Local school nurses support Surrey’s ‘Run to Rio’ scheme: 47,000 children and 154 schools aiming to run 5,700 miles!

Published on 29/04/2016

11 school nurses at First Community Health and Care, who work in schools throughout Tandridge, Reigate and Banstead, together with 16 school nurses from mid Surrey’s CSH Surrey, have helped Surrey-wide efforts to persuade more than 150 schools to sign up for Active Surrey’s Run to Rio’ scheme. A record 47,000 schoolchildren from schools across Surrey will be taking part and aiming to run or walk the 5,700 miles from Surrey to Rio before the Olympics and Paralympics in August.

The scheme is being launched by Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health and the Member of Parliament for South West Surrey, at 8.30am on Friday 29 April at St Polycarps School, Farnham, Surrey. He says: “This is a wonderful initiative and something that has really struck a chord with primary school teachers and pupils judging from the amazing response. I actively encourage everyone to get behind the campaign – it’s an easy and fun way to become fitter and healthier as we approach the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio.”

Nearly 30 school nurses from CSH Surrey and First Community Health and Care have been actively encouraging schools to support the campaign. Chris McDermott and Anita Lamb, School Nursing Practice Development Leads at CSH Surrey and First Community, say: “We have wanted schools to introduce the daily mile for some time now, so it’s fantastic that Active Surrey have created the Run to Rio campaign. School nurses from both organisations have been actively promoting it within their schools as the health benefits for both physical and emotional health and wellbeing are so clear.”

Active Surrey has worked with Premier Sport to offer every Surrey primary school free use of the Golden Mile software, which allows them to monitor their progress during the summer term. Each child’s distance will be recorded on the Golden Mile website at the end of each week so schools can track the distance their pupils and staff cover. The 154 schools that have already signed up to take part represent almost half of Surrey's primary schools.  

The aim behind this initiative is to get children healthier, fitter, and engaged in the upcoming summer Olympics and Paralympics. As a result, it is predicted that children will integrate it into their daily routines from the next academic year, thus improving their lives educationally, physically and mentally.

The ‘Run to Rio’ idea was inspired by 'The Daily Mile’, which was started four years ago at St. Ninian’s School in Stirling, Scotland​ by the then Headteacher, Elaine Wyllie. She won ‘Headteacher of the Year’ in the 2015 Pride of Britain awards as a result and now tours the country promoting the Daily Mile (www.thedailymile.co.uk) within schools.

Elaine says: "School nurses have an important role to play in improving children’s health and, by encouraging schools to include Run to Rio and The Daily Mile in their Health and Wellbeing programmes, they will see the benefits for every child both now and in the years to come.”​

Lily Patridge, local athlete at Aldershot Farnham and District AC, and the Farnham and  Freedom Leisure Sports Personality of the Year Award Winner 2015 comments: “The Run to Rio programme that Active Surrey has launched is a great way to get children involved in physical activity while having fun. The Rio Olympics provide the perfect opportunity for them to get involved in something special! The numbers of schools involved speak for themselves.”

Campbell Livingston, Partnership Director, Active Surrey comments: “Getting children moving an extra 15 minutes per day is proven to improve pupil behaviour and well-being, increase concentration levels in the classroom and reduce obesity. The team at Active Surrey has worked hard to deliver this scheme and ensure as the lead sports development agency in Surrey we make an impact on improving children’s health and wellbeing. We have been overwhelmed by the number of schools and school children taking part in our ‘Run to Rio’ scheme. Over 47,000 schoolchildren represents a large proportion of Surrey children being involved in the scheme and we are very proud of that achievement. The programme is suitable for every child, regardless of age or levels of fitness, and it isn’t too late for schools to register their interest.”

Run to Rio started in April and runs for 12 weeks. The last opportunity to record mileage will be Friday 8th July 2016. To register your school, visit http://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/run-to-rio or for more information please contact elizabeth.duggan@surreycc.gov.uk.