All around the world children and young people take part in parkrun events with their families. The UK, Ireland and Australia even have a junior parkrun series, which is 2k on a Sunday.
The first junior parkrun took place 12 years ago this month. What better time to take a closer look at families at parkrun?
On Sunday 4 April 2010, nine children, alongside a group of parents and volunteers, walked, jogged, ran and skipped their way around the first ever junior parkrun in Bushy Park, London, UK.
At that time, parkrun as a movement was still in its infancy compared to where it is now, there were just 31 events in the UK and a single event in Denmark with only a few thousand participants each week.
Since that first day, over 370 junior parkrun events have been launched across the UK, Ireland and Australia, and a jaw dropping 430,000 different juniors have participated more than 3.8 million times.
For every 100 junior parkrunners that take part, at least 40 adults will have also walked, jogged or ran alongside them.
It truly is a family affair.
Children and young people have also discovered the joy of volunteering. Since 2010, over 100,000 different people have volunteered at junior parkruns over one million times between them.
But these numbers only tell a small part of the junior parkrun story. The benefits are shown in the smiles, in the laughter, in the fact that juniors come back week after week.
One parkrunner, Hannah Bloxsidge, has completed 312 junior parkruns and also volunteered 64 times since doing her first event at Southampton junior parkrun in November 2013, aged six!
Our research tells us that children are happier and healthier because of junior parkrun, with whole families also being uplifted by the experience.
And, of course, it isn’t just junior parkrun where children can participate. Anyone from the age of four can join in at 5k parkrun events, as walkers, joggers, runners, skippers, dancers or volunteers! Under 11s just need to be within reach of their responsible adult at all times.
As we celebrate 12 years of junior parkrun, we thought we’d capture this impact in words.
Not our words, but feedback which has been sent from people across the world who wanted to share just what junior parkrun means to them.
“When I first went to junior parkrun I walked most of the course with my mummy and daddy. Now I can run a lot more. I love high-fiving all of the volunteers, and going to the cafe afterwards with my friends!” Esme, six.
“I love junior parkrun because I get to spend time with my friends. I like it at the end when everyone supports me and cheers me across the finish line” Max, seven.
And it’s not just junior parkrunners who let us know their thoughts.
Parents and carers also told us about the positive impact taking part in parkrun events has had on their families.
“It is a time and place where nothing else matters except from having fun trying your best, meeting new people and getting outside!” Jemima
“We love parkrun as a family – it’s how I started running more. Now my children are following my running feet and doing longer runs. We are happy and healthy, and lots of friendship has come from parkrun.” Claire
We know that volunteering is incredibly beneficial to many aspects of health and wellbeing, not to mention being great fun. For some people, volunteering at junior parkrun has been absolutely life changing, as these parkrunners told us.
“It’s fair to say volunteering at junior parkrun changed my life as well as being a great opportunity for my children. I would recommend any family to give it a try.” Jo
“I just want to say what an amazing initiative parkrun and junior parkrun is. I have an autistic child and parkrun has been just amazing for him. Josh is now 10 years old and has been running and volunteering at parkrun for a while and to see him gain more confidence being around people when he’s volunteering is just amazing to see. He just loves it and looks forward to parkrun every week whether he’s running or volunteering.” Martin
We look forward to the next 12 years of junior parkrun, and impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands more children, and their families on both Saturday and Sunday mornings.
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