Recreating a vibrant atmosphere in Belgium’s historically industrial city
2019, January 07th
In 2008, Charleroi started to welcome a growing number of initiatives and programmes that focused on enhancing citizen well-being and physical activity and ever since, the trend continued to blossom. ‘Charleroi, Ville Santé’ is an adapted version of the city’s original 2008 multiannual strategy, which encompasses programmes and projects under 5 pillars: nutrition and well-being; access to healthcare; well-being at work; communication & raising awareness; and civic participation.
In parallel, the city’s department in medical, social and health issues in Education strives to inform both the children and school staff about the importance for one to take care of their health.
Late 2017, Charleroi’s mayor presented the Projet de Ville (Town Project) that notably redesigns urban spaces thanks to the help of the Architect firm MSA.
By means of national and European (EU Structural & Investment Funds) funds, and by counting on future calls for private investments, Charleroi seeks to attract more residents, business and tourism by improving the use of its territory.
The Projet de Ville aims to decongest daily traffic by promoting public transport and soft mobility. The strategy includes: the extension of public transport through time schedules and covered areas (underground, bus and trolleybus), the limitation of vehicle access to the city center with ‘park & rides’, the refurbishing of boulevards into pedestrian walkways, the implementation of a global bike plan (bicycle paths, parking lots, bike repair & promotion centres), and the redesign of public spaces through lighting and green zones.
The Projet de Ville plans for a thorough evaluation of both the restauration needs of existing green zones and the creation of green spaces in areas lacking them. The strategy also plans to appoint a manager to each major urban park who will be responsible for monitoring degradations, insecurity and for suggesting potential adjustments. For residents’ greater comfort and accessibility, walking and cycling circuits around and across the city are going to be elaborated.
The diversity and availability of sport and physical activities within the city is vital. A renovation plan will be made and implemented to enhance the quality and accessibility of grassroots sport and youth trainings, based on an evaluation of ageing sport facilities.
In 2013, the Sport Observatory of Charleroi was established in partnership with the Haute Ecole Condorcet and the town council. It offers sport and physical activities to people of all ages and socioeconomic groups so as to boost intergenerational and social inclusion. The Observatory is based in a reconverted abandoned swimming pool, a dancing hall and gymnasium, which together cater for a wide diversity of activities.
The department in medical, social and health issues in Education is responsible for delivering and organising educational programmes and interventions in educational spheres- both within school and extra-curricular hours. These initiatives help raise-awareness among the children, school staff and parents, when it comes to one’s responsibility over their own health, to learning about to develop one’s health, and general well-being.
The Sport Observatory is a multipurpose area that enables physiotherapy students of the Haute Ecole Condorcet to gain practical knowledge and experience by offering their skills to all those who attend the Observatory’s activities.
With the momentum of ‘Charleroi, Ville Santé’, the working group ‘Mouvement en entreprise (Movement at work) was created in partnership with the local organisation ‘Carolo Prévention Santé’ (Carolo Health prevention) between 2010 and 2014. The group collaborated with several of Charleroi’s companies and hence delivered an awareness-raising campaign (in regards to nutrition, physical activity) amongst employees, following the findings of their conducted survey on employee daily physical activity habits.
The following table seeks to bring forth some of the key elements and success factors of Charleroi’s current transformation to enhance its residents well-being.
The table is non-exhaustive and strives to offer a more concrete idea of how to become an Active City.