ukrainian refugee children in Switzerland and Ukraine
The app "Bee Healthy" supports Ukrainian children in learning practical skills for dealing with stress and challenges through playful engagement with nutrition, stress reduction and exercise.
- Lead school School of Health Professions
- Institute Nutrition and Dietetics
- Research unit Nutrition and Dietetics
Swiss Lung League
David Bruderer Foundation
strategic theme "Caring Society" of the Bern University of Applied Sciences
- Duration (planned) 01.12.2022 - 31.12.2023
- Project management Dr. Karin Haas
- Head of project Olha Faryma
Dr. Anastasiia Nahorna
Dr. Joyce Haddad
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Fiedler
David Brioso Santos
NGO “BeHealthy!” Ukraine
Swiss Lung League
- Keywords Children, adolescents, Ukraine, nutrition, exercise, health literacy, stress, integration, app
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, roughly 8 million people have fled Ukraine, including almost 3 million children. Around 75,000 Ukrainian refugees have been registered in Switzerland, of whom children aged 5-14 are the largest group (over 20%). Moreover, many of those affected in the war zone had to leave their homes and familiar surroundings and flee to another part of the country. The living conditions of many refugees are currently very challenging. Children and young people suffer particularly from this situation, which can negatively affect their mental and physical health as well as their social well-being.
Frequent changes of residence, a lack of opportunities to play, limited access to school and new and unfamiliar environments are particularly stressful. For those who have fled abroad, there are also challenges of social integration due to language barriers and cultural differences. Such stresses are not without consequences for health. For example, they can lead to unhealthy eating habits, with traditional eating habits being replaced by unhealthier alternatives in the new country. Stress also offers a potential trigger for the use of tobacco or other substances. Current studies suggest that refugee children and adolescents have twice the risk of becoming overweight and suffer more often from mental health problems compared to Swiss children and adolescents of the same age.
The Lancet Report 2018 therefore calls on political decision-makers and civil society to commit to the health of migrants. This requires services that meet the needs of the target groups in the best possible way. It is essential that those affected are involved in the development and implementation of possible solutions from the very beginning. This is the aim of the Eat Breathe Move project: to support Ukrainian children between the ages of 11 and 15 in learning practical skills for dealing with stress and challenges, wherever they are.
Together with Ukrainian refugee children in Switzerland and the Swiss Lung League, the Bern University of Applied Sciences Health (BFH-G) is developing a mobile app. With this app - "Bee Healthy" - we aim to support Ukrainian refugees aged 11 to 15 in dealing with their physical and mental health. Nutrition (EAT), stress and social skills (BREATHE) and exercise (MOVE) are addressed in a playful way. Several learning units are planned for each topic area, consisting of questions/answers, playful exercises, audio files, videos and fun activities.
A programme by Ukrainians for Ukrainians
The BFH is a participant in the "Solidarity for Ukraine" movement and provides jobs for academic refugees. Olha Faryma, the initiator and driving force behind the existing project "Healthy Food for Children," developed with the Ukrainian NGO "BeHealthy," has moved to Switzerland and now works for BFH. As head of the Eat, Breathe, Move project, her goal is to adapt the existing Ukrainian programme about nutrition to the new, challenging situation of young Ukrainian refugees. In cooperation with the Swiss Lung League and with the involvement of the target group itself, this programme is being expanded to include the areas of mental health/stress management and physical activity.
The "Bee Healthy" app: EAT - BREATHE - MOVE
Based on initial focus group interviews with Ukrainian mothers and children in Switzerland, a digital tool (mobile app) was selected as the best medium for the programme. It is intended to efficiently reach the target group, minimizing barriers to access. The programme will be developed with a pragmatic, participatory and agile approach. The content will be structured as follows:
Based on the Ukrainian programme " Healthy Nutrition for School Children," this section will be further developed with the expertise of the BFH's Nutrition and Dietetics Department, findings from a cooking workshop and interviews with the target group.
Stress and social skills (BREATHE)
The content will be based on the Swiss Lung League’s "ready4life" app. The strategies developed for this coaching app as well as tips and tricks for dealing with stress will be discussed and adapted with the target group. In this section of the app, children will learn, for example, how to reduce stress with the help of breathing, meditation exercises and physical exercises. Learning healthy stress management strategies reduces the risk of tobacco or nicotine use and thus also reduces the development of lung and respiratory diseases.
The content will be developed with the knowledge and experience of Anastasiia Nahorna, a Ukrainian who now lives in Switzerland and works at the BFH-G.
Currently, an initial version (prototype) of the app "Bee Healthy" is being developed, and Ukrainian IT specialists have been recruited for its programming. The development of the app is also supported by the Ukrainian NGO "BeHealthy." This prototype will be continuously tested with representatives of the target group, evaluated and adapted where necessary.