Over 4,000 school children across the province took part in Northern Ireland’s ‘Daily Mile’.  As part of Psychology Week, the event recorded the children and young people collectively taking part in The Daily Mile.

Nursery, primary and post primary schools across Northern Ireland joined The Children’s Commissioner, Koulla Yiasouma and members of the Northern Ireland British Psychological Society and The Daily Mile Network group on Friday 20th September at Hazelwood Integrated College, running or walking one mile as part of an initiative to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of school children.

The Daily Mile is a simple and free initiative for schools and nurseries encouraging children to run or jog at their own pace, for just 15 minutes every day, outside with their friends. Research has found that this exercise in a natural outdoor environment can rapidly improve self-esteem, relieve stress and anxiety and increase children’s overall happiness.

More than 9,500 schools are already registered for The Daily Mile in over 60 countries. Hazelwood Integrated is the first post-primary school in Northern Ireland to sign up to The Daily Mile. There are currently 371 primary schools in Northern Ireland registered doing The Daily Mile, which equates to 30% of all primary schools in NI.

The Daily Mile Network NI consists of members from Stranmillis University College, Ulster University, Public Health Agency, Health and Social Care Trusts, Sustrans, Education Authority and the Northern Ireland British Psychological Society.

Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Koulla Yiasouma said:

“The benefits of the Daily Mile go far beyond staying physically healthy. Older children can buddy up with younger kids, helping to build community. It’s a great social activity for children to bond with their peers in a safe environment and it definitely helps concentration. It’s really positive that so many schools and clubs already take part in the Daily Mile and I hope that today encourages even more to get involved.”

Dr Brenda McKay-Redmond, N.I. representative on The Daily Mile Research Advisory Group said:

“We’re thrilled to have organised this ‘Daily Mile’ as part of Psychology Week and our hope is that this is the beginning of a province-wide daily activity that will help children and young people perform at their best every single day.”

“It is so important that children and young people have an adult role-model doing The Daily Mile with them. This shows inclusiveness and encourages children’s development of relationships with their friends.  It is about fun, freedom, fitness, improving health and wellbeing and being outside in the fresh air.”

Prof. Nichola Rooney, Northern Ireland Chair of the British Psychological Society said:

“The Daily Mile is a fantastic initiative as it is fully inclusive – every child, whatever their circumstances, age or ability can succeed at The Daily Mile. It also instils constructive habits from a young age which will continue to generate positive behaviour as the child develops.

“The Daily Mile research report finds that children feel happier, more awake and calmer after doing completing the one-mile challenge. And on self-assessment questionnaires, self-esteem, wellbeing and satisfaction all improved. These skills are essential skills that will ultimately help children’s ability to learn.”

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