Like most of the walled cities in Malta, the best way to truly take in the charm and architectural splendour of Senglea and appreciate its stunning viewpoints of the Grand Harbour is on foot.
The Planning Authority (PA) in collaboration with the Senglea Local Council and the Ministry for Health and Local Government Division has launched a new smartphone app, Healthy Cities Malta, which combines the need for physical activity and a healthier lifestyle with interesting and important landmarks within the city.
The Healthy Cities Malta app, which can be downloaded free of charge from the Play Store, provides the user with options of different walking routes, each with different levels of difficulty, within the city and recommends additional physical exercises that can be carried out at certain spots along the route. So when the user is close to one of the city’s many stepped-streets, they are encouraged to carry out a short work-out of ‘step lunges’; while when in the Gardjola Garden ‘press-ups’ against one of the benches are recommended. All workout exercises come with instructions on posture and safety. The app also gives the user the number of calories they lost after following a particular route.
Perit Vincent Cassar, Planning Board Chairperson said “today the aspect of holistic wellbeing has rightfully come to the forefront of our lives. With so many people suffering from mental health issues, it has become so important to get oneself active and start leading a healthier lifestyle.” Perit Cassar pointed out “we started off this app with the locality of Senglea because this city is a hidden gem in terms of heritage, architecture and open spaces. Once the necessary funding is made available, in the months ahead we plan on adding other localities to this smartphone app, giving users a wider choice of routes and places of interest which they can experience.”
Senglea’s Mayor, Mr Clive Pulis said “We are grateful that our locality was the first city to be included in this mobile app. To develop this digital tool together with the PA, we involved a number of residents from within our community who helped contribute towards the information that is made available through the app.” “We are optimistic that this app will not only promote and benefit a healthier lifestyle amongst the locals but will encourage more tourists visiting our Island to come to our city and discover for themselves the uniqueness of this place.”
“This app has been a great learning experience, as it allowed us to explore new technologies and work with people from various domains. Moreover, it is an opportunity to raise awareness through technology on the importance of health and how it can be integrated with our heritage while being fun and promoting a better lifestyle,” concluded Ms Karen Dimech, a systems developer at the PA.
The development of this new smartphone app is a result of an URBACT Action Planning Network, in which the Planning Authority is a partner and financially funded and supported by the European Regional Development Fund and the URBACT Programme. This URBACT programme seeks to enable cities across the EU to work together and develop integrated solutions to common urban challenges, by networking, learning from one another’s experiences, drawing lessons and identifying good practices to improve urban policies.