Schools to fly the flag for wellbeing with active education programme

The man who ran 401 marathons in 401 days around the UK has partnered up with children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust to create an education programme for schools to guide young people on a journey to wellbeing and be part of his next 14,001-mile endurance challenge.

The ambitious programme, which hopes to engage 4,001 schools, launches today (2 October) ahead of endurance athlete Ben Smith’s USA 2020 Challenge.

The challenge will see him run a marathon in each of the 50 USA states and cycle between each one in just 104 days. It is in a bid to raise £1million and awareness of the Youth Sport Trust and the 401 Foundation.

Primary and secondary schools across the UK can now access the USA 2020 Challenge: Journey to Wellbeing education programme giving thousands of young people the opportunity to go on a wellbeing journey aligned to Ben’s own journey across the USA. Along the way, children and young people will be empowered to take a lead in improving wellbeing for themselves, their class, their school and beyond.

The Journey to Wellbeing offers a flexible programme of activities for schools which can be implemented over a week, month, term or across the 2019/20 academic year.

Ben Smith, who is also a wellbeing ambassador for the Youth Sport Trust, said:

My experience of PE and sport at school was scary. I felt like I wasn’t good enough, like I would never fit in, that I wouldn’t enjoy it and I put so many barriers in place as an excuse not to exercise.

Knowing what I know now, this was down to my experience of sport and not having many options to choose from and thinking I needed to be the best. Having found sport later in life, I can now see the power it has to not only build a person’s soul but also the benefits it has on confidence, self-esteem and our overall mental wellbeing. It’s vitally important that every young person has the opportunity to enjoy what sport has to offer and find their happy – I believe Journey to Wellbeing can do this.

The programme focusses on the Five Ways to Wellbeing, developed by the New Economics Foundation and endorsed by charities and the NHS. Children, young people and teachers can help organise activities around the five themes of give back, connect, take notice, learn and get active.

Video messages from Ben showing his highs and lows during his challenge will be available for schools to broadcast, and they will also have access to creative ideas to help build wellbeing challenges into the curriculum and school day.

Every school that signs up will receive a free fundraising pack and online toolkit

Ali Oliver, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said:

We are incredibly excited to be working with and supporting Ben and his team to bring to life the Journey to Wellbeing programme for schools.

Sadly, too many children today need help to maintain a positive sense of self, the five ways to wellbeing is a brilliant framework for the promotion of wellbeing and we will use Ben’s amazing challenge to bring it to life in simple and practical ways young people and schools can get involved with. We hope that by seeing a role model like Ben and following his inspirational journey, they will be inspired and supported to understand the life changing benefits of physical activity.

The money raised through the USA 2020 Challenge will help us deliver more positive mental health initiatives in schools and local communities across the UK.

Schools can access the free planning toolkit and fundraising pack by visiting The USA 2020 Challenge will finish during YST National School Sport Week in June 2020.

Over the next eight months the Youth Sport Trust will be working with Ben to shine a spotlight on his challenge, encourage schools, organisations and the community at large to fundraise for him to provide schools with inspirational education resources, allowing them to take part in their own Journey to Wellbeing. Follow Ben’s USA 2020 Challenge online @the401Challenge.

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