This post is part of TheCityFix’s series, “CACS Highlights,” introducing the winners of the Active Cities, Healthy Cities (or “CACS,” its acronym in Spanish and Portuguese) competition. These public projects aim to transform the lives of millions of people through building healthy and altruistic communities. Each project will be honored at the 7th World Congress on Sustainable Transport on October 5, 2011 in Mexico City.
Two projects tied for first place in this year’s “Active Cities, Healthy Cities” competition. The first project, “Gymnastics in the Third Age,” works to improve the quality of life for elderly citizens by introducing physical activity into their daily lives. The program offers lessons and physical activity sessions twice a week at various locations in Faxinal Soturno, Brazil, and it requires a physical and psychological evaluation of each participant. The program currently serves 200 seniors over the age of 50, with the goal of reducing the risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety. A major component of the program is also to allow seniors to maintain a sense of autonomy and independence, all in addition to promoting psychological well-being and improving self-esteem.
The second project, “Medellin in Motion,” provides exercise for all citizens of Medellin, Colombia. The project is divided into three sub-categories, each one addressing physical activity at a different stage. The first category, Healthy and Physical Activities, promotes recreation for an aging adult population, provides aerobics classes for disease prevention, organizes walking sessions, and advances gender equality through education and adoption of healthy habits.
Medellin in Motion’s second category, Sports without Limits, focuses on improving opportunities for physical activity for disabled individuals. It provides services to increase the potential of human capacity and strengthen health practices for the individual and for families.
The last category within Medellin in Motion addresses safe bicycle paths in the city. The project supports the establishment and maintenance of the city’s bike paths, acknowledging the role of a safe network of bike lanes as a foundation to physical exercise and healthy neighborhoods.
Honorable Mentions under Physical Activity and Recreation
- Peace Swinging Haiti—Port au Prince, Haiti
Peace Swinging Haiti is a platform where enthusiasts can exchange knowledge on the art of Capoeira, a Brazilian art form that combines the elements of martial arts, dancing and music. The program uses the culture of Capoeira as a tool for citizenship and active participation to promote a violence-free society. The program began its activities in Haiti in October 2008, in order to guide children and youth involved in gangs. Currently, the project has 568 participating students.
- Health Tent—Uberlândia, Brazil
The Health Tent project develops activities to prevent diabetes, hypertension and obesity. The program also provides workshops on healthy eating, recycling, composting and home gardens. Since its creation in 2009, the project has served more than 5,000 people and currently maintains community gardens that provide food for school lunches and for 45 underprivileged families.
- Health and Life, Cuban School of Wushu—Havana, Cuba
The Cuban School of Wushu works to disseminate the knowledge and practice of Chinese culture with a focus on preserving and conserving one’s health. With more than 4,000 members and 100 instructors, the school endorses therapeutic exercises.
- Healthy Tourist—Atacames, Ecuador
The Healthy Tourist is a government-sponsored project that promotes walking to eradicate and prevent diseases, such as diabetes, related to sedentary lifestyles. The project works to spread messages on health issues and best practices around food. The project currently boasts 300 participating members.
- Universal Harmony Square—Brasilia, Brazil
The Universal Harmony Square project offers free daily practices of Tai Chi. The practices includes various forms of Chinese exercise and therapies that promote health and longevity, like solar energy capture and meditation. The practice is meant to increase muscle strength, prevent depression and manage stress, as well as control hypertension and develop flexible joints. The program operates under the motto of “Health, Peace and Brotherhood!”