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  • Samantha Singham, Danny Quek & Dr Loke Wai Chiong

Can healthier living be as easy as…a walk in the park?

Since 2020, riding on early work on Healthy Precincts in the wider Jurong area, MOHT has been working closely with stakeholders and residents in Boon Lay, to build this locality into what we jointly envision a Healthy Precinct can be.





Extracted from the environmental audit conducted under the community behavioural needs assessment (BNA) study – a collaboration between MOHT and SUTD

 

An exciting initiative that Boon Lay residents are looking forward to is our multi-way collaboration with Sport Singapore (SportSG) Active Health, the “Discovery Walk in the Park” programme in Boon Lay precinct. This initiative will see health coaches from Active Health lead walks for residents in the local parks. This guided tour incorporates health tips, as well as short exercises at various scenic points, incorporating both strength and cardio training (e.g., body weight exercises like shoulder press, leg curl etc.). This is an opportunity for residents to keep fit while bonding with other nature enthusiasts. We hope that after several walking trails, besides enjoying the therapeutic benefits of nature and outdoor exercise, residents can concurrently be equipped with the knowledge, skills and motivation to organically organise and conduct similar walks for themselves and their neighbours, thus creating a ground-up sustainable model.


 


Valuable community feedback was obtained over many months using our Behavioural Needs Assessment (BNA) tool, conducted by MOHT in collaboration with the Singapore University of Technology & Design (SUTD). This enabled a shared understanding of environmental assets in Boon Lay (e.g. surrounding facilities, available infrastructure) and the health behaviours and perceptions amongst residents as they moved around the precinct. The results were very much consistent. Parks and park connectors, walkability and access to fitness facilities, spending time with friends and family on leisure activities - were all high on residents’ minds. Residents reported how green spaces promoted relaxation and an opportunity to exercise with family and friends, while exploring the surrounding greenery (e.g. biophilia). The upcoming Discovery Walks will improve not only utilisation of parks in and near the precinct, but also physical, mental and social health of the community.


This collaboration with SportSG, the first of many to come, demonstrates well our shared aspiration to drive various community initiatives and co-develop effective working models, to enhance the adoption of active and healthy lifestyles by all Singaporeans. This effort is synonymous with MOHT’s focus on the socio-environmental determinants of health as part of MOHT’s Healthy Precinct Framework and illustrates the synergies between the top-down and ground-up approaches. Taking a precinct-based approach for a start, in this case being focused and targeted in Boon Lay, MOHT works with different government agencies and the community on targeted populations and test evidence-informed health promotion priorities, with the eventual aim of scaling nationally. Through this partnership, stakeholders can cross-learn best practises and processes that would enable us to co-create new community-based services that provides holistic, long-term care and support for our population, in line with HealthierSG at the national level.


 

“Discovery Walk in the Park” was also prominently featured in a significant multi-party Memorandum of Understanding ceremony by SportSG with MOHT, HPB and all three healthcare clusters on 22 June, and mentioned in various news media:



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