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Prison parkruns reach Australia

The Alliance of Sport is delighted that the UK’s successful prison parkrun programme has now expanded to Australia.

HM Prison Dhurringile in Victoria is to become the first correctional facility in the southern hemisphere to host a parkrun this Saturday (April 20) with the event then taking place every Saturday morning at 9am – as it does in almost 1,500 locations every weekend across the globe.

The prison in central Victoria is a minimum-security mainstream facility that covers 420 acres and is a working farm with around 330 male detainees.

The parkrun in HM Prison Dhurringile builds on the success of prison-based parkruns in the UK and Ireland, which commenced in 2017 and now take place weekly in 13 prisons across all security categories with more than 2,000 prisoners taking part.

HM Prison Dhurringile identified parkrun as an innovative intervention that promotes both physical activity and volunteering opportunities for inmates and staff.

Justin Coleman, the Alliance of Sport’s Co-Founder and Secretariat, supported the implementation of parkruns in English prisons. He said:

“To be a part of what Shane Spencer [PE Manager at HMP Haverigg] has started, from an initial email to parkrun asking if he could develop the very first event in custody, to see the leadership of Chrissie Wellington and countless people behind the scenes supporting its growth, is amazing to see, hear and feel!

“Shane’s initial concept is now creating a movement around the world. This united parkrun movement also demonstrates something to us all – that no matter where we are in the world, people want and need to move, walk and run to help bring about change in themselves and in unity with others.”

Dhurringile parkrun will take place within the confines of the prison perimeter and be closed to the general public, with inmates and staff involved as walkers, runners and volunteer organisers. A second prison-based parkrun is then set to launch on 27th April at Mobilong prison in South Australia. If the events prove successful the initiative could be rolled out to other interested facilities across the country from as early as July.

Prisoners currently have access to sports opportunities, but in addition to providing the chance to be physically active in the open air, parkrun has the added benefit of promoting personal development through volunteering. This includes event management, public speaking, interpersonal communication and team building, providing prisoners with pathways into education and training and valuable skills for when they are reintegrated into society.

The benefits of physical activity in a prison environment are well documented in improving the physical and mental health of inmates and the atmosphere throughout a prison. It provides a sense of belonging, increased self-confidence, better moods and decreased stress.

For more on parkrun and its expansion down under, click here.

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