Ex-rugby star Ryan Hudson partners with new charity encouraging family play in Leeds

Ex-rugby star Ryan Hudson has partnered with a new Sport England-backed charity looking to encourage families across Leeds to get more active.

By Alex Grant
Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 4:45 am
Updated Thursday, 20th January 2022, 1:23 pm
ParkPlay offers free, fun games and activities for people of all ages and abilities. Picture: ParkPlay.

ParkPlay, which offers free, fun games and activities for people of all ages and abilities, has welcomed its first attendees at Brickfield Park in Hunslet, where weekly sessions will take place every Saturday morning from 10.30am.

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The initiative is launching in two more Leeds locations in January, including Oak Road Recreation Ground and Lincoln Green, and is looking to expand into further parks throughout 2022.

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The initiative is launching in two more Leeds locations in January, including Oak Road Recreation Ground and Lincoln Green. Picture: ParkPlay.

Having first started in Essex last year, ParkPlay has grown quickly throughout the country and is now in 22 locations across five counties, bringing together local people to have fun together with activities ranging from football to dodgeball, tag to frisbee.

Sessions are tailored by PlayLeaders and vary from park to park, with anyone from the community welcome to attend.

Ryan Hudson, ex-Super League and international rugby player and director at Elite Kids Coaching, said: “Our mission at Elite Kids Coaching is to build confidence and motivation in local people to try new activities, and we now support more than 25,000 children a week in schools and have also worked with other local organisations including Wakefield Council, Rugby League Cares and the West Yorkshire Police.

"In addition to getting kids moving in educational environments, we want to promote a passion for keeping active outside of the school day for people of all ages, not only for children, which is where ParkPlay fits perfectly.

“We really look forward to hopefully watching ParkPlay grow here in Leeds in 2022, and will hopefully be a key partner in its continued expansion in the coming months. I will be attending the sessions and can’t wait to get involved."

ParkPlay is currently looking for people who are passionate about doing something positive for their community to take on the role of PlayLeader, which is a paid, part-time role, where individuals are responsible for leading sessions and encouraging people from the local area to take part.

The initiative will be supported by a range of local partners including Active Leeds, Leeds City Council and Elite Kids Coaching, who are assisting with the training of PlayLeaders, promotion of the sessions, and the expansion into different parks in the city.

Rick Jenner, ParkPlay CEO, said: “We are delighted to have launched ParkPlay in Leeds, with some incredible support from a range of organisations. We’re excited to get more people active and having fun in the city, including those looking to pick up positive habits in the New Year.

“We encourage those of all ages and abilities to come down to Brickfield Park, Oak Road Recreational Ground or Lincoln Green, and get involved on Saturday mornings. Our dream is to get to a place where there’s a ParkPlay within easy walking distance for everyone in Leeds. There’s still work to be done to achieve this goal but we have high hopes, so we encourage anyone who might be interested to get involved. There are hundreds of parks in Leeds, and we’d love to be in them all!”

Coun Salma Arif, Leeds City Council’s executive member for public health and active lifestyles, said: “It is really encouraging to see that this new initiative set up which will help bring communities together and help us deliver on our ambition to make Leeds a Child Friendly City.

“Getting families, friends, parents, grandparents and children moving is so important. For children, getting them involved in community physical activity projects, such as ParkPlay from a young age, is key to improving their creativity skills and boosting mental health and wellbeing. I’m looking forward to seeing how this initiative develops and hopefully it can eventually become city-wide.”

Free weekly sessions for all the family will take place in Brickfield Park in Hunslet at 10.30am, with further sessions launching in Oak Road Recreation Ground and Lincoln Green in the coming weeks.

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