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How did Birmingham City Council break these barriers to help its citizens get active?

Life has never been a walk in the park for Birmingham residents, but a network of local authorities, NGOs and corporate partners has turned its parks into attractive spaces where all kinds of physical activities are on offer – for free.

Birmingham is the second-largest city in the UK and has struggled with socio-economic challenges to the extent that it was labelled “a national disgrace” in 2013 with poverty and mortality rates on a par with some of the world’s less developed countries. Perhaps not surprisingly, physical activity was not a priority for its residents, either. When Birmingham City Council presented at the MOVE Congress in 2014, it showed the staggering figures that 80% of the population was inactive and over a quarter was obese in 2010.

This was the spark that ignited several pilot initiatives to help turn these statistics around. But to create active spaces, it was vital to identify the barriers and work out how to overcome them. Providing free, diverse and easily accessible activities in the city’s open spaces, like yoga, canoeing, walking, and even gardening and bush craft, turned out to be the key to encouraging more participation and a positive sense of community. By the end of 2015, Sport England, the national lottery, Coca-Cola, StreetGames and Friends of Parks were all on board to create more safe active spaces around the city.

The MOVE Congress in 2014 happened at the start of Birmingham City Council’s Active Parks initiative, which had just completed its pilot phase with five parks and started expanding its free activities to 50 more parks and open spaces. Since then, Active Parks has rolled out to even more parks and was also established in Wroclaw, Poland, in 2015 with support from ISCA’s MOVE Transfer programme that identified successful practices and transferred them to new settings.

Check out their presentation below to see where the initiative began, the challenge they set out to overcome, data they used to build their case for support and their impressive early impact:

Active Parks at MOVE Congress 2014

This year, you can discover Birmingham’s Active Parks at the MOVE Congress for the Human Right to MOVE from 4-6 October 2017. Learn first-hand from our host partners, Birmingham City Council and StreetGames and find out the secrets to their success in breaking the barriers and getting their residents MOVING.

Register for the MOVE Congress 2017 here

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