Our public spaces have never been as important as they are in todays world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past weeks, we have had more restrictions placed due to the incrase in cases and as a result Gyms, sports facilities and organised sports have all been halted. This although is seen as a necesary action to fight the spread of cases, it leaves many of us without a place to be physically active. We all must understand that physical activity is a tool that is as important as those vitiman C and D pills you take everyday to boost your immune system, if not more important!
This is where Public Spaces come in, luckily we have one or two public spaces that are not just made up of benches and a Kids playing area with a swing or two, but rather a public space that is designed to caiter all ages. You can find such a place at the Zejtun Public Garden in Triq Alfred Cachia Zammit.
One can clearly see that this place was well designed to be able to cater for all ages and not just for parents to sit down while their kids are playing on swings, rather this area has a bit of everything for everyone. Parents can use the outdoor gym while their kids who are under 9 can use the kids area or if they have older kids, they can use either the skatepark which caters for sports such as (BMX, Skateboarding, Scooter and Inline Skate) or use the Football pitch near the skatepark. statistics show that most kids between the age of 9-15 years own either a football, basketball, bike or skateboard, but unfortuntley in Malta there are little spaces one can go at their own will to practice these activities. So this is why the Public Garden in Zejtun sticks out, as it is a place for anyone to go there and do their own thing without the need of much attention. Lets also keep in mind that not many families afford to run around with their kids and take them to training sessions etc when they are at work, which leaves many youths closed off from participating in sports etc. Public spaces like in Zejtun gives youths and others an option to go out and actually be active rather than stay home on the internet.
The skatepark in Zejtun has been there for a good 13 years now and when we met with the counciliors there, they explained how they wanted to upgrade the area as they saw how important the skatpark is to many of the youths that live in Zejtun and also pointed out that many youths from neighboring cities use the skatepark daily as it has also become a meeting place for many of its users. So with the Help of Agenzija Zghazgha who have also been visiting the skatpeark regularly to get in touch with youth and help them in anyway they can, we have met up with the youths who us the skatepark and came up with the below design for the upgrade of the park.
The idea behind this project is not only to upgrade the ramps at the skatepark but to also have the youths using the ramps involved and give them a sense of contribution to the place and community, so we have included them in the Design of the new ramps and will also include them in the build of the ramps via a workshop we will be organising when we are ready to install the ramps onsite. Fabrication on the above ramps has already started and we are planning on installing the ramps after easter, hopefully regulations will allow us to go as planned with the workshop we have planned.
We would like to take this time to thank the Zejtun Local Council for firstly taking an inititive to listen to what the youth want and not to stick to normal standards we see in our country and secondly for giving us the opportunity to showcase what we think our public space should look like! We would like to also thank Agenzija Zghazgh for the great work they are doing with the youth not only in Zejtun but around all of Malta and we are looking forward to collobrating with them on more projects in the future.
Similar Workshop done at the Bugibba Skatepark:
If there are any local councils that would like to implement such open spaces that are desgined to be more inclusive to our youth and also to all users, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org