More than ten representatives from various countries including USA, Australia, United Arab Emirates, and Mexico descended in Durban for the 4th Leisure and Recreation Association of South Africa (LARASA) International Congress aimed at transforming the world through Leisure, Parks, and Recreation.
On Monday 8 October, the Leisure and Recreation Association of South Africa began its four-day congress at Durban’s Elangeni Hotel. Presenters and speakers from around the globe shared their experiences on leisure, tourism, and recreation in their home countries.
LARASA president Maliga Naidoo says South Africa is lagging behind in terms of recreation. “Recreation and leisure in this country is way behind the rest of the world because in South Africa we think it is sport, and it’s not sport. The people who are involved in recreation and sport should have been here to learn that we need to things differently about providing in our communities.
“It’s about changing lifestyle and changing health behaviour, and improving and reducing the burden of diseases,” she said.
Over the past few years, residents of Durban and surrounding areas have raised concerns about recreational parks being plagued by vagrancy and criminal activities. Garth Kloppenborg of eThekwini municipality said there were programmes in place that involve engaging both the homeless and community members, which seek to find common ground in keeping parks alive.
“We came up with strategies for the different parks. We started with Albert Park, Bulwer Park, and then Congella. With Bulwer Park, the community took responsibility for security and engagement with the homeless people, and the development. A playground, sports gym and a restaurants were built to allow all these dynamics to do the social togetherness of that park,” he said.
Kloppenborg also explained how a business forum based in Umbilo joined hands with the municipality and assisted the homeless with different projects such as food gardening, recycling, and education and awareness, which includes helping the homeless with drug and health issues.
According to Naidoo, the main aim of the congress is to educate the people and strengthen its relationships with other countries.
Featured image via Flickr