An initiative that helps thousands of primary schoolchildren to participate in sport is preparing to grow. New for 2020, the Bishop Auckland Dash! will be hosted at Eleven Arches and joins the established Durham Dash! and Sedgefield Dash! events. Organisers hope that the addition of the new Dash! will attract even greater participation from young people in County Durham.

Now in its ninth year, the Dash! is one of the region’s biggest youth sports initiatives and is delivered by Durham & Chester-le-Street School Sport Partnership (DCSSP) and Sedgefield School Sport Partnership (SSSP). In 2019, around 4,000 children from 60 schools across the county ran, jumped and threw in qualifying events, with over 1,200 going on to compete in two Dash! finals nights. The Durham and Sedgefield events are returning this year and will be joined for the first time by the Bishop Auckland Dash!, which will increase the capacity for more schools in Wear Valley and Teesdale to participate. Children from Escomb Primary School visited the new Bishop Auckland Dash! venue at Eleven Arches this week. They were given a tour of the new Dash! venue and, along with organisers and sponsors, issued a call to action to encourage other schools to get involved.

Sarah Price, Manager of Sedgefield SSP, comments: “For us, the Dash! series is a fantastic celebration of sport and physical activity for the whole community. A shared experience, that highlights the many benefits of an active lifestyle. The Sedgefield Dash! remains one of our most highly anticipated and most enjoyed events of the school year. We are extremely excited to be adding the Bishop Auckland Dash! to the calendar this year and provide this fantastic opportunity to the children of Bishop Auckland and surrounding areas. Thank you to our partners at Eleven Arches for providing a spectacular venue. The inaugural Bishop Auckland Dash! is one not to be missed!”

Emma Nichol, Manager of Durham & Chester le Street SSP, adds: “The Dash! inspires young children in County Durham. Children look forward to the event each year, with some even opting to train prior to taking part. It gives me great joy to see previous participants wearing their Dash! t-shirts with pride at other sports events, in the weeks, months and even years after. The Dash! is unique – it engages more young people in physical activity, improves confidence and encourages resilience.”

Michelle Clough, Production and Operations Manager at Eleven Arches, adds: “The unique setting of Eleven Arches will provide an amazing venue to host the inaugural Bishop Auckland Dash! on 11th June 2020.

“We look forward to working in collaboration with the School Sport Partnerships of Sedgefield and Durham and Chester le Street to provide and develop an opportunity for all the children of Bishop Auckland and surrounding areas to stay fit and active. It is a great opportunity to help continue the Legacy from the 2012 Olympics and keep the Dash! as a key date in the school sports calendar.”

Anne-Isabelle Daulon, CEO at Eleven Arches, comments: “We are delighted to be able to support this fantastic event that brings the local community together. We believe the Eleven Arches site has great potential to host additional events, performances and sporting activities throughout the year, making the site – and Bishop Auckland – a year round visitor destination.”

Sponsored by the Warrens Group, the Dash! series also has long-standing partners in Ramside Hall Hotel, Taylor Shaw and Smooth Radio, and is supported by Bradley Hall, Livin, Swinburne Maddison, MGL Group, MKM Building Supplies, Steven Scarr Hairdressing, and Durham Sixth Form Centre.

Durham & Chester-le-Street School Sport Partnership and Sedgefield School Sport Partnership are now recruiting schools to take part in the Dash! events. The Durham Dash!, Sedgefield Dash! and Bishop Auckland Dash! will feature a series of intra-school heats in the spring, building up to three nights of finals – the Sedgefield Dash! in Hardwick Park on Tuesday 9 June, the Durham Dash! in Durham city centre on Wednesday 10 June and the new Bishop Auckland Dash! at Eleven Arches on Thursday 11 June. The Dash! initiative is a legacy of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games and organisers hope that the excitement of another Olympic and Paralympic year will inspire even more schools and young people to get involved.

Schools that would like to participate can sign up on the Dash! website at http://dothedash.co.uk. For the latest updates about the Warrens Dash! initiative, follow @dashseriesuk on Twitter, find dashseries on Facebook and Instagram, and keep an eye on the website.