Several people are asking us to find out the best approach to start shared runs in their community. There is no one-size-fits-all method, but here are a few things to consider.
1. It starts with enthusiasts!
The heart of a community project like this is the very people who are involved in its founding. These people bring a lot of energy and help make this weekly activity a success. Everyone makes their contribution, whether through organization, planning or publicizing the initiative. Note that the people who participated in the foundation of the shared races may not be there after a year or two: this is totally normal! They take on the role of participant and hand on the torch on to others. The most important thing is the runners and co-runners who are able to experience the shared runs week after week. The shared runs are all about the community!
Bet on personalized wheel covers
Organize a crowdfunding campaign
3. Local organizations: essential partners
The success of the shared races would not be possible without the involvement of various local organizations. These organizations are an important driving force, providing advice and visibility to the various potential participants and the various communities. We are thinking in particular of Handi Apte in Sherbrooke, of CAPVISH in Quebec, of the Amicale des persons handicapped physique de l'Outaouais in Gatineau and many others. This is without forgetting the support of the Quebec Association for the Leisure of the Handicapped (AQLPH) and the various regional associations of recreation for the disabled (ARLPH ) who can guide and assist potential organizers in starting the races.
At the same time, we must not ignore the involvement of the Courailleurs de St-Jean-sur-Richelieu running club. Its members mobilized to assist the Shared Races of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu by “lending” their legs free of charge to the elderly and people with Alzheimer's disease in the region.
4. An enchanting course... and an accessible one!
Each chapter of the shared runs has a unique element: its course. Naturally, one of the first objectives of this initiative is to create a community and promote social inclusion, but there is also the fact that it is an outdoor activity. It is an important element of runs, because the benefits associated with outdoor activities are multiple.
The choice of route is important and must take into account the sharing of space with other users (when on a cycle path, for example), access to adapted restrooms nearby and the possibility of getting there by adapted transport. It is also necessary to plan a place to perform a transfer. The presence of a place sheltered from the sun is a plus for participants who could wait for a Kartus outdoor wheelchair to become available.
Finally, it is important to plan the storage of strollers between activities. Some opt for a closed trailer that can be moved, others opt for a room near the assembly point. Ideally, this is a place that is easy to access and allows access to the wheelchairs at all times, in the event of a loan or a rental that is not related to the weekly runs.
5. Non-profit or not?
The last step and not the least: should you create a non-profit organization (NPO)? Ideally, yes. This new organization will gain credibility and will be able to establish a governance that will ensure the sustainability of this community actor. Moreover, the status of an organization allows you to apply for grants that can greatly help it!
This little overview of the important things to consider when starting shared runs was done with the past knowledge of the different organizations. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to write to us, it will be our pleasure to accompany you or point you in the right direction.
P.S. Things are happening at Kartus:
- We recently published a magazine with inspiring testimonials
- We shared a first capsule of three on the experience in a Kartus outdoor wheelchair
- We were fortunate to be the winners of the Prix d'Excellence - Affaires from the Association québécoise des loisir municipaux (AQLM).