Empowering Youth through Public Space Development: A Case Study of Hoi An, Vietnam

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21 December 2023, Nairobi. – In an era of rapid urbanization, the significance of public spaces cannot be overstated. Defined by UN-Habitat as areas publicly owned and accessible to all, these spaces are vital for fostering community cohesion, promoting well-being, and driving sustainable development. The city of Hoi An, Vietnam, has embarked on a transformative journey to enhance its public spaces, with a keen focus on engaging and empowering its youth.

Youth Empowerment Through Public Spaces

As Hoi An experiences exponential growth, the city recognized the imperative of prioritizing public spaces to accommodate its burgeoning population. The Public Spaces Master Plan, initiated in 2015, served as a catalyst for youth empowerment, creating avenues for engagement, creativity, and leadership within the community.

Research and Advocacy

HealthBridge Vietnam, in collaboration with local partners, spearheaded comprehensive research to assess the state of public spaces in Hoi An. Through surveys, observations, and policy reviews, insights were gleaned into the needs and aspirations of the community, shedding light on areas ripe for improvement. The findings underscored the pivotal role of public spaces in youth development, highlighting the need for inclusive, well-maintained environments conducive to social interaction and recreation.

Master Plan Development

Armed with research-driven recommendations, HealthBridge and Action for the City advocated for the development of a Public Spaces Master Plan. With unwavering support from municipal departments, the plan outlined a bold vision for enhancing public spaces across Hoi An, ensuring equitable access and quality amenities for all residents, particularly the youth.

Community Engagement and Co-Creation

Central to the success of the initiative was robust community engagement, which empowered youth to actively participate in the planning and development process. Through pilot projects and collaborative workshops, young residents contributed their perspectives, aspirations, and talents to shape the future of public spaces in Hoi An. By fostering a sense of ownership and belonging, these initiatives instilled a newfound sense of pride and responsibility among the youth, fueling a collective commitment to community well-being.

Youth-Centric Design and Implementation

The Master Plan’s implementation phase prioritized youth-centric design principles, integrating features such as playgrounds, recreational facilities, and green spaces tailored to the needs of young residents. Improved lighting, accessibility, and safety measures ensured that public spaces were inviting and inclusive, fostering a sense of security and belonging among youth from diverse backgrounds.

Impact and Future Directions

The transformative impact of the Public Spaces Master Plan is palpable, with over 4000 residents, including a significant proportion of youth, now actively engaging with public spaces on a daily basis. As Hoi An looks towards the future, continued collaboration and innovation will be paramount in sustaining the momentum of youth empowerment and community revitalization. HealthBridge Vietnam remains committed to supporting Hoi An’s journey, providing guidance and resources to nurture vibrant, youth-friendly public spaces that reflect the city’s rich cultural heritage and aspirations for a brighter tomorrow.

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In the vibrant tapestry of Hoi An’s urban landscape, youth emerge as agents of change, catalysts for innovation, and stewards of community well-being. Through the thoughtful development of public spaces, Hoi An has unlocked a world of opportunities for its young residents, empowering them to shape their surroundings, forge meaningful connections, and realize their full potential. As we celebrate the successes of the past, let us remain steadfast in our commitment to nurturing inclusive, youth-driven spaces that inspire, connect, and empower generations to come.

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