Next project: Stories from Italy and Spain

By Translated from il manifesto

Gentle gymnastics in the courtyards of apartment buildings to break the isolation of people caught in the grip of social distance. This was the goal of the promoters of a project carried out in two neighborhoods on the outskirts of Milan, San Siro and Niguarda, between the inhabitants of two cooperatives Ecopolis and Abitare, also extended to some neighborhoods of Reggio Emilia and Sassari.  

In the Sardinian city, the project was financed by the Foundation with the South, and will soon be extended to other cities in the national territory. In these buildings there are rooms for condominium meetings, also intended for the free time activities of those who live there, for the occasion used as a space for gentle gymnastics, in the morning reserved for the elderly, in the afternoon for recreational and motor activities for children and after 18.00 to workers. 

The experience has been carried out by Uisp for some years at San Siro and Niguarda and will soon become transnational. Started as an attempt to combat a sedentary lifestyle, which was particularly accentuated during the restrictive measures to combat the coronavirus, the project ended up pushing the promoters to bring gentle gymnastics to the courtyards of condominiums. 

"Our main goal is to combat sedentary lifestyle - he says Stefano Pucci in charge of Uisp health and inclusion policies - we tried to intercept those citizens who do not carry out any physical activity, bringing gentle gymnastics to their homes. The implication was twofold, on the one hand there was the improvement of the state of health and psychophysical well-being of all the people who took part in it and on the other the social aggregation, which favored the construction of relationships between socially more fragile, at risk of exclusion due to their age, social status and because they live in the suburbs of the city. They are people who, through physical activity, experience a process of participation and also play an active role within the condominium, where usually a timid nod of greeting is limited ". 

The European condominium 

The project has been so successful that it has attracted the attention of European organizations, which deal with good practices for the health of citizens and will financially be part of the EU Erasmus Plus program, which will involve, in addition to numerous condominiums in other Italian cities, also those of the Romania, Germany, Spain, Denmark and Croatia. The research phase will be coordinated by the Romanian sports association AJSPT, which will collect data on good practices to develop guidelines for the operators of the European project in 2021. 

Open doors 

How have people lived the experience of gentle gymnastics in the courtyards of the various condominiums and, above all, beyond the psychophysical benefit, have the relationships between them changed? Here is what Veronica Olmeo, a middle-aged lady from Sassari, who took part in the project, tells us:  

«We relived the sensations of when we were children, times when people talked to each other and helped each other. Now, thanks to the experience of gymnastics in the courtyards, which involved adults and children, we have become an apartment building with open doors ". 

And who knows that even the climate of the condominium assemblies, which usually take place with a high rate of litigation, does not benefit from the new relationships favored by gentle gymnastics in the courtyards. With the summer and the more favorable weather conditions, it will also be easier to participate in gymnastics sessions in the courtyard and involve a greater number of people. 

Gymnastics in slippers 

Those who have lived the experience on the side of those who went even several times a day to the condominiums, such as the gentle gymnastics instructors, to involve in the different time slots first the elderly, then the children and finally the workers, as they lived there 'experience?  

"People who work do not go to the gym willingly - says Stefania a Uisp instructor from Reggio Emilia - because when they return home they are tired, they are tried by the fatigue of the working day. Not everyone wants to pack their bag and go to the gym for gymnastics. Our project brings physical activity to their home, often people go down to the courtyard and carry out physical activity in slippers, for them it is like going from one room to another in their home and this is very nice, it is very familiar ". 

One of the European partners of the project, the Spanish sports organization Fundaciò Ubae, also proposed the digitization of physical activity, through the internet connection or the video recording of gentle gymnastics, for those people most reluctant to open up to others and share collective moments, which could follow the exercise program directly from home. 

Certainly the element of social aggregation and physical closeness that is manifested would not have a with direct participation, but would reach a wider audience. 

The European project also includes a phase of data collection, a role entrusted by the EU to UISP, given that among the European partners it is the most experienced organization with respect to the project: "We will collect data from the best practices of the three cities in which this type of offer already exists, but we will also study the context with condominium regulations and laws on public spaces, and everything that could be useful for implementing the offer of neighborhood sports "says Francesca Di Feo of the Uisp territorial committee Ciriè- Settimo-Chivasso, in the province of Turin, in charge of the project. 

Regaining possession of one's own body, which returns as a protagonist through the condominium spaces, to weave relationships between neighbors is the best way to respond to those who for months have been inviting us incessantly, from railway station speakers to the television box, to maintain "social distancing". 

Read the original story (in Italian) here

Posted on 27/06/2020 by Translated from il manifesto

The NEXT - Neighborhood Sport project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This website reflects the views only of the author (UISP), and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.