The last Saturday in August saw 13 young people from the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust Get on Track programme take on all the officials duties at Swindon parkrun and 458 finishers were immaculately marshalled, timed, recorded and supported by the first time volunteers.
Swindon parkrun Trusts Dame Kelly Holmes' Volunteers
Dame Kelly Holmes Trust believes that every young person has the potential to lead a positive life no matter what their background or circumstances. It uses world-class athletes to run its Get on Track programme for young people not in education, employment, or training and helps them realise qualities they need – such as determination, focus, resilience, motivation, and confidence – to help them make long-term positive life choices.
The charity, which was launched in 2008, has supported more than 300,000 young people in overcoming disadvantage to lead fulfilling lives. Elite athletes work as athlete mentors for the Trust and the Swindon volunteers were led by former Olympic swimmer Grant Turner. A large and important part of the programme is coming together as a team to deliver a community project.
Grant said: “The inclusive nature of parkrun is perfect for a programme such as this. It gives the young people a framework in which they can volunteer but comes with a level of responsibility which can be a stretch and pushes them outside their comfort zone. The young people on the programme have had to learn a lot over the past few weeks in order for them to be ready for the big day. Two of the run directors from Swindon parkrun came to talk to the young people and explain all about parkrun and train the team in the use of scanners, timers and everything else they needed to deliver a parkrun.”
It looks like there has been a positive spin-off for at least one of the volunteers. Joshua Francois, 21, was in action as a runner on Saturday (2 September), finishing 100th in 24:27, and had this to say about his experience: “I was working on the funnel last week, helping process people at the end of the run. There’s such a good atmosphere here. The trust has been really helpful. I’m actively looking for work at the moment and it has helped provide a focus for me. I knew about Lydiard Park but I had no idea about parkrun. I thought it looked like fun and it’s a great way to get fit so I’ve decided to come along every week.”
Find your local parkrun here.
Image courtesy Dame Kelly Holmes Trust