05 April, 2019 - Minister McHugh calls on schools to take the ‘Mile a Day’ Challenge for Active School Week 2019

The Minister for Education and Skills has today (Friday 5 April) launched Active School Week 2019 in Letterkenny Educate Together National School.

Active School Week is a Department of Education and Skills’ initiative, supported by Healthy Ireland and co-ordinated from Mayo Education Centre. The week is part of the Active School Flag programme, which aims to get more schools, more active, more often. The particular focus of the 2019 Active School Week is the ‘Mile a Day Challenge’. This challenge encourages every class to commit to an activity that allows them to complete a mile every day during their Active School Week.

Donegal has the highest percentage of schools with Active School Flags of any county nationally.

All schools are encouraged to build an Active School Week into their annual school calendars.

Speaking at the launch in Letterkenny, the Minister said: “Active School Week makes it easy for teachers with fun and inclusive activities that get children more active in schools. Energising the school day brings benefits to teaching and learning in schools, as well as to health and wellbeing.

“I am especially proud to launch this year’s Active School Week in Letterkenny, in my home county, and to celebrate the success of Donegal schools with this initiative.”

The Active School Week 2019 ‘Mile a Day’ Challenge helps schools to link with other national initiatives, such as ‘The Daily Mile’ programme and the ‘Swim for a Mile’ challenge.

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross T.D. said: “It is very important that we increase physical activity levels across all ages and groups. This initiative is providing a wonderful opportunity for our children to enjoy all the benefits that being physically active can bring. It is about getting children out in to the fresh air and being active and having fun. I wish the initiative every success.”

The Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin T.D. said: “The impact of this type of initiative can be transformational – improving not only children’s fitness but also their concentration levels, mood, behaviour and general well-being. I am delighted that this links in with “The Daily Mile” programme which is doing a wonderful job in instilling healthy habits in our young people.”

The Minister of State with responsibility for Health Promotion, Catherine Byrne T.D. said:

“I am delighted to welcome the launch of this year’s Active School Week which provides a great opportunity for schools to bring physical activity into the classroom and the school yard in a practical, fun way. Our schools have enthusiastically signed up to the goals of Healthy Ireland; supporting and encouraging children from a young age to be healthier and more active.

“The support provided by the HSE and Donegal Local Sports Partnership is a great example of successful collaboration across the health, sports and education sectors, which is clearly reflected in the high percentage of Donegal schools holding the Active School Flag. 

“The Department of Health is proud to support Active School Week through the Healthy Ireland Fund, and congratulates everyone taking part in events around the country this week.”




Notes for Editors:

Active School Week

  • Active  School Week (ASW) is a Department of Education and Skills’ initiative, supported by Healthy Ireland and co-ordinated through Mayo Education Centre. All schools are encouraged to build an ASW into their annual school calendars.


  • ASW asks schools to replace uniforms with tracksuits and written homework with physical activity tasks during their ASW programme.


  • The National Guidelines for Physical Activity recommend that children and young people, up to age 18, should be active for at least 60 minutes every day. #ASW19 provides schools with the opportunity to raise awareness about this fact with students and their families.


  • ASW challenges teachers to find ways to Energise the school day and to lessen      the amount of sitting time.


  • The ‘Mile a Day’ Challenge’

This year Active School Week is encouraging schools to build a ‘Mile a Day’ challenge into their #ASW19 programmes. Every class is asked to commit to completing a mile every day during their Active School Week programme. This initiative encourages schools to link in with other national initiatives including ‘The Daily Mile’ programme and the ‘Swim for a Mile’ challenge, Parkrun and to make use of their Active School Walkways. Ireland Active encourages schools to ‘Take on the Teachers’ in a sports challenge, one of the most popular activities of Active School Week programmes nationwide.


  • Student voice and student leadership are essential in the design phase, organisation and roll out of #ASW programmes.


  • #ASW19 takes place from May 7th - 10th, although a school can choose any week that suits.
  • ASW encourages schools to work with the local community to give students ‘taster sessions’ of the many and varied opportunities there are to be active in every local community.


  • #ASW19 benefits from the support of many national agencies and organisations including Sport Ireland, Local Sports Partnerships, National Governing Bodies of Sport (NGBs), Parkrun, Ireland  Active Leisure Centres, The Irish Heart Foundation, HSE Schools Team, The Irish Primary PE Association (IPPEA), the Professional Development Service      for Teachers (PDST) and Education Centres nationwide.



Active School Flag


  • #ASW is an integral part of the Active School Flag (ASF) programme www.activeschoolflag.ie  which aims to get more schools, more active, more often. 784 schools currently have an Active School Flag. 445 teachers/393 schools recently attended ASF ‘Nearly There’ training workshops, which help schools to prepare their application for the Flag.


  • Donegal has the highest percentage of Active School Flag schools per county in Ireland with 29% of primary schools holding current Active School Flag status.


Healthy Ireland


  • Healthy Ireland is a major Government-led initiative which aims to create an Irish society where everyone can enjoy physical and mental health, and where wellbeing is valued and supported at every level of society.
  • Under Healthy Ireland, “Get Ireland Active - the National Physical Activity Plan” was developed by Department of Health and Department of Tourism, Transport and Sport in partnership with a range of key stakeholders including the Department of Education and Skills. Encouraging more schools to participate in the Active School Flag is a key objective of the Plan.