Eynesbury Heritage Trail juniors was the fifth junior parkrun to launch in Australia and is the second to be featured in our ‘parkrun profile’ series.
We asked Event Director, Melissa Ellis, why she first got involved with junior parkrun, what she loves most about it, and the impact it has had on her community.
When I heard that parkrun Australia was going to trial junior parkrun with three events and that one would be at Westerfolds in Victoria, I knew I wanted to be involved. I was already a passionate parkrunner and parkrun-tourist, so the 50-minute drive from my home in Narre Warren South didn’t bother me.
I attended the first event at Westerfolds juniors on 27 May 2018, volunteering as a marshal at the turn around point. As soon as I saw those kids walking and running towards me, I was in love with the concept. I was already building a new home on the other side of the city and my mind was dancing with the prospect of launching a junior parkrun in Melbourne’s western suburbs.
By mid-2018 I had moved into my new home but I continued to volunteer at Westerfolds juniors which had then become more than an hour’s drive. Meanwhile, I was considering where the best place for a course would be. Initially, I thought Toolern Creek parkrun would be the perfect location – it had a wide concrete path, great visibility, toilets and parking, but I soon learnt that the adjacent athletics track would mean a clash on a Sunday morning with other sports, so I began looking at alternative locations.
Eventually, we settled on a trail in the small community of Eynesbury. It was beautiful! It had everything we needed in terms of facilities, it was within reach of the townships of Melton, Wyndham Vale, Point Cook and Bacchus Marsh, which all had existing 5k parkruns and that I hoped would support us.
A friend took me on as a Run Director at Westerfolds parkrun so I could learn the ropes and when parkrun Australia called for submissions to launch six more junior events, I was ready!
We were all set to run our first trial event in April 2020 when Covid-19 paused everything. However, we sat tight and eventually launched our little event in January 2021 with 28 kids.
Our event is one of the smaller junior events in Australia but I love it because it makes a difference. I am able to know the regular kids by name and we get just as excited as them when they achieve their milestones and personal bests. I love to be at the finish to cheer them on by name and see their happy faces. It’s so rewarding to know we are helping them to be active and feel that sense of achievement.
We have a young junior who attends our event and is regularly the first finisher. Recently, we tried to help him achieve a PB by having one of our faster volunteers accompany him to the turnaround point, but he was too quick! So, Steve Moneghetti if you’re reading this and have a current Victorian Working with Children Check – we need your help!
junior parkrun is a platform for kids who are not otherwise engaged in regular physical activity. We offer a weekly event where kids can walk or run, at their own ability, in a non-competitive environment. We also encourage kids to volunteer in all roles under the supervision of adults. We hope that over time we can build awareness of the benefits of junior parkrun and increase involvement of kids in the surrounding areas.
Check out Eynesbury Heritage Trail juniors’ website and Facebook page and don’t forget to take a look at their future volunteer roster here. If you’re interested in volunteering at parkrun, please contact the team via their website or social media channels, or speak to them at the event.
If you’d like your event featured in our Aussie parkrun profile series, we’d love to hear from you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some short videos about some of the fun and easy volunteering opportunities available at each parkrun every week:
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