JoJo Fraser: Time is right for Scotland to embrace a '˜Step' change

Exercise is the most underrated form of medication when it comes to our minds. After taking up running in 2015, I completed my first marathon this year. What kept me going? The knowledge of those crucial and all natural feel good endorphins. The knowledge that exercise is not only great for our physical health but for our mental health. We can't put a price on our mental wellness.

Monday, 12th December 2016, 9:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 12:50 pm
Kenny Logan launches the Step programme at Colinton Primary. Picture: Ian Georgeson

When I am out running or doing yoga I often get some of my best creative writing ideas. There is a close link between exercise and concentration, self-esteem and a positive attitude to learning.

I attended the launch of Step, Scotland recently – a physical literacy programme for children aged seven to 13. It was moving to hear from Kenny Logan, ex international rugby player, about his battle with dyslexia and the lack of support provided when he was at school. The education system has thankfully moved on. However, our First Minister has made it clear that advances in Scottish education need to remain a high priority.

Some 94 per cent of students felt able to concentrate better after doing the Step course for 12 months – 86 per cent had improved reading skills and 70 per cent improved at maths.

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Our children all have battles to face –whether they be developmental, issues of self-esteem or the ability to concentrate. Exercise helps. What I also found interesting is that the results show the course is most effective within school. Parents have tried it at home but the vast majority fail. To me this speaks volumes in terms of how much impact our teachers have on our children. They are shaping them for the future. They are working hard to teach them discipline and structure. To teach them new skills and to help them develop.

Whist we can try our best at home, as parents we are always trying to catch up. The teacher’s job is to support the pupils, whereas as home we have so many jobs.

Step has been a huge hit in the United States and England and it’s our opportunity in Scotland to now embrace it.

To me, the statistics speak for themselves. My little girl starts school next year and if it is available I will be signing her up.

JoJo Fraser is a mental health ambassador and author of the popular blog