parkrun Ireland has become an official challenge partner for Gaisce – The President’s Award, a personal development programme for young people aged between 15 and 25.
19-year-old Lucy Barrett, who recently completed the Award, has volunteered at St Anne’s parkrun for the ‘Community Challenge’ section of the Award over the past couple of years. Lucy explains what inspired her to take up the challenge, and how parkrun has helped her to gain skills and make friends.
I was inspired to complete the Gaisce award because I like challenging myself. I was part of a group in my school doing Gaisce and we wanted to be the first people to complete Gold Gaisce whilst in our school.
There are four elements of the Gaisce award: Community Challenge, Personal Challenge, Physical Challenge and Team Challenge (adventure journey). All elements must be completed at each level, bronze, silver and gold, to achieve the award.
For my Personal Challenge I learnt lifesaving, my Physical Challenge was athletics, and my Community Challenge involved volunteering at St Anne’s parkrun every Saturday. I chose parkrun for both my Silver and Gold Gaisce because my mom runs parkrun every Saturday and she wanted my company, so she thought it would be a great idea to volunteer at parkrun – and it was!
At that time I had run St Anne’s parkrun as part of my athletics training, but I had never volunteered. So I emailed St Anne’s parkrun to see if I could volunteer, and the Run Director slotted me in for volunteering every Saturday.
I have volunteered on 68 occasions and have completed pretty much every role. I have done Marshalling, Scanning, First-Timers Welcome, Timekeeping, Funnel Manager, Number Checker, Finish Tokens, Course Set Up and Take Down, and I have been Run Director. When I was Run Director I was very scared and nervous beforehand, but there were people there to help me and that calmed me down, and everyone was really supportive. I would love to be Run Director again because I know that next time I won’t be as scared because I know everybody now and would enjoy it more.
My favourite volunteer role is Timekeeper because I love saying well done to everyone who crosses the line.
Doing Gaisce has been great for me and I would encourage anyone to get involved. I travelled to Norway as part of Erasmus, walked 100k in the Camino and learned new skills. I was part of a school group doing the Award and I made great friends and had a lot of fun.
Through volunteering at parkrun I have become more confident, learned how to organise a race or a run, and learned how to encourage and support people. Volunteering is so worth it because you are part of a community, people appreciate your help and you learn a lot. You also have great fun and a lot of laughs.
I met a lot of new people of all ages and I have made a lot of new friends. I value their support and interest in me. I love athletics and many people at parkrun (especially the older parkrunners) help me learn about running and improve my times. I feel as if I’m part of a community and love to visit St. Anne’s parkrun on Saturdays and go for a hot chocolate after volunteering!
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