Well-attended U-FOLD seminar highlighted our children's future


“Sport is not the answer to everything, but it is an effective tool to create dreams, context and fellowship, stated Ian Sirelius, manager for the IK Sirius project Gränslös Fotboll, one of several successful initiatives in focus at U-FOLD's seminar Restart the future.

Panel discussion in progress at U-FOLD Seminar 2023
Panel discussion in progress at U-FOLD Seminar 2023

“We all know how important our psychosocial environment is at a young age. For example, children exposed to severe abuse are three times more likely to develop addictions. On the other hand, there are factors that will strengthen us for adulthood: Secure family relationships, self-confidence, social support, involvement in school and clear rules where good behavior is recognized and rewarded,” stated Health and care Curator Hanna Ljungvall when she opened U-FOLD's Grand Seminar 2023.

Almost 350 participants had registered their interest as Uppsala University's Forum for Research on Pharmaceutical and Drug Addiction returned to the University Main Auditorium with the seminar Restart the future. The focus of the meeting place was to highlight a selection of the numerous successful initiatives underway to provide secure and positive environments for Sweden's children and adolescents.

“Much is at stake throughout the first thousand days of a person's life; already in the fetal stage many of our future conditions are formed. If the mother experiences stress or lacks nutritious food, it will affect our genes. The absence of a father figure is likely to have negative consequences, something that is confirmed among the young people convicted of weapons offences. Here, maternity care's extended home visit program has become an effective tool for society to establish trust and contact in vulnerable environments,” said Anna Sarkadi, Professor of Social Medicine.

Student health expert Anna Nygren also emphasized society's - and especially preschool and school's - preventive task. However, as Nygren pointed out, if early identification and the reporting of concerns about children at risk is to have intended effect, clearer routines and systematised interaction between schools, social services, youth psychiatry and the police are required. The need for increased cooperation was also accentuated by Jale Poljarevius, Head of intelligence in Police Region Mitt, who also highlighted the importance of providing an alternative narrative to the gangster rap music and videos that criminal gangs - via false images of brotherhood and unlimited resources - use to recruit young members.

Ian Sirelius, IK Sirius
Ian Sirelius, IK Sirius

“Sport is not the answer to everything, but it is an effective tool to create dreams, context and fellowship. The IK Sirius project Gränslös Fotboll (Boundless Soccer) started when we invited Gottsunda’s youth to play indoor football on Saturday evenings. Today, our work has grown to include, among many things, free summer camps, school visits and career days where players from IK Sirius and GUSK participate as role models to show what is possible. And just last week we, in collaboration with companies in the IK Sirius network, were able to help ten young people into working life,” said Ian Sirelius, former professional soccer player and current project manager for Gränslös Fotboll.

A recurring point throughout the seminar is that no one can accomplish everything. That responsibilities lies on both individual, family and society. Abdullahi Cadaani, who in his teens fled war-torn Somalia to live in Sweden and has since become chair of the Bollnäs Municipal Board, emphasized the great importance of parents in many cultures, but that alienation can cause a loss of authority towards one's own children.

Abdullahi Cadaani, Bollnäs Municipality Board
Abdullahi Cadaani, Bollnäs Municipality Board

“Integration is a mutual process: Teach new arrivals about Swedish culture and show them what is expected of them in their new home country. Educate the Swedish majority in what differences can add. Create mixed housing. Validate the new arrivals' professional skills, lower the threshold to the labor market and give immigrant parents a position in society and the tools to raise their children. These are investments that will generate great value for all of us!”

U-FOLD will next return at the Almedalen week 2023, where the forum consolidates its presence by, for the ninth year in a row, arranging a number of seminars focusing on current issues in addictions and treatments.

“U-FOLD is primarily a regional forum, but we work with national challenges and our model is effective regardless of geographical framework. With Campus Gotland as a platform, Almedalen is an excellent forum for us to gather our existing networks and to create new contacts for future efforts. We will within short present a program that I am convinced will make a lasting impression at this year's largest democratic meeting place," says Mathias Hallberg, Professor and chair of U-FOLD.


  • Is Uppsala University's Forum for research on pharmaceutical and drug addiction.
  • Was inaugurated in Uppsala in 2011 as a regional gathering of forces against the challenges of addiction.
  • Gathers 20 regional organisations that work together for a better society.



Mathias Hallberg, chair, U-FOLD
Professor, Uppsala University

Fred Nyberg, Senior advisor, U-FOLD
Senior Professor, Uppsala University

Text: Magnus Alsne, photo: Mathias Hallberg

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Last modified: 2024-04-04