Empowering Urban Health: Highlights from Young Gamechangers’ Mission to Jatni

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10 July 2024, Nairobi. – The recent mission of the Young Gamechangers Initiative (YGI) team by UN-Habitat was in Jatni, state of Odisha, India, centered on the theme of ‘Urban Health.’ In collaboration with World Health Organization and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), the mission aimed to equip young individuals with the knowledge and tools to improve urban health in their communities. Here’s an inside look at the mission, its goals, and the outcomes that promise a healthier and brighter future for Jatni.

Site Visit to Workshop Venue, YGI Lab, and Prioritized Public Spaces in Jatni
Site Visit to Workshop Venue, YGI Lab, and Prioritized Public Spaces in Jatni, 10 June 2024. (c) UN-Habitat

The adventure kicked off on June 10, 2024, with the arrival of key facilitators from Geneva to Bhubaneswar, – the capital city of Odisha state. The dynamic team included Mr. Hyung-Tae Kim from WHO; Mr. Mirko Winkler, from Swiss TPH; Ms. Alisha Khan from the UN-Habitat Office in India; Ms. Shalinee Padhi, young researcher UN-Habitat Office in India; and Ms. Saujanya Rout from Jatni Municipality, who coordinates the YGI Project in the city of Jatni, – a dream team made up of representatives of UN, academia and youth, which sets off to transform Jatni’s public spaces to make them more youth-firendly and inclusive

Their first task was a recce visit to the Konark Institute of Science and Technology to ensure everything was set for the workshops. They also explored public spaces like Gandhi Park, Sandhapur Park, and the Parichaya Centre, gathering insights into Jatni’s urban environment and identifying areas ripe for transformation.

Day 1 of the Urban Health Workshop – Training of Trainers of YGs, Jatni, 11 June, 2024. (c) UN-Habitat
Day 1 of the Urban Health Workshop – Training of Trainers of YGs, Jatni, 11 June, 2024. (c) UN-Habitat

The next day was all about the Training-of-Trainers (ToT) program. Fifteen Young Gamechangers gathered at the Konark Institute of Science and Technology for an intensive workshop on urban health.

The morning kicked off with warm introductions and welcoming remarks from the facilitators. They then dived into understanding urban health, discussing how city life affects health outcomes. Topics ranged from air quality and green spaces to social support systems and economic opportunities.

In the afternoon, Mr. Mirko Winkler led a session on practical strategies for promoting healthy living in urban environments. The Young Gamechangers were buzzing with enthusiasm, actively participating in discussions and polls, and showing a keen interest in creating healthier urban communities.

Day 1 of the Urban Health Workshop – Sessions with Youth Cohort of Jatni, 11 June 2024. (c) UN-Habitat
Day 1 of the Urban Health Workshop – Sessions with Youth Cohort of Jatni, 11 June 2024. (c) UN-Habitat

Day three ramped up the energy even more with a broader workshop at Hotel Landmark, involving 40 participants, including the Young Gamechangers and other youth from Jatni. The morning session revisited the key takeaways from the ToT program, focusing on youth health and urban challenges. A standout moment was the exploration of how public spaces can boost physical and mental well-being.

The afternoon was all about action. Participants engaged in interactive activities to identify urban health challenges in Jatni and brainstorm potential solutions. By the end of the day, they had developed actionable strategies for improving Jatni’s urban health landscape.

The mission wrapped up with a debriefing meeting involving WHO Office in India and the Indian Office of UN-Habitat. The discussions included reflections on the workshops, planning for upcoming WHO activities in Jatni, and the provision of e-Certificates for participants. The team also laid out plans for the Health Profile and Health Impact Assessment Reports for Jatni, and an Urban Health Training session for government officials scheduled for August.

The Urban Health Workshop facilitated by WHO in Jatni, Odisha, aimed to empower the youth of Jatni to become catalysts of change by connecting the dots between health and urban planning. It also provided them with knowledge on the data mechanisms, tools, and digital skills to design and advocate for public spaces which foster well-being, sustainable living, and community prosperity reflecting the city's unique urban aspirations.
Alisha Khan
ONU Habitat
Polling by the participants in Jatni, 12 June 2024. (c) UN-Habitat
Polling by the participants in Jatni, 12 June 2024. (c) UN-Habitat

This mission was a huge step towards empowering young people to lead urban health initiatives. The site visits provided crucial insights into public spaces in Jatni, highlighting opportunities for improvement. The workshops were buzzing with high participation and enthusiasm, with everyone actively contributing to discussions. With clear action points set by WHO and UN-Habitat, the future of urban health in Jatni looks promising.

Looking ahead, the Young Gamechangers Initiative is set to bring sustainable health improvements to Jatni and beyond, transforming urban health landscapes, one city at a time. Stay tuned for more updates as we continue this exciting journey towards a healthier urban future!

The Urban Health workshop helped to enhance the understanding of the youth in Jatni on the impact of surrounding urban environments, including the social, built and ecological components, on their health and wellbeing. Through focused discussions on addressing health-related challenges, the workshop also aimed to support the youth in effectively communicating their concerns and co-developing action-oriented solutions towards building healthier public spaces.
Adishree Panda
ONU Habitat

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