Dark in the Park PontypriddEnvironmental Sustainability | Health and Wellbeing | Isolation/Loneliness | Older People | Physical Environment | Place-based Approaches | Poverty | Sports | Young People
What is the project?
Dark in the Park (Pontypridd) is a couch to 5k+ running project utilizing local open spaces such as Ynysangharad Park in Pontypridd as a venue to deliver a running activity for all abilities. The project runs every Wednesday from 6pm – 7pm and the park is closed to the public, only runners can gain access at this time.
The aim is for participants to reach at least 5k within 12weeks of joining, however there is no pressure to accomplish this and some exceed 5k during the session. The project has been running since January 2019 and has gone from strength to strength with the project now being delivered by volunteers who also managed the facebook page.
Who is the project targeted at?
The project is targeted at anyone aged 13years +.
Why did the project come about?
HAPI (Healthy, Aspiring, Prosperous & Inclusive) a health and wellbeing project based in Rhondda Cynon Taf was approached by Sport RCT to develop an initiative to improve physical activity levels among residents whilst utilizing the open spaces available in the county, starting with Ynysangharad Park, Pontypridd. Hapi has a proven track record with successful activities such as a couch to 5k project which engaged with 40 residents over a 12-week period in previous years. HAPI had the means of reaching a wider audience than that of Sport RCT and It was agreed that in January 2019 Dark in the Park would be launched, the park would close it gates to the general public at 6pm and only be open for runners. Groups are made up depending on their ability/fitness and led by running leaders (HAPI, Communities for Work+ and Sport RCT staff).
How was this project implemented?
A meeting was arranged with the local PCSO’s and Police Officers for information regarding ASB in the area and which day in their minds would be preferred for this project to take place in the park? From this meeting a Wednesday was agreed as there would always be a presence from the local police force available on that evening. Sport RCT approached RCT Leisure for support and to provide a staff member to lock gates etc. Once these measures were put in place a facebook page was set up to promote the project which HAPI are administrators for as well as leaflets distributed locally. Sport RCT also promoted the project through their networks. HAPI funded initially 20 high vis bibs and 20 head torches to ensure that the project met health and safety requirements, the bibs would be for running leaders and spare torches were made available for participants who didn’t have a torch during the winter months.
How was this project funded?
The project was initially funded by HAPI and Sport RCT. Other partners included Communities for Work+ who assisted with being one of the running leaders, local Police force and RCT Leisure Services. The only costs incurred now are for running leaders training which are funded through Sport RCT.
Outcomes so far
Over 500 people have participated in Dark in the Park wince January 2019.
10 volunteers have completed their running leaders’ course and lead on the project making it sustainable.
Park run competitors have increased since March 2019, with Dark in the Park runners now participating in the weekly activity.
10 participants have since completed half marathons
3 participants have since completed full marathons
In a recent facebook pole 23 people voted that they feel happier
19 votes for "I am more active, more often"
17 votes for "I feel healthier"
And 15 votes for "I feel more confident"
Future plans include training more running leaders. We hope to plan a celebration event in the summer to celebrate the achievements of those who have participated over the past year.