Pupils and staff at Lisburn’s Pond Park Park Primary School have added 15 minutes of exercise to each day with the introduction of ‘The Daily Mile’ to the timetable.
Every day, whatever the weather, staff join the 627 pupils to walk, jog or run around the playground as part of a programme aimed at increasing the time children spend outdoors, while having a positive impact on their physical, social, mental and emotional health.
The Daily Mile was created just four years ago by the Headteacher of Stirling’s St Ninian’s Primary School; she was presented with a Pride of Britain Award as a result.
Embracing the initiative, the Scottish Government rolled it out widely and there is now a movement to encourage as many UK schools as possible to introduce it.
Pond Park Principal, Geoffrey Cherry, said: “The response we have had to The Daily Mile has been fantastic.
“As far as we know there are only a couple of other schools in Northern Ireland doing this.
“We have introduced it as a key component of school life, integral to increasing the amount of time our pupils spend outdoors as part of their learning and education programme, as well as increasing their health, fitness and emotional wellbeing.
“As part of the Eco Schools programme, Pond Park Primary has been working with Sustrans to increase the number of active journeys to school and decrease traffic congestion around the school.
“We know that in Northern Ireland our damp, cold weather contributes to car journeys and so the Daily Mile is a fundamental part of this, as we want to instill in our children that outdoor exercise in all weathers is part of daily life.
“As they say in Norway, there is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing!
“Since starting the Daily Mile we have seen an increase in how focused and settled the children are in class, producing great results in their work.”
According to the school the fully inclusive nature of the initiative means children who don’t normally enjoy sport can participate without the pressure of competition; taking part in school clothes, with no need to change into sports kit, each child ‘owns’ their Daily Mile, with no-one first, no-one last and everyone enjoying just taking part.
The Daily Mile is also credited with giving children the opportunity to talk to their peers and teachers in a way they might not in the classroom.