Maatje Wageningen deelt haar ervaring

‘Een veilige omgeving is cruciaal bij het behalen van gezondheidsdoelen.’

“As a student of the BSc Health and Society, I am very interested in children’s health. Through my studies, I learned about the Balance Buddy project. It immediately spoke to me, because I have always loved working with children.”

“The Balance Buddy project is an initiative that pairs volunteer students with a child to achieve a healthier lifestyle. Through weekly meetings with the child, we encourage them to play sports and we sometimes educate their families about healthy lifestyles and nutrition.”

“Even though I’ve only been a Balance Buddy for a few months, I already learned a lot. For example, during our training we receive courses on psychology and giving feedback, which is really useful. One of the things we learn is how to talk about sensitive issues in a constructive way. I think the most challenging thing about being a Balance Buddy is to tell a child that they may have an unhealthy lifestyle. Some of the children perceive themselves as healthy, so it feels painful to burst their bubble. We obviously want to avoid damaging a child’s confidence at all costs, which is why it’s so important to be sensitive, for example in your wording.”

“My favourite thing about the job is when I notice that the child becomes more self-confident and starts enjoying sports again! Some children stop playing sports because of their weight, even if they used to enjoy them at first. It’s so sad to me that they quit something they love because they feel uncomfortable. That’s why I love helping them gain back their self-confidence by showing them that sports are really fun. I invite them to ask their friends and then we have a game that’s just about having a good time and giving some earned compliments, to create a safe space and bring back the fun.”

“My advice to anyone starting out as a Balance Buddy is to create a safe space and building trust. The most important thing is that the child feels comfortable with you. Once you have gained their trust, you can start working towards their goals and help them be healthier.”
Milou Moolhuijzen – Volunteer at BalanceBuddy