The Conference at the University of Birmingham provided a great opportunity for delegates from Birmingham and Frankfurt to showcase best practice and learning around the methods that are being used to engage communities to be more active.
Sport and fitness activities are seen as a positive way of engaging local people to be more active and to socialise in order to combat the health and well-being issues that they may face. It was evident from the discussion between the two cities that physical activity provides great opportunities to address societal pressure faced by cities and communities. Steve Hollingworth from Birmingham City Council was able to demonstrate the value of developing an approach that enthuses local residents to be more active through the use of various local programmes, including allowing local residents to access free bikes as well as using major sporting events to promote an active lifestyle. At the same time this supported the local economy and provided an opportunity to ease pressure on local health services.
It was also clear that the approach taken by Sportkreis Frankfurt that engages young children into localised sports activity, helped promote better life styles for young people and their families. Young people from a young age were measured on their fitness levels and a course of activity suggested that would build on their fitness levels in a fun and focused manner.
It was evident from discussions that a city wide solution that involves practitioners, communities and local stakeholders is essential in supporting local people meet their health challenges, build grass root sport that can add value to sporting events and leave a sustainable legacy. It is an approach that should bring people together and make physical activity in any form fun and enjoyable. Dr Jonathan Grix added sport should be a “vehicle for social good”.
The conference, which was part of the German Week gave representatives a chance to share experiences in campaigning for a healthier lifestyle. Furthermore, it proved that by working together both cities can make a change and improve their citizens’ lives. Special thanks to the speakers, Jasmin Czogalla (Sportkreis Frankfurt), Steve Hollingworth (BCC), Gaynor Roberts (BCC), James Grinsted (Sport Birmingham) and Dr Jonathan Grix (University of Birmingham).