Interview with project coordinator SHINE 2Europe and the Croatian Institute of Public Health

Project coordinator: Carina Dantas and Luis Dias from SHINE 2Europe

Q: Why did you initiate the STEP_UP project?

This is actually a family story! I was doing the “fitness walk” with my son Daniel during the confinement period and we were talking about how contradictory information was on the best measures to implement due to the pandemic. And my son said that maybe we should do a game that explained that – there were games where we aim at disseminating a plague or a virus, so why didn’t we did the same but in an educational manner, showing people how to contain the virus instead? At SHINE, we liked this idea and STEP_UP was born 😊 So, although the proposal was the result of the collaborative work of all of the partners, in fact, in what concerns the concept, it is my son’s “baby”. We are proud!

Q: What did you like most thus far in the project? Why?

We have been bombarded with COVID19 related information for the last two years. However, being able to discuss the pandemic and its related measures towards the development of educational materials is a very positive way to use of all this information overload. And the discussions we have been having with the partners from four other countries, as well as the local, national and international experts and stakeholders have been so enriching! It really gives us a different overview to understand all of the differences in viewpoints, cultures and policy decisions. And the project members are the best!

Q: What is the most important thing you learned or take away from the project for you thus far? Why?

The pandemic made us understand that so many things are not black or white. During this period it was difficult to know what were the best decisions to take, what would be the impacts, even what was right or wrong – we still discuss worldwide if we need masks or not. But even more, this has also made us realise how fragile we are. We are still vulnerable, both as the human species, as well as in terms of our societal organisation. We can improve so much, especially in contributing to common good. This is a lesson we still need to learn.

Q: What are the next steps you will work on in the project?

We will continue working for the Manual, but our main challenge is for sure to develop the game! We are doing well in finishing up the characters and scenes, but I am very excited to finally start seeing the game in place. It is a challenge, but a good one!

Partner Croatian Institute of Public Health, Ana Istvanovic, Anja Belavic, Bojana Raickovic

Q: Why did you join the STEP_UP project?

Some of the main goals of public health are to prevent diseases and promote health in order to prolong and improve lives of both individuals and the population. To make informed choices people need to have easy access to accurate information in order to make a valid decision which will suit them and their society the best. Since the pandemic started there has been a lot of different information, some of which can instil fear and be misleading. This new interactive way of learning and sharing knowledge should be effective and hopefully will reach wide range of users and help them to better understand that different decisions can have different impacts depending on the standpoint.

Q: What did you like most thus far in the project? Why?

Brain storming with experts from different countries and fields has been one of my favourite aspects of this project by now. It’s very interesting to see how effective problem solving in a group, with different points of view, actually is and how the results can sometimes be mind boggling.

Q: What is the most important thing you learned or take away from the project for you thus far? Why?

Almost every decision made by stakeholders, be it politicians, public health experts or the public can be right or wrong depending on the angle you are looking at it. I believe that this is very important to understand so that this new situation, in which we are all still learning and adjusting, can be accepted easier.

Q: What are the next steps you will work on in the project?

The next step in a project will be to help create The social and policy interventions manual from the thematic reports written by each participating institution and of course to co-create scenes, tasks and other aspects of the game.

L-R: Carina Dantas, Bojana Raickovic, Ana Istvanovic, Willeke van Staalduinen

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