EASTBOURNE’S Beat the Street campaign is off on the right foot this week as more than 6,700 people have signed up to take part in the seven-week physical activity game.

Beat the Street challenges the whole community, including schools, workplaces and community groups to see how far they can walk, run, scoot, wheel or cycle in return for points and prizes. So far participants have clocked up more than 20,000miles with the total mileage increasing rapidly.

The Beat the Street game has launched the Eastbourne Walking Festival this year which takes place from Friday 18th September to Sunday 27 September.

With the government’s new ‘rule of six’ having been brought in recently, the festival now comprises a series of self-guided walks which make the most of Eastbourne’s position on the edge of the South Downs.

The Beat the Street game then continues until Wednesday, 4th November.

A launch event was held on Friday to kickstart all of the town’s physical activity initiatives that are currently taking place.

Tuesday was also Eastbourne Car Free Day, organised by local school pupil Tom Nevill, which sees four roads in the town closed to encourage people to walk or cycle.

The event was attended by the game’s funders and supporters and walking champions including Dr William Bird, who developed the Beat the Street game as a way of getting people to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives.

Beat the Street also aims to encourage people to walk, run and cycle more instead of taking the car. It helps people explore their local community and discover routes and areas they may not know.

It’s free to take part in Beat the Street and the Eastbourne game is open to anyone in the community, of any age, who would like to get more active or would like to get to know the town better.

There are 80 Beat Boxes placed on lampposts around Eastbourne for the duration of the game. Simply hover your fob (for children, distributed via their primary school) or card (for adults) near the Beat Box to score points for your team.

You must hover your card over one Beat Box to start your journey, and then tap another within an hour to score 10 points.

The further you travel, the more points you’ll score for your team. The teams that travel the furthest can win hundreds of pounds worth of vouchers for sports or fitness equipment or books.

Currently, Langney Primary Academy of SWALE Academy Trust tops the total points leaderboard and Bellringers are at the top of the average points leaderboard. However, it’s still all  to play for and there are community, workplace and charity leaderboards so everyone has a chance of winning!

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 added: “This popular initiative enables us to connect widely with the community and recruit a new generation of walking champions of all ages who will be invited to develop an original walking activity to launch the 2021 walking festival.

“Beat the Street is such a popular and successful initiative and, when it’s so difficult to engage with the community helps to instil the message that the simple act of walking so often results in discovering something new and surprising along the way. 

We all know walking is beneficial for mental and physical health. We were born to walk and to explore too. Using our feet to take ourselves outdoors provides the perfect reason to give one’s brain a rest from the phone or computer and to experience the real environment that surrounds us.”

“Beat the Street, with its impeccable track record, has convinced me and others that it is the right initiative particularly during COVID for us to connect with the nine different wards that make up the town.

“By bringing Beat the Street into the festival we are encouraging all – residents and visitors to the town – to celebrate the act of walking during a really challenging time – by focusing on its benefits throughout the festival period.

“Beat the Street provides an opportunity – a reason for  locals to explore areas of Eastbourne they don’t usually frequent and to discover its different green environments be it the coastline, the downs, the marshes and local parks and gardens.”

Dr William Bird, a GP and founder of the Beat the Street game, attended the launch on Friday. He said: “We are thrilled to be launching Beat the Street in this beautiful part of the world – Eastbourne is the perfect setting for Beat the Street as you have stunning scenery, the South Downs National Park on your doorstep, the coastline and passionate residents who can see the benefits of walking and exercise.

“Beat the Street aims to engage the whole community. While it’s a fun game with prizes to be won, the real winners are those people who take the time to walk, cycle or run every day. Taking part will really do great things for your physical and mental health and even slow down your ageing process which happens when you become more active.

“The seven-week game is just the start. By engaging with communities through a fun game, Beat the Street aims to leave a legacy of a healthier community, reduced congestion and air pollution. We hope that it will pave the way for future walking activities and will also improve community cohesion and help you really engage with your fantastic natural surroundings.

“We hope that Eastbourne will really enjoy playing Beat the Street. Please observe social distancing while you play and remember that regular physical activity will strengthen your immune system against such viruses as COVID-19 in case there’s a second wave on the way in the colder months.”

Each week of the competition has a different theme, so keep an eye on the weekly newsletters and on social media for news on what’s happening and how to score bonus points. Next week will be ‘Go Explore’, encouraging players to get to know parts of Eastbourne they may not be familiar with.

For more information, click onto www.beatthestreet.me/eastbourne or follow @BTSEastbourne on social media. For more information on the Eastbourne Walking Festival, click onto www.visiteastbourne.com/walking-festival

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.