Our partner in India, ESAF, formed a Walking Club at K.T. Nagar Park in Nagpur in 2017. The purpose was to promote physical activity and inform the community about non-communicable diseases. Club members use the park for their activities because it provides walking tracks and a green gym. Initially, there were only eight members in the club but the club has grown in size as members have shared their experiences and the benefits of physical activity with the local community. ESAF’s Livable Cities Program staff also encouraged the club through continuous follow up with the members on improvements in their physical and mental well-being.
Members of the clubs eagerly provided evidence about the benefits of walking and other physical activities. Ms. Rafat stated that prior to joining the club she had high blood pressure, joint pain, and was overweight. With regular physical activity, as suggested by her doctor, she lost weight, her joint pain vanished, and her blood pressure was brought under control. Now Ms.Rafat shares, “if I don’t exercise in the morning, I don’t feel good.” Other members of the club include Ms. Sultana and Ms. Shamsad who also shared a similar experience, recovering from joint pain and high blood pressure. Members of the local community have been motivated to join the club as they have witnessed improvements in the health conditions of these ladies, thus increasing the club membership from 8 to 18.
When the club was initially formed, ESAF improved and helped maintain K. T. Nagar Park to ensure it was suitable for physical activities. This included repairing the light exercise equipment and the park pavements. The club members approached the Garden Superintendent of Nagpur Municipal Corporation as well as the Area Corporator (the local elected official) to request the park repairs. The Livable Cities Program staff coached the club members beforehand on how to present their requests and speak with government officials to increase their chances of success. The request was well received, and the park improvements were swiftly implemented within 15 days.
The club is not only a space for physical activity, it now also serves as a place for the club members to share and discuss their personal problems and other relevant issues in the community. Members of the club commemorated Women’s Day, World Disability Day, Children’s Day, Christmas celebration and Road Safety Week, and used these celebrations as a way to gather and involve the local community in social activities.