Ben bares those toes on a training run when visiting our project in Uganda.
Would you fancy running across all terrains with no shoes on? Not many people are likely to try it, but our Head of UK, Ben Wilkes is all set for a the challenge when he runs barefoot in this year’s Chichester Half Marathon on October 13th.
Here at Children on the Edge we are organising the Chichester Half in conjunction with Chichester District Council. The event is in its second year after a highly successful revival last October.
Entrants for this year’s race have been pouring in since registration opened in April. As far as we know, Ben is the only entrant running barefoot, but he’d like to see that change:
“Running barefoot ‘style’ has helped me run quicker and without my old injuries flaring up” Ben explains. “The minimalist shoes out there are good, but the real exhilarating experience is when you take them off and just run. Will I be the first person to run the Chi half barefoot? I hope not. I hope on Oct 13th there are a few of us lining up and if that happens, I’m sure I wont be the first one to finish!”.
Barefoot or ‘natural’ running is a rarity, however it did became more prominent over 50 years ago when Ethiopian Abebe Bikila won the 1960 Olympic marathon in Rome, with no shoes on, after realising that the Olympic shoe supplier had run out of shoes in his size! A few years later British Bruce Tulloh won the European gold medal and most famous was Zola Budd who raced and trained barefoot with a good degree of success in the 80s.
More recently barefoot running has been on the rise with the production of thin-soled shoes or ‘Five Fingers’ for ‘minimalist running’ and with the popularity of Christopher McDougall’s bestseller ‘Born to run’ which promotes the benefits of ditching your running shoes and going back to how you are naturally made to run.
Ben has received so much interest in this running method that he’s started a blog about his training progress.
“I think Running barefoot round Chichester has lowered people’s gaze rather than raised eyebrows. As soon as they see me coming and realise I’m not wearing shoes, their eyes seem to fix on my feet. When chatting to people about barefoot running, the same questions often come up. The most common is ‘what about all the dog poo and broken glass?’. My response: I step over it when wearing shoes and running barefoot doesn’t change that!”
You can follow Ben’s blog at www.chihalf.co.uk/barefoot-blog but more importantly, you can still sign up for the Chichester Half (you don’t have to run it barefoot!). Simply go to www.chihalf.co.uk.
It’s a beautiful route which includes a mixture of road, cross country and cycle path terrain and the event raises vital funds for all our projects, which work to restore the ingredients of a full childhood to some of the world’s most forgotten children.
This week sees the 2013 UN International Youth Day, and this year the theme is ‘Youth Migration: Moving Development forward’.
Not only is the day focussing on raising awareness about the issues facing young migrant people, but the UN is launching their 2013 report on Youth Migration and Development, which is planned to be a ‘multidimensional account of the life experiences of young migrants and young people affected by migration’.
Although sometimes when we think of children we tend to think of the little tots, the UN’s definition of a child is anyone under the age of 18 and we believe every child has the right to a childhood, including the teenagers!
At the Child Crisis Centre in Mae Sot, Thailand which we support, there are 72 migrant children that have escaped persecution in neighboring Burma, most arriving without their parents. Many of the children at the Centre are in their teens, so it’s not just education and play we’re focussing on.. but subjects that relate specifically to the 11-18’s age group.
To do this we have bought in a trained facilitator who helps the young people discuss team work, resolving conflicts, understanding their bodies, expressing emotions, how to have self confidence and how to set and achieve goals.
Yeye Win, the head caregiver in the Centre has noticed a marked improvement in the confidence of the young people involved in this programme, observing that children attending the training have become more willing to speak with staff about their thoughts and concerns. She has also seen improvement in conflict resolution and teamwork amongst the children.
Saewin is 15. Lack of food for he and his five siblings caused them to flee Burma when he was 13. He feels the team building activities have improved the togetherness of the teens at the Centre and he particularly enjoyed the task of planning their own picnic with a budget to buy their own food.
Yadanar Phoo has just turned 18 and has been at the Centre for 5 years. She has also migrated from Burma. After all she’s been through, she describes how the development course has helped her to handle stress and relax. She loved the stretching yoga exercises they learned and says she feels better prepared to handle the stresses of life now. Yadanar Phoo is also using methods from the ‘how to set goals’ discussion to begin to plan for her life after the CCC.
We’re delighted to be seeing these young migrant people moving on and preparing for their futures. Not only this, but the project as a whole is also strengthening and nearing the time where it can run independently. Find out more about the work in Thailand, and consider donating to our work.
The speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow is currently in Burma and this morning (7.8.2013) addressed an audience at Rangoon University. The speaker is on a working visit with other MPs to Burma.
The visit which includes a meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi and President Thein Sein marks the next stage of support by the UK House of Commons for Burma’s democratic journey.
The speech clearly identifies the challenges that Burma faces and the long road it still has to travel before the respect of human rights and democracy can truly be considered to exist in this country.
To read the speech click here.