Expert article
Edit 04 August 2022
by GUIDO Mattei, UIA expert

Another summer of play, health and wellness with UPPER SEEDS!

Piazza Ilaria Alpi
Alpi
After the success of the 2021 edition, the 2022 UPPER SEEDs were kicked off on 13 June.
The activities in which citizens, schools and all those who have a passion for nature and well-being can participate are promoted by the Labirinto Social Cooperative in collaboration with the Municipality of Latina and numerous stakeholders that have put all their energy and knowledge in the implementation of the activities, including the Tartaruga Cooperative, the Ilaria Alpi Committee and the Ringrazio Prego e Dono, Bici X Umanità, Botteghe Invisibili and L'Ultimo associations.
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The UPPER SEEDs propose socio-behavioral solutions that broaden the concept of NBS to the sphere of human-nature-urban-animal interaction human behaviors.

These include educational, sporting, social and cultural activities based on contact with urban nature and on the transformation and care of green spaces.

The intended objectives include:

- greater psychological and relational well-being and a sense of inclusion linked to the use of green spaces and contact with urban nature

- better spatial well-being linked to the use of public parks

- improvement of lifestyles (outdoor sports, walking or cycling, being outdoors)

- a sense of belonging to own neighborhood and to the city

- increase of civic sense and participation and care of urban green areas

The activities have been split into two main branches:

  1. The citizens-oriented activities.
  2. The school-oriented activities.

For the citizens have been dedicated 5 activities, including free yoga and Pilates lessons in the green areas of the city.

In the schools, the Upper project has proposed some activities linked to the environmental problems and social inclusion, focusing also on the promotion of a sustainable life according to the practice of sports and healthy lifestyles within the urban context.

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Workshops of green class designing

Free workshop for children 3 - 16 years old. Carried out in 4 schools with the aim of co-designing the transformation of green spaces subject to a collaboration agreement

class

Relationship education with the dog

Workshops of human-animal contact to increase the will of the youths to take care of their animals, according to their and the environments needs.

Activities for children 3 - 17 years old, carried out in 4 schools with the aim of educating and sensitizing students on the welfare of pets, promoting contact and knowledge of the dog and compliance with the municipal regulations for dog conduct in public areas.

5 dog.jpg

 

Eco walking

To raise awareness in the need of not throwing away waste in green spots and to recycle them properly. Free physical, civic and environmental education workshop that provides for the collection of waste abandoned in the streets and squares during walks in the intervention districts. Aimed at minors aged 5 - 17 years.

ecow


Synergic agriculture and school gardens

Workshops, in which children had to grow some plants in little pieces of land to educate them on the cycle of growing plants and vegetables.

Horticulture workshop in schools for students aged 3 - 12 years. In collaboration with the BXU Association. It includes activities such as seedbeds, planting, mulching, harvesting, preparation of synergistic pallets

Agri

 

 

Theatre lessons

To increase the children’s self-confidence and to promote social exchange through dramatized readings, theatrical performances, theatrical animation with games, treasure hunts, creativity and juggling. Intended for school students aged 3 to 17 and children aged 3 to 10 in public green areas in summer.

Theatre 1

 

Group games on the green fields

To encourage the will of the children playing in the parks.

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The school’s alumni building handmade furniture

Free workshops for the design and self-construction of furniture for the areas subject to a collaboration agreement. Involving Grassi high school students (16-17 years) in collaboration with the R.P.D.

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Yoga and pilates

But not only activities for children; yoga and pilates on grass together with “Movement and Wellness” activities for adults for people of any age.

yoga

 

The results of the UPPER SEEDs activities already finalized, have been evaluated by the Cooperativa Labirinto according to the guidebook “Evaluating the Impact of Nature-based Solutions: A Handbook for Practitioners. European Commission, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, March 2021”.

The goals that were set by the monitoring group were divided in four categories and each one of them has been characterized by the creation of indicators to evaluate the achievement of the results.

The expected results were:

  1.  Increased availability, accessibility and inclusiveness of city public green areas.
  2.  Improved psychological and relational wellbeing among local communities.
  3.  Improved social inclusion and autonomy of persons with mental and physical disabilities.
  4.  Increased citizens participation, environmental awareness, sense of belonging and ownership of urban green spaces as a common good.

To evaluate those results some surveys have been conducted with a group of 50 citizens (a part of the people attending the activities realized in Piazza Alpi in Latina).

Some indicators have been set to carry out the evaluation and they include:

-sense of belonging: persons who feel proud to live in their neighbourhood and experience a sense of belonging/attachment to their neighbourhood/number of people interviewed.

- social inclusion: persons who feel part of the community when spending time in the urban green areas of their neighbourhood/ number of people interviewed.

- relational well-being: persons who experience good social relations thanks to the urban green areas in their neighbourhood.

- spatial well-being: persons who declare to feel comfortable, safe and happy when spending time in the public green areas of their neighbourhood.

- healthy lifestyles (3 groups): persons who reach their favourite urban park/green area by foot/bike; persons who use the green areas of their neighbourhood for sports; persons who spend at least 3 hours a week doing outdoor activities in a public green area in their neighbourhood.

The citizens of the nearby of Piazza Alpi have expressed great satisfaction about the results achieved by the “Upper seed summer”.

The evaluation made from the teachers had good results too, they said that kind of activities has been parallel to the school programs, leading to a better consciousness of the social environment and the quality-of-life matter.

The 3 to 5 years old children have enjoyed a lot the contact with the animals and the possibility to menage the growing of plants, according to the understanding the importance of this kind of activities also for the children who live in towns.

The children from 6 to 13 years old evaluated with a 4.65 on 5 the impact of this project on their psychophysics wellbeing.

An interesting result from the Survey gave to the 14-18 years old guys has been that they increased their sense of belonging to their school (4.46/5) and they understood the importance of the green spaces and the need to live a healthy life (4.43/5).

However, they thought that activities of the project haven’t led to the achievement of an increasing of the sense of belonging to their city and the project didn’t increase their willingness to start a volunteer path.

results

 

As the evaluation shows, thanks to Upper Seeds activities, citizens...
- increased their sense of belonging to the neighborhood (80%)
- re-evaluated the public green space of the Piazza (90%)
- perceive a greater sense of community (70%)
- made new acquaintances in the neighborhood (70%)
- feel more comfortable, safe and happy in the green space of the square (80%).

Through UPPER SEEDs it was possible to transform and use urban spaces and green areas that were unused or little used by local residents such as those in Piazza Ilaria Alpi and those near the Grassi high school. Now citizens and schools have re-appropriated the green spaces that are used daily for recreational and school activities.

In particular, in Piazza Ilaria Alpi, the UPPER demonstration site, an outdoor teaching room was created.

Through the involvement of schools, virtuous educational behaviors and activities have been triggered for the use of green spaces, school courtyards and NBSs that have been permanently included in educational activities.

In addition, other sources of funding have been found from the Education PONs (Italian structural funds) which will allow the UPPER SEEDs activities to continue over time even beyond the funding period covered by UIA.

Thanks to the results achieved, the 2022 edition saw the participation of new stakeholders in the calendar of activities, such as the rugby school of Latina and the Dimensioni Musicali association. Some stakeholders have revealed that thanks to UPPER SEEDs they have realized that many indoor activities so far can be carried out outdoors, increasing the results and satisfaction of the participants. The neighborhood committees will henceforth be involved in the organization of these outdoor activities in the areas involved in the UPPER project.

Strenghts

 

The implementation of the UPPER SEEDs spread their results on the whole Latina community, creating a best practice for the next projects, increasing the sense of belonging to the city and to its green areas, that have been revaluated by the project, increasing the moral of the people living close to such areas. Young people have been introduced to sports while enjoying the presence of a natural environment.

All the results of the project are related to the Natural Based Activities, so it is possible to understand that the positive feedback given from the participants is another key index of the possible multiplier effect of these activities. It has been shown that these activities can build a new future for the cities, giving importance to the wellbeing of the citizen (from the young age), also through an awareness campaign that has the goal of building a new citizenship and a new way of managing of the public areas, starting from the parks.

The key concept that emerged is the fact that thanks to UPPER, the theme of NBS is extended to the sphere of human behaviors of relationship and contact with urban nature. The increase in contact, relationship, knowledge and care of urban greenery is an NBS that produces, as has been demonstrated with the evaluation of UPPER SEEDs activities, relational, psychological and spatial well-being.

So what are you waiting for? UPPER SEEDS will last till September, come and join us in Latina!

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