News - 31st May 2017

parkrun – why on earth volunteer?

örebro volunteers 3

It’s quite simple really, volunteering is good for you and so is a walk or run in the park. Combine the two and you’re really onto something; parkrun does just this.
The model is simple. Whether you can manage a walk, a jog or run you can get involved in parkrun. It has been particularly successful at encouraging a broad range of people to come together for a short timed run or walk, on Saturdays, in a park or public space. People often make the transition from runner to volunteer, helping out so others can get involved. It’s just people getting together, making it happen.
In the UK, a cross-government strategy for an active nation, ‘Sporting Future’ , praises parkrun as a new model for community sport volunteering, and celebrates the fact that local events are volunteer-run and free for all. It’s an example of the kind of flexible and informal volunteering that we need to be embracing if we are to enable people to fit volunteering into a busy lifestyle.
Recognising the value
Regular exercise brings a variety of long-term physical and mental health benefits and parkrun stands out in its approach. As a runner myself I know that starting out is hard and even harder on your own. With parkrun you’re not alone, so it has the power to encourage and inspire those who wouldn’t usually participate in sport to get involved. Even the Olympic athletes remember that first time they nervously pulled on their training shoes.
Encouraging this kind of activity is also a good investment. There is compelling evidence for the wide-ranging health benefits and cost savings that accrue from a more active local population. Increased levels of physical activity can be an effective means of preventing, delaying and managing a wide range of mental and physical health conditions.
The act of volunteering itself has huge value. Research from the UK volunteering website ‘Join In’ shows that one volunteer in sport creates a wellbeing worth £16,032, for themselves and for those they help play sport. This figure does not even take account of the wider benefits to the community that are generated by volunteering.
It’s simply obvious, that’s why for me it’s a “no-brainer”
See you on Saturday!
Matt Ford
Örebro parkrun Event Director

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