Seven Tips for developing community-based programmes – The Fushun Road Community Model

Parents and grandparents doing art and craft with toddlers at the Fushun Road Community Centre, Shanghai

The Fushun Community Center was officially launched in November 2019, and it has been running for more than three years. Officials said that the services at the centre were designed “based on the actual demands of our communities, to ensure resident’s satisfaction and well-being”.

Here are seven tips for developing social programs based on the Fushun Road Community Center Model:

  1. Focus on Inter-generational Learning: Design programs that facilitate the transfer of knowledge and skills between diverse age groups to foster mutual learning and respect.
  2. Provide Opportunities for Creativity and Innovation: Create spaces that encourage creativity and innovation while providing systematic learning opportunities.
  3. Emphasize Community Governance and Management: Introduce programs that facilitate residents’ participation in community decision-making, shared responsibility, accountability and overall management of resources.
  4. Provide Accessible Community Services: Integrate community services across all districts (zones) to provide accessible resources, especially for those living within a 15-minute walk.
  5. Encourage Volunteerism and Expertise Sharing: Encourage residents to share their expertise and participate in community services as volunteers. This is also a great opportunity for young professionals to develop their capabilities and understanding of the world around them.
  6. Promote Active and Healthy Lifestyles: Provide programs that promote active and healthy lifestyles for seniors, children and people of all ages.
  7. Invest in Lifelong Learning: Fund programs and initiatives that promote lifelong learning to create spaces where people of all ages can come together to learn, grow and thrive, thus creating healthy and vibrant communities. This will support the notion that ‘it’s never too late’ or ‘ it’s never too soon’ to learn something new.
Fushun Road Community Centre which is located in Shanghai, China

While the Fushun Road Community Centre was designed to meet the needs of residents in terms of culture and entertainment, it also provides a platform for various social institutions, such as universities and volunteer teams, to carry out activities that will reap mutual benefits both to the members of the Fushun community and the institutions.

Officials have confirmed that integrated community services, which are vital for community spaces, have been implemented across all districts. The significance of these spaces for learning cannot be overstated.

During my visit, I noticed that many senior citizens were taking advantage of the resources in the library while others were enjoying quality time with their grandchildren in the playrooms. Some were also engaged in tai chi, dance and fabric art.

Library for adults

Community representatives stated that “more and more residents like to come here to study, relax or participate in activities. Many of them also use their expertise and participate in community services as volunteers.”

The benefits that can be derived from such community learning spaces are many. Firstly, they provide a safe and controlled environment for children to learn valuable life skills, allowing them to develop their unique talents and abilities. Secondly, for senior citizens, these centres are a place to stay active and socialise, maintaining a sense of purpose and connection to the wider community.

Miniature pieces created by students ages 6-14 years old in the Center’s innovation class.

Ultimately, the success of Fushun Road Community Center can be attributed to the local government’s focus on investing in the health and education of its citizens. By funding programs and initiatives that promote lifelong learning, the local government has created a space where people of all ages can come together to learn, grow, and thrive. This is a model that other countries would do well to emulate, as it promotes healthy and vibrant communities that can improve the lives of all citizens.