Run Free youths: told we’re no good, but look at us now!

When most of us signed up for Run Free in 2014, we thought we were just going to learn how to flip and do Parkour moves. We didn’t foresee the opportunity to travel to the UK to perform and represent Jamaica internationally. The experience of going to Scotland, performing, the workshops and meeting people from so many different places is one we’ll remember forever.

It wasn’t all fun and games along the way. There were some moments when we got really frustrated; some of us gave our mentors a whole heap a trouble sometimes. Yet, in the end, we were able to deliver and deliver well. The team rehearsed twice a week for five months in preparation for performing Run Free, our story told using Parkour, at the Home Away arts festival. Most of us have been part of the programme since 2014, and had never committed to any one thing for such a long time.

Seeing everyone in the audience on their feet and feeling the energy of the applause inside the Tramway Theatre that night was amazing. Eleven out of fifteen members of team Run Free had never traveled outside of Jamaica before going to Glasgow. When we started writing our script in 2015, we added a line that says, “10 of us want to travel outside of Jamaica and come back.” It is a real blessing to have this dream of ours manifest just one year later.

Staying on Jamaica Street in Glasgow’s city centre was an experience all by itself. Every time we stepped out of the hotel, we saw evidence of Jamaica’s influence in the world. An experience like this must inspire you to want more for yourself.

Coming home was fun too. Plenty people in the community (Parade Gardens AKA South Side in Kingston) can’t stop talking about how proud they are of us. We’ve also become an inspiration for other youth to become more involved in self-development activities, because you never know what you might achieve. In terms of the vibe among members of Team Run Free, we’ve bonded and look out for each other in a different way now.

Run Free helped me to become more innovative in the way I approach obstacles. I have developed a more determined and persistent frame of mind. I claim more responsibly for my choices and actions. Being the team’s Ambassador helped me a lot with this. I also appreciate the arts lot more.

Big up every body, mind and soul that made it possible for us to experience a great opportunity like Run Free and representing for your country in another country, with other countries. It was very memorable experience.

Start together. Finish together.

– Shasane ‘Sashi’ Parker, 21, Run Free participant and ambassador

About Run Free & Manifesto Jamaica

Run Free is the Jamaican extension of the National Theatre of Scotland’s theatre production JUMP. The project fuses physical theatre, storytelling and the movement discipline of Parkour – otherwise known as Free Running – into a devised theatrical production. Using the grace, flow and style of Parkour, participants explore the challenges and obstacles they face growing up in an age of unprecedented and unpredictable change. The Run Free initiative is conceptualised, financed and implemented through collaboration between the British Council, National Theatre of Scotland and Manifesto Jamaica.

Manifesto Jamaica is a social enterprise committed to educating, exposing and empowering youth through art and culture. Our mission is to develop and attract opportunities for young people that inspire creativity, productivity and elevated consciousness, by harnessing the talents of nation builders.

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