Exercise and have fun right outside your home! Well, some might require travelling a short distance, but it beats driving or commuting farther away for hobbies or sports activities.

Welcome, Lähirähinä! Fun and sports with your next-door neighbour (or almost).

Lähirähinä is a voluntary program started by JS Hercules football club four years ago. The aim is to equip anyone in neighbourhoods around the city of Oulu with the tools to organise easy and open for all (sporting) activities. Guidance and equipment are available for the organisers of the events if needed. Occasionally, members of professional sports clubs hold demo sessions and provide information about the activities of their clubs at the events.

Organisers use existing resources (outdoor parks, sports halls, open fields) to encourage participants to be active. Besides being activity-oriented, Lähirähinä is also about fostering a sense of togetherness and creating a community spirit where people often socialise. What our isolated and sedentary lifestyles in urban areas often lacks. Lives in which neighbouring families rarely meet in social contexts outside their children’s hobbies! And what better place to meet others and socialise than right outside your own yard? As sports bring people together, also those in the margins of society can take part in free events organised in their own neighbourhoods.

The overall goal is to improve the wellbeing of society and to encourage sustainable practices in using the public resources. Lähirähinä aims to:

  • Increase physical activity among residents in their own neighbourhoods.
  • Provide possibilities to try different sports sometimes guided by professionals.
  • Reduce transportation of children to hobbies.
  • Promote children’s and parents’ joint sporting activities.
  • Promote community spirit and a sense of togetherness.
  • Improve the use of local sports venues or activity parks.

To celebrate the different regional communities that organise sporting events, the first Lähirähinäpäivä was in 2019. A family day when people from different neighbourhoods around Oulu take part in physical activity challenges. The second Lähirähinäpäivä 2020 in September this year had the theme, “Fun for the entire family, orienteering around the city with augmented reality!” Participants traversed Oulu city and its environs looking for AR tags placed in strategic numbered checkpoints. To take part, participants downloaded a form from the Lähirähinäpäivä website. The form gave instructions for completing the tasks, which required scanning AR tags on posters placed at the checkpoints around the city. The AR tag displayed a video with the task for a specific location and an associated code in the video to note down. Participants were also to post videos/photos as/when they did the tasks using the lrp2020 hashtag on social media. Participants needed to complete 6 or more tasks to have a chance of winning a prize in a draw held later the same day. The feedback from the event was mostly positive, and if not for the weather, it would have been an active day in the city 🙂.

The day served as a test case for how to integrate technology into the existing urban environment to encourage physical activity and social interaction. This is one of the key focus areas of the Urban Lifestyle Engineering (ULE) project. ULE is a concept to create, test, and implement best practices for healthier and sustainable lifestyles. The project investigates how existing environments can develop to improve the wellbeing of its citizens.