Regular volunteer Olivia developed a condition called Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy and cannot walk very well without crutches and leg braces.
But that hasn’t stopped her love for volunteering at parkrun. Here’s her inspiring story.
My Mum and Stepdad both started taking part at Hillsborough parkrun regularly about seven years ago, and so when I was signing up to do my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award, I decided that parkrun would be the perfect opportunity for me to complete the volunteering aspect of the award, especially as in the past I had taken part and helped out a handful of times.
When I first started volunteering regularly I was a bit nervous as I didn’t really know what any of the volunteering roles were and I didn’t know anyone on the volunteering team so I didn’t talk to anyone much at first, but after a few weeks I got to know several of the other regulars and I felt like I fitted in very quickly and my confidence grew over the weeks.
After I finished the Duke of Edinburgh Award I carried on volunteering because I enjoyed it so much and to the date of writing this, I have volunteered 62 times and I hope to volunteer many more times!
For those who may be feeling nervous, I would say that you don’t need to be as the parkrun community are all lovely and you will feel like you will fit in straight away due to the amazing people that parkrun attracts.
About three years ago, I developed a condition called Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (or CIDP for short) and I cannot walk very well without crutches and leg braces but due to the diverse nature of the volunteering roles, I am still able to take part in the running of parkrun, just sitting in a chair rather than standing up!
Since its return after the pandemic, I have volunteered many times from my chair, mostly in the roles of barcode scanner and timekeeper but practically all roles are open to me due to being able to sit down for it. Volunteering is the perfect way for me to still be involved in a community even with having a condition that means lots of day-to-day activities are very difficult for me to do.
I remember one particular parkrun when it was really rainy and miserable and I was on timekeeping and the other time keeper had an incident where the rain managed to press the button on their phone, turning off the app! It was very stressful but luckily that was the only major problem and it got sorted out in the end.
Therefore, I would definitely recommend taking part in parkrun as it is for everyone and you will definitely have a great time and build your confidence even if the weather isn’t that great!
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