Where there's a Will, there's a run
16 November 2015
When Kate Gardiner took her children to their first parkrun, she hoped the family would start to enjoy a healthier lifestyle together. However, her 10-year-old son Will has embraced parkrun more than she ever expected.
Will has high functioning autism and attends mainstream school. In some ways, the high functioning nature has made things really hard for him. “On the face of it, he looks ‘normal’” explains Kate, “but he’s awkward in social situations and this had led to him feeling alienated in activities he’s taken part in before.”
He enjoyed volunteering and cheering on the runners and it wasn’t long before he decided that he wanted to take part in the 5km run. “He saw the runners and said ‘I can do that’. So the next week he did. He didn’t run it all but he realised he loved it, and the support he got from the parkrun community was amazing. Will was bitten by the running bug, and from parkrun he then signed up to our local athletics club as well."
Thanks to this support, Will slowly became comfortable being there and still regularly takes part in either volunteering or running. Kate has seen a transformation in her son that she wasn’t expecting. “He’s becoming a good sportsman and enjoys cheering others on as much as taking part. He was awarded Young Parkrunner of the Year last year, in part for his volunteering duties.”
“Without the support of the participants at Corby, he’d have never stuck to it,” Kate says. “And now we’ve got a wonderful supportive community who are modelling social niceties and sportsmanship for him to learn by.”
parkrun has brought the family together too, as Kate explains: “parkrun has given us time together each week to share a joint interest. With Will’s previous special interests it’s been very hard to be so involved as he didn’t necessarily want me to be. It’s great to see him develop in to a sociable child who is able to share a conversation.”
Click here to read the full story on the Join In website and who to contact if you'd like to to lend a hand at your local parkrun.