FUN, FREEDOM, FRIENDS AND FITNESS – CELEBRATING THE DAILY MILE IN THE BAILIWICK OF GUERNSEY
The Bailiwick of Guernsey is a group of islands (called Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou, Brecqhou and Lihou) within the Channel Islands. Situated in the Bay of St. Malo the Islands are geographically closer to France, only 27 miles from the Normandy coast, and 70 miles from the south coast of England.
Guernsey , the largest island is approximately 9 miles by 6 miles and has a population of over 60,000. The Bailiwick of Guernsey loves The Daily Mile and here we hear about how it works in Guernsey.
Why do The Daily Mile?
In recent years there has been a growing recognition that more needs to be done by the whole community to enable our young people to experience the huge range of physical and mental health benefits of being physically active. Locally, the recently announced Guernsey Young People’s Survey recorded that 71% of primary aged pupils and 57% of secondary-aged pupils said that they were physically active for at least sixty minutes on 4 or more days in the week before the survey. This is a significant increase on previous years, and schools and the wider community have certainly embraced the benefits of giving young people the opportunity to be more active. An important part of the primary school results has been the introduction of The Daily Mile in The Bailiwick of Guernsey.
The Daily Mile was originally developed by Elaine Wyllie MBE, a former headteacher from Scotland. It is a simple and free way for schools to help their pupils to get more active by encouraging them to run or jog for 15 minutes every day during the school day. The focus is on personal achievement, having fun and improving individual records rather than on who is the fastest. Physical activity improves children’s’ fitness, bone health, wellbeing and concentration at school. The Daily Mile is also growing internationally and over 10,000 schools are registered with The Daily Mile Foundation, across 71 countries.
Elaine Wyllie visited the island in October 2017 where she spoke at the Thrive 2020 conference. We then invited Elaine back to see how we had developed The Daily Mile in Guernsey. Her straightforward, no-nonsense approach impressed the audience, which included various headteachers. One of her opening statements summed up the initiative and its success: “It’s not PE, it’s not sport, it’s not competitive. There is no kit, no cool or uncool clothes, no body-image issues, no equipment, no staff training. The children just go out, and they are expected to run if they can, or walk”.
Elaine spent the weekend on the island and, after visiting school sites – she clearly thought that the island was well placed to take up The Daily Mile. Elaine commented: “The idea that Guernsey is an island with a lovely climate, and each school has access to a nice area means it is perfect. In an island this size, the idea could spread like wildfire, and everyone can get involved – it really is an attractive prospect.”
The Daily Mile in Guernsey
So, where are we now?
The Daily Mile is going from strength to strength in Guernsey. A dozen schools in The Bailiwick of Guernsey now report that they regularly enjoy The Daily Mile.
The Daily Mile has been praised in recent Guernsey school inspections and has played a prominent role in the submissions of those primary Schools who have recently received the Guernsey Healthy Schools Awards. It’s especially pleasing to see that schools are continually reviewing, in discussions with their pupils, how they do The Daily Mile and how its benefits can be maximised.
Additional Guernsey elements to The Daily Mile
We have added some ‘Guernsey’ elements to The Daily Mile. Schools have celebrity supporters – for example, top local athletes, the Chalmers brothers (Alistair and Cameron) have been regular visitors. We have also arranged for local signage with maps of the routes on the school sites as well as pairing schools off with supportive local employers. Importantly, several pupil ambassadors nominated from each school are giving us feedback on how things are going.
Primary school pupils are not the sole beneficiaries of The Daily Mile. All sectors of the community are looking for easy, accessible ways of becoming active so Guernsey, like other The Daily Mile communities, have tried to open up the initiative to others. We have been especially keen to support our early years settings, which are well placed to introduce 15 minutes of walking into their day. Five settings have trialled The Daily Mile, so far. After all, what better time to create a habit of activity but in a child’s early years?
To get a feel for The Daily Mile, have a look at the lovely video created for us by the CoOp Helping Hands initiative to celebrate their support of The Daily Mile. The Helping Hands charity also supported us to produce our Guernsey-branded signage. But, essentially, we have followed Elaine’s advice that we keep things simple and inexpensive, and remember that the real key to its success is that children enjoy it because it is a social activity in the fresh air.