For the past year, MSSA has been working with organisations HOP and BIAS from Hungary, Sport Evolution Alliance from Portugal and LEAP from Scotland on an Erasmus+ Sport programme of the European Union called UNITED THROUGH URBAN SPORTS.
The project and its name encompasses and promotes the idea of social inclusion and integration through the word “united” and aims to transfer the idea that physical activity unites us all. “Urban movement” is related to urban sports but the word “movement” is broader and accessible, it is something we do every day. “Movement” also represents the social movement of the participants, staff, volunteers, and individuals in the wider society. The word “through” aims at showing that it is through sport we can reach mobility, become inclusive, and spread the word about the benefits of volunteerism. This resonates with the idea of “education through sport” in our view.
As part of the project, each partner had to organise an event in their country and give a taste of what the project is trying to achive with our ideas in this project. For our part, we chose Ġnien l-Għarusa tal-Mosta as our location. With the use of a few Ramps and 12 Pallets, we managed to transform a public space into an area promoting physical activity and a healthy and inclusive life style. We have seen over the years millions of euros spent in open spaces that have only a very small percentage of the population taken into consideration through children swings, benches and some outdoor gym equipment that where chosen out of a catalogue and Ġnien l-Għarusa tal-Mosta is a perfect example of this as it was only upgrades a few years ago, the photos bellow is how the area was at 12.30pm, just before we started the event. Empty, quiet and without any activity.
With the help of the Buggiba Skatepark Crew, Malta Skateboarding Assocation and Leap Squad, we setup various ramps including the Regjun Tramuntat Airbag for BMX, Scooter and Skateboarding Activities. 12 Pallets where then used by Leap Squad to give an amazing Parkour and Street Workout Activity to all the people there. We had participants of all ages including older children, teenagers and also parents taking part in all the activities. This is currently almost impossible since most public places include just swings for young children as recreational facilities. This event addressed this gap by showcasing alternative activities for those who cannot use current recreational facilities and promoted active and healthy lifestlye through urban sports.
This is what we believe our public spaces should have, not just benches, kids areas and outdoor gyms. Our public spaces, which are made through tax payers money should be built and setup in a way that gives value and invests in our health. We have been advocating for the past 2 years, meeting with various officials from Ministries of Hon. Aaron Farrugia and Hon. Miriam Dalli, among others, who have already launched many public spaces, with no success. We are trying to encourage them to include features like a pump track, wooden or concrete skateparks, multi-purpose courts and street workout areas to cater for older children and youth. It is a pity that we keep seeing millions of our tax payers money spent in dull public spaces just for the sake of commissioning open public spaces and cut the ribbon. When will we ever see something like below done properly? with the limited space we have on this beatuful island that can give so much to outdoor activities and sports tourism if we had the proper facilities and open areas.