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“What a responsibility we have!”

The MOVE Congress 2017 puts the spotlight on us as enablers of the human right to MOVE. 

The barriers that get in the way of the average citizen exercising their human right to move are plentiful, according to the presenters at this year’s MOVE Congress. Anything from money to gender-stereotyped activities, to lack of safety, to perception, to litter and lazy dog owners stops people from using their environment as a space to be active.

“It’s easier to find the millions to make parks than to find the thousands that make them work,” Gil Penalosa from Canadian NGO 8 80 Cities pointed out as an example.

His dynamic presentation using over 600 slides in just over an hour showed startling numbers on the disproportionate use of cars in cities and how to be creative to create parks out of any open space – or opening up closed ones, as in the successful Ciclovía initiative where busy streets are opened to cyclists only.

How do we create transformative change?
“What a responsibility we have!” Penalosa said, referring to the roles all stakeholders at the Congress have in enabling the human right to move. But the consistent message from the presenters is that we have to look outside the box and be bold to make things happen.

“It’s clear that what we’ve been doing for the last 40 years isn’t good – so we have to do something different,” Gil Penalosa, said in his keynote speech at the MOVE Congress on 5 October.

“If we keep doing what we’ve always done, then we’re not going to get anything different,” Baroness Sue Campbell from Youth Sport Trust echoed in her keynote presentation the following morning.

Some of the catalysts for change can be carefully thought-out advocacy efforts, as Kevin Mayne from the European Cyclists’ Federation explained.
“You study political change and learn about the different levers you can pull,” he said in his presentation in the MOVEment Spaces session. “Lobbying is our sport. I’ve been unsuccessful at so many sports that I’ve lost count. But like any sport you need to practice and build up a portfolio and celebrate success… We need to plan for the moment the policy window opens.”

They can also be creating a “brandiverse”, a term used by Born Barikor, the founder of OurParks, in his presentation, where you turn your organisation and its front person into an attractive brand that is irresistible to your target group.
“If we matter in people’s lives they’ll come to the party and share it [via social media],” he said.

Sue Campbell agreed that making physical activity attractive, especially to young people, is about making “being active something they buy into, not something that we tell them to do.”

Framing physical activity as an alternative to traditional sport is also important, Trudi Else from Sport England in the Rewilding the City workshop and William Bird in the Active School Communities session both pointed out.

Sometimes finding the solution is more simple than we think, Mark Sears from the Wild Network said.

“Sometimes the barriers are none of these big systemic things like technology. Like litter. People say ‘This is not a place I can go with my children to be active’. Who is supposed to solve that problem for you? The council. But the council may not be resourced in a way that it can address these things as it traditionally has.”

That’s why he says new start-ups can be as simple as cleaning up cities or public spaces and making them more inviting for locals to use.

Or imposing regulations that make parents picking up their children from school to turn off their engines while they’re waiting – making hot cars in a city like Miami more unbearable than the thought of their children walking to and from school, as Jonathan Hooshmand from the University of Miami said.

What we have learned from our speakers is that there are so many ways we can create change, then how – as Sue Campbell asked – “do we create transformative change” that lasts?

“We need to make sure we take enough time to empower stakeholders and provide a structure for them to work together,” she said.

And that starts with us. All of the stakeholders present at the MOVE Congress 2017.

What a responsibility we have!

By Rachel Payne, ISCA

Photos by Georgi Lazarov, Punkt

The MOVE Congress 2017 started with a dance

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