parkrun Ireland in partnership with Vhi, and the Irish Men’s Shed Association, are joining forces to encourage more older men to be physically active, and to provide opportunities for them to become involved in their local communities.
parkruns are free 5k events that take place in 72 locations around Ireland every Saturday morning. They are open to walkers and runners of all ages and abilities and every parkrun is established and coordinated entirely by local volunteers. Additionally, 13 2k junior parkruns for 4-14 year-olds are held across the country every Sunday morning.
The partnership brings together two community organisations with a national presence. Men’s Sheds are shared community spaces where men can come together, learn new skills, make new friends and engage with their communities. They provide an opportunity for men to improve their own wellbeing by keeping physically, mentally and socially active. There are more than 400 registered men’s sheds in Ireland, with sheds present in every county.
Men’s Sheds started in Ireland less than a decade ago while parkrun launched in 2012. Both organisations have experienced exponential growth in recent years by empowering local communities to establish their own sheds and parkrun events, respectively. With parkrun events criss-crossing the country, and men’s sheds present in every county, the benefits of the partnership will be felt in towns and villages throughout Ireland in 2018.
parkrun Ireland country manager Matt Shields said: “Both our organisations share a common goal of promoting health and wellbeing through participation in socially-focussed activities. By working together we have a real opportunity to get older men of all backgrounds physically active as well as being active within their communities.”
Edel Byrne, Health & Wellbeing Coordinator for the Irish Men’s Sheds Association, said: “Men’s sheds are based around the principle of volunteerism, of using your own abilities to make your community a better place. We’re delighted to partner with parkrun, who share the same values and the same community focus. Under our Sheds for Life initiative, which brings opportunities such as this to men’s sheds members across the country, we’re always looking to build on the existing health-enhancing qualities of belonging to a shed. This is an exciting new development and I hope all our members embrace it fully.”
The newly formed Men’s Shed in Cloughaneely, Donegal is one example of where the shared objectives of the two organisations have provided mutually beneficial.
Tom Feeney, a parkrunner who is involved in setting up this Shed, said: “At our very first meeting it was great to see parkrunners in attendance, and there’s no doubt that more people were willing to get involved because the local parkrun in Falcarragh has been so successful.
“The setting for our parkrun couldn’t be better with trees, flowers in season, leafy paths, mountains in the distance, well manicured golf course and peace and quiet. After two years it is a really social event, with new friends being made every week, and the Men’s Shed will complement this nicely by providing another way for older men locally to become more engaged with the community.
“We are planning to introduce men who aren’t physically active to walking initially, and then encourage them to ‘graduate’ to the local parkrun once they have built up their fitness and confidence.”
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