Parkour can hurt. Free running over urban obstacles means that hard falls on concrete are inevitable. But when the alternative is an existence defined by drugs, guns and violence, the discipline, focus and precision demanded by parkour provide a life-saving outlet.
That’s the rationale behind ESCAPE, a youth development initiative that aims to get youngsters in at risk areas involved in parkour. Coach Zack Wright runs ESCAPE from the Moya Centre in Fish Hoek, recruiting children and teenagers from Ocean View and teaching them to execute acrobatic moves like flips, vaults and cat leaps outdoors.
Parkour demands practice and training. The kids have to maintain their fitness to perform the moves and need to use critical thinking skills to understand how to move in different environments. But you won’t hear them whinge. They enjoy being able to discover the hidden geography of their city. Parkour provides them with seclusion from the stressors they face.