Where there’s a Will, there’s a way!
One of the newest locations to the Marathon Kids in parks Saturday roster is Swanmore, near sunny Southampton.
And less than a month into their journey with us, we’ve caught up with Race Director Will Atterbury, founder of ActiveMe 360 in Hampshire, who leads the team that organises the event.
In the first of a series of interviews with the people who are determined to get kids running, Will tells us all about the Swanmore Marathon Kids in parks event.
Will, what motivated you to set up a Marathon Kids event?
As a Social Enterprise, ActiveMe 360 was founded with the commitment to support our communities, with a mission to ‘change lives by improving health and wellbeing using the power of physical activity, sport and education’. When we were introduced to Marathon Kids it was clear from the outset that it aligned to our mission, there were clear shared values and it would greatly support the communities we worked in. From that moment we were determined to launch a Marathon Kids event and make it a valuable part of the community.
What is the most important thing for you when it comes to getting kids active?
Simple, it is just about being active in any way possible and making that a habit. Whether that be walking to school, playing outdoors as a family or participating in competitive team sport. Sometimes being active can be overcomplicated and made into a negative, we are trying to flip that, making it positive, keeping it simple and removing barriers to it for children. Being active then leads to so many other benefits, not only physical health and wellbeing, but mental and social wellbeing too. That is what drives us, both me personally and as an organisation.
Has lockdown and the last six months in general made you more passionate to help children become fitter and healthier?
Absolutely, I think as a nation we have realised what is important in life, and what we took for granted pre-lockdown. The fallout and effects from this pandemic and the lockdown will last for decades, and this generation of children will suffer the consequences more than any other group. It is imperative we address this as a country and provide every support we can, because the long term benefits of doing so far outweigh the consequences of not doing anything, or not doing enough. I wouldn’t say it has made me more passionate or determined, I had that before when I started ActiveMe 360 and when I decided this was the industry for me. But it has made me focus more on what is needed and be clearer on how I, we, can support and improve children’s wellbeing as we come through this difficult time and out the other side.
Had you always benefited from a healthy lifestyle growing up?
Being active was just a part of my life from my earliest memories, and it was just habitual, something I loved doing. It didn’t matter what it was, playing in the playground at school, going out with friends on bikes after school, playing competitive football, or just going out with my family outside. This love of being active was because those I looked up to, my parents, siblings or other close family, also loved being active – I just copied them! And this is the key point, I love being active and living a healthy lifestyle because I was brought up on it. Our challenge is to turn the tide of inactivity and unhealthy lifestyles that has become part of our culture, it means we have to positively engage everyone in being active and living a healthy lifestyle so it is part of future generations culture, their habits.
What is the ultimate aim for Marathon Kids in Swanmore?
Our aim is for this to continue to be a central hub for activity in the Swanmore Community, for it to continue to be a fun, positive and engaging environment that makes being active – running – fun and a family event. We have had an incredible start, by week four we had 71 people of all ages running with us, but we are driven and competitive so want to hit 200 people by the end of 2021. Then, when we have achieved that, we will set our next target and look at what more we can do to support the community.