In 2019 co-founders Olympian Roisin McGetigan and co-founder Roisin Jones launched the Dare to Believe Olympic School Programme in Ireland; an interactive primary school curriculum that explores the Olympic Values and the benefits of sports and exercise using Team Ireland role models to bring the messages to life. Olympians and Paralympians are ideal role models for sports and healthy lifestyles and research suggests that exposure to such role models can influence children's beliefs about sports and exercise. As athletes we wanted to do more to address the concerning report from the Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity Study 2018 (CSPPA) that found that only 13% of children (17% of boys and 9% of girls) are active enough to meet the WHO physical activity guidelines of 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous activity per day. The inspiration for our 2021 Olympic School Challenge- Road to Tokyo, stems from our original idea coupled with the needs of primary teachers in Ireland in 2021. We consulted with primary teachers in January 2021 and heard that they were told to prioritise the health and wellbeing of their students during the COVID pandemic. We decided to created a physical activity challenge that could engage all primary age students and introduce the core values of Olympism (respect, friendship and fair play) while also inspiring them by showcasing 3 Irish Olympians. We have seen the benefits of the "whole class challenge" and how motivating that can be for students. Our idea was that if 30 students in a class exercised for 1 hour per day, then they would "travel" from Dublin to Tokyo in 4 weeks while also achieving the WHO recommendation of 1 hour of physical exercise per day.

What it does

The Olympic School Challenge Road to Tokyo website is a platform for teachers and students to log their physical activity. The website then converts whatever activity they select and the amount of time they spent doing it and how many people were with them, and it calculates a distance travelled along our interactive map eg. after playing in the school yard for 30 minutes a teacher can input that activity into the website and it will move the class team along the map. There are a total of 5 city stops along the way that can be "unlocked". Each stop includes well produced videos of Irish Olympians sharing insights and facts about the Olympics and Team Ireland, cultural challenges for students to try (Eg. design uniforms for Team Ireland, write a postcard to students in Japan, make an origami crane) and physical education lessons (eg. Driving land diving exercises by Olympic diver Oliver Dingley, hockey skills by hockey star Anna O'Flanagan, sprinting and jumping skills with athletics star Sarah Lavin ). We created a total of 5 videos, 10 cultural challenges and 8 PE lessons. We would love you to take a tour of the site. Here is a test log-in that you can use should you wish: Login Link: Email: Password: Test1234 Select one of the teams and start logging activity!

How we built it

The site structure was completed first using excel to find what pages and breakdown were needed. Excel was also used to help design the way the challenge was calculated per child in steps converted to kilometers. The design was then created in a prototype format and on approval, was constructed into compliant HTMLCSS theme files and implemented into the CMS. Custom functionality was then added to allow users to create accounts, login, create teams, log activities and check progress. A custom admin leaderboard was built along with views for creating, editing, and managing Schools, teams, and activity records. The website was built using WordPress as a CMS framework with a custom-designed HTML/CSS theme. Custom functionality was built using PHP and Javascript and also utilising SVG artwork to draw progress pages and lines dynamically. Relationship database tables were used to store and retrieve activity records, school names and teams which enabled calculation of the teams progress on the Road To Tokyo

Challenges we ran into

The main challenges that occurred were: Hosting capacity - CPU of the hosting server was overloaded with users at the launch and required an immediate upgrade to allow the website to function properly Account creation & login issues - Some teachers had problems logging into the site, this was mainly due to a bug with user data being incorrectly written on account creation. Activity logging - Some of the code structure for the activity logging was upgraded and streamlined halfway through the campaign as it was partly causing submitting timeout which resulted in users clicking submit multiple times, this caused duplications in submissions and needed manual fixing Submission protection - A level of activity submission protection was implemented to prevent duplication of submissions regardless of page load time

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We launched the challenge in April 2021 and ran it from May 4th-May 31st. We well surpassed our goals and had over 600 + schools and 1800+ teams engage with the platform. With the average class size in Ireland being approx 30 students, we estimate approximately 50,000 + students were engaged. The response we had from schools astonished us. We invited schools to send us some of the work the students created for the challenges and we had over 700 submissions of artwork eg. postcards, posters, uniforms, medals, mascots, japanese writing, origami etc. The testimonials were really terrific. ie. "We are having a ball completing the challenges and getting in our daily 15 plus more! "-Vikki Smith "My class have LOVED following Team Ireland to Japan and have put in an incredible amount of work, by being active at home and in school and in the activities assigned at each stop... I can't tell you how excited they are about everything to do with this project so thank you, thank you for organising! Well done for managing such a brilliant project! "- St. Patrick's N.S., Greystones, Co. Wicklow.

What we learned

  1. Hosting scaleability essential
  2. Design a better process for logging activity
  3. How to use user behavior to improve the site for the next campaign
  4. Lots of lessons about how the site behaved in a live environment and under the stress of a large number of users## What's next for Olympic School Challenge We hope that with funding we can reuse the model we have built and adapt it for different challenges eg .Winter Olympics are in Beijing in 2022, Paris Olympics in 2024. We would so like to work on making the challenge adapt to the number of people taking part eg. a class of 30 versus and individual.

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