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Parkour UK partnership with Sport England

Parkour UK are delighted to announce funding of £1.575 million to help support and grow parkour participation and use the sport to tackle inequalities in England over the next 5 years. Together, we will be able to build resources and capabilities that ensure more people have equal access to sport and physical activity.

The money is part of the recent funding announcement from Sport England, supporting 121 partners with a total of £550 million. This includes other National Governing Bodies, Key Charities, Safeguarding Organisations and Active Partnerships.

Dan Newton, CEO at Parkour UK commented on the announcement 

“This announcement is really exciting and a major step forward. It will allow Parkour UK to build the infrastructure to serve, elevate and add value to the parkour community. It is the result of the combined effort of the staff and board, and the award gives the organisation an unprecedented level of financial security to help deliver our Moving with Purpose strategy.  

We will make an impact across the whole spectrum of the parkour community; this includes both the ‘structured’ and ‘informal’. The structured community is where people access ‘formal’ parkour classes indoors and outdoors and are influenced by workforce of coaches, venue managers and coaching companies. The informal community is where people learn by sharing their practice with friends without structure. They are influenced by athletes, practitioners and content creators and online content for engagement.

The investment will provide the capacity and resources to act on what we know about the structured community immediately and continue the discovery phase with the informal community. Our plans align closely with the ‘5 Big Issues’ set out in Sport England’s ‘Uniting the Movement Strategy’ and the ambition to tackle inequalities.”

Dr Tracy Rea, Chair of Parkour UK believes:

“Parkour is a true lifestyle sport, and we believe that accessibility of sports like these are a key driver of lifelong participation in physical activity, tackling inequality, and in the attitudes people have to staying healthy. 

Parkour UK has a robust strategy for the next four years that moves our organisation from justification to amplification as we aspire to serve the parkour community, help grow our membership, and offer more innovative products. 

The funding from Sport England will enable us to realise our ambitions and will make a positive contribution to people from all demographics being able to take part. This investment will go a long way to progressing the sport in the UK.”

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO at Sport England, said:

“At the heart of our strategy ‘Uniting the Movement’ is a relentless focus on tackling inequalities to help everyone get active – no matter who they are, where they live, or what their background is. We cannot do this alone, and that’s why we are building a movement of partners that share our goal to level up access to sport and physical activity.”

Parkour UK are currently advertising some part time vacancies to join the team, we are looking for forward thinking and curious individuals who want to help engage the community and inspire more people to participate. Further details can be found at http://www.parkour.uk/work-with-us

Train Hard Parkour sees increase in women in Parkour after funding support from local council

Train Hard Parkour based in Poole have seen a strong increase in women attending their parkour classes after running a series of women’s courses over the last 6 months. In September 2021 Train Hard received a significant grant from BCP council via the Bounce Back Challenge with support from Parkour UK through application process. This funding was aimed at bringing those participating less in physical activity into sport.

Train Hard saw this as a great opportunity to engage with women – who are under-represented in Parkour – and introduced 165 new women and girls into Parkour over a series of ‘Intro to Parkour’ sessions for various age groups ranging from 6 years old up to adults.

Viv Jackson, Phoebe Harley and the team at Train Hard created a positive, welcoming environment for a variety of women who were introduced to parkour in The Parkour Project – Train Hard’s venue. 

With a focus on creating an entry point suitable for beginners, the team worked with many women who were completely new to parkour – preparing the women for the sessions and ensuring they felt comfortable:

“I was super nervous…..but everyone has been really kind and friendly and you don’t have to be super fit or super mobile to do it. It [the class] comes with warm ups and all the drills that we do before we do any Parkour. “

Said one participant

The sessions have really helped set a precedent of more women attending the classes at the Parkour Project more regularly with a proportion of the women moving from their ‘Intro to Parkour’ block into the main regular classes. 

The BBC have covered the success of Train Hard’s work in this piece below.

Initiatives like Train Hard’s help to tackle a wider challenge across the UK of engaging women in sport and physical activities. Parkour can be used as a key tool to tackle inequalities in regards to access and attitudes towards taking part in sport. 

“Unfortunately women are less likely to be active now than they were before the pandemic. Women struggle to be active for many reasons, not least because of fear of judgement and feeling unwelcome in sport and physical activity settings. Initiatives like Train Hard’s encourage more women to get active by providing a great atmosphere for them to experience a sense of freedom and fun in a non-judgemental setting. We need more initiatives like this across sport to help women return to activity post-pandemic.” 

Said Liz Prinz of Women in Sport. 

If you are interested in taking part in Parkour at The Parkour Project you can find out more here and if you want to find classes in other areas you can check out Parkour UK’s class finder here

Holding the door open for everyone… Always…

Following the announcement by Red Bull regarding the athletes that will be competing at Art of Motion 2022, Parkour UK would like to share our continued support for gender equality and equal opportunities.

Art of Motion is an international parkour competition, for 2022 the decision has been taken to select 13 athletes for invitation and offer two online qualifying places. The 13 athletes that have been selected include 2 women and 11 men. This is in direct contrast with 2021 where the qualification procedure was the three podium-finishers from Red Bull Art of Motion 2019, the 12 winners (six men and six women) of the Online Qualifier and, finally, three more contestants who qualified through the Onsite Qualifier. Parkour UK have approached Red Bull to understand the approach they took to deciding which athletes would be selected to compete in 2022, we await a response from Red-Bull.

As an NGB, we are committed to parkour being an inclusive practice and we support the comments made by women from the community, which challenge the imbalance of genders invited to compete at Art of Motion 2022. As well as an awareness of the opinions across social media around Red Bull Art of Motion, Parkour UK spoke directly to Rachel Gough. Rachel competes and runs women, girl and non-binary jams / events. This includes the upcoming This Girl Jam on July 2 & 3rd with workshops, speed and style competitions which are accessible for everyone. 
Rachel shared her views:

“Women deserve a place in this sport, we do not need to prove ourselves, we already have. There is a huge selection of highly talented women who are incredibly interesting to watch, yet Red Bull ignores this. Under representation is a huge issue for any growing sport, how are women supposed to enter and grow in the sport if they’re already being shown that they clearly aren’t as important or valued in the sport? We should not have to constantly compare ourselves to men, to keep up with men to be allowed a place, we deserve a place, we aren’t men, we are women.”

Parkour UK believe that equitable treatment is important, particularly with regards to visibility. Women’s visibility in sport is pivotal. Women athletes serve an inspirational role model for girls. They show girls what is possible. If girls mostly see men competing, they’re less likely to think this is an activity they can take part in or belong in. It is something supported by Women in Sport who highlight eight principles for success which set the challenge to ‘Hold the door open for everyone’.

Women in Sport also talk about the importance of role models close to home and further afield in their report ‘What sways women to play sport?’. The report references six identified spheres of influence or sway factors, with one being ‘possibilities; opening her eyes to what she can do’.

We can see there is brilliant work going on in the community which drives opportunities for women and girls, which include:

  • We believe that the women’s parkour courses run by Train Hard / The Parkour Project support making parkour more accessible to women and girls in their area – they include women only sessions and are free to access.
  • We support ‘The Women’s International Parkour Weekend’ run by Parkour Generations for offering women and non-binary people a non-competitive, supportive and welcoming space to explore movement.
  • We support the approach that NovaCity have taken within Project Underground 9 and other jams / events, where they have included separate women’s competition with equal prizes in the programme.

Further information on the examples given can be found at the bottom of this statement.

The Future 

In the short term…

We are making an active effort to amplify opportunities and successes of women in the community. You can help us by sharing the details of opportunities and jams that you would like us to promote, or by making suggestions for what we can be doing? Please contact us here.

In the long term…

We believe that representation from a wider cross section of society will encourage more people to believe that they belong and can participate and engage fully and equally in parkour. Our plans to improve diversity and inclusion in the sport will be set out through a subcommittee and a Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan. Through this work we will publish clear ambitions to ensure our work represents and reflects the diversity of the parkour community. 

Our Independent Director Natasha Preville, who is the board lead for diversity and inclusion, stands by the written piece in 2020. Natasha believes “Parkour is, by its very nature, inclusive and rights focussed, and we believe everyone is entitled to equitable opportunity to access. Therefore, we will never tire to challenge negative stereotypes and experiences as a progressive and forward thinking NGB”

Examples of good practice in the parkour community

Train Hard Women’s parkour courses – Between September 2021 and April 2022, Train Hard Parkour & Freerunning successfully delivered ‘Introduction to Parkour’ courses for less well-represented demographics in parkour made possible through a grant from Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole Council via the Bounce Back Challenge fund. The programme included parkour courses for girls and women aged 6-9, 10-14, 14-17 and 18+ and attracted 165 women participants, many of whom have continued to attend regular classes after these courses. Check out this video from BBC South Today.  

Parkour Generations Women’s International Parkour Weekend – We are pleased to see this event returning and encouraging more women and non-binary people into Parkour and movement. Providing an entirely non-competitive, supportive and welcoming space where we can explore both our general environment and our inner landscape is important for personal growth and development as a movement community.⁠ Whether you’re a woman or non-binary traceuse, climber, crossfitter, runner, weightlifter, gymnast or general mover. This event is a celebration of YOUR movement.⁠

NovaCity – Through their Project Underground 9 event NovaCity brought together practitioners from across the world, helping to grow parkour practice across the country. The event was conducted over 3 days and designed to be attractive to all parkour practitioners as it offers the chance to train, compete or spectate. The competition itself was split into 3 discipline categories and 3 age categories, and a separate women’s competition, all with equal prizes.

Parkour opens up new horizons for Matthew

Matthew, a sports-loving teenager is discovering the new-found freedom and confidence-boosting benefits of Parkour.

In many ways Matthew is a typical sports-mad teenager. Fiercely competitive, the 16-year-old from Edinburgh loves football, basketball, swimming and athletics. He’s sensitive, stubborn, cheeky and has a good sense of humour.

He likes being active and enjoys spending time with his close-knit family, including their one-year-old Labrador, and his circle of friends.

Matthew has Downs Syndrome, so faces various physical and learning challenges due to his condition. He needs additional educational support and attends a school for youngsters with learning difficulties.

I think the fact that Parkour revolves around bodyweight exercises or movements benefits him massively. What he is learning and mastering is important for day-to-day life and is giving him the confidence to do things like go to the park and play.

He has obsessive compulsive disorder, which was heightened during the disruption of lockdown, but thrives on structure and routine. In addition, he suffers from noise sensitivity (hyperacusis), finding everyday sounds intrusively loud and distressing, so will often wear ear defenders in busy, noisy environments.

Although Matthew likes to try different activities and sports, he tires easily and has a limited range of movement. He also takes a while to relax in new environments and with people he doesn’t know well.

Disliking unpredictability and lack of control, Matthew won’t play sport as part of a team. So his mum, Angela, is always keen to find a new activities to keep him entertained while developing his physical abilities and skills.

A few years ago, Matthew discovered Parkour on YouTube and began watching videos of people practising freerunning. He became fascinated by the sport, focusing as it does onfinding creative ways to overcome obstacles and moving safely in an unsafe environment.

“At its core, Parkour is about overcoming obstacles with a flexible but focused ‘can do’ attitude. It aims to build confidence, determination, discipline and self-reliance, along with strength, fitness, balance and coordination.” 

Seeing Matthew’s interest, Angela contacted Access Parkour – which runs Parkour and movement classes in Edinburgh and across Scotland – to see if they could offer some tailored training for her son.

Matthew’s journey

Four years ago, Access Parkour coach Adam Romaine started working with Matthew at one-to-one weekly classes in their Edinburgh gym, Room To Move – and the enthusiastic teenager has gone from strength to strength.

Adam began with short 30-minute sessions and has slowly built them up to 45 minutes, as Matthews’s fitness and stamina have increased.

After lockdown forced the suspension of such activities, Matthew was desperate to resume his training so, when restrictions allowed, Adam continued the sessions with him outdoors – outside the Scottish Parliament building.

Initially, Adam introduced him to safe ways of jumping, climbing and landing. Over time, Matthew’s movement journey has comprised jumping, forward vaults, wall technique, swinging and underbars, crawling, turning vaults, balance and ascending vaults.

“It has been fantastic to see Matthew progress with Parkour. He is learning and improving all the time, while having fun…”

Adam’s success with Matthew has revolved around understanding the need to progress gradually from slow, simple movements to more complicated ones. For example, jumping started with the floor to a step, graduating to the floor to a box, then a box to another box.

Similarly, vaulting moved from a low-level box to a bar, then to an elevated bar – but still ensuring Matthew had something to hold onto.

Adam is patient, reassuring and relaxed with Matthew, building his trust and confidence so that he can learn and master increasingly complex and skilful moves and techniques. The key has been breaking everything down into small steps, along with lots of repetition and encouragement.

Crucially, Adam understands Matthew’s personality and his limits so adapts each class to his student’s fluctuating ability, confidence and mood on the day.

Sometimes, progress plateaus while Matthew is psychologically processing what is required to master a technique. For instance, he struggled to grasp the dynamic swing but, following a short break from his weekly classes over Christmas, he returned in January and was able to complete the movement.

Onwards and upwards

Matthew has improved tremendously in terms of his ability and range of movement. He is currently working on perfecting his climbing techniques, low-level balancing and using bars to swing from one object to another.

Adam explains: “Sometimes Matthew has a mental block on something, which can be challenging. I have to figure out if it’s a physical or psychological barrier we’re facing – whether, rather than not being able to do something, he is just scared or worried about it. Then I have to work out how we can overcome that.

“But, the longer we have worked together, the more Matthew trusts me and he has progressed amazingly. Now, he’s usually up for trying anything unless it is particularly scary or a bit too different from what he’s used to. He’s come on in leaps and bounds in confidence and ability.

“If something goes well, he feels great. We always finish our session on a high note so he realises how well he’s done and how far he’s progressed. His reward at the end is usually swinging, because he absolutely loves that.

“It has been fantastic to see Matthew progress with Parkour. He is learning and improving all the time, while having fun. He was scared of doing a lot of things when he first started. For example, he would never jump to grab things out of reach, so it was just mind-blowing for me when he did eventually jump and grab a bar.

“I think the fact that Parkour revolves around bodyweight exercises or movements benefits him massively. What he is learning and mastering is important for day-to-day life and is giving him the confidence to do things like go to the park and play.”

Quality of life

Parkour has boosted Matthew’s quality of life, improving not only his strength, fitness, balance and coordination but also his confidence, skills, independence and self-belief. He looks forward to his weekly one-to-one coaching and delights in how it has pushed him to explore a wider spectrum of movement and agility.

His family have installed monkey bars in their garden, which Matthew loves swinging on, and this has helped him hone this type of movement during his gym visits. As he commented: “I like jumping off the boxes and swinging on the bars!”

Matthew attends the classes with his dad, Gavin, and likes him joining in with what he’s doing at the end of each session. Gavin has watched his progress and observed the close, trusting relationship Adam has built up with his son.

Gavin says: “Matthew would just retreat into himself if he was in a group class, so this one-to-one coaching is ideal. Adam works really well with him, reassuring him that what he’s doing is going to be safe.

“It is great to see how Matthew has made progress, from doing just a basic step when he first started through to now being able to do a step vault up high. We have watched his confidence grow, along with his ability and desire to try new movements.

“Matthew has really taken to Parkour and likes the variety of trying different things. He likes the weekly routine and loves working with Adam. It puts him in a good mood, which is great.Parkour is the one constant activity for Matthew – it’s his ‘thing’ that he likes to tell his family and friends about, especially when he learns and manages new moves.

“It has also made him more confident when we are out and about, like taking a walk in the woods. Before, he would want to hold someone’s hand if he was jumping off a log. Now, he will just go off and do it.

“I think it’s also been good for him to be around people outside his usual social bubble – a

few other people who are usually at the gym at the same time, taking part in different classes. He seems to be better at coping and more comfortable with that now.”

The sessions also appear to have improved Matthew’s ability to cope with everyday noises. When he first started he would always put on his ear defenders, regardless of whether anyone else was in the gym, but now he can cope with the sound of a few other people there and will even take the lead in selecting what background music they should play.

The bigger picture

Parkour’s elements of fun, variety and accessibility make it a perfect activity for people with a range of difficulties or disabilities to enjoy, as it can be tailored to fit participants’ specific needs, capabilities and skills.

As well as its capacity to boost physical and mental health, it is a versatile and inclusive sport which can be practised anywhere, either alone or with others. Working with the right coach, it can also be adapted to suit specialised needs, such as a Matthew’s. 

At its core, Parkour is about overcoming obstacles with a flexible but focused ‘can do’ attitude. It aims to build confidence, determination, discipline and self-reliance, along with strength, fitness, balance and coordination.

All this lends itself to playing a role in supporting people who have their own personal, physical and emotional challenges to deal with in everyday life.

Jess Cook is Strategic Partnership Advisor at Activity Alliance, the national charity and leading voice for disabled people in sport and activity. She said: “It is great to hear how Adam and Access Parkour have overcome the potential barriers to Matthew discovering this sport.

“Adam’s unique relationship with Matthew is clearly key – he understands his needs and Matthew trusts him. This has allowed Matthew to enjoy Parkour’s wide-ranging benefits, from promoting core strength and balance to encouraging integration, a sense of communityand enjoyment of the great outdoors.”

If you are interested in parkour please follow Parkour UK on Instagram or get in contact with Parkour UK

You can find out more information about Access Parkour here or search for opportunities near you here.

Movement Park in Glasgow Job Roles

Movement Park in Glasgow currently has two roles advertised which incorporate Parkour into their wider development – Community Officer and Pathways Officer.

These roles may be suited to a person who has experience of Parkour, but also of working in youth or community development.

You can see the Ads and Role Descriptions Below:

  • Community Officer Ad
  • Community Officer Role Description
  • Pathways Officer Ad
  • Pathways Officer Role Description
  • For more information visit movementpark.org.uk

    Welcome Tracy

    At our September board meeting we welcomed Tracy Rea to Parkour UK, replacing Steve Mitchell as the independent chair of Parkour UK.

    Tracy was appointed through open recruitment and voted on by our members. The specialist skills that the appointment was based on are leadership, governance, understanding of the sports landscape in the UK and people & workforce. Parkour UK worked with Sam Coppack and his ‘Parkour Coach Companion’ podcast to produce an interview with Tracy which covers many angles.

    • Who are you what is your background?
    • What is the appeal of parkour and Parkour UK for you?
    • What Parkour have you seen / what do you understand?
    • What do you think are the immediate priorities?
    • With your understanding of the sports sector, what are the opportunities for Parkour UK?
    • How are you considering the importance of the community….how do you want to see this evolve?

    The interview can be heard in full on YouTube here and on Spotify here. Please note that it was recorded in August 2021.

    Colleagues on the board and the executive team are pleased to welcome Tracy to Parkour UK and are excited about the future.