Opinion: Reflecting on our Approach

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By Ben Williams, Sport England.

Two years ago it was hard to articulate what the LDP was trying to do and how Calderdale was going to approach getting more people active. I think the new Active Calderdale strategy has done a good job in setting out what Calderdale is trying to do – it provides the music for people to use.

I’ve been involved with Calderdale’s journey for nearly two years and sometimes because you are in the middle of things, you cannot see the whole picture.

Day to day, I spend a lot of time on the dance floor appreciating everyone’s moves, but rarely get on to the balcony to be able to see which parts of the dance floor are really going for it and which parts need different music to get things happening. perhaps we can identify new dance partners too, who can show each other different and better dance moves.

Over the Festive season I’ve used the opportunity to get on the balcony and reflect on whether everyone is dancing with the same energy and purpose and whether the music is right, to carry on the analogy.

Two years ago it was hard to articulate what the LDP was trying to do and how Calderdale was going to approach getting more people active. I think the new Active Calderdale strategy has done a good job in setting out what Calderdale is trying to do – it provides the music for people to use.

The Bankfield Running Group posing outside of Bankfield Surgery in matching purple t-shirts.
Running Group at Bankfield GP Surgery

In essence, Calderdale is looking to develop a self-sustaining social movement. This social movement will get more people and organisations to promote the benefits of physical activity, so that inactive people in the Borough are ‘nudged’ into adopting a more active lifestyle. If we can get more: Doctors encouraging their patients to move more; Schools encouraging their staff and pupils to move more; workplaces enabling their employees to move more, then being active should eventually become the norm.

Pharmacy Staff in Elland posing with 'This is Active' white T-shirts
Pharmacy Staff in Elland promoting Physical Activity

If all the organisations in Calderdale recognised that they are part of the solution to getting inactive people moving; valued physical activity as a means to improving the  lives of the people who they have influence over, and then integrated physical activity into what they do, then we should establish a powerful social movement that gets Calderdale active.

2 cyclists stopping for a chat at brooksbank cycling track, with three others riding in the background
Cyclists at Brooksbank Cycle Track

To support people to be active, Calderdale also recognises that once you’ve nudged someone to change their behaviour to become more active, you then need to have a physical environment that makes physical activity easy to do, whether that is in a street, a park, a path, a workplace or service centre.

By getting more people and organisations to promote and enable physical activity, and also develop an environment that allows people to move more – then I believe more people should become active in the Borough.

Does the approach make sense? From my festive balcony – I think it does, and I look forward to the journey we are on.

I'm not sure what it will look like. I don’t think it will be regimented line dancing, with everyone doing the same thing. More of a rave, where everyone feels part of something, it all looks a bit messy and people are expressing themselves as they want to. Either way – it will be fun to watch!