How community engagement can make you healthier

By Mr Bee

Launch of Beat the Street, Bradford.11.06.18
Launch of Beat the Street, Bradford. 11.06.18. In Bradford, UK there are more than 2,700 people participating in the ‘Beat the Street’ game at present.


Today we will explore how physical health can impact on personal and community happiness levels. Founded by Dr William Bird MBE, Intelligent Health is dedicated to increasing physical activity and improving the health of communities around the world.

Whilst exploring my local library, Bradford City Library, I was pleased to discover an innovative health community initiative. ‘Beat the Street’ is a real life walking, cycling and running game for the whole community to enjoy. At present there are more than 2,700 people participating in this game in the city of Bradford.

Beat the Street uses gamification to bring communities through a point scoring system. ‘Beat Boxes’ are placed throughout an area which players find by walking and cycling. Individuals earn points by tapping game cards on these Beat Boxes. This records their journey as they walk and cycle. Individuals and teams compete to see whether they can reach a set target; achieve the most points and win prizes for their community group, charity or school.

Did you know that 29% of the total UK population is inactive?  This means they do less than 30 minutes of exercise per week

Beat the Street has been making a change around the country:

  • 26% Reduction in cars arriving at school gates in Hounslow with Beat the Street
  • 14% Increase in proportion of players reporting walking on 5-7 days during the past week
  • 2200 Free cycle rides provided to Beat the Street players in Milton Keynes

How a find a holstic way to health

Doctor William Bird MBE is an advocate of ‘Social prescription’ when it comes to health. What exactly does this mean? Social prescribing  is sometimes called a community referral. It is a means of giving doctors, nurses and primary care professionals to refer people to a range of activities as opposed to medicine. Health is a multi-layered system and it is important to recognise that a person’s health is determined by a range of factors.

Taking greater control of your health

Social prescribing seeks to a address a person’s health in a holistic way. As such it takes into account social economic, environmental factors. Social prescribing initiatives can encompass a variety of activities which are supported by voluntary and community organisations. Examples of social prescribing could include group exercise, walking, arts activities, cookery, healthy eating/lifestyle advice and general volunteering.

The health of an individual is always evolving. It is important to note that the well-being of a person and their community never stands still. Community initiatives such as Beat the Street tackle wider issues in the present health system.  The game is unique in that it encourages a wide range of people to support their emotional, practical and social needs. Congratulations to all the people who are currently take part in this wonderful programme.

We would love to hear how you stay healthy and what your community is doing to help you?