Running free: Children at Oakwood Park Grammar School in Maidstone learn free running
Tom Taylor hosts
free running clubs at Oakwood Park Grammar School
by Nisha Chopra
Overcoming any obstacle is what Tom Taylor is teaching school
pupils at a Maidstone grammar school - in the form of free
Jumping off walls to buildings are just some of the daredevil
stunts that are now being taught to youngsters
The 23-year-old, of Upper Fant Road, has started his own
business to promote the sport, going around schools across the
county to see if they will take up the urban gymnastics.
Oakwood Park Grammar is the second school in the county to be
included in its after-school programme.
Also known as Parkour, Tom said there is real skill involved in
He said: "What I teach is a physical task where you learn
techniques and then you take those techniques you've mastered to
more challenging environments."
But despite suffering from a broken collar bone, a hit to the
shin and knee pain, Tom insists the sport is not as dangerous
as it looks.
"In terms of overall injury rate," he said. "People who do
Parkour probably have a vastly lower rate of injury than other
people in professional sports or team base sport with contact."
Over the years, Parkour has grown in popularity partly thanks to
Youtube, where many free runners post their stunts.
Tom added: "If a kid sees a sport they're going to try it, so if
they do, give them some sort of structured base to go from, give
them somewhere safe to practise first before they take it outside,
which they’re inevitably going to do."
But free running also raised a few eyebrows with
concerns from residents over damaged property.
In May last year, Medway Council told free runners to stop
jumping off Eastgate House, in Rochester High Street.
The grade I-listed building was badly damaged by youngsters
leaping off the raised beds onto the building's
Oliver Price, 14, is one of the regulars at Tom's training
He said despite a few knocks, it is good to be taught something
Oliver said: "My parents were a little concerned at first when I
joined, but here we learn the basics so we're all safe.
"Mostly it's just the same sort of sports so this gives you more
freedom in what you’re doing."
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