READY, steady, go! Everyone at the Ortu Stanford & Corringham Sixth Form and Ortu Gable Hall have put on their running shoes to do some good this month.
From one student raising almost £700 for charity to numerous running challenges involving teachers, parents and students to get everyone moving, the school aims to motivate and boost community morale following lockdown.
Students from the Ortu Stanford & Corringham Sixth Form’s health and social care class started the first running challenge after a coursework assignment required them to set up a health initiative, leading to more than 40 members of staff, 60 students and almost 50 parents getting involved.
This started as a Couch to 5k challenge which took place virtually due to lockdown, set up by Head of Health and Social Care, Alison Marks, and Psychology teacher, Gemma Chipperfield.
During this challenge, students and teachers encouraged each other on an online support group. As the weeks went on, more and more people in the Ortu Sixth Form and Gable Hall community were getting inspired to take up the new challenge.
Alison Marks said: “We’ve had a huge surge of interest in our challenges since starting as a classroom assignment. We’ve had people who have never ran before join in, people who are just walking the miles, those on crutches or injured – everyone has really embraced it! We’ve even had people email us on the weekends, saying they’ve walked 10k and had never thought they could have achieved it before.”
Throughout lockdown, the Ortu Sixth Form and Gable Hall staff, students and their parents took part in a number of different challenges, including LEJOG (Lands End to John O’Groats) and Race to the Gates (John O’Groats to the gates of Ortu Gable Hall).
In the latest of these new running challenges, runners went the length of the Tour De France, a whopping 2,156 miles. Team Teacher came out on top with 1,334 total miles, followed by the parents with 700 and the students 508 miles – with all teams going above and beyond the combined target.
Gemma Chipperfield said: “We’re so impressed with everyone getting involved in the challenges. Both parents and teachers are role models to the students, so having them engaging and looking after their own mental and physical health has encouraged the whole school to follow suit.
“This running challenge has helped massively with those participating’s mental health. Going back into lockdown at the end of last year had a lot of people in the community, teachers and student alike, feeling low. These challenges have raised moods across the school to the point where they’re now enjoying running and see a new purpose and challenge to work towards.”
James Bunn, vice-principle of Ortu Gable Hall, was one of the many teachers who got involved with the running challenges.
He said: “I, like many others, lost a bit of momentum during this period and I let my training slip dramatically. Thanks to the brilliance of Mrs Marks and the Sixth Form team, I found a way to get motivated once again.
“The initiative had everybody, teachers, students and parents alike motivating each other to get up and get out. It was a really inspiring initiative that brought many colleagues and students closer together in a time where the Covid guidelines were keeping people apart.”
Year 11 student, Ruby Trencher, also caught the running bug and raised £668 for mental health charity, Mind.
Ruby took part in the 27 miles for 27 days challenge, running every few days to reach her final target.
She said: “I’ve used the services from Mind before and they helped me a lot. I was inspired to fundraise for them with the 27 miles in 27 days challenge as I know other students would find their services beneficial and they would really appreciate what the charity does.”
“I was kept motivated through my fundraising with all the help and useful guidance I got. I’d love to do something again for charity soon.”
Ortu Sixth Form and Gable Hall School is looking to get the wider community involved and arrange more running challenges in the future. If you would like to get involved or have any ideas for challenges, please email email@example.com