A NEW health kick initiative starts in Thurrock next Wednesday - as the council looks to curb the borough’s unhealthy habits.

Beat the Steet, a “game” which challenges everyone in the borough to walk a collective total of 25,000 miles in seven weeks begins on Wednesday, June 11.

Players - or residents - form teams and will be given cards or key rings that they tap on “Beat Boxes”. More than 100 boxes will be fixed to various lamposts in Thurrock, and on their journeys to and from school, work, the shops or simply while they are out walking players tap the boxes to earn points for their team.

The more miles walked, the more points racked up. And points mean prizes.

A mixture of prizes are up for grabs, ranging from cash prizes for winning teams and their chosen charities, to spot prizes for those who place a lucky tap on selected boxes.

The aim is to get Thurrock walking It is estimated that lack of exercise – even more than obesity – is a major contributor to poor health, serious disease and premature death and strenuous walking can make an impact combatting the issue.

Data from Sport England’s Active People Survey 2012/13 shows that 70.8 per cent of people aged over 16 in Thurrock are overweight or obese in comparison with the national average of 63.8%.

And in October, the Gazette also revealed that one in four 10 and 11-year-olds are obese.

This new scheme is being funded by the council’s Public Health department and Travel Thurrock team, who have appointed Intelligent Health to lead it. It is thought the scheme will cost around £160,000.

Regular updates on the game, including league tables, will be available online through the council’s websites and Travel Thurrock app and in the Thurrock Gazette.

A spokesman said: “So far almost all the schools in Thurrock have signed up for the challenge and local businesses including Intu Lakeside and Morrisons have donated prizes.

“The game aims to get local people to become more active in a fun way that involves the whole community.”