The so-called “deep dive” meeting was organised between 26-28 April in Budapest, which meant that two cities from the partnership visited the third one, to learn about their action plans and share their suggestions. Angyalföld was visited by representatives of the Portuguese leading partner, Loulé, and the Croatian Šibenik, accompanied by leading professional Twan De Brujin.

During the three days of the deep dive workshop there were presentations, local visits and meetings, with the professional representatives of the district consulting with the partners. Here we present some of the viewpoints that are in focus in the planned sports and recreational developments within the Vital Cities partnership.

“The whole city is a sports field”

It’s no question that well-equipped sports facilities and sports centres can provide the district residents with numerous exercising and recreational opportunities. However, a healthy and active lifestyle can be promoted even without expensive investments. If there are no sports centres in the area, construction is not the only solution.

It was important to learn that to enhance better utilisation of the fitness instruments already built in public spaces in District XIII, it’s practical to employ professional fitness trainers from time to time to be present in the area and help show the residents how to use the equipment in a professional and effective way.

European cities – especially if compared with the rapidly growing Asian metropolises or some North American cities – are very lucky in terms of free spaces. Eastern European cities are perhaps even more privileged than their Western European sisters in having a richer public and green space network. The only question that remains is, what do they do with them?

“The whole city is a big sports field” approach starts the ideas flowing. At public spaces and parks we can create accessible and affordable programs that are available to everyone and do not require big investments. Equipment used at public space events is mobile, and can be utilised at another place and at another time. Anyone can join the events and programs free of charge.

These activities – even if they are independent and scattered in time and space – can be connected to a given institution, program or lifestyle- and approach-changing campaign by using a common image and logo. In Loulé, the numerous programs realised within the framework of the URBACT Vital Cities project are united by regularly published leaflets, which have a uniform appearance but always changing backgrounds.

The local residents can inform themselves from these leaflets – or from the internet of course – when and where they can participate at a Zumba, tai chi or Pilates class, a running competition or box training within the framework of the program.

Various partner cards can be connected to the program, which allow involving local service providers (e.g. sports clubs). Or, as we have reported previously, in Birmingham, UK, you have to claim and use a personal chip in order to participate in public space sports events. The chip solution – although it makes it more complicated to join maybe – makes the number of people participating at public sports events measurable.

Playgrounds for everyone?

The participants of the deep dive meeting visited several parts of District XIII. On the first day they covered the main target area of the project, the Árpád bridgehead housing estate, and on the second day they visited a residential community day event sponsored by the district. During the discussions both the Croatian and Portuguese participants and the Dutch leading expert reflected on all that they saw.

It was a frequently discussed topic that there are many well-equipped, modern new playgrounds in the district, but these only serve the requirements of a relatively limited age group. The Portuguese colleagues suggested a sort of inter-generation model, where adult fitness equipment would also be placed next to the children’s toys, so the parents would get a chance to exercise as well. It’s also important to offer recreational, sports opportunities for the adolescents – integrated in terms of space but also separated.

So the aim is for the age groups not to be divided sharply, and to make it common for several generations to share the same recreational public space area together. For the better utilisation of free time for sport everyone has to be able to find challenging sports equipment for themselves, regardless of their age.

It makes it easier to involve youngsters if the sports opportunities involve IT communication tools in some way, such as mobile applications, allowing them to compete with others, or ones that support organising temporary sports teams.

During their visit in Budapest, the foreign experts encouraged the district partners to organise public space events for advocating regular exercise and to make the Vital Cities Project better known to the residents. The project will continue until 2018 in District XIII, where the District Council would like to present and discuss the aims of the “vital cities” program with a large number of residents, based on the suggestions of experts.

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