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Towards a collective consciousness of physical activity in public spaces

Placemaking for Active Recreation Kit brought to Amsterdam partners from six European countries in search of the best ways to create synergies and combine knowledge and wisdom from the grassroots-sports and placemaking fields. The project’s aim is to heal the cities of Europe and make them beautiful and active. PARK envisions functional cities from Bulgaria to Denmark, from Malta to Romania, and from Spain to the Netherlands, encouraging community pride and ownership and helping citizens use public spaces creatively to be active in the city on a daily basis.

While the external environment was uncertain, BG Be Active as a leading organisation of the Erasmus+ Sport project PARK was able to successfully hold the third meeting of the project in the Netherlands. As the busy meetings in Amsterdam came to a close, Project Coordinator Vladislav Fedorov shared some of his thoughts regarding the true value of the project „When nothing is certain, anything is possible. At first, it seemed like a hard task to bring so many different perspectives, views, and understandings on the table, and channel the energy into creating a PARK for all, but this meeting has only made me more excited about the enormous potential this project holds and the value PARK can create for the cities of Europe and all who dare to experiment”.

Partners dived into ardent discussions exploring how physical activity can bring new meaning and connection to our public realm, and sought answers to questions such as how to better connect grassroots sports and pacemakers for increased capacity and impact.

The third project meeting was a great opportunity to review and present the result of the work conducted in the months before the meeting. The first intellectual output was up for a final review and celebration as a collective achievement by the consortium. The next steps include evaluation and short-listing the most appropriate PARK tools, and presenting them interactively and vibrantly to support all who show interest in the process of activating communities around places. The group moved closer to the next project activities such as the creation of the toolbox, which will highlight good practices from across Europe and offer innovative movement tools and methods.
During the fruitful meeting, which gave rise to many ideas and discussions, the team put theory into practice by going out into the natural environment. On a bike tour through Amsterdam, the international work group explored areas that encourage physical activity and foster community cohesion.  Additionally, the team was able to experiment and use one of the tools to be presented in the Toolbox created as part of the project. The Place Game is a tool in placemaking that evaluates, analyses, and finds ways to improve spaces. Members of the PARK team tested out the interactive tool using the Place Game methodology to activate several underutilized urban spaces across Amsterdam.
With the support of the partnering expert organisation Placemaking Europe, the collaboration extended the concept through Europe through a multiplier event, which brought community activators such as artists, performance, sports, and health stakeholders as well as urbanists, architects, and placemakers into one room. As part of the multiplier event, there were multiple interactive training sessions and brainstorming activities. Participants reported that the event left them with food for thought and new ideas.
The project aims to break barriers, to bring minds together and to create bridges between placemakers, grassroots-sport organisations, urban designers, architects, and all other enthusiasts interested in activating communities and bringing new dimensions to physical activity in the urban environment. The mission of the PARK project is for experts and practitioners to join minds and hearts to create a collective consciousness about movement and the value of places across Europe.

The Placemaking for Physical Activity Toolbox project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This article reflects the views only of the author (BG Be Active), and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
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