Blog post from Beat the Street Wokingham’s engagement coordinator Alison
Alison Flawith is the Engagement Coordinator for Beat the Street Wokingham, the physical activity game that has been the talk of Wokingham town centre, Finchampstead and Woosehill for the past six week. As the game comes to an end, here’s her blog on the initiative and why she has a strong personal interest.
While the game phase of the Beat the Street Wokingham has come to an end, we’re still working hard to keep helping participants to build on the great habits they created during the game and will continue to encourage residents to embrace active travel.
Wokingham Borough Council is at the forefront in the UK when it comes to their work in improving air quality, as well as increasing physical activity.
I have been very fortunate to be able to encourage and celebrate with you as you have walked, cycled, run, scooted and rolled around the streets and green spaces of Wokingham for the last six weeks.
The positive effects of physical activity, getting out in nature, joining in with a team event or just being motivated to go for a gentle stroll to swipe a few extra ‘Beat Boxes’. I’ve heard some fantastic stories about the positive impact it has had on people’s mental health, physical health and the sense of pride and community it has engendered.
One of the things I love about Beat the Street is that it is accessible to everyone. On a personal level, my genetics are slightly different to the average person. I’m not going to list all the weird and wonderful ways that I am different because we could be here all day, but I have what is known as a hidden disability. The parts of this that are relevant to my working life are my joint hypermobility, joint subluxations and dislocations, constant pain (yes, all the time) and a complete inability to sit still!
I’ve spent a lot of my life being told ‘no’ by the medical community. No, you can’t run. No, you shouldn’t go to the gym. No, you should protect your body. Rest. However, that doesn’t work for me. Anyone that has spent time with me knows that is in fact the worst possible thing I could do for my body. I decondition rapidly. My joints become more unstable and it starts to spiral, fast! Despite all the ‘nos’ I hear, I don’t stop. Movement is life.
I need to stay active to keep my body strong to help protect my joints and to reduce the number of subluxations and dislocations. I do this by fitting exercise into my everyday life. I walk to work. I cycle to different meetings. I choose to travel actively not just to help with congestion and air pollution but to keep my mind and body together. We have some fantastic community teams involved in Beat the Street, from church groups to running teams and learning disability groups. The self-advocacy groups for people with learning disabilities CLASP and Rose Buddies invited me to their creative support sessions and I was thrilled to be able to discuss with them Beat the Street and I love seeing them out about swiping Beat Boxes across Wokingham.
I walk and cycle everywhere. I use public transport. Cars are my absolute last resort. I don’t think I’ve driven in more than six months now! This can be off putting for some employers in our fast-paced world of needing everything now. I am incredibly lucky to work for Intelligent Health, the company behind Beat the Street and they are fully supportive of my use of active travel and my reasons behind it.
I’ve run marathons. I walk an average of 150,000 steps a week (50 miles). I have really enjoyed exploring Wokingham’s gorgeous green spaces (if you haven’t been Keep Hatch Nature reserve is lovely). I walk or cycle between school visits. Wokingham is so lucky to have so many lovely areas for physical activity. The My Journey Wokingham (the borough-wide active and sustainable travel behaviour change campaign) team have suggested walking and cycling maps on their website https://www.myjourneywokingham.com/route-maps/
It’s been an enjoyable six weeks, so we’re now looking forward to the next phase which is where we work with Wokingham based community groups to ensure that we continue to move every day and to make active travel the norm.