Hola from Buenos Aires: how a Global Active City encourages people to stay active

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The Active Well-Being Initiative is a non-governmental organisation that promotes physical activity, health and well-being around the world. Since 2018, seven international cities have been certified as Global Active Cities – Buenos Aires, Hamburg, Lausanne, Lillehammer, Liverpool, Ljubljana, and Richmond.

In this blog piece, we’re telling you more about how Buenos Aires stays active and how it became part of the Active Well-Being Initiative Network.

The Argentinian capital hosted the 2018 Youth Olympic Games which had an incredible international success. No less than one million people attended the Olympic parks and watched the Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games competitions for free!

Two main outcomes have come from this great achievement: an emphasis on urban development of the deprived neighbourhoods and the recognition of Buenos Aires as an Active City which focuses on encouraging people to stay physically active and reducing unhealthy habits.

The national government considered this a ‘lasting legacy’ that would be beneficial to Buenos Aires citizens by building an active and healthy environment. The South American city aims to encourage people to make healthy lifestyle choices and support their well-being and quality of life.

The city has four main goals: to promote actions that contribute to reducing overweight and obesity, to engage citizens of all ages, physical and socioeconomic backgrounds in physical activity, to improve citizens’ eating habits, and to make public space a healthy environment. Within these goals, the capital of Argentina have specially targeted actions that take place annually and help the city come one step closer to their goals. Some of them include:

  • “My Healthy School” programme: it includes healthy eating and active playtime workshops. It reaches 425+ public schools and 45,000 people from the educational community.
  • Adapted sports: 1,091 children and young adults with disabilities participate in theatre, sports initiation and recreational activities.
  • Sport for social inclusion: sport and recreational activities in vulnerable city neighbourhoods that reach 4,500+ children and adolescents.
  • Sport Initiation Schools: 2,300 children and adolescents practice their preferred sport among 35 different options and assist to talks with professional athletes.
  • Summer and winter camps: 22,000 children aged 4-12 enjoy every year of the sport camps.

But, for Buenos Aires, becoming a Global Active City was about more than sport: it was about engaging many public and private organisations that could help healthy lifestyles and agreeing a shared strategy.

Seven years ago it introduced “Healthy Stations”, where more than four million consultations on health and nutritional advice have been carried out; first-level health care was reinforced with 45 primary healthcare centres; and the public physical activity offer was expanded. Between 2016 and 2018, the amount of users of public sport facilities increased more than three-fold after infrastructure was upgraded. In 2018 school menus were improved with healthier food. Between 2017 and 2019 training was provided to 7,000+ health and physical activity professionals on sports sciences. 400,000+ citizens participate annually in free sport activities; and there has been a significant increase in sustainable transport following the doubling of cycle lanes and the free city bicycles service.

Could Leeds be part of the Active Well-Being Initiative and become a Global Active City?  And what would our next steps be?

To find out more about the Active Well-Being Initiative, visit http://activewellbeing.org/.

Watch this video to see what Buenos Aires implemented to make its citizens stay active – and happy:

 

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