- The Daily Mile founder and Pride of Britain Teacher of the Year Elaine Wyllie claims today’s Childhood Obesity Strategy could truly change the health of the nation- if it leads to all primary schools taking up The Daily Mile.
- Elaine began transforming the health and wellbeing of children in 2012 when she developed The Daily Mile initiative as headteacher of St Ninian’s primary in Stirling, Scotland. It gets all children fit within 4 weeks, only takes 15 minutes desk-to-desk, and can be done at a suitable time for each teacher.
- The scheme has since been adopted by the Scottish Government, who have committed to roll it out across all Scottish schools to become the first Daily Mile nation. There are hundreds of Daily Mile schools across England, Northern Ireland and Wales already.
- The Daily Mile is free, measurable, simple for schools to implement and transformational in effect- it could be the legacy of the current Government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy if delivered effectively.
- Holland has already committed to roll out The Daily Mile via its government-funded childhood obesity taskforce “JOGG”- and a similar model could be possible in England too.
Elaine Wyllie says: “I was delighted to see The Daily Mile mentioned in today’s Childhood Obesity Strategy. It has proven its worth in schools across Scotland, and will transform the health and wellbeing of primary children throughout England too, if it is adopted as part of primary schools’ daily routine. I look forward to discussing with the Government how I can best support them to spread The Daily Mile to all English primaries over the coming months.”
Elaine Wyllie, founder of The Daily Mile, has today spoken of her delight that her ground-breaking primary school running initiative has been promoted in the Government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy.
The Daily Mile was first developed by Elaine when she was headmistress of St Ninians Primary School in Stirling. It is profoundly simple – but can be transformational to children’s health and wellbeing. It involves classes heading outside to walk, jog or run around the school grounds every day, rain or shine, at whatever pace suits the child best. It gets children active with their friends and teachers, and refreshed for further learning.
The Daily Mile only takes 15 minutes desk-to-desk, causing minimal disruption to the school day, but has lasting effects: not only do children become fit within 4 weeks, they are also reported to concentrate better in class, eat and sleep better at home, and develop stronger bonds with their classmates and teachers, too.
Though named “The Daily Mile” (children tend to average running a mile in this time), the distance isn’t compulsory, and the ethos of the scheme is of inclusivity, enjoyment, and self-improvement over time. The Daily Mile is intended to help all children, no matter their age or personal circumstances, enjoy getting active every day- getting fitter and healthier now, but also developing healthy habits for a lifetime.
“This is what makes The Daily Mile such a valuable inclusion to the Childhood Obesity Strategy”, says Elaine. “As well as focusing on attainment through school sport, we need to ensure that all children, no matter their abilities, are supported by their schools to develop a healthy and positive relationship with physical activity- so that they are empowered to continue it in the future.”
The newly announced Childhood Obesity Strategy, as well as focusing on dietary interventions such as reducing sugar in foods, recommends that schools help children to get active for 60 minutes each day – with at least half of this timetabled within school hours. It is here that The Daily Mile can really add value as a simple, fun initiative which is free for schools to deliver, requires no specific staff training, and is sustainable in the long term.
Beyond this, the broader emphasis on health and wellbeing delivered by The Daily Mile could be the starting point for transforming other lifestyle habits contributing to childhood obesity – with many Daily Mile schools reporting that participating pupils become more aware of their diet, health and family habits.
Since retiring as a headteacher last year, Elaine has been devoting her time to promoting the widespread adoption of The Daily Mile in primary schools (see www.thedailymile.co.uk) – with great success so far. Since the Scottish government Departments of Health and Education formally recommended The Daily Mile to its primary schools last November, well over 500 schools have taken it on- with the current Scottish Government now committed to rolling out The Daily Mile across all schools, universities and workplaces across the country.
Further South in England, hundreds of schools have also adopted The Daily Mile- either independently, or coordinated by numerous counties and regional partnerships. Recently, counties including Surrey, Hampshire, Cheshire, Cornwall, Essex, Norfolk, Herfordshire and Staffordshire, as well as numerous city councils and London Boroughs, have begun either a regional Daily Mile rollout or pilot scheme.
One of the campaign’s greatest successes so far, however, has been further afield in Holland – with The Daily Mile making international news and inviting attention from across the world. Coordinated by the national organisation JOGG – a government and private sector partnership founded to tackle childhood obesity – The Daily Mile is already being systematically rolled out to all Dutch primaries, with a formal launch in September.
Elaine says, “I am excited to be working with JOGG to improve childhood activity across Holland, and truly encouraged by their proactive, positive and efficient attitude to rolling out and monitoring The Daily Mile. We could learn from this in England- and with no time to lose, I look forward to speaking with the UK government to explore how we can help primaries across England adopt The Daily Mile to achieve this Childhood Obesity Strategy’s aims.”
Encouragingly, primary schools can begin to take up The Daily Mile even from the start of this school year- it is simple to implement, requires no staff training, and can be risk-assessed quickly and effectively by schools. Teachers and parents are encouraged to visit The Daily Mile’s website,www.thedailymile.co.uk and social media channels (facebook.com/thedailymile.uk and @_thedailymile) to find out more.
For media enquiries, please contact The Daily Mile Foundation’s Media Agency, Media Zoo on (+44)207 384 6980, at Joseph@mediazoo.tv