Hidden Diamonds: How to be EVEN happier in triathlon 💎Dec 05, 2022
As Mojo Member Steph Hulford completed her 100th parkrun volunteering session on Saturday, it got me thinking about volunteering in sport.
We all know volunteering is a great thing to do for sports clubs, groups and at races. It surely keeps the wheels of sport turning. But what are the real benefits of volunteering for the volunteer?
Back in 2014 when I was working in Sport Development, the Sport and Recreation Alliance pioneered a study on volunteers in sport. The report was called Hidden Diamonds.
It was a fascinating read and showcased the huge number of benefits of volunteering to the individual: find report here
In the report they wrote ‘research has found that volunteering in sport, compared to those who have never volunteered in sport are 18% more likely to feel proud of themselves and 10% more likely to have higher self-esteem, emotional wellbeing and resilience’
At the time I was involved with setting up the local parkrun (Barnstaple, North Devon. One of the first parkruns in the country) and I was surrounded by some amazing volunteers. To this day, a decade on, those volunteers have worked tirelessly to put this event on every week, rain or shine, and inspired thousands of other volunteers to help too.
Why do they do this? I asked Shelley, one of the longest standing volunteers at Barnstaple parkrun, why she gives up so much time to help put this event on for other runners and walkers each week. This is what she said:
“I volunteer because it makes me happy. I love that it makes others happy, enabling them to take part in activities. Particularly in parkrun, I like to be part of the community. I love seeing the different generations come along and take part and watch them grow and improve. I just love volunteering”
I’m sure you all know people like Shelley. Absolute diamonds 💎 Thankyou for everything you do.
Triathlon Events and volunteering
Triathlon events are reliant on volunteers. As Dan Brice from Channel Events in Somerset knows only too well. He created his very own ‘Tribe’ of volunteers, who help with event volunteering. Dan said “we are so fortunate to have our Tribe family who tirelessly come out to help. We simply couldn’t do it without you”.
He continues to say that it's a way of taking part without being competitive. To be outdoors, socially interacting, which is great for mental and physical health.
But what some people don’t realise is that without people like Dan, creating and nurturing the Tribe family, and offering the opportunity to volunteer, these wonderful people wouldn’t get the chance to volunteer, and feel great about themselves. Is there a Dan, or a Tribe in your community that you can seek out?
Volunteering…. With benefits
This year many Mojo athletes volunteered in races, challenges, parkruns and more. Our December Monthly Challenge at Mojo is to find volunteering opportunities for 2023 and get them booked in.
Mojo Academy athlete Sam volunteered at Big Cow Events near Milton Keynes this year, and much to her surprise, they offered all Mojo Tri Club members a 15% discount on Cowman Events next year as a thankyou. Another incentive to volunteer!!
But I don’t think you need any more incentives than to know it will make you happier.
A huge part of volunteering is about creating connections; to the role, the cause, to the other people involved.
Johann Hari, author of the amazing book Lost Connections, wrote extensively on what he perceived to be the real causes of depression, and how to overcome them.
Hari wrote “There’s obvious cliches we have. Like 'be you' and 'be yourself' and ' you are worth it'.
But if you want to be happier, don’t be you. Be us. Be we. Be part of the group. Make the group worth it. Let yourself flow into other people’s stories. Be connected with everyone around you. Don’t strive to the be woman addressing the crowd, strive to be the crowd. When you are sad, do something for someone else. THAT is the true path to happiness”
(if you want to hear more from Johann, his Ted talk is here )
As I sat at my desk this morning to write this blog, I had absolutely no idea that today was in fact International Volunteering Day! How cool is that?
A very big thankyou to all volunteers out there. You are all diamonds. If you think you would like to volunteer soon, but not sure how to get started, drop me a line, I would love to hear from you. Let's make plans to give back and get happier through volunteering in 2023 🤜🏼🤛🏼
Have a great day