Be the Change | Walking to Rehearsal with A Cappella

Be the Change is a University-wide campaign that encourages everyone at the University to make choices that have a positive impact on the world around us. Throughout March the campaign focused on travel, and how we should all look to take active travel (e.g. walking or cycling) where at all possible. One group of students that joined in with the campaign was the SU’s A Capella Society.

Read on to find out more about their efforts, as written by Izzy Fraser, Vice President of A Cappella Society.

“A Cappella Society has many goals for the 2023-2024 year, one of which being to champion sustainability and eco-consciousness in a way we had never done before. As Vice President of the society, I made it my mission for this goal to become a reality, and with the help of every member our wonderful committee (namely Jess Edwards, our Outreach Officer, Alisha Agarwal, our Marketing Manager and, not least, Aaliyah Butt our President) we managed to coordinate a whole Sustainability Month.

Support from the University and SU

The SU’s Sustainability Coordinator, Lucy Tallis, guided and advised us, directing us towards multiple means of funding to help us actualise the initiatives we had planned. For example, the SU’s Sustainability Grant provided full funding for a sustainable merch scheme, and the Sustainability Team sponsored us with a prize for our ‘Walk 2 Rehearsal’ scheme as it aligned with the Be the Change campaign.

Our application for the Be the Change prize fund included a poll that we distributed to members asking how frequently they take different modes of transport to rehearsals. The investigation revealed that 40% of members who responded had, at least once in the last month, driven/taken an Uber/got a lift in a car to get to rehearsal. As such, we believed that our ‘Walk 2 Rehearsal’ scheme would shift help change behaviour, not just for the week, but for our members going forward.

Running the competition

Academy and All Sharps members walking back from their rehearsal.
Academy and All Sharps members walking back from their rehearsal

The scheme ran via the University’s Bristol Moves+ platform for one week and was really popular, with eight groups competing against each other in to see who could achieve the most steps per member across the week. Group representatives made a sub-group on Moves+ for their members to join. We achieved strong engagement within these groups; for example, 11 of 14 members of Academy joined their group, and 10 of Pitch Fight’s 14 members took part in theirs.

There was much conversation within the society on what number of steps each group was on, with members organising group walks to and from rehearsal. There was a healthy competition established by members’ motivation to win such a great prize at the end of the week!

Pitch Fight members walking to rehearsal.
Pitch Fight members walking to rehearsal

What the society thought

In reflection, Lydia O’Boyle, Group Representative for The Bristones said that the group “have thoroughly enjoyed participating in Walk 2 Rehearsal this week”. She outlined how they have accumulated an impressive 683,648 steps between them. “This challenge has been lots of fun, not only motivating us to walk to our rehearsals together but also encouraging us to spend more time walking around the city.”

The outcome

A few of The Bristol Suspensions walking home after rehearsal
A few of The Bristol Suspensions walking home after rehearsal

The Bristol Suspensions smashed the scheme with their average member step count for the week being 73,741, therefore 10,534 steps per member per day. As a result, the group won the Love Bristol voucher and plan to have a big group meal out at an independent restaurant after Easter.

The Suspensions Group Rep, Tiggy Cottle, said “The Susps got absolutely stuck into Walk 2 Rehearsal, determined to win the Love Bristol voucher and all go out for a social together! The whole group really enjoyed walking to rehearsal and competing with other groups for the prize; we ended up with a whopping 811,154 steps! Well done everyone.”

The Bristol Suspensions taking part in the Walk 2 Rehearsal Scheme.
The Bristol Suspensions taking part in the Walk 2 Rehearsal Scheme

More importantly, the Walk 2 Rehearsal scheme has had the wider impact of improving our members habits in terms of using sustainable methods of transport. After the initiative finished and the results were out, I conducted a poll on our members WhatsApp group that revealed the success of the scheme through a significant shift in members’ practices – 86% of members who responded stated that across the week, the only method of transport they took to rehearsals was walking. Twenty-four percent said that they walked and used public transport. And what I think is most impressive is that none of our members took a car to rehearsal across the entire week!

Evidently, the Walk 2 Rehearsal scheme was a huge success, in terms of member engagement, enjoyment, and working towards our groups wider goal of championing sustainability. A Cappella Society want to say a massive thank you to Be the Change for sponsoring the initiative, and we would implore other societies to make the most of resources that can be offered by the SU to fund sustainability schemes. It is our responsibility to create sustainable practices in the present to work towards the green future that we want. You, and your society, can Be the Change too!”

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