Connecting Young Cancer Survivors: The EU co-funded project OACCUs kicks off with partner meeting in Stockholm
OAC Connects Us (OACCUs) hosted its Kick-off Project Meeting in the week of June 21-24, 2021 in Stockholm, Sweden. Fourteen partners from six EU member states came together to pursue one goal: Sustainably developing an EU-wide Network for Young Cancer Survivors. The focus lies on increasing their quality of life through a healthy lifestyle, connecting the target group on a European level and ensuring that young Europeans once diagnosed with cancer will be able to continue to live a mentally and physically healthy and future-oriented life.
We are happy to announce that the project proposal OACCUs with 14 partners from 6 countries is being funded by the European Commission in the framework of the EU4Health program. Europe's beating cancer plan aims not only to ensure that young cancer patients survive their disease, but also that they live long, fulfilling lives. In this context, the project name OACCUs stands for OAC Sees (C) Us and OAC Connects Us. OACCUs will be a vital part of the new EU4Health network for young cancer survivors with its project slogan: ‘CHOOSE the HEALTHy way!’. The project is about fostering a future-oriented healthy lifestyle through four core elements: a) outdoor sports and exercise, b) psychoeducation, c) healthy nutrition and d) a healthy environment (or sustainable lifestyle). This is supported through the interaction and exchange with peers, people with a similar medical history, friends and health organizations (universities, young cancer survivor organizations, NGOs) of the participating project countries.
OACCUs pursues the idea of training young cancer survivors, their families and friends as ambassadors and coaches in each participating country and developing and sustaining a network of young cancer survivors. All 14 partners are already involved in the topic of young cancer survivors and / or have developed concepts for primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention of cancer together with partners in the past years.
OACCUs’ main outputs will be: a) a lively and sustainable youth network, b) training of numerous ambassadors and coaches as facilitators to support and further develop the network and c) provision of the OACCUs app to engage and connect youth participants.
Type of Action: EU4H-PJG
Current Phase: Grant Agreement signed
Duration: 18 months
Start Date: June 17, 2022
Estimated Project Cost: €3,116,375.00
Requested EU Contribution: €2,493,100.00
Sweden (Project Coordination) Prof. Anna Nordström, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece
Participating Organizations: University of Umeå (SE), Region Vasterbotten (SE), MotiMera (SE), Outdoor Against Cancer OAC (DE), ESV Muenchen e.V. (DE), University of Patras (GR), CreThiDev (GR), CEIPES (IT), University of Palermo (IT), LILT Palermo (IT), University of Cadiz (ES), University of Coimbra (PT), CHUC (PT), LIGA (PT)
Project Relevance 27/30
The proposal is fully aligned with the themes, priorities, and objectives of the call. The objectives and the planning are clear and well described. The proposal includes relevant and appropriate arguments in support of the need for multidisciplinary and proactive approaches to healthy cancer survivorship in young persons and their next of kin, including the importance of modifiable lifestyle-related and psychosocial factors. These arguments are grounded in solid scientific and well-referenced evidence. The proposed use of the platform as a vehicle to instigate improved physical activity is a very interesting approach and fits well with the wider public health education for all goals. As such, it also has the potential to include care providers. The scope and geographical coverage of the action offers a wide variety of focus and has an intrinsic EU dimension. The potential for transferability of the proposed approach and results to other countries is high, although not fully discussed in the proposal.
Statements by some of the participants:
Petra Thaller Founder & President OAC and Anna Nordström Professor, MD Project Leader of OACCUs (University of Umeå):
‘We believe that the dissemination of existing knowledge in combination with the cutting-edge technology of the OACCUs toolbox which is scientifically based and presented in an understandable way, will have a great added value for the primary target group of Young Cancer Survivors and their social environment, but also health professionals, sports coaches, regional, national and international associations and stakeholders in the next 18 months.’
Apostolos Vantarakis, University of Patras, Greece:
‘As cancer treatment progresses, it is important to have information and suggestions on how to maintain and improve health after surviving cancer. Research shows that lifestyle changes during and after cancer treatment can help prevent a relapse or a second cancer. As a partner of the European research project OACCUs, we believe that it is a great opportunity to work on guidelines and good practices of healthy lifestyle that will be developed with emphasis on physical activity and nutrition for individuals who have survived cancer. It is an opportunity to promote healthy living and nutrition in the community and to embrace our cooperation within the country with stakeholders in the area.’
Musa Kirkar, CEIPES International Centre for the Promotion of Education and Development, Palermo, Italy:
‘CEIPES believes that education and social development are crucial values to achieve peace and dignity for all human beings. These values are not a privilege but a right for everyone. Sport and physical activity are effective tools for promoting the well-being of individuals and the needs that occur during their life cycle, affecting educational and social outcomes. Thanks to physical activity and healthy lifestyle, cancer survivors can significantly improve the quality of their life. For this reason, CEIPES chooses to actively support Europe's Beating Cancer Plan.’
Carmen Nogueira, Coimbra University Hospital (CHUC), Portugal:
‘CHUC's mission is to provide high quality and differentiated health care to citizens of all age groups. Although hospital care is mainly focused on tertiary prevention, it attempts to integrate in its daily clinical practice the promotion of lifestyles that reduce the risk of disease. The participation in the OACCUs project is an opportunity to add value to health care and well-being of the population, by the establishment of multidisciplinary intervention and education networks in the promotion of healthy lifestyles that integrate physical activity, psychoeducation, healthy nutrition and sustainable environment. We envision the involvement in this consortium as a winning business, in which everyone benefits.’
Pia Kraske, ESV Munich, Germany:
‘ESV München e.V. is happy and proud to be a part of this international and interdisciplinary project on the important field of understanding and fostering the potential of sports and physical activity for the well-being of cancer survivors. As a professional of a large sports club, I can see the positive effects of sports each day in the faces of our members. And it's not only the physical aspects, it is moreover also the positive impact on mental health and social life that I believe makes sports a huge weapon in fighting the threats living with and surviving cancer.’