National Fitness Day – How have Health Mentors utilised physical interventions to support pupils in schools?

We take a look at the work Nottinghamshire Health Mentor Liam Parker has undertaken to support the physical health of pupils in one of his schools.
The Background
Liam introduced the ‘Mile a Day’ campaign in one of his schools with the two Year 5 classes that he predominantly works with. The process involved facilitating both classes running laps around the playing field once a day with the whole process, from leaving class to returning, taking 15 minutes.
Liam first heard about the campaign in August 2016. The media were reporting on a school in Scotland that initiated the campaign and how the Scottish Government were advocating it as a tremendous positive impact approach.
As many studies and data show, inactivity of children in the UK is becoming a national travesty, with the health implications alone showing startling figures. Liam believes this simple campaign, merely spending 15 minutes a day running, to be a very effective solution to combating this problem.
The major deterrent to teachers for implementing this into their everyday schedule is the loss of classroom time. However, with more studies being released showing a correlation between high physical activity levels and positive academic achievement, this barrier will hopefully diminish.
The Process
Liam started by measuring the area in which the pupils will complete the run, in order to find out how many laps were required for a mile.
For every run the pupils were given a counter for each lap achieved, providing motivation via a tangible object for each lap completed. This also allowed Liam to record individuals laps when necessary.
The first run performed was a practice run, allowing the pupils to become familiar with the pacing required and also the collection of the counters. For the second run undertaken, Liam recorded individual laps to provide baseline data to assess the impact of this scheme. The actual run time lasted eight minutes and all following assessment days were assessed as an eight-minute run.
Students are encouraged to focus on their personal performance and aim to improve their personal best scores. The runs that are not being assessed can take place for longer or shorter periods of time than the provisional eight minutes. However, the entire time from leaving to returning to the classroom must be 15 minutes, as agreed with the teachers.
The Results
Liam recorded the results of a run every two weeks. One class improved their total laps by fifty-five in just their second assessment. Liam then gave badges to all the children who had improved their personal score via Marvellous Me and issued “1 mile” and “3/4 mile” certificates at Christmas.
Liam created a Health Mentor board outside the Year 5 classrooms that showed each classes’ most recent lap total, the highest score from a combined class and the combined scores of the house teams from both classes.
The final statistics from one term of the intervention showed an overall improvement of 27% in the number of laps completed.
Next Steps
Liam’s plan is as follows:
“In time, I hope that the teachers of the two classes I am carrying out this scheme with will see the positive benefits, eventually being able to carry out the daily runs themselves. This will allow me to begin the scheme with another year group. My long-term aim is to have every year group in the school participating.”