HealthBridge’s local partner in India, the Evangelical Social Action Forum (ESAF), focuses on improving the quality of life for children in urban areas. There vision for the Livable Cities program is:
“We want happy and healthy children and families in every neighborhood who have safe streets, free access to parks, playgrounds, open spaces and fun places to play.”
Currently there are programs in Bangalore, Nagpur, Thrissur, Calicut, Kochi, Trivandrum and Malappuram which are centred on three main areas:
- Healthy Transportation - Ensuring people have pleasant, safe places to walk reduces injury rates and can increase physical activity levels, thereby decreasing the risk of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs). (NCDs include cancers and diabetes). Such walking places also encourage people to move about outside, and provide more opportunities for neighbours to meet. ESAF’s activities focus on creating safer places to walk in main commercial areas, providing input into community development plans, and working with city government officials to improve the walkability in cities.
- Parks and Open Spaces - Parks and playgrounds play a crucial role in a child’s development. Urbanisation and the growing demand for development have resulted in public spaces disappearing from neighbourhoods. The park space that remains is often in poor condition because of lack of maintenance. This deters children from using parks, greatly reducing their chances for active play. ESAF’s activities include researching the quality and quantity of park space available, reclaiming existing park space and reviving for children’s play, and advocating with local governments for better policies to protect and maintain parks.
- Active and Safe Routes to School – Many children are driven to school in India because parents perceive the journey to school to be unsafe. The ASRTS program promotes walking and cycling among children by involving the community and other stakeholders in children’s trips to school. ESAF works closely with local elected officials, schools, and communities to design and implement community solutions to ensure that children have safe routes to school. This work will help with state level policy formation where ASRTS is a major part of the curriculum.
Key Successes to Date:
- Trained 323 women in Nagpur to advocate for local park improvements. In total 14 parks have been redesigned and over 1400 children are able to access a safe park space close to home;
- Organized 1500 children from six schools in Bangalore to walk to school every Saturday;
- Organised 20 open street events in Bangalore with community partners bringing more than 2000 people to the streets in a given day for cycling, walking, and socializing;
- Successfully advocated for pedestrian improvements during the construction of a major intersection in Thrissur.
Expected results include:
- Increased number of children walking and cycling to school.
- Increased physical activity among children.
- Decreased pedestrian/vehicle collisions and conflicts involving children.
- Increased number of women and girls using walking, cycling or public transit to reach their destination.
- Decreased number of harassment incidents for women and girls walking, cycling and public transit.
- Increased number of safe and accessible parks, playgrounds, beaches.
- Increased number of children playing in parks, playgrounds, beaches.
- Increased number of women and girls using parks, playgrounds, beaches.
- Decreased number of women and girls experiencing harassment in parks, playgrounds, and beaches.
- Increased number of people living with disabilities using parks, playgrounds, beaches.