The power of parkrun


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.”.

Autism parkrun

Bitten by the running bug

Will went along to at Corby parkrun with his family a few times, where his mum Kate is a core part of the volunteer team. “We wanted all of the family to embrace a healthier lifestyle based around something other than technology,” she said.

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.”

Feeling inspired?

We’re delighted that parkrun are right behind I Am Team GB – and that many parkrun events have signed up to be part of I Am Team GB on Saturday 27 August. It’s a brilliant way to join the team!

Find an I Am Team GB event near you.