The concept of the annual campaign is simple: run, walk, cycle or push your way round 100 streets of your choice between 1 April and World Mental Health Day (10 October).
Something we are particularly proud of is that it remains absolutely free to take part, as the challenge was designed to make it accessible and inclusive for the people at the heart of our charity – those who access our services, many who are disadvantaged or living on low income.
The objective is to help people be physically active and improve people’s wellbeing and mental health. It is fair to say that after the trials and tribulations of the past 15 months, we will endeavour to enjoy it more than ever this year, albeit with a degree of caution as we continue to navigate our way fully out of lockdown.
Many charity challenges and events were wiped out by the pandemic in 2020, so we were grateful that our 100 Streets Challenge was – to a limited extent - still able to walk, run and cycle on in 2020.
Our supporters amazed us last year by finding creative new ways to complete the Challenge within their own household or bubble, notably the 100 children – inspired by an Edinburgh primary school pupil - who completed a street each across seven different countries to produce a heart-warming ‘100 kids for 100 streets’ video.
The Challenge re-opened again in April, and already we have been uplifted by the levels of support and goodwill.
One such example was the team from our friends at Street Soccer Scotland, who decided during their online Zoom calls during that long, frustrating period of lockdown that they wanted to tackle the Challenge as soon as restrictions began to ease. Adding a little competitive edge into the mix, the group designed their 100 Streets route round the fabled Seven Hills of Edinburgh and they enjoyed a memorable day of bonding, fresh air, camaraderie and good mental health.
Street Soccer Scotland now plan to lead other groups out on the Challenge before it closes in October, and such collaborative spirit shown towards us by a fellow charity with whom we have worked closely has been very much appreciated.
We are also indebted to our Volunteer Charity Ambassadors. Scotland rugby great Scott Hastings and his wife Jenny not only participate each year, but share their personal stories of mental health, inspiring many people to get involved and to learn more about the charity and its work.
They have been joined as ‘faces’ of the Challenge by another one of our Ambassadors, the double world sprint champion para athlete Maria Lyle – who is on track to compete for Team GB in the Paralympics in Japan later this summer.
Maria, 21, has talked bravely and openly about her own mental health struggles, and is now encouraging people to take part in the 100 Streets Challenge. The Dunbar athlete said in a blog for our website: “I am actually starting to see the enjoyment in my sport again. I have been a lot better in terms of managing my mental health and anxiety.
“I have come to realise that there are some factors that I can’t control and it’s really about controlling the controllable. It’s about focusing on myself and being the best I can be on the day.”
With such positive role models behind our efforts, we hope to inspire more people to sign up for the 100 Streets Challenge. You can register free at www.100streetschallenge.com
Colin Leslie, Communications and Fundraising Manager, Support in MIND Scotland