We were delighted last month to be joined by Chair of Trustees Mark Lawrie and we couldn’t let him leave without a sneaky interview to find out exactly what inspired him to get involved with the Personal Best Foundation.
Mark, what was it that inspired you to become a Trustee for Personal Best Foundation?
“I have a personal passion for bringing access to the power of sport to children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. This passion has shaped a large proportion of my working life to date. I also believe that Athletics has some unique opportunities for inclusion, particularly given the demographic profile at the elite end of the sport – there are role models for a broad range of young people to aspire to."
Why do you think athletics can have such an impact for young people facing disadvantage or inequalities?
"Athletics should have low barriers to entry as a sport. The ability to run, jump and throw can be accessed as easily on a park, in a games area and then ultimately on a track or in the field. Young people also have the opportunity to work towards their own personal best – not defined by others but self-determined. With the right people involved there is huge scope for inclusion."
What is your experience of supporting the foundation aims?
"I have worked for StreetGames, the UK charity dedicated to transforming the lives of young people from low-income underserved communities through sport, latterly as CEO, for 13 of the last 15 years. I have witnessed first-hand the power of sport to improve physical wellbeing and contribute to mental wellbeing. Prior to the pandemic young people from the poorest households were 3 times more likely to experience poor mental health than those from the most affluent. That gap has undoubtedly widened but sport and in this case, athletics, can absolutely play its part."
What is your own ambition for the Personal Best Foundation, what impact would you like it to make?
"Being a new charity, the Personal Best Foundation has a great opportunity to innovate and try new approaches to getting children and young people involved in Athletics in different ways. We can invest in understanding the reasons why young people don’t currently take part and work with them to co-create an Athletics experience that works best for them. Most importantly for me though, we can focus on the difference that the power of Athletics can bring to the wider needs and aspirations of young people and help them on the journey to be their personal best. The greatest impact will come through the stories of those young people who get involved and can talk about the difference that Personal Best has made to them."