In September 2017 I participated in the Wetherby 10k, which takes place around town centre. As I ran over the bridge towards HM YOI Wetherby, a male juveniles prison where I am employed as a social worker, I started to think about the benefits of running for young people who are remanded or sentenced to custody.
Fast forward to Saturday 28 July 2018 and, with the support of our PE Department, the Keppel parkrun inaugural event took place within the grounds of HM YOI Wetherby. This means there are opportunities for young people who are placed in custody, and staff, to walk run or volunteer every Saturday morning at 9am.
The parkrun initiative is not only to support young people whilst they reside in HM YOI Wetherby. By providing regular physical activity and volunteering opportunities it will also mirror the opportunities available by a recognised organisation in the community upon release.
Last month the UK Government published an independent review into sport, which found that team sport improved mental and physical health, helping young people with often complex behavioural issues to change their attitudes and lifestyles.The review also highlighted how engaging in structured programmes can help to teach offenders self-discipline, team work and leadership – crucial skills for a successful and crime-free life in the community.
Currently there are five prison-based parkruns in the adult estate and the Keppel parkrun is the first event to take place in an under 18s establishment.
The young people who have been involved took a leap of faith when I discussed parkrun with them and have enjoyed participating and volunteering opportunities. In time, Keppel parkrun will grow and we will not remember a time when it did not take place.
Ultimately, the aim of the Keppel parkrun is to improve emotional, mental and physical health which in turn will reduce the likelihood of reoffending and the revolving door to custody. I am hopeful that a motivational role model will be able to offer a motivational speech to the young people about physical activity, supporting a change in thinking by moving forward and away from offending behaviour.
Keppel Unit Social Worker
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