His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture & Youth, and His Excellency Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Department of Community Development in Abu Dhabi (DCD), showed their support of Abu Dhabi’s month-long Active Parks initiative during an exclusive session that DCD organised at Sheikha Fatima Park in the UAE capital.

The senior government endorsements follow another major week of milestones for Active Parks, which launched on December 30 and provides free-to-attend fitness classes led by expert coaches across 12 parks in Abu Dhabi city, Al Ain, and Al Dhafrah.

The initiative has proven such a huge success that organisers have now expanded the programme to include children aged eight and above, while four additional weekend sessions have been confirmed to meet increased demand. The programme aims to encourage all community segments to practise sports and benefit from the excellent sports facilities at parks and urban green spaces across the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Dr Mugheer Al Khaili said the visit of the ministers is evidence of government-level support for community-centric programmes that aim to promote a healthy society and help community members to overcome challenges that hinder their adoption of sports. “The attendance of His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, and Her Excellency Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, at an Active Parks event underlines the success of the program and its commitment to inclusion,” he said.

Al Khaili also commended the leadership’s vision to promote sports as a healthy lifestyle for all in Abu Dhabi, as evidenced by the programme’s commitment to enabling people of determination to take part in its activities. “People of determination represent a key component of our community and we are committed to collaborating with all stakeholders to empower them and grant them equal opportunities, rights, and services that enable them to reach their full potential.”

The DCD Chairman also highlighted the department’s Quality of Life survey that launched in 2019 to assess the various challenges that community members face, as well as identifying suitable solutions to guarantee quality life standards, and monitor the development of the community and government-sector ecosystem. Among the 14 indices that the survey covered, sports was included as a sub-criteria under the health index. The survey results found 76 per cent of the emirate’s residents practice sports, with walking proving most popular at 76.5 per cent. In contrast, 23 per cent of survey respondents noted they do not practise sports, highlighting the importance of community initiatives such as Active Parks in promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Al Khaili extended thanks to all stakeholders, including Abu Dhabi Sports Council, the municipalities of Abu Dhabi city, Al Ain city, and Al Dhafrah region, and the Community Management Department – Al Dhafrah Region Affairs (ADNOC). He also pointed to the programme’s success in attracting participation of a wide array of community members from all ages and abilities, highlighting the community’s awareness of the importance of sports and fitness as well as its role in fostering peace and coexistence within communities.

Al Khaili concluded by stressing the Department’s commitment to providing a comprehensive sports ecosystem in line with Abu Dhabi’s vision towards building an active community, stressing that launching Active Parks followed in-depth studies based on the best international standards.

His Excellency Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, stressed the important role of physical activity as a source of motivation among all segments of society. “To practise sports daily helps build a stronger community and social cohesion. This in turn supports the quality-of-life index and contributes to realising the vision of Abu Dhabi in building a healthy and active society.”

As well as now welcoming children aged eight and above, four additional sessions have been added, with Mohammed bin Zayed City park hosting a Bootcamp session at 8am and a CrossFit session at 9am on Saturdays, while Sheikha Fatima Park will host CrossFit at 8am and Bootcamp at 9am on Sundays.

His Excellency Mohammed Hilal Al Balooshi, Executive Director of the Office of Strategic Affairs at the Department of Community Development in Abu Dhabi, added: “By lowering the age limit to include children aged eight and over, as well as offering additional sessions on Saturday and Sunday mornings, we hope to welcome even more members of the community, irrespective of age, nationality, or ability. In encouraging the entire community to pursue active lifestyles and by fostering social cohesion through fitness activities in the emirate’s public parks and urban green spaces, Active Parks has seen residents participate in more than 200 sessions.”

Running until 26 January, Active Parks offers a wide range of fun and healthy activities including Zumba, RunFit, Bootcamps, CrossFit, and Yoga, with special classes for People of Determination. A full schedule is available on the Active Parks website (www.addcd.gov.ae) and participants can share their progress by using #ActiveParks on social media.

With Active Parks leveraging the emirate’s array of community parks and urban infrastructure investments, the progressive initiative underlines the Government of Abu Dhabi’s commitment to promote active lifestyles and healthy habits in line with World Health Organisation guidelines that encourage adults to engage in a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity every week to improve mental and physical wellbeing.