Runners say ‘we’re not athletic chavs’

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A group of Sheffield free-runners have launched a campaign to challenge negative images of the urban sport of parkour – to show they are not vandals or troublemakers.

Nic Stewart, aged 23, is leading the group who want people to realise that parkour – a form of urban gymnastics, which involves performing tricks like front and back flips using street furniture such as walls and rails – demands significant physical discipline.

His group has joined forces with Fixers, the national charity that supports young people aged 16 to 25 to tackle any issue that matters to them.

Nic said:“We get seen as athletic chavs – I think that’s one of the more amusing ways of looking at it.

“We’re often seen as anti-social and we’d like to change that. We’d like people to see that we all love what we do, and we’re not hurting anyone. We’d love people to take us seriously.”

The group met with Sheffield councillor Isobel Bowler to tell her about the project.

She said: “Young people, and particularly young men, do get stereotyped but to have people out doing something that requires discipline and concentration, I think is really positive.”

The group is now working on a short film on their hobby.