As we look ahead to the New Year, and with the knowledge that children’s physical activity levels have been declining over the course of this year, we feel the time is right to start considering the possible return of junior parkrun events across the UK and Ireland in early 2021.
To help inform our decision making, we surveyed 1,800 junior parkrun volunteers to get their feedback and views.
Of the volunteers who responded, nearly three quarters (74%) stated that they would volunteer at junior parkrun events if they were to restart in January.
Furthermore, of those volunteers who have children, 81% would bring their children to walk or run at our 2k Sunday morning events.
In line with worrying evidence published elsewhere, including by Sport England and Youth Sport Trust, almost half of respondents (42%) said that their child’s mental health has been impacted over the past six months, with similar numbers (38%) also reporting adverse affects on their child’s physical health and on their happiness (48%).
We all know that the impact of junior parkrun goes far beyond the opportunity to be active, by offering children the opportunities to connect with their friends and spend quality time with their family. Worryingly, 81% of those surveyed said that their children’s connections with friends have been negatively impacted over the past six months, with two thirds of families also having less opportunities to be active.
We were also saddened to know that 10% of respondents were concerned about the costs associated with being active as a family.
Given this growing crisis in health and wellbeing it is no surprise that there was overwhelming enthusiasm amongst respondents for bringing their children to take part in junior parkrun, with 81% saying that they would do so if these free, weekly events returned in early 2021.
We need research like this to help inform our decision making about when, how and why to bring back events, and are grateful for all of those volunteers who took the time to complete the survey and give us their views.
It is clear that our children need opportunities to be active, to connect with others, to be outside, and to grow in confidence and self-belief. Junior parkrun can provide those opportunities for thousands of children, and their families, each and every weekend.
We are continuing to work closely with our amazing junior parkrun event teams and ambassadors, along with stakeholders across the UK and Ireland, to explore the feasibility of bringing back junior parkrun, and giving us all a reason to walk, run and jump for joy as the New Year dawns.
Name: John & Liz O’Dwyer Age: 52 & 53 Occupation: Airport Security & Housewife Local parkrun: Father Collins Number of parkruns completed: 51 & 57 How did you get involved in parkrun? I’ve been doing them on and off for years since Malahide Parkrun started and did a few in St Anne’s. I got…
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