Vhi Healthcare, in partnership with the Irish Youth Foundation rolled out a pilot programme, ‘Run for Fun’ which was developed to encourage young people living in disadvantaged communities in Ireland to embrace the benefits offered through running. ‘Run for Fun’ has been created to encourage more young people to get involved in running both for fitness and for recreation.
The young people were recruited through their local youth clubs, given support and advice on training and nutrition and given additional encouragement as they built up their fitness levels. Dublin GAA player Philly McMahon has played an instrumental role in mentoring and training the Dublin groups with JustAsk Homework Club in Dublin 1 triumphantly completing their first 5k run at the Fairview parkrun last weekend.
Following the success of the pilot programme last year, ‘Run for Fun’ is being rolled out across five locations this year. A total of five youth groups will participate in the next phase of ‘Run for Fun’ with two youth groups signed up in Dublin, one in Kilkenny, one in Cork and one in Galway. The mission of the ‘Run for Fun’ programme is to empower and build the self-esteem of young people through a fitness and nutrition programme with running at its heart. To date, 15 young people have taken part in the programme.
Taking part in regular physical activity can have a positive impact on your overall health and wellbeing. Research shows that Irish young people are not taking enough exercise, and this can be especially true of young people growing up in disadvantaged areas. The Irish Youth Foundation and Vhi wanted to put in place a programme that would help to encourage more young people to exercise and to ensure that they enjoyed participating in the running.
John O’Dwyer, CEO, Vhi said: “Through our partnership with parkrun and the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon, we see first-hand the positive impact that regular running has on people’s overall wellbeing. We wanted to make sure that young people in communities all across Ireland got the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of running..”
Sabina Cotter, Head of Grants, Irish Youth Foundation said: “This programme is a fantastic opportunity for young people living in disadvantaged areas to get active with peers in their community. Many young people need support if they are to develop and reach their full potential and we are delighted to support this Vhi initiative which is meeting a previously unmet need in urban communities in cities throughout the country. Youth groups and activities run in communities are vital to helping young people become contributors and leaders in society and we are delighted to see the fantastic interest and engagement in this programme”.
Still to kick off are 4 groups with 75 young people set to take part in total this year, each of which have an end goal of completing a 5km parkrun.
Parkrun in partnership with Vhi supports local communities in organising free, weekly, timed 5km runs every Saturday morning at 90 venues all over Ireland, with around 10,000 people of every age and ability taking part each week. The events are organised by more than 1,000 volunteers every weekend from Bere Island to Ballina to Ballinteer.