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HRH the Crown Princess and Mikkel Hansen join forces against bullying

Children do not automatically thrive when they are together in their spare time - and far too many of them drop their leisure activities because they feel left out. Now The Mary Foundation and MH24 – Foreningen Mikkel Mod Mobning (Mikkel Against Bullying) are joining forces to strengthen welfare in Danish children’s handball.

Around 50,000 6-12 year-olds play handball in Denmark, but despite the sport being one of the most popular among Danish children, HRH the Crown Princess and national  handball player Mikkel Hansen want to make it even more fun. Together they plan to bring welfare to children’s handball to ensure there is space for everyone on the team.

“No one should underestimate how destructive bullying can be for a child and their future. We have focused on bullying in schools for a long time, but poor welfare during leisure activities has been an overlooked problem. All children have a right to be happy – also in their spare time, and this is what we want to support through our partnership between The Mary Foundation and MH24," says HRH the Crown Princess.  

Three out of ten children who attend a recreational activity have experienced being left out, and one in eight children completely stop their activity due to bullying or not thriving. A situation Mikkel Hansen is only too familiar with:

“I have myself experienced how hard it can be to settle into a team when you are one of the youngest and smallest. As a child you need adults around you who support you when you say no and to be a good teammate. Handball is about having fun and being part of a team, and bullying should never stand in the way of that,” says national player Mikkel Hansen.

Since 2007 The Mary Foundation has worked with bullying and welfare as one of three focal initiatives, and in 2013 the Foundation launched Klubfidusen for football together with Save the Children, the Danish Football Association and TrygFonden. With the new partnership between The Mary Foundation and MH24, handball will be the next sport to benefit from welfare measures.

In spring 2015, Mikkel Hansen set up the association MH24 - Foreningen Mikkel Mod Mobning (Mikkel Against Bullying), with the aim of preventing bullying and increasing the feeling of security and tolerance among children in sporting, cultural and social activities. Since its foundation, the association has run a number of handball camps, donating all revenue to projects that support its goals.

The Mary Foundation and MH24 want to involve other partners to develop the project, including Save the Children and practitioners such as coaches. The plan is to develop a specific welfare programme to be tested in the summer of 2016, and to offer clubs later in the year to those interested.