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Physical activity as a vehicle for social integration and inclusion

CIVIS, a European civic university, is committed to addressing the greatest societal challenges of our time. At this year's Global CIVIS Days in Athens, our open activity focused on the power of physical activity to support social inclusion - both within the CIVIS Alliance and across society. Come join the CIVIS Panathlon and build an active university!

It is well known that physical activity can be a means for social integration and inclusion. Positive experiences of physical activity can be a vehicle to reduce inequalities for all people, irrespective of their gender, (dis)abilities, age, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, etc. Sport really can build a better society and a better world.

This is why CIVIS organised a Panathlon* for students and staff across the CIVIS Alliance on 18 and 19 May 2022. It was a great opportunity to meet fellow members of the CIVIS community, be a creative force, share expertise and bring innovative ideas to life!

60 participants from across Europe

Around 60 participants were selected and gathered in Athens, Greece, at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.

Among the participants, there were:

  • Students (BA and MA) - across all academic disciplines 
  • PhD candidates - across all academic disciplines 
  • Post-docs - across all academic disciplines 
  • Academic staff - across all academic disciplines 
  • Researchers - across all academic disciplines 
  • Administrative staff

Local stakeholders, social partners and citizens were also invited to join the Panathlon.

 *Panathlon is an ancient Greek word, consisting of: pan (=every) & athlon (=prize, race, effort, rivalry). 

3 winning teams

Participants, organised into 9 teams, worked tirelessly to find innovative ways to build the CIVIS University campus of tomorrow and competed for a place on the podium.

Discover the top-3 winning teams below! 

1. Team "UNITY"

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2. Team "SUCSEED" 

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3. Team "UNIFIT"

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Feedback from participants

It has been an incredible experience! It was my first participation in such an event and it has been one of the best adventures that I have ever had in my entire life! All the activities that we have done from the games to introducing ourselves to the activities done at the university were brilliant! Ilaria

I loved the Panathlon and its concept. It gave me the opportunity to compare with people coming from different realities and different fields of studies: it’s been challenging but I’m absolutely sure that all of this enriched my personal luggage. Emanuele

It was my honour to be part of this year’s Panathlon and I am looking forward to future CIVIS projects, especially those organized in Athens. Stefan


Click for more photos of the Panathlon

Step 1: Teams & Topics

Once the teams were announced, the teams started working on a project based on two topics:

  • How to create an active university for all?
  • How to mobilise the local community and offer physical activity for all?

Based on the selection of topics, participants were asked to come up with a challenge. This challenge refered to a way to achieve social and cultural integration and inclusion through the active participation of all in physical activities.

Topics included:

Create an active university for all

  • Facilities
  • Lessons/Leisure time
  • Life on campus

Mobilise the local community-physical activity for all

  • Municipality
  • Schools
  • Communication/mass media
  • Workplaces
  • Transportation

Step 2: Let the game begin!

During the two days of Panathlon, 18-19 May 2022, each team brainstormed, decided, designed, prototyped and pitched its idea! Social inclusion and integration experts spent some time with the Panathlon teams to offer them consultancy and advice. Moreover, the citizens who participated as active members in each group provided a real-life perspective. This was an opportunity for all participants to test out their hypotheses, assess the feasibility of their idea, broaden their horizons and discover untapped potentials.

Step 3: Project presentations

At the end of the Panathlon, all teams had three minutes to present their innovative responses and projects to a jury of experts and CIVIS member university representatives. They also demonstrated an example of a “physical activity for all” and instructed the other teams in a live trial of this physical activity.

When assessing the pitches and selecting a winning team, judges took into consideration the following criteria:

  • Relevance (25%): Does the solution address the issue/problem and fall within the scope of the CIVIS Panathlon challenge as described in the brief?
  • Innovation (25%): How innovative is the solution/approach to solving the problem described in the brief? Are there other solutions available and if so, how does this proposal stand out?
  • Feasibility (25%): How feasible is it to put the solution into practice? Does the solution make sense financially? Would the solution be sustainable over the long term?
  • Replicability/ability to scale up (15%): Can the solution be replicated or scaled to other CIVIS member universities?
  • Quality of presentation (10%): Does the presentation of the idea follow a logical and structured sequence without spelling mistakes and with quality arguments?

Panathlon winners were awarded one mobility voucher for each of its members to visit the CIVIS University of their choice!

Team 1 - CIVIS sport: Actively integrated

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Team 2 - The CIVIS circle

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Team 3 - Cycle now!

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Team 4 - Project "Unifit"

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Team 5 - Relax and win!

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Team 6 - Vice Versa

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Team 7 - Play outside the box

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Team 8 - Sucseed

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Team 9 - Unity

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