Alcoa Fitness Trail – Cowick Barton Playing Fields

The “Alcoa Fitness Trail” is the working title of the Alcoa funded project at Cowick Barton Playing Field to encourage local people to become more active in order to improve their levels of health.

This has been made possible thanks to a £41,620 grant from the Alcoa Foundation, and local company Alcoa Howmet. We are working with Active Exeter, Alcoa and the local community to deliver the project.

A survey undertaken in April indicates that the project will meet demand and have community acceptance. We are now planning a community consultation on Saturday 11 July and a follow-up in the evening on Wednesday 15July

We are looking to use Wild Zones, who have previous experience at Wonford in community consultation, with the following goals:

  • increase the community’s involvement, use and enjoyment of the space
  • increase the levels of outdoor physical activity for all ages
  • increase the community’s ongoing engagement in the planning, care, maintenance and management of Barton Field
  • reduce levels of obesity in all sectors of the community
  • promote the health and well-being of all sectors of the community
  • contribute to the goal of making Exeter the most physically active city in the South West by 2018
  • be a catalyst for people to develop a lifelong pattern of enjoyment of outdoor physical activity

There are some working assumptions for the Fitness Trail:

  • If we want to decrease the levels of obesity in 11-year-olds, we must start with increasing the range of outdoor activities that are enjoyable for 6,7 and 8 year-olds and their parents, as well as developing a diverse range of enjoyable activities for older children, adolescents and adults.
  • Physical activity is an important factor in reducing levels of obesity.
  • Extensive research shows that other crucial factors in combating obesity include a sense of connection and community, reduced stress, experiencing one’s own competence and creativity, and overall levels of happiness and wellbeing.
  • Activities that address more of these underlying factors will have greater impact on achieving the stated goals.

The consultation will need to:

  • manage expectations about what’s possible within the constraints of budget, safety, existing structures, and the needs of multiple stakeholders;
  • create a context for people to express their underlying needs, aspirations and concerns; and
  • establish a creative process in which fresh possibilities for activities, events and equipment can emerge.

The information gained at the consultation will enable the project plan to be developed and a timetable of construction, development and delivery commencing late summer through into 2016.

Options and opportunities could well include further funding streams being captured, assisting in sustaining a broader community ownership.

The key issue is to involve the community so that it is the community who, in the long term, are able to provide a sustainable future for the playing field.

Express & Echo covered this in Fitness trail in St Thomas will help improve Exeter residents fitness levels [17 June 2015]


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