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Community designs solutions for wellbeing

Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on May 1, 2019
Community designs solutions for wellbeing


The initiative aims at designing new ways to adopt a healthy and active lifestyle.

More than 700 people from different segments of the society participated in helping co-design solutions that enhance wellbeing in a recent initiative in Dubai.

The National Programme for Happiness and Wellbeing launched the Community Design for Wellbeing initiative, which is the first participatory platform for community engagement in the UAE. The framework has set some strategic objectives, of which the first one focuses on healthy and active lifestyle.

The initiative aimed at designing new ways to enhance the adoption of a healthy and active lifestyle, identifying the main challenges facing the society in this regard, and raising the community awareness on healthy living and its impact.

Mustafa Al Agha, head of MBC Sports, shared his personal experience with the audience on the best ways to promote healthy lifestyle in the UAE community, during a design session on healthy nutrition and healthy life.

The initiative further witnessed the participation of a number of ministers and government officials, including Dr Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment; Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development; and Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Department of Community Development in Abu Dhabi.

Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing and Director-General of the Prime Minister's Office, noted that the Community Design for Wellbeing initiative reflects the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to ensure that the government furnishes an open platform for community participation in designing solutions and developing initiatives and projects that focus on wellbeing as one of the key pillars of the society.

The event was divided into two parts - active lifestyle and healthy eating and a number of activities were designed for the community to participate and to understand what are the challenges individuals in the community face in terms of adopting an active lifestyle or eat healthy. The initiative also aimed to try and understand some of the behaviours of people such as how healthy do they eat, how often they eat out or cook at home, what kind of food they prefer and why.

On the active lifestyle side, the event looked at seeing how active people are in their everyday life, how often they exercise, where do they prefer exercising. For this, they were asked what would incentivize them to work out regularly, what would encourage them to order a healthy option.

The whole activity aimed at asking people to propose the solutions and help the government design those solutions for them. Most importantly to get tangible ideas for initiatives, policies, and regulations for the government to set.

Under the Community Design platform, activities highlighted the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and committing to physical activity in promoting healthy and active lifestyles. The initiative further hosted discussions focusing on designing solutions to the challenges facing boosting physical activity and applying the principles of healthy living to the society.

A study conducted by the National Program for Happiness and Wellbeing highlighted that enjoying a healthy life is the third most important pillar in an individual's wellbeing, noting that only 45% of UAE individuals exercise for just two hours or less a week.

Ministers Speak to KT:

Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness, spoke about how the focus of the initiative was mainly the practical involvement of the community in co-designing solutions. "The Community Design for Wellbeing is a platform that aims at designing initiatives by the community and for the community. This event particularly focused on healthy and active lifestyle because health plays an important role in improving one's wellbeing and happiness. The obesity rate in the UAE is around 26 per cent which points out at an unhealthy lifestyle, this is why we have gathered people of the UAE from different age groups, nationalities in a bid to ask them what would motivate them to exercise and opt for healthy, nutritional options."

Dr Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: "I must congratulate the team of the National Programme of Happiness and Wellbeing for calling the key players, stakeholders and government to come at one common platform and showcase the best practices they are implementing that can benefit the community."

Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, said: "What makes this initiative stand out is the community involvement and its inclusive approach where it is asking all members of society to co-create solutions along with the government and private entities. I am sure the results of this initiative will help our national agenda as well."

Interactive activities included:

Design your typical lunch plate

As the name suggests, participants were asked to pick some food items on their plate. A nutritionist then analysed each dish in the plate of the participant and gave feedback on the individual's eating behaviour.

Welcome to the Supermarket

In this section, people were given a shopping basket and asked to pick and choose some snacks from a number of items displayed. An expert then looked at the basket and told them about how healthy or unhealthy their choices are.

Pick a string and tie it to the answer

At this booth, men and women were asked three questions: How many cups of water you drink per day? How often you eat fast food? And how many sugary drinks do you consume? Men and women were given different coloured threads and asked to tie the threads as per their preferences

Perception of food delivery

This section gave insights into what kind of food people like to order. People were asked what kind of food they order online - healthy or non-healthy; do they chose expensive or cheap options. The aim was to find out whether people choose unhealthy options because they are cheap?

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