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Discover SPARK and innovative ways to get young people moving

How to turn a car park into a new destination for well-being and physical activity, for and by young people? Check out SPARK, an urban and social laboratory that aims to (re)connect young people with the benefits and fun of regular physical activity and sport, bringing some young people out of isolation and (re)creating links, particularly between generations.

After 15 months of preparations, SPARK kicked off in Renens earlier this month, right in time for the school summer holidays.  From 1 July to 19 August, the temporary structure hosts 60 different types of sports, leisure, cultural and artistic activities using containers, sports equipment and street furniture. On offer: 3x3 basketball, climbing, parkour, street racket, martial arts... but also cooking classes, concerts with young local talents, improv classes and different workshops, to name just a few activities. Among other things, the project aims to fight the sedentary lifestyle and social isolation of young people.

Initiated by the CHUV's Centre SportAdo and its manager Dr Stéphane Tercier, paediatric surgeon and former medical director of the Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games (YOG), in collaboration with Philippe Furrer, entrepreneur, active design expert and former IOC executive in charge of the YOG educational programmes, SPARK aims to shift the paradigm of medical consultation from curative ("we go to the doctor when things go wrong") to preventive.

"The recent data on the physical, mental and social health of young people worries me as a health professional, but this trend is not new and we now need to take action without waiting for a young person to get sick and go for a consultation. SPARK is a project that aims to (re)connect young people with each other - especially the most isolated and sedentary - to get them moving, entertained and inspired through non-competitive and inclusive activities so that they opt for a healthier, more active lifestyle," explains Dr Stéphane Tercier. “We're going out to meet young people in their towns and neighbourhoods to offer them concrete, positive experiences of movement, boost their self-confidence and incite a sense of belonging".

The project is a human and sporting legacy of the Lausanne 2020 YOG, building on the experience gained and tools created during the event.

In terms of activities, there will be something for everyone, every day of the summer break. Co-organised with the town of Renens, this innovative project has been designed as an urban laboratory, creating social value for young people.

“With this project, we're getting off the usual track and adapting to the changing world of sport and lifestyles," explains Philippe Furrer. “Behind SPARK, there's also the desire to work with host cities to rethink the use of public spaces in order to get people moving, generate a sense of community and build links between generations. Renens, a dynamic, highly urban and diverse city, seemed to us to be the ideal pilot partner to explore such a social and urban laboratory.”

As well as activities designed for and by young people, SPARK also offers a number of activities for adults and seniors, such as gentle gym classes on a multi-function activity bench, yoga and pilates classes, to encourage the entire community to meet & move together.

SPARK will then tour the canton during its two pilot years 2023-2024, visiting various towns around Vaud. The next destination will be Yverdon-les-Bains in September and October 2023.

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