Sandy James, our walking correspondent (right), reports on how a Vancouver elementary school won a global competition:

In many places it is common practice to drop the kids off at school by car.  With the need for increased physical activity to counter the obesity trends, Dr. William Bird with Intelligent Health in Great Britain created the Global Beat The Street competition.  

By developing a “game” using RFID (radio frequency readers called “Beat Boxes”), an online website records in real time a student’s walk to school. The Beat Boxes are attached to light poles in the four directions coming into the school, and each student has a card or fob with a small chip to record their distances.

Children walking in to school can accumulate points and then look at the website on real time to see how many points they have, and then compare their walks to those of other competing schools globally – here.

Teachers are reporting that the children are arriving for the first classes of the day more rested and attentive.  The cliques that form in the older Grade 6 and Grade 7 classes also break down.  And 17 per cent of the children that previously did not walk to school will continue to walk, the majority being  girls.

In the current competition over 3,500 students in 13 schools in Vancouver, Shanghai, Reading England and London England are  taking part.  In Vancouver, two elementary schools were chosen: Lord Kitchener Elementary on the west side off Dunbar Street, and Laura Secord Elementary on the east side at Lakewood and Broadway.  Funds were raised by the students  for the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice and the BC Children’s hospital by sponsors’ matching the points.

Olympic athletes including Simon Whitfield,  the BC Lions Football team, and the Vancouver Whitecaps came out to the schools to cheer the kids on during the competition.

Of the 13 schools in the global  competition Laura Secord Elementary was the winning school with 58 per cent of the children walking the entire month. As well, the school raised close to $5,000 for their BC Children’s Hospital. Laura Secord also received the Beat The Street prize: sponsoring a school in Swaziland, Africa.

The Beat Box equipment will remain in Canada as a gift from London Legacies, with future funding used for other Beat The Street competitions with schools in Chicago, Atlanta, Melbourne and Sydney.