News - 18th April 2018

Parks, parkruns and Partnerships

parkrun and parks

While snow and ice still linger in many parts of the country, it’s safe to say that most people have a bit of spring fever and are excitedly examining their surroundings week to week at parkrun for signs of emerging life. We recently told you about spring clean-up activities that took place at some of our park venues, and we’re thrilled to share that the trend continues. We’re also deepening those relationships and thinking about the potential for greater impact as parkrun USA grows.

 

Engagement Blossoms at More parkruns

 

This past weekend, participants at Anacostia parkrun cleaned up the area around their start/finish in preparation for an upcoming annual festival. Tyrone Cook was one of the parkrunners who stuck around after his run to collect litter. “It felt good to be out there participating in the Anacostia Park clean-up, because we use the park to conduct our runs. I felt like I was fulfilling a responsibility by representing the Anacostia parkrun in taking care of the park we enjoy every week,” he said.

 

tryone picking up trash

 

For the the third time in the past year, College Park teamed up with their parks & recreation department to plant trees and remove invasive vegetation from their park. This year they brought many more trees than last year (140 in total), as the volunteers from parkrun and a University of Maryland fraternity were so plentiful!

 

tree planting 2

 

Digging Deeper

 

Spending a few post-parkrun hours improving the area is just scratching the surface of how we can engage with our parks. In some regions, our relationships are beginning to deepen and discussions are underway for even more meaningful partnerships. As parkrun grows, it has the potential to help draw attention to the park venues it uses each week, showcasing the natural beauty and the opportunities for physical activity in the space. parkrun is also uniquely positioned to support local authorities when it comes to promoting physical activity. Being free, weekly and all-inclusive means that they can confidently recommend parkrun to anyone, at any time.

 

In mid-April, Andrea Zukowski, co-Event Director for College Park parkrun, gave a talk at the Maryland Recreation & Parks Association Conference in Ocean City MD about parkrun. She co-presented with Anthony Nolan of Prince George’s County Parks. Darrell Stanaford, our parkrun USA Country Manager, went along too. The discussion focused on how parkrun goals align with parks department goals (health, equity, conservation), and about why sustainability is the name of the game for physical activity. Andrea enjoyed explaining to a captivated audience how it’s possible to put on 50 events per year at almost no cost. She and Darrell met people representing parks jurisdictions throughout Maryland, laying the foundation for future parkrun partnerships.

 

zukowski_20180411_mrpatalk

 

Branching Out

 

The Park Prescription initiative, or Park Rx America, is “… a national initiative dedicated to using and strengthening the connection between healthcare, parks and public lands to improve physical and mental health among individuals and communities,” according to their website. In short, it’s an effort to encourage healthcare providers to prescribe physical activity in nature with the end benefits of a healthier lifestyle and utilized, appreciated local parks. Several counties in the greater Washington DC area have signed on to the initiative, and they are starting to recognize parkrun as a great fit for the initiative.

 

We need only look to the UK to see the successful implementation of a physician prescribing parkrun. Dr. Simon Tobin promotes parkrun to his patients and also practices what he preaches, participating in his local event. Read more about his experiences and those of his patients here.

 

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There are many more parkrun and parks collaborations in development across the country, and we look forward to sharing them as they are implemented. We are excited to see how engagement with our parks helps to build healthy communities and contributes to parkrun’s goal of creating a happier, healthier planet.

 

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