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Innovative Keynote Speaker invigorates at Active Sussex Conference

Innovative Keynote Speaker invigorates at Active Sussex Conference

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Founder of Our Parks, Born Barikor, enthused and invigorated attendees at the Active Sussex Conference 2019 last week. 

Born, who was recently named in the Independent top 50 'Movers List,' for inspiring local communities to move more, charismatically delivered his keynote speech: 'The Our Parks Journey,'  where he discussed the visionary initiative that brings group exercise classes to all ability levels and ages. 

The speech set a motivational tone for the conference as a key ethos behind Our Parks is community empowerment and the principle that everyone has the right and should have the opportunity, to take part in exercise regardless of barriers, whether it’s cost or convenience. 

Since launching in 2014, in Waltham Forest, Our Parks has been led by experienced, fully qualified instructors in city parks within 18 London boroughs and in partnership with local authorities, and has now expanded into Central Bedfordshire and has a firm foothold in cities including Glasgow and Cambridge.

Our Parks is also looking to expand in Sussex and the initiative has started work in Hailsham. 

To date there are currently around 100,000 weekly users, using the service, and 1,000 coaches work for the brand. Fully embracing social media has coincided with a rapid growth in numbers of ‘parkers’, as the Our Parks team likes to call them.

Recently Our Parks has also formed the innovative partnership with Lucozade Sport #MadeToMove – a campaign aiming to get a million people moving more by 2020 and spearheaded by world heavyweight champion boxer Anthony Joshua. 

The long-term plan is to establish a firm foothold in every major city in England. 

"I wanted to inspire everyone at the conference and the 'Our Parks' journey and story is about taking a small idea, implementing it and tracking it. Then if you build, measure and learn from it you can influence a whole generation and population of people," explained Born.

"From what I said and presented, I really am hoping delegates can take away that when you're passionate about something and you can plan, measure and almost predict the future by the way in which you go about delivering it, you can make a massive impact on people's lives and that is what really matters.

"I hope it's inspired delegates to think about the future and do things that will impact communities in a really positive way."

Born's presentation resonated with the Active Sussex Conference audience. 

Sean Lofting, Football Development Officer (Adult), from Sussex County Football Association said: "My favourite part of today was the 'Our Parks' presentation, I was fascinated about how it grew so quickly and the marketing strategy used to promote it and engage people who don't usually engage in sport was really thought provoking."  

Darrell Gale, Director of Public Health at East Sussex County Council said: "I'd sum it up in a word and it's 'inspirational' - Born reflected and spoke about something personal that's happened for people in his community."

The conference, attended by over 75 delegates from across Sussex, opened with Active Sussex's latest video project, focused on the local organisation, RunningSpace - running to beat suicide, who deliver Walk2Run groups across Sussex. The Walk2Run groups help support people with long term health conditions including mental health conditions.

WATCH: RunningSpace - running to beat suicide 

This was followed by the official welcome from Stephanie Maurel, Active Sussex's Independent Chair and industry-sector updates, delivered by Sadie Mason MBE, Active Sussex's Chief Executive. 

Sussex Sports Awards 2019: Special Announcement 

Following on from Born's 'The 'Our Parks' Journey' presentation, was the special announcement that legendary British athletics star Kriss Akabusi MBE, will be the star co-host at the Sussex Sports Awards 2019. 

Kriss will take to the stage to host the 17th edition of the annual glitzy and spectacular awards, hosted by Active Sussex, at the Hilton Brighton Metropole on Friday 22 November.

Engaging families 

Marie Burgess, the award winning head teacher, from St Leonards Church of England Primary Academy, then delivered her thought provoking keynote presentation about 'Engaging Families.'

Marie recounted how in less than six years, herself, and her team, had reversed the fortunes of the previously failing school, due to a series of inspiring, physical activity and sporting based innovations that engaged families and the community. This included the introduction of the 'Personal Challenge Award,' which offer pupils self-led opportunities to attempt to improve physical performances. Challenges are personal to the pupil and are only competitive against yourself - you are trying to become the best you can be.  

"I wanted to share our journey and our parental engagement within school," explained Marie. "Getting people active is vitally important and making sure all areas of our community get active has massive health benefits." 

Physical Activity Through And After Cancer 

The final keynote of the morning was the informative - 'Physical Activity Through and After Cancer,' led by Rosie Sadler, an Cancer Activity Coordinator from Albion in the Community.  

Rosie, alongside fellow Cancer Activity Coordinator Ros Addison, discussed Albion in the Community's programme 'Brighter Outlook' - which offers free, specialist support to anyone aged over 18 years old,  who has been diagnosed with cancer and lives in Brighton and Hove. The programme provides specialist activity coaches to help people get active, stay active and feel good through cancer and beyond.

Taking part in physical activity during and after cancer treatment can play a huge part in enabling people to take back control and support recovery. The impact was demonstrated in the video - 'It's more than football' - Brighton project helps local cancer patients which showcased work done by the 'Brighter Outlook' programme which was featured on the BBC One programme - Match of the Day.  

WATCH: 'It's more than football'

In a moving finish Peter Rogers, a Speak Up Against Cancer Volunteer for Albion in the Community, talked about the positive impact 'Brighter Outlook' had had on his life after his own cancer diagnosis.


In the final section of the event, after a networking lunch, delegates attended two galvanising workshops.

Long Term Conditions was led by Nick Seecharan, from the Sussex Health & Care Partnership - North Place. Nick, who has a NHS community physiotherapist background, joined the clinical commissioning group as a programme manager for long term conditions in 2015. He discussed his current role of reviewing pathways of care for diabetes, respiratory and heart failure as well as the implementation of self-management and patient activation plans for people with long term conditions. 

Engaging the Community in Physical Activity was delivered by the founders of Ad Lib Training - Robin Gargave and Denise Page. Robin drew on his 30 years of senior management and teaching experience in the field of exercise, fitness, physical activity and public health specialising in disabled, mental health and inactive populations. While Denise has over 28 years of teaching experience ranging from presenting at international fitness events to running her local Nordic Walking business. 

Delegate feedback 

Born Barikor, Founder and Chief Executive of Our Parks said: "I recommend coming to networking events like this because it's an opportunity to be inspired and learn from other people's journeys. It's all about talking and sharing experiences and creating opportunity for others."

Marie Burgess, Head Teacher, St Leonards Church of England Primary Academy said: "Coming to an event like this gives an opportunity to hear other stories about what's going on in the area, network and make connections with other professionals that have the same passion, drive and interests as you."

Rosie Sadler, Cancer Activity Coordinator, Albion in the Community said: "It's quite easy on a day-to-day basis to be working away on your own project but at events like this you get to meet other people who have other experiences and other ideas about different projects and that's really inspiring. You network and talk and it's all about partnership working and that's really important for our projects." 

Sean Lofting, Football Development Officer (Adult), from Sussex County Football Association said: "It's a great event to hear lots of new ideas and have presentations on areas of sport and physical activity that we may not have considered previously in our roles. It's an opportunity to network, and meet with a lot of other different organisations from across the county who ultimately have the same aim to get more people active!"

Darrell Gale, Director of Public Health at East Sussex County Council said: "For many people physical activity won't necessarily be at the top of their agenda. But when you hear about the transformations in health and recovery at Active Sussex networking events because of physical activity and sport... it is clearly something that has such a massive impact on people's health and well being both physical and mental and the health and the wellbeing of whole communities. Think about the type of outcomes you want for 'your people' and the groups you are working with and I think you'll find someone or an organisation, or a whole handful here at these events who will be able to help you with that."

The Active Sussex team. 

The Active Sussex Network 2019 photo gallery is available HERE. 

And videos from the event will be available soon...