Serbia’s capital city Belgrade is fast approaching its first anniversary as a Cities Changing Diabetes partner city. This is a milestone and an opportunity to celebrate the initiatives and progress made despite the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic - proof that determination and commitment pay off in the end!

In November 2020, the Belgrade partners embraced digital-first approach to get people walking. A website and app-based initiative were launched to encourage city walking, boosting physical activity levels and healthy lifestyles to prevent diabetes.

By activating their app, walkers could "unlock" rewards in the form of Novo Nordisk donations towards health promoting activities in the city. By January 2021, the first donation criteria had been met, and funding was released to refurbish two walking trails through city woods. The trail improvement works were completed weeks later, and the mayor of Belgrade attended the re-opening ceremony, attracting national TV, press and social media coverage.

Building on this success, the project has been expanded, attracting new partners, including the Belgrade Running Club, with professional coaches providing two months of free training in Nordic walking – a total body version of walking using specially designed poles. And just last month, Belgrade was the official city of European Mobility Week, incorporating further social walks and free blood glucose level testing for participants with diabetes. Super momentum and excellent work by all.