Valio Akatemia® awards 136,000 euros to support sports activities for children and the youth in Finland. Valio Akatemia® and its ambassadors have chosen 303 young people to receive stipends in 2019. The programme’s abmassadors are footballer Joel Pohjanpalo, skier Kerttu Niskanen, hurdles runner and orienteer Topi Raitanen, hockey player Roope Hintz, and skiing YouTubers Real Skifi.
There was a significantly higher number of applications than in previous years – this year, Valio Akatemia® received up a record 3,663 applications from children, young people and groups at different phases of their sports hobbies.
“Applications were, overall, very good and very well grounded. They showed, in excellent fashion, how active our young athletes are here in Finland. We aim for a balanced approach and try to support different age groups, sports, and towns in equal measure. It’s great to be involved in helping children and young people reach for their dreams,” says Valio project manager Nina Wahlström.
Programme ambassadors were actively involved in selecting the stipendiates for their own sport. Stipends were given both to individuals and teams as well as groups of schoolchildren all around Finland. Stipendiates include successful athletes as well as children and young people that are early in their careers.
This year, Valio Akatemia® gives out 303 cash and nutrition stipends. Cash stipends are used for, among others, to pay facility rent, coaches and season fees as well as race travel and equipment purchases. Nutritional stipends, on the other hand, support the athletes’ overall wellbeing with snack and cooking courses and nutritional coaching. Coaching and courses are carried out jointly with the Martha Organization, which is a home economics organisation, and the Finnish Sports and Exercise Safety Program.
“Our team was over the moon with the attention we got last year for the hard work we do every day. The stipend let us take part in two different events that let us gain enough confidence in our programme that this spring, we brought home a top 3 placement for the first time in the team’s history.” says Spirit Bombs Hämeenlinna Cheer Team coach Anne Penttilä.
From hobby horses to athletics – stipends support a variety of sports
Every year, a new sport is represented in our stipendiates. Among this year’s awardees, in addition to traditional favourites like football, ice hockey, figure skating, skiing and athletics, we had hobby horsing, pole dancing, crossfit, e-sports, water polo and agility.
“From a sports perspective, we have a wide variety of different sports, because we want to support all kinds of sport from trampoline gymnastics to basketball and martial arts. It’s important for us to encourage children and young people to be active in their most natural way. It’s fun to see all the things Finns are interested in and the variety of exercise in general,” says Nina Wahlström.
Valio Akatemia® wants to support exercise for children and young people, share nutritional information and promote wellbeing for families. Stipendiate choices reflect application content as well as the applicant’s enthusiasm and motivation, how much they need the stipend, and how good an example they have of using the stipend. All 2019 stipendiates have been notified personally. The stipend application process for 2020 will begin in spring 2019.
Valio Akatemia® promotes wellbeing for Finnish families and helps make the dreams of children and young people come true with cash, nutrition, product and event stipends. Established in spring 2013, the programme provides practical, everyday experiences related to sports, exercise and wellbeing. Counting the 2019 stipends, the programme has given out over 1,500 awards. Valio Akatemia® is a part of Valio’s sustainability programme.