WHO Healthy Cities Conference 2018

WHO International Healthy Cities Conference 2018

Healthy Stadia hosted a side event at the World Health Organisation International Healthy Cities Conference, held in Belfast between 1-4 October 2018, discussing the role that sport and sports stadia can play in improving public health outcomes and how our network can link in with the wider Healthy Cities movement.

WHO Healthy Cities is a global movement working to put health high on the social, economic and political agenda of city governments. For 30 years the WHO European Healthy Cities Network has brought together some 100 flagship cities and approximately 30 national networks.

Together the flagship cities and national networks cover some 1400 municipalities. Their shared goal is to engage local governments in political commitment, institutional change, capacity-building, partnership-based planning and innovation.

WHO Healthy Cities is one of the best-known examples of a settings-based approach to public health and health promotion – otherwise known as ‘Healthy Settings’ approach. Other Healthy Settings approaches include Healthy SchoolsHealthy Hospitals and even Healthy Prisons.

The Healthy Stadia side event was kindly hosted by the Irish Football Association at their national football stadium – Windsor Park.

Presentation 1

Dr Matthew Philpott, Executive Director, European Healthy Stadia Network

Our Executive Director, Dr Matthew Philpott, provided delegates with a brief overview of Healthy Stadia and the role that sport and sports stadia can play in the WHO Healthy Cities movement.

By considering the health of visitors, fans, players, employees and the surrounding community, and leveraging the iconic status of sports stadia and the rapport between fans and their chosen team, sports organisations can have a big impact public health outcomes.

Good Practices from Governing Bodies of Sport

Governing Bodies of Sport were invited from across Ireland to discuss how their organisations are having a positive impact on mental and physical wellbeing of players, supporters and local communities.

Presentation 2

Joe Donnelly, T.A.M.H.I & Irish FA Foundation

The Irish Football Association discussed their new mental health programme – Ahead of the Game – which aims to equip clubs, coaches and volunteers with skills to manage and identify mental health issues, including bullying, stress and depression.

Presentation 3

Colin Regan & Aoife O’Brien, GAA Healthy Clubs Programme

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) presented their Healthy Clubs model at WHO Healthy Cities, detailing the size, scope and success of the project in tackling a range of issues including physical inactivity, smoking cessation and food and nutrition.

Presentation 4

Dr Michael Webb, Medical Director, Ulster Rugby

Dr Michael Webb discussed the ongoing issue of concussion in rugby and the need to educate players, spectators and the general public of the risks whilst re-evaluating the culture of injury and masculinity.

Irish FA Foundation

The Irish FA Foundation is the charitable arm of the Irish FA and exists to further equip the association to foster and grow the sport. The Foundation has four main aims:

  • Develop amateur football, youth football, schools football and futsal
  • Advance education by providing work experience and support to educational establishments and extra-curricular groups
  • To provide funds and football facilities in areas in areas of economic need with the object of improving circumstances
  • To improve the health and wellbeing of people in Northern Ireland

Presentation 5

Professor Sally Wyke, University of Glasgow

Professor Sally Wyke discussed the effectiveness of the European Fans in Training (EuroFIT) programme, a 12-week physical activity and sedentary behaviour programme for overweight, male football fans.

Presentation 6

Iris Hugo-Bouvier, Football and Social Responsibility, UEFA

UEFA discussed how mega events can be leveraged in support of public health by, for example, introducing No Smoking policies in stadia, facilitating walking and cycling to football matches and improving the quality of food served to fans on a matchday.

Presentation 7

Dr Julianne Williams, WHO European Office for Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases, Moscow

Dr Julianne Williams provided delegates with an overview of the WHO Healthy Cities approach and the range of actions cities can take to improve public health. The WHO’s involvement in the FIFA World Cup 2018 was also discussed alongside the production of a health-promotion campaign targeting physical inactivity, tobacco use and salt consumption.