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30 April 2021

“Your Health is Our Health” – Race to 2021

FoDOCS students and staff go head-to-head in wellbeing challenge.

Students and staff participated in a wellbeing challenge in April, the Race To 2021.

During the month of April, students and staff from the Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences walked, ran, and cycled a grand total of 12,000 KM - the distance from London to Chile!

This impressive feat was the result of a student-led wellbeing challenge led by second year dentistry student Sushila Marwaha, and her Race to 2021 team. For the month of April 2021, students and Professional Services staff competed in an intra-cohort wellbeing initiative, racing to reach 2021 KM by walking, running, and cycling. The initiative also featured a series of online workout challenges hosted by students and professional trainers.

Students and staff leapt at the chance to get involved and the goal of 2021 KM was impressively achieved by just week one of the challenge. Professor Mike Curtis, Executive Dean of the faculty, was amazed by this achievement:

“When the students first talked to me about RaceTo2021 I thought to myself ‘That’s a very long way to run in a month - think London to Athens or Edinburgh and back twice!’ I shifted in my chair and said ‘Great idea - good luck’ - fully expecting brave but ultimately unsuccessful attempts....

“It transpires the target was met after one week and has been exceeded every week since. Looking back, I don’t know how I could have underestimated our students’ and staff capacity to rise to this challenge - when they have shown they can go the extra mile on multiple occasions throughout the last tumultuous year and before. Really really well done to everyone!”

Bringing together undergraduate students and staff from across dentistry, the initiative also aimed to rebuild a sense of community that may have been missed since the onset of the pandemic. Focusing on the wellbeing aspect of getting outside and getting a bit of exercise, Sushila Marwaha explains her motives for setting it up:

“This is by no means a solution to the current situation. It is just one small thing we can do to help promote and support mental health and wellbeing, and ultimately, bring us closer together as a university.

“This was one conversation, amongst many others, that had me thinking about what we can all do to help each other in these unpredictable times, together. One positive of the pandemic is that it has increased the awareness of issues surrounding mental health, but it’s important that we carry forward this momentum into action. This is exactly what we hoped to achieve with our wellbeing initiative Race to 2021.”

Sushila approached Faculty Operating Officer, Ms Joanne Kirner, to invite the Professional Services staff to join the challenge. With a large majority of PS staff still working from home, the students wanted to help them feel more connected to the faculty when they couldn’t be there in person.

“This was an excellent student-led initiative aimed at improving the wellbeing of staff and students in the form of friendly competition. We were really pleased to be invited to take part and I was delighted to see so many of our Professional Services colleagues do so. An impressive tally overall and some outstanding individual efforts,” said Ms Kirner.

“Well done everyone!”

Dean for Education, Professor Kim Piper followed the scoreboard with anticipation every week:

“Well done to all the students and PS teams for running, walking, cycling and participating in the online events. You eclipsed your goals and arranged an amazing competition which embraced the ethos of wellbeing - so proud of you all for taking part.”

Participants were also rewarded with several mini prizes, such as a dinner at the Shangri-La Hotel, Airpods, and seats at advanced dental courses. The grand prize however, kindly offered by the faculty, saw the BDS year with the most active participation take home £1500 to be used at their discretion. Massively appreciated by the students, the initiative highlighted how important mental health and physical well-being is to the faculty at King’s College London.

The faculty thanks Sushila Marwaha, Ellie Wells, Sophie Trapnell, Humza Alam, Wadiah Mirza and the rest of the incredible #Raceto2021 committee for their hard work in delivering such a worthwhile initiative. We can’t wait for next year’s RaceTo2022! Your health is our health.