A POPULAR interactive game that turns whole communities into a giant activity competition is set to launch in North Ayrshire.

Beat the Street Active Nation will encourage the community to move more and to make small lifestyle changes such as ditching the car and walking, cycling, running or scooting instead.

It will take place across Ardrossan, Saltcoats, Stevenston, Dalry, Beith, Gateside, Glengarnock, Kilbirnie and Arran from Wednesday, February 14 to Wednesday, March 27.

Beat the Street was created by Dr William Bird MBE, a GP and a specialist in physical activity, to encourage people to explore their local areas and to make exercise fun.

The game has been played by more than 1.8 million people in 168 locations in the UK, including 22 games in Scottish towns and suburbs.

Nearly 200,000 adults and children have taken part in these games and have collectively walked, cycled and wheeled more than 1.9m miles across their local area.

The competitive element of the game really helps people to get involved, go one step further and really work together to walk, cycle, run and scoot for points.

One participant said of the game: “Just want to say a huge thank you! I’m a teacher and the kids are absolutely obsessed with Beat the Street - I have never seen anything motivate them to get moving so much.

"They have so much school pride, and the team ethos around school is lovely. What a brilliant idea and such a lovely boost for the kids who have had such a challenging year. Thank you for everything.”

As well as making a significant impact on increasing low levels of physical activity amongst adults and children, the game also helps reduce car use and congestion, promotes active travel, improves air quality, and helps families spend time in green spaces together .

Some participants report that it even helps with maths and map-reading.

It was recently described by a community leader as: “Beat the Street is testament to the power of community engagement, physical activity, and the love for the great outdoors.

“The Beat the Street programme is not just any initiative; it is a remarkable endeavour that focuses on encouraging and empowering everyone in our community to get active and spend time in nature for the benefit of their mental and physical health.”

The game is open to anyone of any age who would like to take part; children use a card and map which will be provided by participating primary schools, and adults can pick up a free card from one of the distribution points listed on the Beat the Street Active Nation website which will go live shortly at www.beatthestreet.me/ActiveNation.

Alternatively, players over the age of 13 can download the free Beat the Street app to play the game with their phone.

Players can join a school, community, workplace team and there are prizes for the teams that travel the furthest with vouchers for books and sports equipment on offer.

With an individual leaderboard and lucky ‘spot’ prizes just for taking part, there’s something for everyone. For schools and community teams, there is a total points leaderboard and an average leaderboard, so opportunities for teams of all sizes to win prizes.

Once the game is underway, players find their nearest “Beat Box” which will appear on lampposts around the borough. There will be more than 160 of these sensors that record each players’ point tally.

These sensors are contactless so that you don’t need to touch them – simply hover your card over the Beat Box and it will beep and flash to record your points.  

Visit two Beat Boxes within an hour and collect 10 points for each Beat Box, then keep going.

Beat the Street Active Nation is delivered by Intelligent Health in partnership with North Ayrshire Council. It is funded by Paths for All's Active Nation Fund.

North Ayrshire Councillor Tony Gurney, cabinet member for green environment and economy, said: “We are determined to deliver net zero by 2030 and active and sustainable travel will be a key element in helping us achieve it.

“We are delivering many initiatives – including new routes, upgraded paths, bike shelters and charging points for electric vehicles and bikes – and are delighted to be supporting the Beat the Street initiative.

“There have been more than 20 Beat the Street games in Scotland since 2015 and it has proved to be a fantastic catalyst for lifestyle changes and encouraging people to leave the car at home and instead to choose walking and cycling for shorter everyday journeys among adults and children.

"The game helps improve mental and physical health, increase levels of physical activity, improve air quality and reduce congestion.

“We can’t wait to bring the Beat the Street Active Nation game North Ayrshire and hope that it will help get people to embrace active travel. Let’s see how many miles we can clock up together as a community!”

More information will be available at www.beatthestreet.me/ActiveNation and on social media at @BTSActiveNation.