On St. Valentine’s Day this year Stranmillis University College grounds turned into a sea of red where over 100 children, staff and invited guests ran The Daily Mile in red t-shirts sponsored by The British Heart Foundation, as part of the NI Science Festival. Giving a “hearty” Stranmillis welcome, Professor Heaslett Principal of Stranmillis University introduced the guest of honour on this most special day; the founder of The Daily Mile, Elaine Wyllie MBE.
Elaine was the head teacher at St Ninians Primary School, Stirling, Scotland, when she founded The Daily Mile. Concerned by the children’s lack of fitness, classes were encouraged to run around the school field for 15 minutes a day to improve their overall health – and so, on February 13th 2012, The Daily Mile was born. It was such a privilege that Elaine celebrated The Daily Mile’s 8th birthday with all of us at Stranmillis.
Elaine and her husband John had travelled from Scotland to be part of The Daily Mile launch for Moneynick and Duneane Shared Education Partnership in Learning primary schools. It was very fitting that the children sang “Happy Birthday, Daily Mile”, to her and then listened to her wonderful words of encouragement. Elaine said “I am delighted to be part of a wonderful morning with all the schools and all their children, along with the British Heart Foundation, working together to improve the health of the children. I’m so glad that The Daily Mile is here as part of that, making such a difference. All the children were out of breath, their cheeks were glowing and their hearts were clearly pumping fast”.
Mr Fearghal McKinney, Head of the British Heart Foundation NI also told all of the audience that, “We are delighted to support such a great event. Like most good ideas The Daily Mile is so simple but very effective in its benefits. Keeping our hearts healthy with exercise helps reduce the risk of heart and circulatory diseases”.
Following on from this Dr Brenda McKay-Redmond senior lecturer in Early Childhood Studies at Stranmillis and the regional representative on the TDM Research Advisory Group in London said; “We’re thrilled to be organising “Love The Daily Mile Love Your Heart” as part of NI Science Festival in association with TDM Network NI, The British Psychological Society and our sponsors, The British Heart Foundation NI. 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. Children’s self-esteem, wellbeing and satisfaction can all improve. These skills are essential skills that will ultimately help children’s ability to learn. It is important to have adult role models doing TDM with children to show inclusiveness and the encouragement of the development of children’s relationships with their friends. It’s a great social activity for children to bond with their peers in a safe environment and it definitely helps concentration. It is about fun, freedom, fitness, improving health and wellbeing and being outside in the fresh air. The benefits of The Daily Mile go far beyond staying physically healthy. It is really positive that so many schools and clubs already take part in The Daily Mile and in Stranmillis we strive to encourage even more to get involved. It is my hope that The Daily Mile will become a province-wide daily activity in all schools in NI. Currently there are 274 schools registered in NI doing The Daily Mile which is 56,488 children participating in The Daily Mile in NI. The Daily Mile is in 78 countries across the world with over 10,880 schools signed up”.
The Daily Mile Network NI was established in June 2019 from an association of partners from Stranmillis, Public Health Authority, EA, Ulster University, British Psychological Society, Sustrans, Sport NI, Health and Social Care Trusts, Female Sports Forum and Champion Schools. This group is co-chaired by Dr Brenda McKay Redmond and Dr Barbara McConnell from Stranmillis University College and was established to co-ordinate and support the work of the development and implementation of TDM within Northern Ireland. The group aims to promote research and practice of the Daily Mile.
Barbara and Brenda ended the day by thanking everyone from the bottom of their hearts who made “Love The Daily Mile: Love Your Heart” such a ‘heartfelt’ memorable day for everyone who took part.
For more information about TDM please contact TheDailyMile@stran.ac.uk