“Parkour is for everyone” … Sits at the core of our work and although at first glance may not seem ‘ground-breaking’, it is one of the (many) factors that made Parkour UK attractive to me when I was looking to support an emerging and progressive sports organisation. However, the term ‘for everyone’ was challenged during a recent consultation event, with interested members of our community and stakeholders who are actively driving inclusion in the sports sector. It transpired that although Parkour, in theory, is accessible, inclusive and open for all, it is nuanced in practice… Because, there is still a need, as always, to tailor a focussed approach to ensure authentic and ethical representation of our communities and through us demonstrating understanding and support of their needs…
Therefore, in our ongoing commitment to further develop a truly inclusive and representative sport, our work in 2020 and beyond is outlined as follows:
Parkour UK are keen to develop allyship with key stakeholders who are driving change in Diversity and Inclusion; joining up with organisations that are as passionate as us. The involvement of Stonewall, Sporting Equals and Women in Sport, was a catalytic moment and their directives will inspire our community to act, with purpose. Parkour is, by its very nature, inclusive and rights focussed and we believe everyone is entitled to equitable opportunity to access.
Sporting Equals are impassioned to create healthier, fairer and stronger communities. Through their Charter they highlight the importance of capturing insights to increase ethnic diversity; committing people to move to action and celebrating positive stories. Nik Trivedi and Emily Carter stressed the importance of reinforcing their message through role models, noting the necessity for people to see the same message 5+ times before they act. The challenge was placed to reach out to Black, Asian and ethnically representative media outlets and making individual and specific contact with local organisations.
Kate Nicholson from Women in Sport spoke comprehensively about the ‘gender gap starting young’ and the negative impact this has on activity levels from early experiences through to adulthood. It was noted that 75% of girls have heard disparaging comments about ‘girls in sport’, which makes girls aged 7-21 less likely to say what they think and negatively impacts their confidence (see Girlguiding Attitudes Survey). Finally, Kate highlighted eight principles for success which the Parkour community can embrace and set the challenge to ‘Hold the door open for everyone’.
The Stonewall contribution was made by Erin Walters-Williams, who outlined the work of Stonewall Sport. Their work ranges from campaigns and partnerships, to education and policy: Talking through a timeline of the key milestones in the UK and highlighting LGBTQI+ experiences. Erin then drew our attention to the ‘inclusive quadrant’ tool, which highlights positive / negative and active / passive behaviours. The challenge was set as our collective and personal responsibility to ‘embrace difference and act to create a more inclusive environment’
The response during the consultation was fantastic: David Banks and Chrissie Ardill from UKEMI talked about their innovative project that they have successfully delivered to train five new coaches from the LGBT and Black, Asian and ethnically representative communities.
Questions that were posed included:
- How can we ensure the physical parkour space is inclusive and welcoming?
- How can we address / redress negative stereotypes of members in our community engaging in their outdoor practice?
- How can we bring to life and share the ‘unseen’ experiences of our most experienced practitioners?
The vibrancy and broad range of contributions made it obvious that the topic is one that generates interest and the desire to make a difference was palpable. This is an ongoing conversation and through our evolution as a progressive and inclusive NGB, we will share the views, needs and advocacy taking place in and with our communities.
We have taken a few (new) meaningful steps forward since the consultation event, however, we recognise that we need to go further, always. This is not a ‘soft’ option, everyone is accountable, personally, professionally and socially. Dare I say it, if you are not (actively) part of the solution, you are arguably, potentially passively, part of the problem… To this end, before 2021, Parkour UK will publish an action plan that outlines how we will champion inclusion and diversity, working with and through our community and specialist stakeholders, to stand with us and drive our plans forward.
In December, we will invite a collection of partners from the sports sector to co-produce the action plan and in the new year we will set out ways that the community can contribute to the work.
For now though… We are making a call to action for our communities to get (further) involved, including:
- Support the Rainbow Laces campaign in November / December. We are sending out laces to our Affiliate/Affiliate+ members, everyone who attended the consultation and everyone who represents Parkour UK.
- Finding useful and safe ways to encourage new groups into your community that you have never invited before.
In any other year Christmas Jams would have been ideal – in the pandemic situation we would encourage you to extend invites to any micro-jams, online events or other COVID friendly solutions.
- Get involved in the conversation by posting three pieces of media that are different to what you would usually share.
“The time is always right to do what is right” – Martin Luther King, Jr.