Written by Karen Ireland
A group of young people from Carrickfergus will be hoping to dispel some of the misconceptions about free running on UTV on Thursday evening.
The group led by Shattner K Joy (16) want to get the message across that this isn’t vandalism but a form of exercise which requires practice and precision.
“I know people who just go out and drink and party, that’s pretty much their weekend but we love doing this,” Shattner says.
Shattner and his group are part of the Fixers charity which has received funding from the Big Lottery Fund and which aims to help young people aged 16-25 tackle relevant issues and have a voice in their community.
Fellow Fixer Ryan Taggart says the group are tired of being seen as anti-social.
“People feel that we’re vandalising at the minute,” he says. “Some people feel threatened when we do Parkour, apparently.
“But we’re not vandals. We’re just a bunch of kids who love what we’re doing. If anything, it’s kept us away from the problems people should be worrying about.”
Thanks to support from Fixers – the group are organising an event in Carrickfergus in October to help people understand more about free running.
“People see the spectacle of Parkour and they think: ‘Oh, he just walked out of his house this morning and was able to do that,’” says Ryan.
“But there’s been years of dedication and commitment behind that.”
For Alderman Billy Ashe, Mayor of Carrickfergus, the group’s Fixers campaign is an opportunity to help change local attitudes towards young people.
“I think it’s difficult for young people to be doing anything now because people do think that if young people are in the vicinity then they’re automatically up to no good,” he says.
“But 99% of young people are good people and I think we sometimes forget that.”
Shattner describes Parkour as “the best thing I’ve experienced in my whole life.”
“I’ve got so many friends because of free running,” he says, “and I feel so much happier about myself.”
Fixers works with young people across the UK. Each Fixer is supported to create the resources they need to make their chosen project a success, with creative help from media professionals to make their own promotional material, such as films, websites or print work.
Fixers has already supported over 9,000 young people across the UK to have an authentic voice in their community.
A report about the Fixers’ campaign will be shown on UTV Live on Thurs 5 September from 6pm.
You can read more about Shattner and his team here: http://www.fixers.org.uk/news/7299-11208/parkour-fix-on-utv.php