Inspiring youth in Turkey, Iraq and Pakistan to get moving — and keep moving throughout their lives — is the goal of 3.2.1 Move!, a program from Coca-Cola İçecek in partnership with Mercy Corps. And it is a meaningful commitment for the company.

“We developed and launched the 3.2.1 Move! Program in 2013 with the vision to support the social and physical development of young people, raise their awareness of active, healthy living and help them to develop a lifelong habit of physical activity,” says Burak Basarir, CEO of Coca-Cola İçecek. “In 2014 we have touched the lives of close to 80,000 young people in Turkey, Pakistan and Iraq through 3.2.1 Move! We continue to expand the program in 2015 to reach thousands more.” 

Launching the Program

The 3.2.1 Move! story began in October 2013 in Turkey. The program invests in the infrastructure of the schools, promotes physical education for young people and helps coaches and youth motivate and lead their peers to become physically active. As part of the program, Physical Education (PE) teachers from public schools in three Turkish provinces were invited to discuss opportunities for helping young people to become more active. The result was fantastic: an inspired, motivated and committed group of people starting a movement that will bring the joy and benefits of physical activity to young people throughout the country.

Since its inception, 3.2.1 Move! has reached eight provinces in Turkey, mobilizing more than 45,000 young people. The program has received 285 applications from predominantly low-income public schools to participate. To date, 3.2.1 Move! has assisted 72 of these schools, creating indoor and outdoor facilities and providing sports equipment for their students.

How the Program Works in Turkey

3.2.1 Move! provides youth with fun spaces to get active and the opportunity to learn and connect with each other. And this program has shown that when young people are given new activities and upgraded school facilities, they start to participate in quality PE classes.

The goal is to transform schools into active and healthy habitats through projects that include opportunities for youth to develop physically and socially. To be part of the program PE teachers apply, sharing innovative ideas that serve their school best — from turning an abandoned indoor area into a dance studio to creating an outdoor space for games like bocce, korfball, badminton, volleyball and basketball.

Based on field research conducted so far, the program has not only increased the time spent in physical activity but has significantly increased self-confidence and self-esteem in young people, while strengthening peer relationships. Today, 80 percent of teenagers involved in 3.2.1 Move! say they exercise more because of the program and 66 percent say that activities related to the program have made a positive impact on their relationships with friends.

Expanding into Pakistan and Iraq

Based on the success of the program in Turkey, Coca-Cola İçecek partnered with Mercy Corps to help bring 3.2.1 Move! to Pakistan and Iraq. Mercy Corps is a global humanitarian organization that empowers people to recover from crisis, build better lives and transform their communities for good.

The initiative in these countries is unique because not only does 3.2.1 Move! emphasize physical activity, it also aims to enhance life and leadership skills. One goal of the program is to build important relationships between mentors and youth to support positive development. To achieve this goal, 3.2.1 Move! is teaching teamwork, leadership and communication skills. 

In the past year 3.2.1 Move! has trained 86 coaches and 186 youth leaders (ages 15 to 19) to spearhead the program in Pakistan and Iraq. In turn, these coaches and leaders have gone on to train more than 5,000 young people in Baghdad and Lahore to become community leaders in their own right. In these countries, the initiative is focused on low-income communities where after-school programs, educational development opportunities and sports programs are very rare.

In both Baghdad and Lahore there are many security issues and challenges for young people. 3.2.1 Move! offers them a safe space to gather, learn and connect with each other. Each week these young leaders guide their teams in physical activities and games that are linked with the core themes of teamwork, leadership and communication.

These leaders begin to run their very own projects, upgrading school facilities, increasing awareness of health issues and even organizing sports activities and competitions. They spread what they have learned and get their communities healthy and active.

So far, across Pakistan and Iraq, these volunteers have implemented 127 events promoting physical activity and leadership. The events have reached more 40,000 people. This incredible experience has significantly increased volunteers’ confidence and has garnered the respect of the community.

Since the start of the program, 80 percent of youth participating are more physically active than they were before beginning 3.2.1 Move!. Parents are reporting incredible changes in their children, too, with 90 percent reporting that their children are more active and 60 percent saying their children are healthier.

3.2.1 Move! will continue to move and motivate youth in the coming year as Coca-Cola Icecek and Mercy Corps work to make a difference in the lives of young people.

Aykan Gulten is Corporate Affairs Director at Coca-Cola İçecek (CCI) Turkey, which is the fifth-largest bottler in the Coca-Cola System in terms of sales volume. CCI produces, distributes and sells sparkling and still beverages across Turkey, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Tajikistan.