Keep on Moving!

How to Shape the Right Conditions to Prevent Young People’s Sedentary Lives

Global research indicates a serious decrease in children’s physical activity, including outdoor play. Parallel, we see young people’s screen time only increasing. A growing body of evidence has shown that a lack of physical activity has a significant impact on young people’s health, as illustrated by rising figures of obesity, decreased motor skills, mental problems, isolation, and loneliness. These negative trends call for leadership from (non)governmental organizations on different scale levels. To increase children’s everyday physical activity, the collaboration of professionals from different disciplines is urgently needed.

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Physical activity is an essential factor in children’s wellbeing. In this Rotterdam seminar, we want to work in interdisciplinary ways on the huge problem of children’s sedentary lives and invite academics, urban planners, policymakers, social workers, health experts, and young people themselves to discuss three main topics:

Inclusive Spaces and Initiatives for Play and Sports

Children need attractive spaces to play and engage in sports, meet other children, and hang around. This starts with outdoor spaces near the home, such as sidewalks and backyards, but doesn’t stop there. Playgrounds, parks, sporting fields, and school yards also add significantly to growing up healthy and happy. How can both urban planning and bottom-up community initiatives contribute to the development of more inclusive public spaces? In this Rotterdam seminar, we will pay particular attention to inclusiveness in terms of age, class, gender, and capability.

Children’s Mobility

Children’s everyday mobility is a form of physical activity that has unfortunately decreased over the years, with motorized traffic being the main objection. Independent mobility to school, friends, and playgrounds is essential to keep children physically active. The built environment has an important role in stimulating everyday mobility. In some European countries, legislation is such that children are not allowed to travel to school on their own. How do we change that situation? What workable solutions can we detect from research and good practices that engage both traffic specialists, child professionals, and schools?

Climate Change and Climate Justice

Climate change has posed a great challenge to cities. What does a child-friendly city look like in times of heat and flood? Within many child-friendly city initiatives, the emphasis is on accessible outdoor play, but what if the outdoors is not a livable place anymore? What alternatives do we have to promote physical activity when the city has become a heat island? How can we build on the greening of squares, school yards, and educational spaces as a method for mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change in urban environments?

And how can we reach out with nature-based solutions to promote active lifestyles not only in the prosperous parts of the city but also in the poorest neighborhoods?

This call is open until September 1, 24:00 hours, 2024.

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