OACCUs Project in 2023 & Future Endeavors

OACCUs Project in 2023 & Future Endeavors
In 2023, Outdoor Against Cancer Connects Us (OACCUs) persistently promoted a healthy lifestyle for Young Cancer Survivors. Through a dynamic dissemination strategy, OACCUs actively involved the target demographic, effectively conveying its central message: “CHOOSE the HEALTHy way”. 

The OACCUs project encompasses five overarching objectives:
  1. Promotion of Outdoor Sports and Healthy Lifestyle: Support the advocacy for outdoor sports, physical activity, and a health-oriented lifestyle to enhance the quality of life for Young Cancer Survivors (YCS), their families, and friends. 
  2. Digital Training for Health Professionals and YCS: Enhance the skills of YCS and social and health professionals actively involved in cancer prevention and care, through digital training in areas such as sports, nutrition, psychoeducation, and the environment. 
  3. Facilitation and Promotion of Sports and Outdoor Activities: Foster and encourage the engagement of YCS, their families, and friends in sports and outdoor activities. 
  4. Awareness of Good Habits and Cancer Risk Mitigation: Heighten awareness of positive habits across the four pillars: (1) Physical Activity, (2) Balanced Nutrition, (3) Sustainability & Nature, and (3) Physical & Mental Health to combat unhealthy behaviors with potential negative impacts on cancer risk. This involves providing easily accessible and user-friendly information within the OACCUs Network.
  5. Establishment of a European Network: Develop a dynamic European network comprising YCS, their families, friends, institutions, organizations, as well as social and health professionals actively involved in cancer prevention and care. 
To realize these objectives in 2023, the OACCUs team has undertaken various initiatives. This includes expanding the OACCUs Network, tailoring the OACCUs Toolbox to meet the specific needs of the target audience, and launching Ambassador Trainings to propagate the message of a healthy lifestyle for Young Cancer Survivors. 

Evolvement of the OACCUs Network:
In 2023, the project team has persistently initiated, organized, and participated in numerous events at European, national, and local levels to disseminate the OACCUs message and strengthen the OACCUs Network. Some notable examples of these events include: 

  • Portugal: XIX Portuguese-Speaking Countries Congress on Sport Sciences and Physical Education, Coimbra, Portugal, Dissemination of the 4 OACCUs Pillars of a healthy lifestyle; OAC and UC dissemination of the OACCUs Project to all Portuguese Speaking Countries. 
  • Belgium: Young Cancer Survivors Conference, Brussels, Belgium, Dissemination of the OACCUs Project, Launch of the WHO Short Film: “CHOOSE the HEALTHy way”.
  • Greece: The scientific meeting "Life after Treatment," was conducted in Patras, Greece, as a multiplier initiative. The purpose was to heighten awareness and sensitivity regarding the challenges encountered by oncology patients’ post-treatment, encompassing aspects like mental health, quality of life, potential inequalities, rehabilitation issues, and more. 
  • Spain: Sport4Cancer Congress, Erasmus+ Sport-Project in Murcia Spain, OAC and UCA had the opportunity to present the OACCUs project during the Scientific Congress and showcase the WHO film “CHOOSE the HEALTHY way”. 
  • Germany: OAC and ESV Munich took part in the European Week of Sport as part of the Outdoor Sport Festival with the OACCUs movement, this multiplier event served the dissemination focus Pillar 1 Physical Activity & Outdoor Sport and Pillar 4 Physical & Mental Health.
  • Italy: CEIPES organized during the European Week of Sports the 'Yoga Body and Mind' event. The session, guided by experienced trainers, included a relaxing yoga session followed by a nutritious snack. The event saw participation from YCS members, their friends, family, and anyone interested. 
  • Sweden: Umeå University and Region Västerbotten organized an activity round at the Umeå University campus, Sweden. The activity round consisted of circuit training with simple and fun movement exercises with balance or mobility challenges at each station.  
Moreover, OACCUs and the sister project EU-CAYAS-Net have instigated a collaborative effort, convening monthly meetings to explore opportunities for joint activities and synergistic initiatives—an invaluable addition to the OACCUs Network. 

OACCUs Ambassador Training Initiative:
The initiation of OACCUs Ambassador Trainings targets two distinct groups:  

1) Young Cancer Survivors, their families, and social support networks, and  
2) Health Professionals, including medical staff, dietitians, psychologists, sports instructors, etc.  
The inaugural Ambassador Trainings in English took place November 2023, followed by an evaluation by workshop participants. The feedback led to the refinement of training materials for subsequent national Ambassador Training events scheduled for January 2024 in the various languages. Throughout the year, significant interest in and expectations about the OACCUs Network, Toolbox, and Ambassador Training program have been generated among the project's target groups across partner countries and beyond. 

Development and Launch of the OACCUs Toolbox:
In autumn 2023, the OACCUs Toolbox was introduced with an initial set of tools. The toolbox is anticipated to have its communication platform, becoming the focal point of the evolving and self-sustained OACCUs network. This platform will facilitate connections and interactions among OACCUs stakeholders, fostering independence from central coordination by the project team. OACCUs continued to gather insights into YCS support needs through surveys, incorporating this knowledge and literature review findings to develop tools and other project content aligning with the target group's needs. The survey results will be regularly refined as additional responses are collected throughout the project's duration. 

Project Dissemination:
In addition to the regularly published articles on the OACCUs website, the consortium engaged in numerous collective dissemination activities. On Cancer Survivor Day, June 4th, OACCUs unveiled the "A Culinary Journey Through Europe" cookbook, featuring healthy recipes from Portugal, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Italy, and Greece. The cookbook will soon be available in all project languages.  
The OACCUs video "CHOOSE the HEALTHy way" serves to raise awareness about the project, its message, and its primary target group—YCS. This video showcases four YCS from Greece, Portugal, and Spain. Submitted to the World Health Organization's (WHO) Health For All Film Festival, the video was later selected as one of 15 films nominated for the "Special Prize: Very Short Film”. OACCUs had the great opportunity to share the OACCUs Project and video at The European Cancer Forum in December. 

OACCUs held its first webinar “Healthy Lifestyle for Young Cancer Survivors" in October 2023. The purpose was to spread awareness about the project, present the 4 pillars for a healthy lifestyle and to overall disseminate the Ambassador training and the Ambassador training Pilot. The webinar got a lot of interest with 177 project external initial registrations that came from at least 31 countries in Europe and beyond.  

The nearby future for OACCUs:
The OACCUs project is always working towards achieving the project’s five overarching objectives and will continue to do so in the upcoming months and in the duration of the project. The progress of improvements with more functions and more interactive tools to the OACCUs Toolbox will carry on according to the internal evaluation carried out in the fall of 2023 and insights gathered from the YCS evaluation and surveys. The project partners are currently translating the Ambassador Training material into the six languages of the project and are planning to host the OACCUs national Ambassador Trainings for Young Cancer Survivors and Health Care Professionals in the beginning of 2024. The OACCUs network is constantly expanding and evolving, and to stay on top with the OACCUs project activities and our progress – follow us on our Social Media channels:
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To actively involve our community in shaping the OACCUs project, we invite you to participate in our survey. By completing the questionnaire, you allow us to identify areas where additional support is required. Our goal is to provide aid where needed and make a positive impact on the lives of cancer patients. Take the OACCUs Survey
Finally, to all of you – Happy Holidays from all partners of Outdoor Against Cancer Connects Us!  

The OACCUs Team is looking forward to your questions and suggestions.