The team running Birmingham’s hugely successful Be active sports scheme has identified a new secret weapon in the battle of the bulge: the city’s 600 parks and open spaces.
Birmingham City Council, with the support of Birmingham Sport and Physical Activity Partnership, is launching a pilot project looking at the role the city’s open spaces can play in helping lead fitter, healthier lives.
And Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser, believes tapping into the potential of the great outdoors will build on the success of the multi award-winning Be active scheme.
Officials will work 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
Over the next six months, visitors to the five sites will be offered a wide range of free activities, including:
- Tai Chi
- Green Fit
Birmingham City Council assumed public health responsibilities at the start of April 2013 and obesity has been highlighted as one of the city’s major challenges.
Cllr Bedser said: “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.
“Now we’re looking at the potential to extend this fantastic programme into our many parks and open spaces. We believe these activities will attract people who may not think that indoor gyms and leisure centres are for them – or who prefer to be outdoors. Parks and open spaces are familiar, unthreatening venues, free and often very local.”