A scheme to reduce obesity and increase physical activity in Birmingham parks is set to be rolled out across the city next year.
Earlier this year, the team running Birmingham’s hugely successful Be active sports scheme identified a new secret weapon in the battle of the bulge: the city’s 600 parks and open spaces.
Following a successful pilot project, the Active Parks scheme will be expanded to cover 50 parks across the city from April next year.
And organisers want park users to help shape the expanded scheme by completing an online survey about physical activity in the city’s many parks. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BirmParks
In April, Birmingham City Council, with the support of Birmingham Sport and Physical Activity Partnership, launched a groundbreaking pilot project looking at the role the city’s open spaces can play in helping lead fitter, healthier lives.
Officials worked with Sport England to assess the success of ‘Active Parks’ at five sites:
- Cotteridge Park
- Walkers Heath Park
- Moonlit & Sunset Parks
- Holders Lane Fields
- Ward End Park
Visitors to the five sites have been offered a wide range of free activities, including:
- Tai Chi
- Park Fit
The pilot project has proved to be hugely popular, with user feedback highlighting a number of positives, including:
- Active Parks helps families exercise together.
- It appeals to all ages.
- People who do not traditionally access leisure facilities are more likely to stay active in parks and open spaces.
- The project changes people’s perceptions of where they can be active
- People attending for exercise are going on to volunteer, becoming active members of the community.
Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser, believes tapping into the potential of the great outdoors means Active Parks is building on the success of the multi award-winning Be active scheme.
He said: “The five pilot schemes have proved to be hugely popular and we’ve seen there is undoubtedly a demand for more physical activities in our parks and open spaces.
“The obesity problem in Birmingham cannot be underestimated. 26% of our population is obese and that includes nearly one in four of our 10 and 11-year-olds. So we have to use every resource available to us to promote healthier and more active lifestyles throughout the city. That includes our wonderful parks and open spaces.
“We already have the Be Active programme, which has been running very successfully for more than three years helping thousands of people across Birmingham access gyms, classes and swimming for free.
“But we know that, for a variety of reasons, some people will never attend gyms and leisure centres. Instead they prefer to be outdoors. For many of these people our parks and open spaces offer familiar, unthreatening venues.”