Sports clubs aim to promote equality among children and youth - the well-being impact of hobbies right now

There are over 8,000 sports clubs in Finland, and up to 90 percent of Finnish children and youth participate in club activities at some point in their life. But do these hobbies reach children and youth from diverse family backgrounds? And what is their actual impact on the well-being of participants?

This is the first part of a blog series that focuses on the realization of children and youth's equality and subjective well-being in hobby activities. In this first part of the blog series, we discuss the results from data collected by We Foundation and Finnish sports clubs related to the accessibility of hobby activities and their impact on well-being. In the following parts, we will present practical measures to promote the well-being experience and equality in club activities and take a closer look at differences in results, for example, concerning sport-specific and gender-related factors.

Sports clubs aim to strengthen their role in promoting the well-being of children and youth and preventing exclusion. In addition to developing athletic skills, every child and young person should feel that their hobby has a positive impact on their well-being.

Together Finnish sports clubs, we collected information on the reach of hobbies and their well-being effects to make activities more equal. Using data collected from children, youth and their guardians, we examined how activities reach children and young people from various family backgrounds and how they perceive the impact of these activities on their well-being. The well-being experience is viewed from the perspective of social well-being: does it provide protective factors against exclusion, such as friendships, a sense of belonging, and the experience of a safe adult? We also asked how children and young people perceive the impact of these activities on their well-being over the past six months.

We collected unique data on the reach of hobbies and their well-being effects using our data tool Melvio, and the Jopox management system for sports clubs. The collected data provides clubs with comparable, research-based information to support decision-making, leadership, and reporting. Regular data collection allows tracking changes in well-being over a longer period among the same group of respondents. Bringing the survey into a familiar, everyday system used by hobbyists reached a large number of respondents. We received responses from over 2,100 hobbyists or their guardians.

How Sports Hobbies Reach Children and Youth

Sports activities must also reach children and young people who are at higher risk of exclusion. According to the data from our survey, 20 percent of hobbyists come from families with one or more socio-economic background factors, such as low family income, single-parent family, prolonged unemployment, or low parental education.

However, only two percent of hobbyists come from families with accumulated disadvantages. This means that several socio-economic risk factors are present in their family background. According to Statistics Finland, in 2021, 4.2 percent of 0-17-year-olds were at risk of exclusion based on at least two risk factors. Thus, our collected data indicates that the rate is below the national average and that more could be done in terms of ensuring equal opportunities and hobbies for all.

The Perceived Impact of Hobby Activities on Well-being

Forty-six percent of hobbyists feel that their well-being has improved through club activities. Seven percent, on the other hand, feel that the activities have had negative effects on their well-being.

In the data, we particularly focus on social well-being. We investigated whether there are so-called protective factors in the lives of children and young people: do they feel like they belong to a community, do they have friends, or do they have a safe adult outside their family to talk to about their concerns.

Examining well-being indicators for different age groups and teams in the data adds depth to the results. When we get a better understanding of where the experience of improved well-being is most significant, for example, in which teams, we can transfer lessons from one team to another and monitor changes over time.

Experiences of Community and Friendships are quite similar regardless of the gender of the hobbyist, but there are clear differences in well-being experiences between girls and boys. In the following parts of the blog series, we will delve deeper into these differences.


Would you like to better understand the impact of your club? We are looking for new pilot clubs!

We will reassess changes in well-being indicators with the pilot clubs again after six months. We will then include participant data in the analysis: How actively do hobbyists participate in the activities? Are we able to involve children and young people in club activities who have not previously participated or do not currently have other hobbies (drop-in)? What percentage eventually drops out of the hobby, and who are the ones who leave (drop-out)?

Is your club interested in measuring the reach and well-being effects of hobby activities? We are constantly looking for new pilot clubs. If you are interested or want to explore the results collected so far in more detail, please contact us: