At parkrun quite a few event teams actively welcome The Duke of Edinburgh's (DofE) Award participants at their events. We don’t put any pressure on them to do so but many have taken the initiative, realising the huge benefits that having DofErs brings to them and our events.
For those that don’t know, the DofE Award is a leading UK youth charity that gives young people aged 14-24 the chance to develop skills, fulfil their potential and have a brighter future. It sounds a lot like parkrun! The Award has four sections: Volunteering, Physical, Skills and an Expedition, and three Award levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold.
An exciting new development is that parkrunUK recently became an Approved Activity Provider (AAP) for the DofE Award. But what does this mean?! AAPs are organisations whose Expedition, Residential or Volunteering section opportunities have been approved by the DofE and can count towards the achievement of a DofE Award. parkrun is now officially an AAP for Volunteering. (Young people can also use parkrun as part of the Physical section of the DofE Award – with a warm up, a run/jog/walk, cool down and the journey to and from the event it will take the hour per week that the DofEr must complete).
I know the Duke of Edinburgh Award is not necessarily a junior parkrun specific issue – but it is something that does involve young people and so the Newsletter is a good a place as any to talk about it!
We are really excited about this development as parkrun has the opportunity to recruit more volunteers and, especially, get more young people involved in our events. We know that many 14-25yr olds stop doing sport, and so if they can be encouraged to take part – either running or volunteering as part of the DofE Award – this is a win/win for the young person and for us!
If anyone reading this is a DofEr and wants to take part in parkrun it couldn’t be simpler. Just register with parkrun before taking part (you can even become a member of the parkrun ‘DofE club’) and then head down to your local event and introduce yourself to the volunteer team - they are the ones wearing the high-vis vests! As long as the event team gives you the nod you can start to accrue your volunteering hours with us and record them in your personal DofE log-book, which we will then sign to confirm you have completed your required activity. The tasks can range from easier roles, such as equipment set-up and token collection and sorting, through to more complex activities such as timing, scanning, delivering the run briefing, tail running, uploading results, writing the run report or even being the Run Director. This progression will hopefully enable you to learn and develop a variety of skills during your amazing parkrun volunteering experience!
One example of a DofEr using parkrun as their volunteering activity is Alex. Alex, aged 16, has been a regular participant at Woodley parkrun since 2013 and has now done over 60 runs and has volunteered more than 20 times. For his Bronze DofE Award, Alex undertook all 15 parkrun volunteering roles, culminating in being the Run Director for the final two weeks.
Talking about why he chose to volunteer with parkrun, Alex said: “I’d already been a regular participant in Woodley parkrun and experienced for myself the benefits and enjoyment that you get out of taking part; therefore, I wanted to give something back so that others could also experience this.”
Speaking about the positive impact his Bronze DofE and the volunteering section has had on him, Alex said: “The DofE is a fun programme that helps teach you the right mind-set and skills for your future, whether that is in education or future jobs. For me, DofE helped to develop my team working and leadership skills, as well as learning how to work with people I’d never met before.”
Alex was the youngest Run Director Woodley parkrun had ever had and he received lots of positive feedback on how well he performed in the role and how confident he looked when delivering his briefing to the 300 participants. Alex loved his time as Run Director and said "Although I was a bit nervous beforehand, I got a real buzz from standing up in front of all those people and ensuring that they were adequately briefed ahead of their Saturday morning run round the park. It was a great being able to give something back to my local community, after all the times I had previously run myself."
When we hear stories like these we realise again what value juniors and young people bring to parkrun, and we think that becoming an Approved Activity Provider for the DofE will mean that we can spread that positive impact even further!
If you want to read more about the DofE Award and how to take part please see their website, and if you are a DofEr (or a DofE local leader) and want to explore the opportunity to get involved with parkrun please get in touch with parkrun HQ.
Happy volunteering, and running!