20 European Parliament representatives supported No Elevators Day
ISCA’s No Elevators Day on 25 April not only expanded to three more continents this year, but also gathered support from double the number of members of European Parliament as last year, plus the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis.
Our team visited the European Parliament in Brussels on 24-26 April to speak to MEPs from across the political spectrum about physical activity and find out more about the parliament’s new Stairs to Health (Take the First Step – Use the Stairs) campaign, led by Slovakian MEP Vladimir Manka, S&D.
Mr. Manka expressed his support for No Elevators Day and the NowWeMOVE campaign and said he is confident that the European Parliament and ISCA’s combined efforts are making a different at the EU government level.
“I believe that with your help and with the help of your activities, because they are really compatible, we have a common goal, and we will be able to make the whole of Europe move and bring positive impact not only on the EU institutions’ employees,” he said.
“Your campaign is brilliant because of the variety of its activities and No Elevators Day is one of them. The global approach allows you to grab the attention of a large number people and bring them on board which is fantastic.”
The Use the Stairs campaign was launched in February in the European Parliament and, like No Elevators Day, is also expanding quickly to other EU offices.
“We started our campaign as a pilot project in the EU Parliament in Brussels and we have already been approached by other EU Institutions – for example, in Luxembourg – with a request to take part in what we’re doing here in Brussels.”
Irish MEP Sean Kelly from EPP, who has supported No Elevators Day since the first event in 2015, also said he had seen an impact of these stair-climbing campaigns on staff in the parliament.
“Actually I’ve noticed since the campaign started here more people are using the stairs so sometimes it becomes blocked because there is a traffic jam, step back and let others come down – ladies first, of course,” he said.
ISCA interviewed the MEPs on camera on a range of topics, including No Elevators Day, the NowWeMOVE campaign and physical activity in general, and we discovered their perspectives on grassroots sport diplomacy, the Human Right to MOVE, the status of physical activity in their countries and their favourite ways to stay active.
Then it was time for some action! Each MEP had a choice of physical activities to do, and football was arguably the most popular choice, followed by badminton, frisbee, skipping and table tennis. Some MEPs even decided to think outside the box! Seán Kelly passed around a ball Gaelic Football style, while Bogdan Wenta unsurprisingly opted to throw the ball up a flight of stairs, handball style. The MEPs also climbed a flight or two of stairs in celebration of No Elevators Day and to get their pulses up before a week of long meetings.
Many thanks to all of the MEPs and staff we met at the European Parliament in Brussels who helped to spread the word about No Elevators Day and get more people moving!
Stay tuned for exclusive footage from No Elevators Day in Parliament - videos coming soon!
What do so many MEPs support No Elevators Day?
Miroslav Mikolasik, MEP EPP, Slovakia
“No Elevators Day is a very smart idea and I am supporting not only as a member of European Parliament but as a medical doctor. Being in the European Parliament as a politician I think it is a fantastic idea, very smart, and it is inviting members and also all kinds of bureaucrats in the European Parliament to move and not to sit every time but to burn calories and to do something for their health.”
Rory Palmer, MEP S&D, UK
“I think it’s something I’d like to see more workplaces and more office building and public buildings adopt. It’s often the easy choice is to get in the lift on the way to your office. Taking the stairs is a great way to get more physical activity. It’s good for health, good for wellbeing so I think it’s a great idea and I hope lots of people get behind it.”
Emma McClarkin, MEP ECR, UK
“NowWeMOVE and No Elevators Day is a brilliant example of what we can do to try to make people think a little differently about putting activity into their day-to-day lives.”
Jeroen Lenaers, MEP EPP, Netherlands
“Just to take the stairs instead of the elevator once or twice a day really helps to keep a little bit fit. I mean if I look at myself, a year ago I was 123kg and I’ve lost 30 kilos in the last 9 months and one of the things I do indeed is instead of taking the elevators take the stairs once, twice a day, and it just helps. It really makes you feel fitter.”
Andrey Kovatchev, MEP EPP, Bulgaria
“This is a very good idea to motivate our colleagues but also the staff of the European Parliament to use the stairs because some people say, and they’re right, that sitting is the new smoking.”
Eduard Kukan, MEP EPP, Slovakia
“Especially for us, members of the European Parliament, we are sitting such a long time, you know, so for us movement is very important to keep fit. So this is really the place where it is necessary to promote this kind of movement. We really need it.”
Seb Dance, MEP S&D, UK
“I think it’s a brilliant initiative. One of my bugbears since being elected is the design of this building, that the stairs are nowhere near the lifts and that obviously encourages people to use the lifts because they don’t know where the stairs are. So now obviously we have the initiative to show people where the stairs are and I think that’s a very important initiative. And I think that No Elevators Day is an important part of that, because it reminds people that actually staying active, being active promotes physical wellbeing and of course it prolongs life expectancy.”
Nils Torvalds, MEP ALDE, Finland
“In the Parliament you fairly often experience that people take the lift from just 0 to 1 or from 3 to 4 and I always get very upset because they’re stealing my time and they’re actually stealing possibilities to improve their physics [sic] also.”
Ivan Štefanec, MEP EPP, Slovakia
“It’s a pretty good campaign because it helps to move, it’s necessary to show people that really it’s necessary to move and to be active and also to change our habits because sometimes we have some limits and some barriers and we don’t even see what are our opportunities, so sometimes it’s good to change our ways and how to move and to use stairs instead of elevators.”
Alain Lamassoure, MEP EPP, France
“In this building, my office is on the 13th floor, so I manage three days a week, twice or three times a day to walk up the thirteen flights of stairs… and in the last year I managed to lose 10 kilos and be back to the weight I was when I was 30.”
Margrete Auken, MEP Greens, Denmark
“It’s absolutely a good idea and for sure, if you do that you don’t need to go to fitness centres and all this. Then you can just make sure you are kept alive in your body and in your brains.”
Marc Tarabella, MEP S&D, Belgium
“If we can sometimes take the stairs, 10 stairs or 20 stairs, it’s better than taking the lift for one floor. And I think we have to promote this behaviour, and thanks to you for doing that.”
By Rachel Payne and Alexander Appleyard-Keeling