a huge step
In this week’s newsletter, Fiona Sefton tells us how parkrun has had a significant impact on her son Adam, and we encourage you to explain why you value your local parks and open spaces.
21-year-old Adam Sefton recently took part in a 5k race without anyone from his family running alongside him. Without knowing Adam you could be forgiven for wondering why this was such an enormous achievement, so we asked his mum Fiona to explain.
"My son Adam has a learning disability. This means he doesn’t have the same level of understanding and communication skills as other people his age. As a result he finds it harder to learn new things and needs to be told things in a simpler way. Adam needs support when travelling to most places; for example he needed training to enable him to walk the mile to college on his own. As well as his learning disability, he has speech difficulties and had a delay in walking, running and jumping. His disability is an undiagnosed
syndrome but presents very similar to Cerebral Palsy.
In 2013, when Adam was 18, a friend of mine asked everyone who was attending her wedding if they would go with her to York parkrun
the day before she got married. I thought it was great, and I asked Adam if he’d like to go along with me. As he was coming to the end of his schooling and wouldn’t even have PE to keep him even the tiniest bit active, I knew that we needed to find something he enjoyed.
I don’t know how Adam felt before that first parkrun, but I was definitely intrigued to see how he would do. Adam talked to his dad and I the whole way around, and he really enjoyed it. Initially Adam was really excited to see his improvement week after week. He got a PB every week for about eight weeks!
We do parkrun together with a run/walk strategy. Being part of parkrun has had a huge effect on Adam’s confidence,
and mine. He likes to go and see the friendly people we’ve met, and he still talks to me all the way around – so I know he could go faster if he wanted to and leave me well and truly behind!
Each summer there is a local 5k race (the men’s version of Race for Life). As it is a men’s only race, I’m not allowed to take part, and his dad couldn’t run with him this year. Adam has participated twice before, but I wasn’t sure if he’d want to run on his own. However, to our surprise, Adam asked
to take part. Not having anyone to talk to or support him around the course would be a huge step for someone who loves to talk/sign his way around.
Not only did Adam complete the race and enjoy it, his pace was similar to parkrun. This meant he stuck to his run/walk intervals. The confidence Adam showed to do this was amazing and I can’t wait to see what he decides to do next.
Both parkrun and running by himself have helped Adam to develop the social skills to be able to talk to people and not be afraid to ask for help, and he has just started a course to prepare him to enter the world of work. His health and fitness are fantastic, and I am certain that’s because he wants to run.
He’s not so keen on getting up early on a Saturday morning mind you, but the promise of a cup of tea when we finish usually gets him out of bed!"