Hundreds of children across Burnley have been getting fit and active and keeping tabs on how well they are doing. Around 600 youngsters have been wearing a Garmin activity tracker, distributed through their schools. The project is known as the ‘Active Ants Project’ has been designed by Burnley School Sports Partnership, Active Lancashire and local entrepreneurs ‘Flexi digital.’
It was launched in a bid to explore if the use of digital and wearable technology and a rewards scheme can help schools, teachers, parents and children to adapt their behaviours to achieve the recommended amount of exercise which is 60 minutes per day.
The purpose of the project is to evaluate levels of physical activity of children in and out of school, whether digital technology can nudge people to achieve 60 minutes of activity, whether the use of the digital technology will get the influencers of children, such as parents and teachers, to think differently about physical activity habits and whether the rewards play an important part of the positive shift in behaviour. The data and information coming out of the project can be used with other data to see what has a positive influence on children’s lifestyles and if they can be encouraged to become more active. The schools involved in the project so far have been rewarded with prizes such as cinema tickets, movie downloads certificates and medals as well as trying to win the main prize of a bike.
Cameron Halstead, of Brunshaw Primary School, was the lucky winner, receiving a £350 bike from Leisure Lakes Bike after he completed more than 1.2million steps between February and the end of March – which were tracked and calculated using a Garmin Vivoki step counter.The steps Cameron completed were high intensity – taking more steps on average per minute than any other child in the project. Helen Tyson, of Burnley School Sports Partnership, added: “It was great to see how involved Cameron was in the project, he was determined to win that bike and all his efforts paid off. “A massive thanks must also go to his mum, Nadia, and to Brunshaw Primary School, who really supported Cameron to achieve his goal. “The recent childhood obesity plan has tasked schools with trying to ensure that all children are active for 30 minutes during the school day and the Active Ants Project is helping to engage with children who were previously inactive.
“In addition to this due to the linked incentive package – the feedback from pupils and school teachers says more children are now active out of school and are taking part in more activities with their families.
“I am looking forward to seeing what the final data reports tell us about the activity of our children and hopefully we can continue to find ways to support them to continue to lead an active and healthy lifestyle.”