Photo: Lauri Rotko

Helsinki joins prestigious Partnership for Healthy Cities Network – aim to increase safe and active movement of schoolchildren

Mayor Jan Vapaavuori today announced that Helsinki has joined the Partnership for Healthy Cities, a global network committed to preventing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as cancer and diabetes, as well as road injuries, through proven interventions in policy, lifestyle and environment. Cities in the network choose their own development areas for next year. In its own project, Helsinki wants to further the health and well-being of children and young people by improving the safety on their trip to school, to encourage more pupils to make the daily trip to school on foot or by bike.

The Partnership for Healthy Cities network, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Vital Strategies, consists of 70 cities worldwide, of which the European cities besides Helsinki are Barcelona, London and Paris. The Partnership recognizes the critical role cities play in implementing evidence-based interventions to prevent NCDs and injuries across large urban populations. NCDs and injuries are together responsible for eight in 10 deaths globally.

Helsinki’s objective is to improve the children’s health and strengthen the positive images associated with everyday mobility for both children and their parents. The work is carried out, for example, by improving the circumstances for walking and cycling in the school surroundings and by increasing the awareness of the health benefits of everyday mobility.

“Immobility is a growing global challenge, whose solution is made up of small everyday choices. The City can influence personal and systemic mobility choices, for example, by developing the safety in the urban environment and hence spurring children's and young people’s movement and everyday activities. Helsinki’s ambitious mobility programme is one of its strategic flagship projects. The co-operation with the Partnership for Healthy Cities network improves our possibilities to succeed by learning from and exchanging best practices with other cities”, says Mayor Jan Vapaavuori.

The project will launch in the pilot school Suutarinkylän peruskoulu, whose surroundings will be improved in co-operation with the school and the experts of the Urban Environment Division, in order to ensure that walking and cycling to school can be done safely. The pilot school was chosen due to its location and number of pupils. The pupils of Suutarinkylän peruskoulu and their parents will be able to join the development work performed during spring 2020.

For more information on the Partnership for Healthy Cities and to view the full list of 14 available health interventions, visit: Partnership for Healthy Cities