Towns and cities will be turned into giant playgrounds as we invest £3.3 million into the Beat the Street programme aimed at getting people active.
Already a hit in 72 towns and cities across the UK and Europe, Intelligent Health’s initiative will now be rolled out with a further 59 games across south west England and the East Midlands thanks to the National Lottery funding.
The game sees individuals, or teams – often schools and families – use a card to tap into ‘Beat Boxes’ located on lampposts all across town and this expansion will support more than 655,000 people to get active.
When users tap into a new location they score points for the distance they have walked, cycled or scooted to get there – with a central website keeping a running total and allowing people to play in teams, competing against others in the same town.
Beat the Street has been amazing for us as a family as it has got us out of the house being active together. With my disabled children, it’s not always easy to find something we can all do together
Amina Amawi, Swindon Beat the Street player
Prizes are on offer for the best performing groups in specific categories and Dr William Bird, the brains behind Beat the Street, believes his game helps get a whole town active.
“Walking isn’t just a physical activity, it’s a social interaction where people can connect with the outdoors and rediscover their roots,” he said.
“As doctors our role is based on reaction, we recommend activity and prescribe medicine, but Beat the Street focuses on preventing illnesses in the first place.
“Moving upstream from the NHS, we are changing behaviours in whole towns and whole cities. It’s amazing to see people taking ownership and mass participation with some schemes having more than 40,000 people playing in just a week or two.”
The game lasts for two months in any location, with cards available from libraries, hospitals, supermarkets and leisure centres.
A card must then be registered on each town’s own Beat the Street website, where maps of Beat Box locations can also be found, before a player can head out and get tapping.
And for Swindon mum Amina Amawi, the game has already made a big impact on her life.
“Beat the Street has been amazing for us as a family as it has got us out of the house being active together,” she said. “With my disabled children, it’s not always easy to find something we can all do together.
655,000 people will be supported to get active via Beat the Street
“I love that there is no discrimination of any kind – if you can breathe you can take part. We are absolutely loving it. A massive thank you to the people who thought of this – it’s so much fun.”
With one in four people in England doing less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week, classing them as inactive, and 80% of primary school children not getting their recommended 60 minutes of activity a day, we are committed to transforming the health of the nation.
More than 850,000 people have taken part in the game in the last five years, with findings showing that participants increased their weekly walking by 180 minutes a week and their overall levels of physical activity by 335 minutes per week in the six months after playing the game.
“By getting people outside, socialising, and exploring their local area, Beat the Street makes being active fun no matter how fit you are,” said our executive director for children, young people and tackling inactivity, Mike Diaper.
“It’s just the kind of innovative project Sport England is proud to work with as part of its strategy Towards an Active Nation.”