Articles, News - 8th September 2023

parkrun, Gaisce and the President’s Award

Learn about parkrun andGaisce President's Award

“Dream big and realise your potential.” That’s the message from President Michael D. Higgins to all young people of Ireland.


Founded in 1985, Gaisce, The President’s Award is a self-development programme for young people aged 15 to 25 that has been proven to enhance confidence and wellbeing through participation in personal, physical, community and adventure/team challenges.  The award encourages participants to step out of their comfort zones, expand their horizons, and ultimately become well-rounded individuals who can contribute positively to society.


It is a journey of self-discovery that fosters qualities such as leadership, empathy, and resilience.


parkrun Gaisce President's Award dublin


Your Gaisce Award through parkun

Both Gaisce and parkrun value community engagement. While Gaisce encourages participants to actively participate in their communities, parkrun brings communities together through a shared interest in physical activity and mental wellbeing.


The Gaisce Award is designed to foster personal growth, while parkrun offers a platform for individuals to improve their physical fitness and mental wellbeing. parkrun also rewards people for participating! We have the milestone club for reaching landmark instances of participation from joining in ten times to 500!


Volunteering at parkrun requires cooperation, communication, and organisation, essential skills that align with the Gaisce Award’s objectives.


Engaging in regular physical activity is integral to the Gaisce Award’s Physical Recreation challenge, and parkrun provides an accessible way for participants to meet this requirement.


What is parkrun?

Enter parkrun, a global initiative set up in 2004 that has redefined the concept of community engagement and wellbeing. parkrun is a series of free, weekly, timed events that take place in parks and open spaces in 22 countries around the world. The mission is to create a healthier, happier planet.


What has been one of the key driving forces of parkrun is its inclusivity. People of all ages, backgrounds and fitness levels come together to walk, jog, run and volunteer.


parkrun ireland and gaisce president's award


Volunteering is participation

Volunteering is a form of participation, equally valued with walking and running, plus it has been shown to have the greatest health benefits. According to a parkrun survey carried out recently, a larger proportion of those who volunteered, in addition to walking, jogging and running, reported higher improvements in happiness, health and mental wellbeing. Some other findings were:


  • 32% of those who volunteered had no volunteering experience in the last three years
  • 38% of responders had a little experience in the last three years


Before their first volunteering experience

  • 90% said they felt excited ahead of their first volunteering experience
  • 41% went further to say they felt a little anxious (but don’t worry, everyone felt positive after!)


After volunteering for the first time

  • 100% felt positive about their first volunteering experience
  • 94% said they were inspired
  • 96% said they felt part of a team


It’s fantastic that parkrun is the gateway to volunteering for most parkrunners and can be used to obtain your Gaisce Award.


parkrun Gaisce President's Award ireland


Take the first step with ease

The path to achieving the Gaisce Award through parkrun is straightforward and rewarding. Simply sign up to parkrun and contact your local event expressing an interest in volunteering for a role such as


  • barcode scanner
  • pre-event setup/post-event close down
  • finish token support
  • marshal
  • timekeeper
  • photographer


These roles not only facilitate the parkrun event but also contribute to your development journey.


Volunteering at parkrun exposes you to a diverse range of people, fosters a sense of community, and offers a hands-on opportunity to contribute positively to society. The experience gained aligns with the goals of the Gaisce Award and showcases how simple acts can create a ripple effect of positivity.


Are you ready?

Young people who undertake the journey will emerge as leaders, community builders, and advocates for healthy living. The combination of personal growth and community engagement is a recipe for a brighter, more connected future. It’s fun and simple to get started!


James Dowling, parkrun Ireland



Join parkrun

parkrun welcomes everyone to participate in walking, jogging, running, volunteering, or simply spectating. To become a part of the parkrun community, sign up here and discover your closest event.

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