As told by Dr Cynthia Cliff – Director Knowledge Transfer & Partnership Development | QUT Faculty of Health
How wonderful the world is when you experience it through the eyes of others! Take last Saturday’s South Bank parkrun for instance.
Picture two dedicated and enthusiastic staff from the Kagawa Nutrition University in Japan; four years of meticulous planning; 11 nervous and excited sports nutrition students on their first visit to Brisbane; lots of confusing Aussie-English words; a host of smiling parkrun volunteers in brightly coloured vests; hundreds of laughing, talking people of all ages – sports people, ordinary people, families, children, dogs; and 3 Queensland University of Technology staff and their families helping to look after the students.
This is the morning as it unfolded as told by the students.
“Everyone is talking about volunteers, everyone is clapping the volunteers and high-fiving. We walk to the starting point for the run, the volunteers smile and clap and cheer. Suddenly, everyone is running. There are volunteers standing in the middle of the road holding signs and high-fiving… b-o-l-l-a-r-d… what is that? More volunteers, more signs, more high fives! Oh, it’s so the runners don’t fall over those silver posts in the road – a bollard is a silver post!”
“The runners head up the bridge, puffing now. The Brisbane River and city buildings sparkle in the sun. It is getting hot but everyone is still smiling, talking, laughing! They are running with dogs, they are pushing children in strollers up over the bridge faster than we can run. Down the other side, it is shady and narrower. Everyone is calling – at first it is difficult to work out why and what they are saying: “bike up”, “bike back”, “runner up”, “runner back”. Out from under the freeway and it is hotter and harder to keep running, but still everyone is smiling, talking, laughing! The purple bridge seems such a long, long way away … and then suddenly a volunteer is helping us safely across the path. We climb the stairs and head up the bridge with jelly legs. It is cooler and shady on the other side. More friendly volunteers show us the way. Along the board walk, beside the river, around the corner, people are taking photos, and there is the finish! We are so hot, so tired, so happy! Gareth Saunders the Event Director is so friendly: he welcomes us, he has his picture taken with us, he even scans our barcodes!”
“And, after the parkrun we find gelato and Australian-style iced-coffee … and we discover that there are lots of other volunteers at South Bank who are also making a big difference to people’s health and fitness! They work in the wonderful Epicurious garden where we pick some basil to cook with pasta for dinner; and they are at the beach helping the children to learn about surf lifesaving. Thank you, South Bank parkrun!! We hope that one day we will have a parkrun for you to visit in Japan.”
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