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On your marks! It’s The Sheriff’s Challenge!

From September thousands of primary pupils in the city will be encouraged to walk or run 100 miles over the next school year in a bid to get fit and healthy – and complete the Sheriff’s Challenge. If you’re aged between 5 and 11, you may find yourself running or walking a one-mile course around your school’s grounds at least twice a week to hit that 100-mile target – the equivalent of running four full marathons each over the 2016/17 academic year! You may find that you’ll run the course at different times during the school day – especially when teachers feel concentration starting to flag!

The idea of children running a mile every day has been pioneered in primary schools in Scotland and has proven to reduce levels of childhood obesity as well as improve children’s concentration levels during the lessons. It is hoped this could lead to higher attainment and encourage better attendance. The pioneering school – St Ninian’s Primary near Stirling in Scotland – had pupils running or walking the mile at random times every day for three-and-a-half years. Despite the rise in childhood obesity across the UK, none of the children at the school are overweight.

Nottingham currently has high levels of obesity among children, with almost four in every 10 pupils leaving primary school classed as obese – while at Reception age Nottingham has the second highest proportion of overweight children in the country.

It is hoped that the Sheriff’s Challenge will show children how fun it is to be active while giving them an overall target to aim for over the school year. Nottingham has 28,551 primary pupils in 75 schools. If just 100 pupils complete the 100 miles that would be the same as collectively running to Australia (approx. 10,000 miles).

The launch event at Robin Hood Primary in Bestwood was attended by Cllr Jackie Morris, the Sheriff of Nottingham and Cllr Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment and Skills, both of whom launched Opportunity Notts with us at Primary Parliament back in March!

Cllr Morris said: “I’m laying down the gauntlet to every primary school pupil in the City – complete my challenge and you’ll have gone a huge way towards being fitter and more active. I hope that lots of schools and their pupils sign up to take part. Imagine if we add together all of the miles that will be run by every child in the City: it could be enough to run to Australia… and back!”

Cllr Webster added: “While parents have a vital role to play in making sure their children lead fit and healthy lives, it’s equally important that schools set the tone – and I’ll be interested to see if running and walking can help boost concentration in our schools. Opportunity Notts is a great initiative that aims to get young children to unlock their potential and take part in the full range of learning experiences the City has to offer.”

The Sheriff’s Challenge will begin in primary schools in September 2016, with children logging their miles until July 2017.

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