The 2003 Danish Torch Relay

Bragt i det internationale IOAPA’s nyhedsbrev Arete nr. 1, 2004.

In May 2003 a torch traveled 1200 kilometers through all regions of Denmark by muscle power. The main idea behind this torch relay was to promote physical activity and the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. In this article you will find out how to use the concept of a torch relay to promote a cause related to physical activity, health and sports.

Why a Campaign about physical activity?
– The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that 70% of the population will suffer from lifestyle diseases by 2020.
– Statistics show that 20-30% of the Danish population is inactive.
– It has been documented that in-activity is just as dangerous as smoking.

Based on new research, scientists have developed guidelines for daily physical activity. These include 30 minutes a day of physical activity for adults and 60 minutes a day for children. Unfortunately, not many people know about these recommendations but they can be crucial if people wish to live a long and well functioning life.

Based on this background the National Board of Health decided to organize a campaign to get the Danish people moving.

The aims of the Campaign
The campaign had three major aims:

1. To rise awareness of the importance of physical activity and inform the population that 30 minutes a day is the international guideline for adults.
2. To create networks for physical activity at a local level.
3. To create a unified platform for action.

The Strategy of the Campaign
The campaign was based on a two-leg-strategy: a Mass Media Strategy and a Network Strategy. The elements of the Mass Media Strategy was Mass media communication through National TV, which included the weather forecast, radio spots, brochure to doctors, advertisements in busses, trains and newspapers. One newspaper featured the torch relay through articles with famous people and their attitude toward physical activity. In addition, lots of time was spent nursing the press with statistics, information and news about the campaign. The Network Strategy consisted of a Torch Relay that traveled from the north of Denmark to the capital in one week. The opening ceremony coincided with the WHO´s Move for Health Day on 10 May 2003. A week later the torch arrived in Copenhagen for the closing ceremony, which was organized at Tivoli with the presence of the Minister of Health. The organization of the torch relay involved 300 people.

Along the torch’s way sport clubs and different institutions organized activities and happenings to celebrate the event.

The Results of the Campaign
Once the campaign was finished the Danish National Board of Health conducted a research to study the effect of the campaign. The conclusions were that:

– 77% of the Danish population noticed the campaign.
– 77% was aware of the need to exercise 30 minutes per day.
– New networks for physical activity were established in almost all regions of Denmark.
– Local partners wanted to join in the campaign to be conducted the following year.

It was found out that the concept of a torch relay was perfect to promote physical activity and the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. The torch relay united the people and the many regions of the country. The torch was also perceived as a social meeting point that cut across age and culture. Many active Danes carried the torch with pride. The spirit of the torch gave energy to the whole campaign. The aim is now to develop the concept of the torch relay further through partnership with sport clubs, organisations and other partners. If you want to know more about the 2003 Danish Torch Relay, please and be inspired by it go to:

What do you need to organize a torch relay?
– Time – Money – Partners – Willingness

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