First things first, what do we mean by ‘active environments’?
As the impact report explains, the term describes everyone being active everywhere - not just in the places we might immediately think of, such as sports halls, swimming pools and pitches, or parks and open spaces, village halls, community centres and schools, but also the spaces we move through between our homes and the places we visit, or where we study and work.
The report goes on to illustrate some of the many ways in which Active Gloucestershire is supporting the development of active environments both within our communities and across the wider physical activity system.
It describes, amongst other things, the work we have undertaken to support the network with funding and business development advice, how we have utilised our skills and experience to guide major facility developments and the role we have played in setting the strategic direction for sport and physical activity in a local authority context.
One of the most rewarding aspects of our active environments work to date has been its diversity, which in turn has given us the chance to make new connections and explore the different ways in which we can help people to move more. Being able to react to new opportunities helps us live out our values of being brave and going where the energy is.
Looking forward, these values will be critical when we consider the role physical activity can play in addressing some of the biggest issues of our time, such as climate change. We’re all aware of the current and future impact of climate change and the race to implement ‘net zero’ strategies, and contemplating the positive changes we can make as individuals and as communities can feel daunting.
One simple way in which many of us can make a difference is by travelling actively wherever we can. This could mean walking some or all of your daily commute to work, cycling to pick the kids up from school, or walking to the shops. Not only is active travel better for our physical and mental health, but fewer cars on our roads helps to reduce congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions.
Interest in active travel is definitely picking up pace: this year will see the launch of Active Travel England, the first ever national agency with a dedicated role to making walking, wheeling and cycling the preferred choice for everyone to get around in England.
In Gloucestershire we already have ‘Think Travel’, a programme developed and delivered by Gloucestershire County Council to promote sustainable travel to residents and local businesses within the county. The county is also benefiting from major cycling infrastructure projects better connecting our cities and towns, and both Gloucester and Cheltenham now have scooter hire projects to make getting around easier.
Active travel is just one way in which we can harness the spaces and places around us to improve our health and wellbeing. The concept of active environments encompasses a huge range of ideas, concepts and plans designed to enhance our everyday lives, including healthy, connected streets, road safety measures, access to open spaces, children’s play and improved public transport. Many of these are reflected in the concept of ‘Active Design’ – take a look at this short video from Sport England, which neatly explains the ways in which active environments can make it easier for us to be active.
Active environments is quite a new concept in the world of physical activity and we’re really keen to learn more about how its potential can be harnessed to improve activity levels within the county. If you have any thoughts, plans or projects which include interaction with the wider environment we’d love to hear them. Whether you need support getting them off the ground, funding advice, links to potential partners – do let us know!
Contact Richard at email@example.com