After hitting the long-awaited 100th milestone at his local Clonmel parkrun during Autism Awareness Month, Gerard writes about how understanding the parkrun community has been with his autism and his future plans to volunteer too.
Last month was Autism Awareness Month and I’ve just completed my 100th parkrun, which I’m super excited about! It took a long time to get here with the breaks during COVID-19, but I’m so happy to have hit this milestone.
Me and my sister both have autism, we go to the Clonmel parkrun every Saturday with our family. I’m currently 15, but we’ve been going for more than three years.
The routine is so important to my family. We get our clothes ready the night before and check Alexa for the weather – which doesn’t really matter as we go even if it’s raining!
Now that I’m getting older, my friend Susan, explained to me about the fact that autism affects communication, socialising and interaction with others. It affects so many children in so many different ways.
This love of our weekly parkrun is wrapped up by the routine, we are up and dressed in our running clothes and out the door by 9am.
It’s the familiarity, support and friendly people that make our local parkrun. We love it! Everyone is very happy and our parkrun is up and down on the Blueway in Clonmel, sometimes we do high fives with the parkrunners at the front coming back around us.
We are also lucky because we live near Fethard, who have recently started the Fethard Town parkrun. Sometimes the river comes up in Clonmel and the parkrun gets cancelled, so we go to Fethard parkrun and even visit the newly opened cafe in the Fethard Town Park!
The encouragement and support that is shown to all the children by the adults shows so much respect and understanding of how hard it might be for some people to start their health and exercise journey.
parkrun has a feel good factor and a sense of belonging and supporting each other every week. This is also topped off by our weekly treat and chat with my parkrun buddies, Holly, Padear and Michael in the local cafe at Dunnes Stores. All the staff know a big group of us from parkrun are coming and they are ready and waiting for us!
I am so happy to have finally reached this big milestone of 100 parkruns, it was a very exciting day for me. Now that I have hit the magic 100, I’m planning to step up and volunteer because it’s important to help other parkrunners and contribute to the events.
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