Viana do Castelo's Transfer Story: from the Social City Network To a Playful and Sustainble City Vision

Edited on 13/05/2021

An article written by Câmara Municipal de Viana do Castelo

What was our starting point?
From the very beginning, we always had the Political support. In addition to that, a “Social Network” (which later had become group for the URBACT Local Group) was already constituted. The city wanted to find a participative way for implementing innovative Projects and it already had a good collaboration with local associations and NGOs.
Within the Social Network and in the framework of the WHO Healthy CityNetwork, Viana had already decided to set up a Toy Library in a deprived neighbourhood, for fostering the social city integration.

What were the modules of good practices implemented?
Random games and gamification events or activities, annual programmes of games events and activities, a Toy Library, many Playful Projects for local communities and the involvement of schools in playing activities.
In particular, the involvement of schools in playing activities had seen the implementation of athletics in schools with the participation of more than 1.000 students of the first
cycle of basic education. Even the implementation of nautical activities in schools such as surfing, canoeing, rowing and sailing had had great success. In fact, 7 main schools composed by 10 "minor" schools, corresponding to 90 classes, for a total of 1950 students were passionately involved in those new disciplines, and even handicapped children - thank's to "Nautical for Everybody”.

The Playful Projects for locals were divided in two sections: the first was the "Senior Community Intervention Project", where active ageing was promoted. The second was the "Most Active Senior", enriched with a full annual activity program. 

Due to the COVID pandemic and its restrictions, the Annual Program of games/events/activities had changed a bit. The Children's Day was a broadcast of a circus show through trasmitted to all the social networks of the Municipality and also on the RADIO GEICE.
The Teatro do Noroeste, ULG member, broadcast on its Facebook the play “O Gato das Botas” and on its Youtube's channel the show “O Autómato”.
In addition to that, the Municipal Library of Viana do Castelo published stories on its social networks for the youngest.

We had 2 Work Meetings in 2 months with our URBAN LOCAL GROUP. During these meetings, we distributed the tasks for a period of 24 months, we promoted action on the field and we discussed about the community's involvement during and beyond the duration of the project.

The ACEP, an ULG MEMBER is an Elderly Support Project that has collaborated with young people and children who offered drawings, letters and phone calls to elderly people confined in homes and institutions. They support the project of “Centro de Promoção Social e Paroquial de Darque”.
We organized even more Playful Projects for our locals with the collaboration of ArtMatriz- Cultural and Artistic Association. Even if the ULG member had its activities suspended, according to the guidelines of the DGS, it has continued to promote his role as a promoter of socialization and Healthy coexistence, maintaining one of his regular activities: the Wednesday of Board Games. This association also managed to promote his online meetings, through the TableTopia and Boa Board Game Arena platforms using Discord for the interaction between players.
The Teatro do Noroeste Centro Dramático de Viana, an other ULG member, was the first National Company to broadcast live a theater's play. In the past, it performed more than 27 shows that were transmitted over the internet daily and were seen by a hundred thousand spectators.TheVianaś company designed a daily program of shows on Facebook and Youtube,designed for the millions of people who are in confinement.

Our Toy Library
The municipality is now providing SIRD with infrastructures, resources and materials for the implementation of the Toy Library, but meanwhile we are always ON THE ROAD with our truck!

What type of goals we succesfully achieved?
We have identified and adapted the Good Practice and we have approved and implemented a plan. 
Viana do Castelo already has activities that fit the modulesto be transferred.
We have adapted the practices to the local reality and to the specifics of each partner and the project.
Other activities was created, but in terms of methodologyand procedures, they were worked on with the ULG.
Nowadays we are convinced that we are able to implement good practices in our territory and overcome the difficulties that we identified at the beginning of this journey.

We have choose a diverse set of partners such as schools, Social Solidarity
Associations, Youth Associations, Theater Group, Disability Support Associations and Environmental Associations.
In order to transfer our Good Practices we have created realities such as WORLD CAFÉ OUTCOMES to study BARRIERS AND SOLUTIONS and we organized WORKSHOP ULG Playful Paradigm with Sìseveral presential and on –line metings.
The ACEP's participation in the URBACT work team has been very rewarding.
It has allowed us to know the diversity of work of other institutions at local level, with which we may eventually establish long-term partnerships.
URBACT has been helpful in creating synergies, developing ideas and activities for the sake of play. ACEP has been developing projects for 45 years linked to the importance of playing as a promoter of community well-being, and it is essential to participate in this European project that covers all age groups. 
The sharing of experiences, forms of organization, work and ideas and their discussion, teamwork, a cooperative spirit and the partnership created between different institutions and associations, as members of ULG, have allowed us to find integrated and organized solutions for using the “game” as a tool for social inclusion, intergenerational promotion and development for different levels.

As a representative of SIRD and an active element in this process, I feel that this “experience” has contributed to my personal and professional
growth. This “trip” has been a delightful adventure of discovery and learning and, just as importantly, is to feel that we are part of something that contributes to improvements in the community that we integrate.
Therefore, I believe more and more, that the interconnection of such different parts will give a whole more sustained and capable of making a difference!

An other ULG Member was The Youth Association of Deão, which seeks to be involved in projects that allow the development of networking and that fosters the creation of synergies. We have developed numerous activities in national and local networks of associations and we find it very important to integrate this working group promoted by the municipality to carry out the Urbact Playful Paradigm project.
The working group was very diverse, which allowed the exchange of ideas and the sharing of contributions and values for carrying out the proposed activities. It also promoted the sharing of the work developed by each association / institution, allowing the creation of contacts and possibly the development of future joint projects. This sharing also allowed the growth of the professionals who work at AJD and the development of values and potential of networking.
We therefore feel that the AJD contribution to this project, once again, made us reinforce the commitment and attitude that we always place in the face of the challenges that are proposed to us, namely in quality management, organization, methods, constant and effective communication in the projects with which we commit.

As a member of the ULG of Viana do Castelo the APPCVCś participation was a great opportunity to know the activities of each partner and their strategies to successfully transfer the playfull paradigm good pratices. What we learn with the partners and advisors experiences will improve the work of our ULG, allowing more creative proposals, always adapted to our reality.
The concept and potencial of the playful paradigm showed us that we are doing a good job as a ULG and inspired us to embrace the challenge to mix and mach the placemaking methodology with playmaking knowledge.

The creation of a Playful paradigm space, like the “Cathedral of the game”, as a distinctive brand image; the adaptation of a Bus with games, however of a wider scope than Udine, with periodic and systematic incursions to the towns surrounding the city (covering the entire municipality); special focus on games for the 1st and 2nd childhood, on the one hand, and over 65 years old, on the other; effective incorporation into the game design and game dynamics of foreign communities resident in Viana do Castelo.
Finally, it is essential to affirm the relevance for the knowledge of the network and the establishment of relationships between partners. As a final reflection, it should be said that the evolution of the network and the success of the project, here and there, must unde rgo extensive meetings with partners with experience in context.
Only with the direct involvement in practices, experiences and emotions, the potential of the game for cognitive stimulation, social inclusion and team dynamics is perceived and given meaning.
The URBACT project was important because it offered the young women of Lar de Sta Teresa at the foster home, the possibility of doing group activities more regularly, changing every day dynamics.
The games have enhanced the interpersonal relationships and have promoted team spirit. The young women are learning to help each other and to include the children and teenagers with multi-handicaps, that are also lodge in the institution, as well. These games are also playing an important role in terms of behaviour improvement, since they promote the following of rules and the respect for others, and they enhance concentration. Moreover, since they are a leisure time activity, the young women have played gladly and they promote personal satisfaction and self-esteem.

Viana do Castelo has lots of potential regarding the development of the project, because of the city’s characteristics, but also because of diversity of its environment and of the agents involved.

What were the Key Learning Points at city level?
During the first semester of 2020 it wasn´t possible to replicate good practices in the field together with ULG. The dissemination of activities was hampered by the pandemic and the emergency measures taken that prohibited contacts between the target population of this project, as they are group of risk. The stakeholders mentioned above have reinvented theirintervention on the ground and continue the activities adapted to the circumstances.

Overall conclusion on progress
Even if it was not possible to organize many presential actions, we were able to make virtual meetings, broadcast, transmissions in the social networks and we continued to organize virtual ULG meetings, in order to create find other ways to communicate.
An example was the “Largest Online” project to digitally inclusion of 541 elderly users in homes, with the delivery of tablets. This project involves the students of the Academic Federation of IPVC, inviting them to “adopt” an elderly person without a family and living in a home so that, weekly, they make a video call (articulated with the voluntary bank of the municipality) with the objective of creating bonds between generations.
We learned that Viana do Castelo needs this network to valorize even more and the Playful activities to promote interaction between generations. Despite the crisis caused by COVID 19 having conditioned all activity and interaction, Viana do Castelo thinks it has managed to exceed expectations.



Câmara Municipal de Viana do Castelo

Submitted by CREAA on 12/05/2021