Lena Charles and Bonnie Smith are Health Promotion Officers (and Best Friends) at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS) in Melbourne. They are passionate and love empowering their Aboriginal community to make healthy lifelong changes. One way they do this is by promoting the benefits of parkrun. They love spending their Saturday mornings at parkrun almost every single weekend.
Not only have they used parkrun as a platform for their work, parkrun has also played an important part in their own health journeys. In the past 12 months, Lena and Bonnie have lost a total of 30kgs between them!
My name is Lena and I am a proud Yorta Yorta/Gunai Kurnai woman from Shepparton. I first heard about parkrun in 2016 through VAHS. I had never thought of myself as a runner and the idea of running 5kms really scared me. I was living in Shepparton at the time and thought I would at least give it a go.
What I learnt quickly was – parkrun is for everyone! I loved seeing all abilities out on a Saturday morning, especially loved seeing children and of course all the cute dogs (I am a crazy animal lover). I also loved that parkrun kick-started my weekend and gave me the time to clear things out in my head.
A few months later, I was lucky to land my job at VAHS. Being in my role kept me motivated and accountable to my running. I saw myself as a role model and hoped that if the Community saw that I could do it – they could do it too. My work have a great partnership with Darebin parkrun and as an Aboriginal person, I love seeing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flag on display and hearing an acknowledgement of Country.
I want to thank parkrun for being a platform for my own health. I have now gone from not even being able to run 1km to being able to run 10km. My goal is to keep running and to hopefully become part of the Indigenous Marathon Project and run in the NYC marathon (shout out to IMP graduate Bonnie’s sister Jacinta for inspiring me).
Hi my name is Bonnie Smith and I am a proud Wangkumara woman living on Wurundjeri country (northern suburbs of Melbourne). I’ve been attending parkrun for a little over a year now and have really come to enjoy it. I first attended parkrun with my sister who was training for the Indigenous Marathon Project to run in the NYC Marathon. I ran my first ever 5km (without stopping) that day and felt so proud of myself and I set a goal to be able to run 5kms regularly. I stayed at a consistent pace for a while and even got a few PB’s.
My mum has joined me every Saturday at parkrun and even though I am not running the whole way, I am keeping my mum company as we jog and walk. It has become a scheduled time out of our week to catch up and spend some quality time together. parkrun is great because it is for everyone, and I like to drag my family and friends with me so we can all get a healthy start to our weekend that is great for everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing.
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The 3rd annual parkrundownunder Day is on again this Saturday! The Run Down Under program was born out of an idea of running in every state, either at events or different parkruns. Founder Travis Ireland wanted to ensure that people kept going with their exercise and fitness rather than simply stopping at the conclusion of…