As we enter 2019, I thought it would be a good time to look back over the past year and also take a glimpse our plans in 2019.
With the support of Vhi our presenting partner and the HSE we have achieved a lot in 2018.
In January we said we wanted to take parkrun to the people and the communities who would benefit most from participation at parkrun. We were aware that having events in the right location does not guarantee you will get the right participants and visa versa. One is creating opportunity, the other is realising it.
With this in mind we have established parkruns in rural communities, inner cities, prisons and rehabilitation units. Focusing on inclusiveness and community, we have partnered with Sanctuary Runners to welcome people living in direct provision centres to parkruns around the country. We are receiving positive feedback from these events and initiatives, but I believe we will get more life changing stories in 2019 because we’re in these communities.
We’ve also worked to make parkrun more accessible and welcoming to people with disabilities. Working with Vision Sport Ireland, NGBI, Daniels Voyage, Disability Federation and CARA we have grown disability participation and will continue to seek out new partners to grow this further in 2019.
Age shouldn’t be a barrier at parkrun. Working with Mens Sheds, Age & Opportunity and Siel Bleu we’ve increased participation amongst the over 50s, this shows as a growing percentage of overall participation. We have also partnered with Active School Flag and Gaisce to engage younger participants at both 5k and junior parkrun. junior parkrun is rapidly growing with several new events in the pipeline for 2019 already.
The lasting memory of 2018 will be the 1,000,000th run and in 2020 we will celebrate the 2,000,000. What about 2019?
In 2019 a brilliant challenge is to attract sedentary people to parkrun and the most relevant participation opportunities to do this are volunteering and walking. This is the biggest group of people in all areas that could gain the most from parkrun. Walkers are always welcome at any parkrun every week and in 2018 we piloted a successful park walk initiative for sedentary people at six locations to focus on and encourage walkers to participate.
In 2019 we want to initiate this at all 5k event from 2 March for six weeks during which time making walkers welcome will be our focus. The Irish Heart Foundation is partnering with us developing the six week walking challenge and is encouraging its walking leaders to work towards coming along to parkrun over the same period. We always welcome walkers at all events every week and for this period we want to reach out to as many new participants as possible. This will all be done in conjunction with Get Ireland Walking who will also be supporting us. Over the next two months we will be in touch with events to give more details and support.
Our largest attendance on 2 February 2018 was World Cancer Day when in conjunction with the HSE and the National Cancer Control Programme we invited you all to bring a friend to parkrun. We plan to mark the day again this year and will be looking to develop the theme. Apart from bring a friend we will ask events on the 1 February to have ‘takeovers’ by groups or individuals touched by cancer.
In addition to this we will also announce a new initiative “5k Your Way, Move Against Cancer” which invites those affected by cancer to attend parkrun. This will be in partnership with Move charity, and supported by the Irish Cancer Society, HSE and the National Cancer Control Programme initially piloted in three locations and more detail will emerge in future.
Lastly and importantly thank you to everyone for what you all do. It’s because of you that parkrun plays an integral part in so many wonderful communities, we hope you had a great festive period and are looking forward to an even greater 2019.
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