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The Daily Mile Symposium

Dr Brenda McKay Redmond and Dr Barbara McConnell from the Early Childhood Studies Department of Stranmillis University College took part in a research symposium on the health benefits of the Daily Mile initiative on Friday 12th April at the Hilton Hotel, Templepatrick.

This symposium, entitled “What is the Daily Mile and is it any good for our Kids in NI?”, was part of the annual conference of the Northern Ireland Branch of The British Psychological Society. The symposium, which was chaired by Dr McConnell, who is also the Hon. General Secretary in NI of the British Psychological Society, brought together academics, practitioners, health professionals, teachers and the research co-ordinator from the Steering Group of the Daily Mile Foundation.

It began with academics from Ulster University presenting on their work around the Daily Mile. This was followed by Dr Colin Moran from Sterling University who presented on the first published Scottish study on the Daily Mile. (The Daily Mile originated in Sterling, where the head teacher, Elaine Wylie began it in St Ninian’s Primary School). Dr Brenda McKay Redmond then presented on a study that she has been implementing in Stranmillis with Year 1 ECS students during their ‘Children’s Health and Wellbeing Module’. This study facilitated students participating in The Daily Mile during seminar work, with the intention to motivate them to be The Daily Mile Champions in their settings and thus encourage more children to take part.

Following on from the research papers, Colette Brolly from the PHA and Clare Drummy, Physical Activity Co-ordinator for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, talked about how Health Professionals are supporting the implementation of The Daily Mile in Schools. The symposium ended with Philip Lavery and Rosin McMullan, Vice Principal and P.E Co-ordinator respectively from Mount St Michael’s Primary School in Randalstown, presenting a case study of their school introduce The Daily Mile and how beneficial they are finding children’s participation in it.

Dr Barbara McConnell, Chair of the symposium noted: 'This was an excellent symposium and it was so good to have academics, health professionals and practitioners together in the room to learn from each other.  We are very grateful that Emily Carson Research co-ordinator for the Daily Mile came along to hear the symposium and we are delighted that we are going to continue this network and have established a local partnership at Stranmillis to investigate ways to continue the research and participation in The Daily Mile. It was encouraging to hear that 222 schools - 27% of NI primary schools - have now registered for the Daily Mile in NI, but there are a number of schools still to register and we hope at Stranmillis to be able to support this work in collaboration with our partners.  The symposium was an ideal opportunity to hear about the real life practicalities from the staff at Mount St Michael’s, but I was so moved to hear the stories of how it is an inclusive, free intervention and how all children can participate at their own level.'

Barbara expressed her gratitude to all the speakers at the symposium, especially thanking Colin Moran, whose mother and aunt are Stranmillis alumni.

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