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Beat The Street

Beat The Street

Beat The Street inspires local mum

Beat the Street helps a St Leonards’ mum with mental health problems explore her local community and beyond. Niall Norbury from Intelligent Health writes.

Beat the Street – a huge walking and cycling initiative taking place across East Sussex – has helped one woman living with bipolar disorder get outside and explore her community.

More than 40,000 people across East Sussex have picked up a card and started playing Beat the Street since it kicked off in June. The aim of the game is to encourage whole communities to explore their area and become more active as a result. There are over 400 special sensors – known as Beat Boxes – placed on lampposts across the county, which players tap with their card to track their journey.

Jo and her adopted canine friend

Jo and her adopted canine friend

Jo from St. Leonard’s-on-Sea has been playing Beat the Street along with her husband and three children. Jo’s diagnosis means she experiences both manic episodes and periods of depression, where she has struggled to leave her bedroom for days.

“As part of courses I have been on relating to my condition, I have learnt the importance of preventing a relapse from happening and with guidance was able to identify things which make a significant impact on mental health. One which particularly stood out to me was outdoor exercise. I know how easy it is to just start slipping away, dropping out of things, closing the door and shutting the world out, but I know how important it is not to let this happen.”

To help Jo get out of the house more often, her family adopted a rescue dog in 2016 which has helped her leave the house more often and walk around her local area. However, until recently she has lacked the courage to travel to other areas.

“Unfortunately, I had lacked the courage to actually go out on a day trip and we had just stuck to the immediate wooded areas. Our walks would typically last around 30 minutes on average. I had been longing to venture further afield but didn’t know where to start.”

But in the middle of June, Jo’s children came back from school with fobs, cards and leaflets about a new walking and cycling challenge called Beat the Street. Almost instantly, Jo felt empowered to explore areas that previously felt inaccessible to her which spurred her on to get more physically active along with the whole family.

“I had no idea where to start adventuring out and had built up a real mental block around myself. The minute I got my card, I felt like I was given permission to go out and investigate. I find myself distracted from the usual panic and fear I feel because I’m too busy trying to read a map, a skill set I am far from acquiring! It has given me so much confidence, I have already been out on two day trips with Molly and various shorter trips with and without the kids and we have been to 44 different Beat Boxes so far.”

Jo’s efforts have been helping her children’s team rocket up the leaderboards. Churchwood Primary School is currently sitting in 64th place out of hundreds of schools and teams across East Sussex. If the school ends up on top of the leader boards, they could walk away with up to £500 worth of sports and fitness equipment.

Jane Hatton, Engagement Manager for Beat the Street East Sussex, said: “It is amazing to hear about the impact Beat the Street has had for Jo and her family. We know that being physically active has a huge range of benefits to both physical and mental health and it is great to see Jo get active and discover new things about her local area.

“There are still three weeks left of the game to play, so it is not too late to pick up a card, start tapping and explore parts of East Sussex you never knew existed!”

For more information about the project and how to get involved, please visit Beat The Street.

Beat the Street is funded by NHS Hastings and Rother CCG, NHS Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford CCG and East Sussex Public Health. It forms part of a comprehensive programme of activity to improve health through East Sussex Better Together; and as part of Connecting 4 You in the west of the county. The initiative is delivered by Intelligent Health, a specialist organisation dedicated to increasing physical activity and improving the health of communities around the world.


Posted 13:17 Tuesday, Jul 18, 2017 In: Health Matters

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