Sandpits for a Healthy Start

In Healthy Start, researchers and stakeholders from society collaborate to improve the mental, physical and social wellbeing of youth, from conception to early adulthood. Using an innovative, transdisciplinary and inclusive approach, researchers not only work together with experts ‘from the field’, but also with children and youth themselves, on six different Ambition Projects.

To kickstart each Ambition Project, a group of around 25 researchers and stakeholders, such as youth workers and health care practitioners, and children, first meet during an interactive ‘sandpit’ brainstorm session. During this session they map the current situation, their collective ambition, as well as the knowledge, tools and methods that are required to achieve this ambition.

Following the sandpit, Flatland Agency assists in visualising the roadmap for each Ambition Project, as can be seen in the image above, which shows the roadmap for an Ambition Project on youth participation. In September and October, sandpits were hosted for Ambition Projects on youth participation, youth mental health, and active lifestyles for chronically ill children.

Participants were highly motivated and engaged, since they were not just asked to share ideas with researchers but are actively involved in the entire process from conception to implementation of the research projects. As a result, several teams have already started setting up research projects based on the output from these sandpits.

It shows that using a transdisciplinary, innovative and inclusive approach can be a very useful model for formulating research questions for real world problems.