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The World Health Organisation’s International Healthy Cities Conference 2018 takes place in Belfast this week, 1-4 October 2018. PAS Chief Executive Petra Biberbach and Professor Cliff Hague will be presenting a paper.

The Conference is an important international gathering for political leaders, health professionals, city planners, engineers, design professionals, innovators and activists. It creates a forum for presenting progress and exploring the issues and challenges that will shape the vision for an invigorated future for the global Healthy Cities movement.

Policy-makers have become increasingly aware of the need to engage the general population to be able to respond to future challenges in an inclusive way. Helping citizens to observe, understand and shape processes that adversely affect public health will ultimately lead to more effective policy choices. Smart technologies now provide new platforms to assist in this process.

Taking part in a session on smart technologies and designing inclusive public health interventions, Petra and Cliff will present a joint paper titled ‘Technology, governance and volunteering: bridging the gap between people, place and participation’. This is a case study of a project called ‘Bridging the Gap‘, currently taking place in Galashiels.

The case study explains how PAS has worked with a secondary school in Galashiels to involve the young people in decisions about the future development of their place. Here’s the abstract from the conference paper:

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child calls for young people’s participation in decisions affecting them, a position repeated in the new urban agenda in relation to promoting safe, healthy, inclusive and secure environments. The challenge is how to localize and deliver these rights. The paper that Petra and Cliff will present describes how integrated governance (another new urban agenda theme), use of smart technologies and volunteering can do this.

Through PAS, a Scottish charity, professionals volunteer to provide advice and training in planning, participation and place. Bridging the Gap is a four-year engagement of PAS with the secondary school in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders; a multistakeholder partnership also involving the local authority, community councils, National Health Service, local development trust and housing associations. Following a successful pilot, the project is in its second year. Students are involved in designing and developing the new school and community hub. Since the hub has to meet the needs of diverse groups, intergenerational learning and multi-stakeholder engagement are central. Young people are using smartphone and 3D imaging technologies to share their ideas with older groups and passing on digital skills.

A Place Standard tool, developed by the National Health Service and the Scottish Government, has been made into an app with a user guide by the young people, enabling people to assess and share their likes and dislikes about their place. The paper locates Bridging the Gap within the context of healthy cities, describes its innovative features and extracts messages. It illustrates intersectoral approaches, life-course approaches, community-based initiatives and innovative solutions.

The full paper is available here. Find out more about Bridging the Gap here.