Pupils walk halfway round world in pedometer challenge

Pupils at Whitburn Village Primary School on a 'pedometer' walk.
Pupils at Whitburn Village Primary School on a 'pedometer' walk.

More than a thousand South Tyneside schoolchildren have completed an incredible journey – some walking halfway around the world.

Pupils from 30 borough primary schools were given pedometers which measure the number of steps they take, both inside and outside school time.

They then logged the number of steps on a website which electronically charts how far each class had travelled.

The system marks out the steps on a map along the route of the Jarrow March to London and then around Europe, taking in all the major cities, including Paris and Berlin.

Representatives of some of the 31 schools that took part in the fitness challenge over the last ten weeks gathered at the Temple Park Centre in South Shields, recently to receive prizes and certificates for their efforts.

And it was revealed that pupils at the winning school – Cleadon Academy – had “travelled” 12,197 miles, the equivalent to halfway round the world.

The runners-up were Lord Blyton, in South Shields, and St Matthews, in Jarrow.

As part of the experience, pupils carried pedometers around with them, counting steps they made. They were encouraged to exercise more and schools also put on extra clubs and sessions to help.

Two schools, Lord Blyton and St Matthews, completed all of the nine challenges set, including devising a playground game and taking part in a hula hoop challenge.

And for the final week all scores for the challenges were zeroed and there was a one-week race to see how far everybody could get, with the winners at Harton Primary covering 1,635 miles.

Coun Joan Atkinson, the council’s lead member for children, young people and families, said: “We know that we have got a challenge with overweight children in the borough, our data is showing that.

“They are more overweight at the end of primary than they are at the beginning of primary, so it made perfect sense to put an intervention in place to get the children interested enough for them to be conscious of being more active.”

It is hoped the project, funded by InspiredSpaces, South Tyneside Council’s local education partner, will be repeated next year.