EASTBOURNE residents are invited to take part in an exciting physical activity game launching next week.

Beat the Street Eastbourne is set to take place from Wednesday 16th September to Wednesday, 4th November, coinciding with the launch of the Eastbourne Walking Festival that starts on Friday, 18th September.

It is a free, interactive game that encourages people of all ages to move more and to get active.

As well as helping people create healthier lifestyle habits, it also helps with air quality, congestion and pollution, and connects people to their communities and green spaces.

Beeping and flashing sensors called ‘Beat Boxes’ will be placed on lampposts around the town for the duration of the game to help participants explore the local area and all it has to offer and to develop the habit of regular exercise.

Primary school pupils will be provided with fobs while parents and teachers will receive a card from the school so they can accompany children, or take part on their own. The wider community can pick up a contactless card from one of  the distribution points which are listed on the website at www.beatthestreet.me/eastbourne

Players then walk, roll, scoot, cycle or run between the 80 Beat Boxes which are spaced half a mile apart – hovering their fobs or cards over the Beat Boxes to score points. The further players travel, the more points they score for their community or school team. The first Beat Box you hover your card over marks the start of your journey.  Walk, cycle, roll, run or scoot to the next one and you score 10 points for each subsequent Beat Box.

The first two weeks of the game form part of the Eastbourne Walking Festival and are themed ‘Go Play’ for players to get to grips with the game. There are different themes for each week of the competition from Go Explore to Go Wild and Go Travel.

With lockdown being eased after the outbreak of COVID-19, communities are understandably cautious about getting out and about for physical activity and exercise. The game has been adjusted to ensure that it is completely safe to play and so it complies with social distancing restrictions.

As well as the chance to win prizes for your school or community team, the game has been adapted to reward players for their personal achievements. The Eastbourne game is also the first to enjoy the new sustainable and non-plastic Beat the Street cards.

The changes to the game mean that you do not need to touch a Beat Box, players can simply hover their card or fob near the sensor and it will register the swipe. Further measures such as temporary pavement markings to help will also be put in place.

Beat the Street is being delivered by Intelligent Health and is funded by the National Lottery on behalf of Sport England, Eastbourne Borough Council, East Sussex County Council Public Health, South Downs National Park and eDEAL.

Antonia Lucas from Eastbourne Walking Festival said: “We are very excited about the return of Beat the Street which will launch this year’s Eastbourne Walking Festival. This popular initiative enables us to connect widely with the community and recruit a new generation of walking ambassadors of all ages who will be invited to develop an original walking activity to launch the 2021 walking festival.”

Darrell Gale, Director of Public Health at East Sussex County Council, said: “Lockdown, with its prescription for an hour of physical activity per day, led to many people in Eastbourne walking or cycling around the borough for the first time, and we wish to sustain this into the autumn and winter – so that people can take daily exercise year round.  Eastbourne, with its tree-lined streets, parks, promenade and gardens is an exceptional environment for people to be active.

“Yet only 50% of children in the borough meet the recommended guideline of 60 minutes a day of physical activity and so Beat the Street provides an opportunity to support children and their families to become active as a habit, through a fun and friendly competition.

“COVID-19 hasn’t gone away; and we have designed the competition and the walking festival to be COVID-secure; with social distancing being maintained; and with a cleansing regime of the equipment used in the game. Much of life is slowly returning to pre-COVID normality. Being active, enjoying walking and cycling and getting to know your beautiful borough is one part of a return to normality, and learning how to keep ourselves and each other safe whilst enjoying physical activity helps prepare us all for the times ahead when we still live with the virus; and want to enjoy as much of our normal routines as possible.

“However, if you do experience symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, new persistent cough, or loss or change to sense of taste or smell, or have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace and asked to stay at home, please do self-isolate for at least ten days to keep everyone safe.”

Kate Drake, Health and Wellbeing Lead at South Downs National Park added: “As we mark the tenth anniversary of becoming a national park, we’re delighted to see Beat the Street return to the area as it supports our vision of ensuring that this beautiful area is available for everyone to enjoy.”

More information is available at www.beatthestreet.me/eastbourne and on social media @BTSEastbourne plus www.visiteastbourne.com/walking-festival