Keep In Mind
For those who run or those who walk?
It is customary to go up the stairs at Hospital de Santa Maria (HSM) in Lisbon, and always see messages related to the calories we're spending and how much we need to run to eliminate what we ingest. The idea emerged two years ago, and will, for the third time, be applied to more than 450 steps that fill the halls of HSM..
Can you imagine the work that goes into covering all those steps? And did you know that since last summer we have been planning the communication strategy for the upcoming Race, taking place April 28th?
In its 6th edition, the "Corrida Saúde Mais Solidária" [Race for a more Solidary Health] is also the biggest university race in the country.
Composed of a work team of 20 people, from the Student Association of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon.
The race is solidary because every year it wants to spread some Institutions' cause. This year, there are 4 institutions, and to help you have to sign up and participate actively. There are 4 ways of doing it: a 5 km walk, or running 5, 10 or 15 km.
We went to meet Matilde Boavida and Pedro Pinto, the two general coordinators of this project. Passionate about the sport, Matilde always liked running and Pedro did athletic competitions. College reduced their sporting routines, but it didn't take away the rush of sports.
The first 6 members gathered at the beginning, registrations were quickly opened in September to complete the group with 14 more people.
If last summer Matilde and Pedro outlined what they intended to be the 6th edition of the Race, it is now clear and in full force for its final phase which is the start.
Responsible for Image and Awareness Pedro must ensure that the entire team continuously disseminates information so appealing that it always convinces someone else to sign up. Then there's the Logistics Department that deals with a more organisational part of the Race and it is responsible for the feasibility of routes, signage, dorsal, chips and other important props.
Matilde and her team ensure the coordination of Sponsorships, looking for sponsors that finance or support the project, through direct donations or delivering consumables that may be useful on the day of the race. She is also responsible for the Partnerships and the Registrations where they evaluate the Institutions to select, as well as deal with participant registration management.
Tell me a little bit about your role as Coordinators and how you motivate an entire team to get into it just for fun.
Pedro: What Coordinators look for in the students interested in being part of this Team is mainly motivation and ability to work. We don't ask for experience, but above all, that they are motivated because it takes up a lot of time - from the end of September until April. We initially present the project, a clarification session in which each of the coordinators presents their departments and clarifies the various doubts that may arise. This presentation is for those who want to join the team, get to know the work that needs to be developed and then sign up for the team that fits them best. By the first week of October the final team is made up.
There is a lot of communication between the coordinators and team members of each department, which in total are 4.
It is a very well thought out and articulated organisation, in which permanent communication is fundamental and the basis of a well-functioning team. There are also monthly meetings. What is intended is that, in the end, each of the members also takes a good collection of moments of team spirit and conviviality that existed during this journey.
Matilde: There are some team building,, dinners, meetings and there was even a 10 km race on a Sunday, where all members participated and the theme was "no one is left behind". On the track we ran at various speeds, between running and walking, always together and with great team spirit. In this final phase of the project, everyone has to be very comfortable working with everyone and these moments help and contribute to that
What is the criterion for choosing the Associations and Institutions to support?
Matilde: We receive requests from some institutions that want to join us.
So far we have 4 associations.
We went to visit 3 last week, also as a team building activity.
The Associação Crescer aims to include the most vulnerable in the community. It supports drug addicts, refugees, homeless people. It develops activities aimed at health promotion, risk reduction and community integration of vulnerable populations through various community intervention projects.
The Fundação AMA - which aims to promote the support and appreciation of adults and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, through initiatives that facilitate health promotion and protection. Their actions are developed in the scope of prevention, evaluation, orientation and psychomotor therapeutic intervention. Last week, we participated in an activity with children- a swimming class with autistic children. This activity is extremely important because, since children love water there's a cognitive development work that helps in their psychomotor rehabilitation.
The Associação Pais21 – Down Portugal is an association of people with trisomy 21, families and civil society, that promotes information and sharing news related to trisomy 21 (t21). This Association aims to change the way society sees people with T21, provide individual support to parents, provide up-to-date information on their real capacities and support new families. The goal is to foster interaction between families and different associations, to act as an aggregator of information on t21, and to develop various actions to integrate these people into society.
During our visit, we participated in some meetings with children and adults. The work done there is fantastic. For example, adults were discussing political parties and the position of each political party in regards to the integration of people with disabilities in society.
The João Lobo Antunes iMM Fund, which has been a permanent partner since the beginning of this event, aims to support research projects.
When people sign up, can they choose the institution they want to support?
Matilde: Those registered for the race can choose the Association for which they want to donate 20% of their registration. The remaining amount is shared equally by all the Institutions.
Pedro: This way we can ensure that all institutions receive a certain amount and give those who participate and have some connection with one of these institutions, to support it. The amount we receive has to cover the expenses we have with the Project, then 100% of the surplus value, after those expenses, goes to the Associations we support. Some people do not know, but this event has costs and expenses.
The Lisbon City Council gives us a lot of free support, but we have to guarantee the support of the Police and Firefighters because there are roads and streets that are cut off, and that costs.
How many people are expected at the race?
Matilde: Last year there were 1,500 participants. This year, it seems that we'll have many more. So far it has gone very well, we are counting on perhaps 2000 participants.
Pedro: We like to say that our Organisation is always the best. But it's the best because past organisations were already very good. The goal is that this project continues to grow and that each year the number of participants increases.
We are now at the beginning of the awareness campaign, in the 450th step of the HSM, in which we the 20 members of the Organising Committee will work. It will go on until the end of March.
What is it that motivates you to participate in this project?
Matilde: I was on my 2nd year of University when I started the project. I became interested in it because it had two very important elements for me: sports and a cause associated. I decided to register. In the first edition, I was connected to the image, in the second, I was image coordinator and now I'm on the General Committee.
Pedro: My experience is similar to Matilde's. I also practised athletics before joining FMUL, I was even undecided between coming into Medicine or going into Sports. I started competing in 12th grade. I even signed up for the prerequisites to enter Sports, but I ended up not going. I was always interested in being busy with other activities aside from school. Therefore, my journey was pretty similar to Matilde's. It was also during my second year that I became interested in the Project. During my first year I was part of the Communication Department, the following year I stayed in the same department and this year I'm the General Coordinator.
It's wanting to grow outside the Medical training and being a part of this project can help us in our training as doctors.
Matilde: We gain a lot of soft skills, team management for example.
Pedro: And we meet a lot of companies, a lot of different realities and that gives us different perspective for future paths.
And in the midst of this is there any temptation to give up on something because suddenly there isn't even enough time to study?
Matilde: Both Pedro and I have already been a part of AEFML and time is something that must be discussed as a team. I feel that, when we have several activities, tasks and responsibilities, our dedication to studying must, necessarily, be greater. These projects allow us to breathe our student obligations and, at the same time, allow us to train for our future life as doctors, where we will always be running around...What I usually say when a team member feels more tired is that in the end it will all be worth it, because we will see results and the project is completed and in the long run we end up getting better grades than if we were not involved in anything. It always turns out okay.
Pedro: If we are very organised with our time and keep a certain balance - not only studying but also having time for the Project - we reach the end and everything ends well, the feeling is great, we feel important. And all of this becomes a preparation for our future.
Do you already know what exactly you want to do in the future?
Matilde: I don't. My problem is that I like everything a lot! I have that problem in life too. But in the future I will know what to choose.
Pedro: I think if I had to choose tomorrow, I'd choose Internal Medicine. It's a little bit like what we do, because I see the internal physician as a general coordinator. He has to look at the patient from various perspectives and understand all the implications that exist. I make a comparison between the general coordination of this project and the role of the internal physician.
On the28th of April Pedro and Matilde won't be participating in the race because they will be with the Organising Committee and the Task Force Team managing the action. But, by that day, they will have done 10/15km, or have exhausted the seconds a day has, to finish the preparations until everything is ready.
They will be doing it for pleasure and won't get tired because they believe it's possible to combine the desire of sports with the mission of helping others.
The challenge has been launched, you can still sign up!
Do you already know who you'll be running for?
All information, here.