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The Clocktowers clockMonday 11 February 2019 11:34am

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How active, healthy, and sustainable cities can positively impact people, the economy and the environment, will be discussed at a public forum at the University of Otago this Friday.

The event, Transforming Cities into Active, Healthy and Sustainable Places, will feature Associate Transport Minister Hon Julie Anne Genter as guest speaker, via video-conference.

Sandy Mandic
Associate Professor Sandra Mandic

Event organiser, Associate Professor Sandra Mandic of Otago's Active Living Laboratory, in the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences, says healthy cities and towns recognise the value of active living and provide opportunities for everyday physical activity for all their citizens.

Creating healthy and active environments is one of the key recommendations of the World Health Organization's Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018-2030.

It is also included in the New Zealand Ministry of Transport's Transport Outcomes Framework, and, as such, Associate Professor Mandic is looking forward to Ms Genter being part of the conversation.

“It's really important to have central government involved in this discussion because it relates to the current priorities of both the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Health.”

She believes the public will also appreciate hearing from a “really exciting” group of speakers from multiple sectors about their visions and suggestions for transforming modern cities into active, healthy and sustainable places.

“Successful city transformations require collaborations and partnerships across multiple disciplines and sectors,” Associate Professor Mandic says.

Panellists are Professor Jennifer Mindell, of UCL (University College London); Celia Wade-Brown QSO, of Living Streets Aotearoa; Martin Dutton, of the Ministry of Health; Gareth Fairweather, of the Ministry of Transport, Christchurch city councillor Sara Templeton; Louise Baker of WSP Opus; and Dr Mark Smith as community member. The forum will be facilitated by Professor Simon Kingham, of the Ministry of Transport.

The forum is the culmination of The Active Living and Environment Symposium (TALES): Linking Transport, Health and Environment, hosted at the University of Otago from 13-15 February 2019.

Themes for this year's symposium include health, transportation, environment and sustainability.

The interdisciplinary symposium will bring together international and national experts from multiple sectors including academia, government, public health, urban design, transportation and environment.

TALES is a spin-off of the Otago-led Built Environment and Active Transport to School (BEATS) Research Programme, which has been running since 2013.

The BEATS Research Programme investigates transport to school habits, the neighbourhood environment and physical activity of high school students living in the Otago region.

Associate Professor Mandic will be releasing the BEATS Research Programme Report 2013-2018 on Wednesday, highlighting the study's research which has included work on adolescents' perceptions of walking and cycling to school, cycling habits, school bag weight, and school neighbourhood environment.

Outcomes of the BEATS Research Programme provide potential ways to encourage students' active transport to school and increase physical activity levels in adolescents.

“The lack of physical activity and increase of sedentary lifestyle in adolescents is a global health problem. By encouraging active transport to school among adolescents we can promote obesity-preventing lifestyles and improve cardiovascular health,” she says.

Other symposium events include a keynote lecture on “Community Severance – the Barrier Effects of Busy Roads” by Professor Mindell; a talk on the “Potential Impact of Autonomous Vehicles on Movement Behaviour: Winter in Coming!” by Professor John Spence, of the University of Alberta, Canada; and a panel debate on “Future of Transport”.

Transforming Cities into Active, Healthy and Sustainable Places, University of Otago, Castle Lecture Theatre Complex, Castle 2, Friday, 15 February 2019, 4pm to 5pm. Open to the public and free of charge.

The Active Living and Environment Symposium (TALES): Linking Transport, Health and Environment full programme

For more information, contact:

Associate Professor Sandra Mandic
School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences
University of Otago

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