The summer of 2022 in Birmingham was the stuff that dreams are made of – the city came alive with sports, community events and good cheer! With over 5 million visitors coming to Birmingham to enjoy the Commonwealth Games, there was so much to do and see it was hard to know where to start, and here at ROAM we were thrilled to be able to play a small part!
In March 2022 our ROAM Commonwealth Challenge was shortlisted for funding as part of Birmingham City Council’s Celebrating Communities Fund. The fund was set up to celebrate the games and showcase the very best of the people who make our city great, and following a community vote at the Bournville & Cotteridge Ward Meeting we were ecstatic to have been awarded the grant!
And so we set to work busily planning the challenge – discovering new talents for event organisation, marketing and becoming experts in the flags of the Commonwealth! To help us get the creative juices flowing, and to get some more input from the community, we ran an Ideas Workshop in May 2022. Joined by Rhiannon Simpson and Lucy Bailey-Wright, we explored and discussed what we had come up with so far and got some terrific new ideas and inspiration! We were also incredibly lucky to have found a fantastic volunteer graphic designer, Jessie Kaur, to create our marketing materials and branding for the event.
Saturday 16th July soon came…and it was hot! While we were planning, the prospect of rain had been our biggest worry…we hadn’t even considered that there might be a heatwave! Luckily the weather was glorious, almost too hot, but not quite.
Equipped with their specially designed passports and maps, 28 teams set out to complete 11 challenges around the park, earning stamps along the way and competing for some fantastic prizes donated by local businesses and friends of ROAM. Some had booked in advance, and others were just out in the park and wanted to get involved in the fun!
We loved watching people dancing their way through the Bangladeshi Bop, getting dressed up for the Tonga Conga and wanging wellies on the Singapore Sling- the day was full of laughs. We aimed it at all ages and were delighted to welcome team members aged 5 weeks to 85! And even our band of brilliant volunteers spanned 66 years.
Our aim was to bring our community of families and volunteers together, along with the wider community to celebrate roaming in the park, promoting the great benefits of the natural world for everyone, and the event entirely surpassed our wildest dreams! We hoped that there would be something for everyone and we were absolutely blown away by everyone getting so into the spirit of it. Seeing adults join in with play, daubing their faces in mud and losing their inhibitions through dance moves was just magical.
The day left us with warm hearts (not just because of the sun!), tired but elated, and we hope that all 122 people that joined us felt the same!
A massive thank you to those who gave prizes including Daffodillys Florist, James Llewellyn at Rice Chamberlains Estate Agents, BullionByPost, Birmingham Rep, Martineau Gardens, adeleplayworker, Philip Welch and Jenni Welch, Greenwood Projects, APEC Architects and Alicia’s Micro Bakehouse for generously supplying well-earned pizzas to our volunteers at the end. And a huge thank you to the Friends of Cotteridge Park, especially the volunteers running the Shed that day keeping our participants hydrated and cool with ice lollies!