“You’ve just got to do what I did and what I am continuing to do now. Find something you enjoy, that might be with friends or family and just keep doing it.”
Throughout the #30330Essex Challenge I’ve met up with some fascinating Essex residents. From participants in activity projects supported by the Active Essex Foundation; to champions, running fitness classes and inspiring their communities; to influencers in Essex, like the CEO Gavin Jones.
One such influencer is Jason Fergus, Trustee for the Active Essex Foundation. When it comes to activity, sports and health in the county, Jason is the man to know.
Most frequently to be found ‘chatting’ with whoever runs the particularly sporting venue we are at or whoever is head coach or trainer, Jason’s little black book of contacts is full of the names Essex needs to get the county moving.
We meet at Mark Hall Athletics ground, the same evening we meet with GB Wheelchair sprinter Richard Chiassaro and it’s clear Jason feels very at home at and on the track.
Sprinting is in his blood. Jason is in the record books as the Senior England Schools Champion over 100m in 1992 (10.98secs). He also represented GB in sprinting.
Since my first meeting about the #3030Essex challenge with Jason, back in July 2017, I’ve been keen to get him back into his spikes. So would tonight be the night?
KL: Jason could you tell me a little more about the 30:30 Challenge
JF: The Active Essex Foundation is very excited about our first campaign, 30 minutes for 30 days. For us at the Foundation we know the importance of keeping people physically active. We all know the health benefits of being physically active. Doctors say, ‘being physically active can contribute to your long term health.’ We thought, ‘what better way to bring to life the excitement of a challenge and the importance of physical activity than to bring it together in a campaign?’ This is our first attempt and we’re really pleased with the response so far.
KL: I know you have a background in athletics, particularly sprinting. How does it feel to be here at this track tonight?
JF: It’s great to be here, taking part in some activities along with lots of people who are also taking part in the challenge.
Sport has played a really big part in my life, I’m lucky to have been spotted as a boy. I represented the UK in 100 and 200m and also in the 4 x 100m relay. To come back to the track tonight, brings back memories. Positive ones in the excitement of how I used to feel and run but also frightening ones in the tummy for how it used to feel to train and to perform at the highest level.
KL: How would you like to see the challenge grow?
JF: For me as Trustee we hope this will become a yearly campaign and we hope that people like me and the people of Essex will get behind it now and get behind it for many years to come.
KL: How can we get more people in Essex to join in?
JF: It’s important to remember this is out first year, so we’re learning. We’re already thinking about next year. How we are going to sign post people to opportunities? We’ve already got people coming to us saying, ‘I could put this on,’ or, ‘you can come to my club,’ or, ‘you can come to my session.’ Next year, what I hope we’ll find is that we’ve got 3-4 times the amount of activities available for people to take part in and that’s really exciting.
KL: So what’s your vision for the challenge in 2019?
JF: I’m confident there’ll be lots more opportunities to get involved, and excitingly for us, they’ll be diverse opportunities. It could be something taking place at your local community. It could be at your local park. It could be at your local school, meeting with other parents. It’s this breadth of opportunity that is really exciting for us as Trustees, we can hopefully engage more people to take part in physical activity.
KL: What’s next for the Active Essex Foundation?
JF: It’s a new foundation. So at the moment we are fact finding. We’re looking into charitable funding. Through initial funding we’ve already got some projects running, like the exciting project in Canvey Island where we’re already engaging young people with diverse sports like skateboarding. More recently, we’ve been working in Southend-on-Sea using football to engage them in further education. What’s most important to us is that we’re using sport as the tool to help in a range of outcomes. We believe physical activity can provide the opportunity to do this.
KL: So I’m sat at home. I want to get active. Where do I start?
JF: The first thing to do is to see if you’ve got any friends who want to join you. We know that a great way to take part in physical activity is to do it with your friends. So find a friend, do something collectively. Find something you can enjoy and do it together.
KL: What do I do?
JF: Active Essex has an activity finder. Or throughout June the #3030Essex Challenge has its own activity finder (www.3030essex.com). But it could be as simple as meeting on the village corner and going for a walk once or twice a week. Once you get started you’ll find you have the appetite to do so much more.
You’ve just got to do what I did and what I am continuing to do now. Find something you enjoy, that might be with friends or family, or it could help you to meet new people and once you’ve found it, just keep doing it.
To find out more about supporting the #3030Essex Challenge in 2019 contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org