We were very lucky to have Mr. Martin Parnell join us on December 16. This year, Mr. Parnell joined us to share information about an organization called Free To Run.
“Free to Run’s mission is to use running, physical fitness and outdoor adventure to empower and educate women and girls who have been affected by conflict. We support those living within conflict areas as well as those who have been forced to flee and live as refugees outside of their home countries.”
The first thing we were asked was how the girls would feel if it was recess time and they were not allowed to go outside for recess. We felt that was VERY unfair!
We learned that in Afghanistan, girls and women do not have the same freedom to take part in the sports and recreation that boys and men have. In 2016, after learning that the year before there had been one woman participating against many obstacles, Mr. Parnell went to Afghanistan to participate in the second marathon. Mr. Parnell met a young woman who was running in the marathon, but felt that she wasn’t ready for the race. Throughout the race, he encouraged and supported the young woman and ended up running across the finish line with her with the time allowed for people to finish the race. What a great feeling that must have been!
Over the last couple of years, Mr. Parnell has worked hard to support the girls women in Afghanistan with several projects. This year his goal is to raise $5,000 for Free to Run. The money would provide the resources to build an ice skating rink for girls in Afghanistan. Our class used the opportunity of Mr. Parnell coming into talk to us to fundraise and donate to the cause. We raised $25 and were proud to give this to Mr. Parnell when he was with us.
The YouTube link below shows girls in Afghanistan learning to skate last year on a rink built for them. While it may not seem exciting for the kids in Canada, you can hear how excited the girls are and how they express the confidence they have gained from learning something we often take for granted. Girls are learning more than just skating!
Gaining an understanding and keeping an open-minded perspective about what other people experience in their lives and how they live is important for us all.
Mr. Parnell’s significant message to our class was that people need to “Do something for yourself. Do something for someone else.” Although Mr. Parnell has chosen many people to support over the years from many places in the world, the main point is to find your passion for helping someone else. You can watch Mr. Parnell’s TEDx Talks – Life Is A Relay – posted below.
Thank you Mr. Parnell for helping us to learn that we can and need to help others in our world no matter whether they live close to us or far away.
Please see the poster below which outlines Mr. Parnell’s next run, The Secret Marathon 3K run/walk which is being held on the eve of International Women’s Day; Wednesday, March 7 at 6:30pm at the Eau Claire Running Room.
You can read more about Martin Parnell and Free To Run below:
Free To Run: