Hertfordshire County Council’s Public Health department has just put its best foot forward for communities, health and transport by holding an exciting six-week long competition called Beat the Street.
The event took place in Hemel Hempstead, Broxbourne, Stevenage and Watford from 3 June to 15 July and invited local residents to walk as far as possible within that time frame “in a race to space!”
Special sensors called ‘Beat Boxes’ were placed on lamp-posts half a mile apart throughout the four towns and players tapped cards or fobs against these to register their journeys on foot or by bike.
More than 42,000 people from the four towns took part, with participation ranging from 9% of the population in Watford (11,093 players), to 12% in Hemel (10,987 players) to 16% in Broxbourne (2,683 players) and 20% in Stevenage (17,921 players). As well as school teams, businesses and other organisations were also invited to compete.
In Broxbourne, Sheredes Primary School won the highest points leaderboard with Lucy Kennedy Fitness winning the average points leaderboard.
In Hemel Hempstead, there was a very close competition between Galley Hill Primary School and St Albert the Great Primary School who kept vying for top spot. Eventually, Galley Hill won the highest point score competition while St Albert the Great won the average points leaderboard.
In Stevenage, Martins Wood won the highest points leaderboard while Hertfordshire County Council’s Farnham and Robertson House team won the average leaderboard and generously donated their prize.
In Watford, the highest points winner was the Grove Academy and the average points leadeboard was won by the Bromet School.
The highest individual scorer across the four towns was Trevor Carrington who gained more than 77,000 points.
Martins Wood School in Stevenage was the overall winning team, while St Albert the Great Primary School in Hemel Hempstead won the average points leaderboard. However, everyone who took part and has now committed to walking, cycling, running and scooting should be very proud of their efforts.
The idea of the competition was to encourage people to get active and to walk or run where possible. Players were motivated by the technological aspect of the game, plus the promise of a £4,000 prize pot being donated to local charities (New Hope, Stevenage and District Riding for the Disabled, Stevenage Arts Guild, Teens Unite and Rennie Grove Hospice Care) if people collectively walked more than 500,000 miles. There was the added incentive of “lucky tap” prizes meaning that people could win great prizes even if they only tapped a couple of Beat Boxes. The actual total mileage travelled was 525,000 miles.
Beat the Street brought communities closer and also created an element of competition! One school teacher commented that the competition was “the best thing I have ever done in my career”, while another said “nothing has ever brought our school together like this”. Other schools set up dedicated social media pages and organised community walks and picnics. Many teachers said Beat the Street had been useful for encouraging physical activity, but had also helped with teaching geography, history and road safety awareness.
Many participants got in touch to say they’d lost weight and also found the game very sociable. A lady in Watford even sent in a photo of her trainers which had been thoroughly worn out as she’d walked nearly 200 miles in the six weeks.
Hertfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Localism and Libraries, Teresa Heritage, said: “Congratulations to everyone who took part in the Beat the Street competition!
“Everyone who walked, cycled, ran or scooted, contributed to the total and enabled the local charities to benefit from a donation, so thank you for your efforts and enthusiasm. You also made Hertfordshire a healthier and happier place to live.
“I know many people will be sad to see the Beat Boxes go but please keep up the physical activity. The World Health Organisation recommends just half an hour of walking every day and hopefully Beat the Street has encouraged you to make this a daily habit.”
Dr William Bird, director of Intelligent Health, the company that runs Beat the Street, added: “It has been a real pleasure to see Watford, Broxbourne, Hemel Hempstead and Stevenage enjoying Beat the Street. It’s proved to be a real talking point amongst local communities and literally life-changing for some of the people who took part.”