One of the most important elements of any public space is safety. When spaces are physically unsafe or perceived to be so, they do not draw the people necessary to make them vibrant and successful. But by embracing community engagement in the planning process, public spaces can best accommodate the needs and concerns of their users, thereby creating an environment that is most likely to succeed.

Creating safe public spaces in poor and disadvantaged communities is a special challenge, but their power to revitalize communities is no less great. This is one of the primary goals of PPS Vice President Cynthia Nikitin’s upcoming trip to South Africa, where she has been invited by the UN Habitat: Safer Cities program to participate in various workshops and forums related to public spaces and safety.

Youth playing soccer in South Africa

Youth playing soccer in South Africa. Photo credit: Development Works Photos, Flickr

Cynthia will travel to Johannesburg to participate in an Expert Group Meeting, convened by UN-HABITAT’s program in Youth Empowerment and Safer Cities, that will evaluate sports as a tool for youth development and safety. Thereafter, she will  facilitate a workshop for fifty learners from poor communities in Johannesburg who will share their experience of sports, sporting events and unsafety in their communities, with the goal of proposing ways to integrate sports for safety and urban upgrading.

For more information on Cynthia’s trip, please do not hesitate to contact her.