International Healthy Cities Conference: Promoting good health & wellbeing through sport settings

International Healthy Cities Conference

International Healthy Cities Conference: Promoting good health & wellbeing through sport settings

Healthy Stadia will host a side event at the World Health Organisation International Healthy Cities Conference, held in Belfast between 1-4 October, to discuss 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’s 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 Schools, Healthy Hospitals and even Healthy Prisons.

The Healthy Stadia concept is a natural extension of the Healthy Settings approach focusing on sports organisations and sports venues. The definition that we give to Healthy Stadia is:

“Healthy Stadia are those which promote the health of visitors, fans, players, employees and the surrounding community… places where people can go to have a positive healthy experience playing or watching sport.”

Sport plays an important role within society, and sporting stadia are iconic within their communities. Millions of people across Europe attend a sports stadium or local sports clubs each week to watch their team, to work, to volunteer or to use the stadium’s facilities.

Stadia are often located in less affluent areas and are traditionally attended by segments of society who do not readily access health services or respond to health promotion messages. Therefore, stadia offer themselves as an excellent setting to support matchday and community initiatives aimed at addressing a range of issues under the theme of health and wellbeing.

For over ten years, the European Healthy Stadia Network has endeavoured to develop and share best practices to enable professional sports clubs, league operators, national and international governing bodies of sport to develop their stadia as health-promoting environments.

We do this by supporting stadia to adopt a range of policies and practices in support of the health of their fans, their staff and the surrounding community. These range from enforcing and monitoring No Smoking policies in stadia at international tournaments to community level physical activity interventions for overweight, male football fans.

The International Healthy Cities Conference side event will explore how these different policies and practices coalesce and contribute to the development of ‘Healthy Stadia’ and indeed how the concept of Healthy Stadia can be disseminated through the European Healthy Cities Network.

The seminar will introduce delegates to the Healthy Stadia concept of promoting healthier sports settings and delivery of health interventions through sport and will showcase examples of good practice at both local and European level.

The seminar will address a range of cross-cutting themes on public health and sport, including physical activity, tobacco control, healthier eating and mental health and wellbeing. The seminar will also address programme evaluation and measurement, policy change and partnership and alliance building.

For more information about the Healthy Stadia side event at the WHO International Healthy Cities Conference, Belfast, please click here.

You can follow the conference on Twitter between 1-4 October using the hashtag: #belfasthealthycities2018

Michael Viggars

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