On the first day our parkwalker role was introduced, Shuhei Sumitani joined for his first parkrun.
Since that parkrun in October, Shuhei has found confidence in the parkwalker role. Event Director Mariko writes how Shuhei has become a part of the wonderful parkrun community.
When I met Shuhei, I was at the parkrun stall in Osaka’s local festival trying to encourage more people to join us. He was walking through each booth and I told him about our social media page for the Harayama koen parkrun in Sakai.
Shuhei has a learning disability and found it difficult to complete his first parkrun. We all reassured him that he could finish anywhere and come back another time, as parkrun is held every Saturday. He’s been coming ever since!
He says, “I went to my first parkrun for my health and had so much fun, everyone cheers you on!”
Many parkrunners who know Shuhei wave at him to say hello, even on the days he’s not participating. Everyone in the community is so supportive of Shuhei, which makes me so happy to see.
By having him with us, it’s made our team bond tightly. Many of us love being a tail walker just so we can walk with Shuhei.
He usually carries a bag with him when walking at parkrun, but one day he left it on the second lap and started jogging – we were all cheering for him!
Shuhei is also open to tell and inform other parkrunners about his disability, which is so great to see as everyone is so understanding. I especially love meeting a variety of people at parkrun and getting really involved.
Shuhei says, “I love parkrun because I can talk to people. The volunteering role made me realise there was a role I could do and enjoy. It’s a place where I can belong.”
Harayama koen parkrun has such a welcoming and friendly community. People always cheer others on after they finish and stay around to have a chat.
Event Director for Harayama koen parkrun
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