junior parkrun first came to my attention when I read about Ireland’s first junior event, held in Rush, Co. Dublin, in the parkrun Ireland newsletter. At the end of the story was an invitation to get in touch if you’d like a junior parkrun in your community.
With three young children, I thought a junior parkrun would be a great addition to my local area. I emailed parkrun Ireland and naively thought a crack team from parkrun HQ would swoop in and establish a new event in a few weeks!
My proposal was for a junior parkrun in Albert College Park in Dublin 9, which seemed suitable for a 2k junior parkrun. I was asked to gather together a team of volunteers, so I asked mostly neighbours and parents at my son’s school to sign up and, as I was proposing a junior parkrun, I needed them all to be Garda Vetted. We received our Garda Vetting and attended a Child Safeguarding course organised by Athletics Ireland. We also distributed leaflets looking for volunteers and had a great response. This wonderful group of new volunteers all signed up and form the core team at Albert College junior parkrun today.
Dublin City Council kindly provided permission for us to use the park at 930am each Sunday, and the park staff have been amazingly supportive and helpful throughout.
Together with Siobhan O’Reilly, a neighbour and member of the core team, and Professor Enda Fitzpatrick of DCU, we marked out and measured our 2k route. We completed all the steps towards establishing the event at our own pace, nobody ever put any pressure on us, and there were no deadlines. We also received full training.
By May 2016 we had received the date of our first event, which was to be on the June bank holiday weekend. Our event appeared on the parkrun website and we had a Facebook page. It was really going to happen!
Since then we have gone from strength to strength. junior parkrun is a fun and friendly 2k walk, jog, run, skip, hop or dance for children aged 4-14, and we encourage children of all abilities to join in. Parents love that brothers and sisters can run together and are not separated into different age groups. The participants themselves love that they can take part with their friends, neighbours and classmates. We start and end our event at a playground so kids can extend the fun afterwards.
Like me, I think everyone who volunteers really enjoys junior parkrun, the fun on a Sunday morning and the crazy energy of the kids. That’s what makes us do it and makes people return every week.
September will see two new junior parkruns in Ireland, Shelbourne junior parkrun in Co. Limerick and Heritage Park junior parkrun in Co. Wexford. I wish them the best of luck and encourage others to set up junior parkruns in their area. It’s a pretty straightforward and supportive process, and junior parkrun is a really great addition to any community.
Albert College junior parkrun Event Director
If you’d like to be involved in bringing parkrun or junior parkrun to your local community, we’d love to hear from you! Please email us!
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