Recreation and Renewal in Cowie
Cowie Rural Action Group (CRAG) used the Commonwealth Games and its legacy as a tool to engage the local community around issues such as improving the village and providing more activities for young people.
CRAG has been instrumental in consulting with the residents of Cowie in Stirlingshire about changes that could be implemented at a local level to improve the quality of life and the physical activity of the community. In particular, they have encouraged local children and young people to be involved in identifying issues and providing solutions. A group for the over 50s is held in the village once a week that offers information evenings, keep-fit classes and arts and crafts activities, helping some to reconnect with their community where they had previously felt alienated.
With the support of CRAG, pupils from the village's two primary schools gave a presentation to villagers demonstrating how they felt about living in Cowie and what changes they would like to see. The primary schools (and other local agencies) are also actively involved in working with the local community to improve the area. Examples of this work include:
- School children were involved in designing the CRAG logo
- Cowie Primary School open day
- Talks by external agencies e.g. local farmers, community police
- Use of community spaces for teaching e.g. football coaching along with Active Stirling
Growth and development
From this and other work by CRAG, several key ideas emerged which fit with the outcomes of the Commonwealth Games Legacy for Communities Programme. The community want to improve the appearance and usability of the village's Main Street, and to provide a skate park for younger residents for activities such as skateboarding, BMX biking and rollerblading, as well as other play facilities. The idea of the community to improve footpaths and cycle paths in the vicinity of the village also matches the goals of the programme, as it encourages locals of all ages to use the spaces available in the village for exercise and physical activity.
As well as the presentation by village schoolchildren, CRAG has engaged with the local community to explore the issues around redeveloping the Main Street and providing the proposed skate park.
Some key findings from the engagement were:
- There was awareness that the whole community should be involved in discussing and planning the changes to Main Street and the proposed skate park, and its benefits better communicated to those who had not been involved in the project before.
- That community pride in the village would be bolstered by the restoration of Main Street, providing both a place for the community to use and socialise within, and to provide a better impression of the village to visitors.
CRAG has secured a small amount of funding for environmental improvements on Cowie Main Street, and has just had approval of a funding application for the first phase of the building of the new skatepark. Both these projects will be taken forward over the coming months and CRAG will continue to engage with and involve the local community around these areas of work and other emerging priorities.
Watch a brief video about CRAG's work and how the group is looking forward to the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
Lessons and learning
Recommendations from the engagement included:
1. That better communication of the improvements to Cowie and the skate park project would help the rest of the community understand its improvements to them and the village in general.
2. That programmes run by CRAG should be carried out by more volunteers, allowing CRAG to both increase and sustain the projects it runs and give valuable support and experiences to volunteers.
As part of the Commonwealth Games Legacy Programme, the Scottish Government commissioned SCDC to work with community organisations across Scotland to support them to use the Games as a catalyst for building on their work to develop activities and projects that involve local people, increase local community action and support the achievement of better health and social outcomes.
For more case studies on knowing your community click here.