One of the great joys of our local parks and green spaces is the opportunities they afford us to be more active. The last few months have brought a busy and successful summer of sport, with world cups in cricket, football and netball not to mention Wimbledon last month and the Rugby World Cup to come.
These sports and more can be found at grassroots level in parks and green spaces across the country and it was in these very spaces that many of the star names competing over the course of the summer will have got their starts in their respective games.
This week our Summer of Parks has been discussing the topic of organised sport in parks and so here we provide some top tips for getting active in your local park, if you've been inspired this summer!
Your local park is proven to make you feel happier and healthier. Whatever you are doing it is a great place to be active and there are many ways to be part of organised activity on an informal basis.
Organisations such as Our Parks provide regular activity sessions in parks, where anybody can turn up and get involved. Many of the activation sessions which are taking place as part of our Active Spaces programme are being delivered by Our Parks and in the below video Mel, one of the participants from Hailsham, discusses the sense of community the sessions have created.
Keep an eye out on the park noticeboard for activity clubs or sessions that may be happening, and you can also see if your local green space has a parkrun event, which are free 5km runs taking place every Saturday morning.
If you'd like something more formal then the first step is to discover a sport that is right for you. You could start by finding out what sports are available in your local park or green space - if there are sports pitches, for example, then there are likely to be clubs using those pitches.
Earlier this week we published an A to Z of sports you might find in your local park or green space!
Once you've found a sport you're interested in you will probably want to try it out to see if it is for you. Many clubs will run taster sessions so that people can come along and give the sport a go without the pressure of formally joining a team. Keep an eye out for introductory sessions especially towards the start of a sport's season, or at community events where there may be a number of different sports represented.
To take part more formally you may wish to join a club - this week's Summer of Parks #WednesdayWisdom reported figures from the Sport and Recreation Alliance who estimate there are around 151,000 sports clubs across the UK!
If your local park or green space has pitches for the sport in question you could look for notices or posters indicating which clubs play there and how to get in contact with them. Alternatively, many sport governing bodies will provide online resources to help you find clubs close to you. For example, the Scottish FA's website is home to a Football Development section including playing as well as coaching opportunities in Scotland.
As Mel discusses in the above video, being active is a great way to bring people together and foster a greater sense of community. Being part of a club is an ideal way of meeting new people who share common interests. If joining up as a complete beginner seems a little daunting though, try seeing if a friend wants to come along as well to share the experience!
Yesterday our latest Summer of Parks staff blog heard all the various benefits playing rugby has provided our Cymru Manager, Rhodri Edwards. It's not just your physical wellbeing that taking part in organised sport benefits - it also helps your mental wellbeing, your own personal development and your sense of being part of a community. As Rhodri said: "The standout benefit of sport to me was the friends I made. Nearly all the friends I have today are former teammates who are always on hand for a chat and help if needed. Of course, I have lost contact with many, but I will occasionally bump into some and we will recall happy times playing together".
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