Wadda Moolie everyone. Proud Juru woman, Leanne Paul, would like to yarn you something that is close to her heart – Community.
Once again, NAIDOC Week is here, and like previous years it prompts Leanne to reflect on the significance of community and how she is contributing to hers. Of course what comes to mind is parkrun.
Bowen parkrun has great significance to me because Bowen is my hometown. When I had the opportunity to relocate back there, the first thing I thought of was how I could contribute and show my appreciation to my community for giving me such a beautiful environment to explore, seek adventure and dream big as a kid. Since parkrun is often referred to as a gift, I thought, “Today I will give back to my home by starting a parkrun” and with those words, the journey to Bowen parkrun began.
That was three years ago and Bowen parkrun is going stronger than ever. Unfortunately, I am not there now to enjoy it each week because I have returned to Townsville due to work commitments, but I still visit and also get to enjoy it, even if from afar, through social media.
It’s always great to see the smiles and efforts of the runners, walkers and volunteers in the photos that fill my facebook news feed each Saturday. Seeing such posts makes me feel proud to have launched the event, but more importantly, I feel proud of the community for supporting it, people are achieving their goals and of course the dedicated team who I am forever grateful to, for continuing to deliver an awesome event each week.
Since relocating back to Townsville, I have continued my own parkrunning at North shore parkrun which I figured made sense due to its close proximity to my house. It wasn’t until recently when someone asked me where is my home parkrun, to which I replied Bowen, that I realised my affinity to North shore was far deeper.
You see, I am a Juru woman and saltwater runs deep in these veins which means everything in life is influenced by this connection and yes that includes parkrun.
When I created the course for Bowen it was only natural to run the course alongside one of its many beautiful bays but having since relocated meant no more parkrunning by the sea for me. This is where North shore parkrun has become more significant than just a convenience.
While the course may not be seaside, it does give me a sense of familiarity to home because of its shady bush gums, paperbarks and mangroves where the freshwater meets saltwater before opening up to open spaces and blue sky. It’s at these times that I catch my breath and feel a nostalgic moment for home, and this makes me feel appreciative of my new parkrun for invoking such emotion and connection to land.
Besides being a regular participant, I am also the Event Ambassador for North shore parkrun, along with many other events in remote areas and it is my role to support and guide them in all things parkrun. This role enables me to experience the diversity amongst events but also witness what they all have in common. That is the dedication of the event teams and their sense of identity to their communities.
I am excited to be an Ambassador because it enables me to contribute to the community locally and beyond. Sure I may not get to run my home parkrun due to distance.
But when I lace up and throw on my apricot singlet ready for another Saturday morning parkrun somewhere I know who I am and where I am from because Home is where the parkrun heart is and as my singlet states, it is Bowen parkrun.
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