Over the past eight years Jas Dhalley has experienced parkrun in many ways. He’s been a walker, a runner, a volunteer, and now an ambassador. This is his journey from first timer to parkrun Ambassador.
I first heard of parkrun in 2011 when I signed up for a 5k charity run. I’d gone off to a local sports shop to buy myself some new trainers and the assistant told me about a free, local 5k run for all abilities at Wimbledon Common. She said it was each and every Saturday morning at 9am.
For me this was perfect. So off I went to my first parkrun and I’ve never looked back.
It didn’t take me long to realise the joy of volunteering. My first role was as barcode scanner, I remember it well!
I then heard about junior parkrun on a Sunday. There was one near me at Wimbledon park, and I started volunteering there too. The smiles of the children made me feel warm inside, this was especially welcomed in the winter season!
But there was just as much joy in those hot sticky summer months too and I’ve now accumulated over 340 volunteer occasions at parkrun.
When the opportunity to become a parkrun Event Director presented itself, I put my name forward. With the support of the core team, I’ve been an Event Director at Wimbledon junior parkrun since 2015.
The positivity of the junior parkrunners makes getting up and out of bed early totally worthwhile.
One thing I’ve found particularly rewarding is seeing the junior parkrunners undertaking some of the volunteering roles. It’s amazing to see their confidence and life skills develop.
It’s also amazing to see three, sometimes even four, generations of a family there together. It gives our junior parkrun a real family community feel, just like the post event catch up in the local cafe.
In January 2016,with my growing volunteer experience, I helped set up my local parkrun in Tooting, passing on some of my volunteer knowledge to those that were new to the role. Each experience has brought with it a fresh new perspective of what the power of parkrun can actually achieve.
I’ve seen first hand the impact that parkrun can have on people’s lives. One of my ambassador roles involved actively engaging with people who hadn’t even heard of parkrun, to help promote the health and happiness that parkrun can bring.
Giving them the confidence to break down barriers and improve their health and wellbeing, encouraging them to participate at their local parkrun however they liked – from walking to running or volunteering.
This year I began my role as an Event Support Ambassador. Now I help existing parkruns to blossom, whilst supporting the establishment of new parkruns. Enabling new communities to benefit from the positivity and joy that parkrun can bring.
I’ve just completed my 250th parkrun and have thoroughly enjoyed every single one. I wear each milestone t-shirt proudly. But in all honesty the t-shirt is a bonus because the feeling it gives cannot be bought, the smile it puts inside my heart and on my face is priceless.
parkrun speaks to everybody in different ways. For me personally, it has lifted me through tough times and supported me through good times too! My journey has shown me the importance of volunteering whilst being part of a community that seeks to do good. parkrun to me has been and continues to be my very own sense of direction in life.
1. The promoter is: parkrun UK (company no.09411750 whose registered office is Lower Deck, Unit 3, Phoenix Wharf, Eel Pie Island, Twickenham, TW1 3DY) 2. The competition is open to residents of the United Kingdom, with UK addresses, aged 18 years or over except employees of parkrun UK and their close relatives and anyone…
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