Fitness lessons with a difference were on the curriculum for a P7 class at a Larne primary school. An initiative called the ‘Step Challenge’ has been running at Olderfleet Primary School.
“This was a six-week pilot programme involving some very active Primary 7 pupils from Olderfleet in Larne where all the pupils were given a pedometer to wear so as to count their daily steps,” the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Councillor Audrey Wales MBE explained.
“Each day at school the pupils took part in a wide range of activities to encourage greater physical activity and participants then record how many steps they take, with the aim being for they to take even more steps, week by week,” Cllr Wales added.
The initiative also included the added benefit that participants were encouraged to ‘take it home’ by not only being active in school, but also at home, so that means their families were also encouraged to take more exercise.
This is the first programme of its kind to take place in Mid and East Antrim Borough and it is anticipated that Council sports officers will roll this out on a larger scale throughout the Borough in due course.
Olderfleet Primary School’s P7 teacher, Derek Kyle said that the range of activities undertaken varied: “On Mondays we had an extended break play time, Tuesdays, children were walking to swimming lessons at Larne Leisure Centre and on Wednesdays there were very welcome coaching session from the Mid and East Antrim Borough Sports Development Team.
“There was no let-up in activities either on Thursdays with PE lessons undertaken and on Fridays, a special treat, where the children enjoyed coaching sessions with Larne Rugby Football Club,” the teacher said.
“The Step Challenge has really motivated the pupils to become more active. Having individual pedometers helped the pupils to monitor the number of steps they took each day but also really challenged them to try and take more steps – even on wet days the pupils took to walking around the classroom or hall at break times just to try and gain a few more steps.
“They have really enjoyed the additional activities and games organised as part of the programme as well as the numeracy activities in class recording and graphing their progress,” Mr Kyle added.
The Northern Health and Social Care Trust, provided the pedometers for each child as well as the provision of T-shirts and branded water bottles at the end of the challenge, and Olderfleet Primary school itself have each been key partners in driving the ‘Step Challenge’ along with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council who are facilitating the scheme.
The school has really ‘bought into’ the idea and even included cross-curricular links where they are incorporating their data into Maths lessons.