In 2017 Hull was the UK City of Culture, and that same year junior parkrun came to town. Peter Pan junior parkrun Event Director, Paul Martindale, explains how the idea for a junior parkrun came about and talks about the impact the event is having on the local community.
I was well aware that there weren’t any junior parkruns in our part of the world, with people needing to travel at least an hour to get to the closest one to Hull. So what better way to promote the joy of physical activity and volunteering to our local community than by starting a junior parkrun?
One of the obvious questions we are always asked is where the name Peter Pan Park comes from. It’s actually a great question! Those ‘in the know’ say that there used to be a statue of Peter Pan in the park. Apparently, this goes back decades to when Peter Pan was very popular, and there may have been other references to Peter Pan in other parks in Hull, but we have it on good authority that there was a statue in our park and then the park took on this name.
The main thing to say about our course is that, as it’s in Hull, it is really flat! It’s a two lap route on tarmac paths that runs past most of the park’s landmarks. It starts on a wide path near to a large (fenced off) pond and then heads past the old bowling green to the tree-lined avenue. This path takes you almost to the Costello Stadium before turning round and heading down the same avenue and round the other side of the bowling green and back to the start. The finish funnel is on a patch of grass at the end of the second lap. It’s a very easy park to get to in west Hull, and then its only a few minutes drive to the centre of Hull with all of its attractions and also very close to the iconic Humber Bridge.
I would say that the ‘tree-lined avenue’ is the park’s most distinctive landmark. This is the ‘out and back’ section of our course and the long path here is lined on both sides by extremely tall Poplar trees, which almost seem to form a ‘guard of honour’ for the children and adults making their way up and down this path.
There are many interesting and inspiring stories that have come out of Peter Pan juniors, including six-year-old Grace.
Grace is an ardent participant with more than 30 junior parkruns to her name. She was there for our very first event and has been there most weeks ever since, and we always see her with a big smile on her face before, during and after the event. Grace’s parents describe her as having had a difficult time at school in the year before she started junior parkrun, but that Peter Pan junior parkrun has had a major positive impact on her confidence, self-esteem and sense of inclusion. This has culminated in Grace recently standing in front of 400 children and teachers at her primary school to deliver her own presentation on junior parkrun, how it works, and she even encouraged the children to come and volunteer! Grace’s parents state that she would never have had the confidence to speak in front of the whole school before but now feels able to do such an amazing thing because junior parkrun is something she is proud of and has a passion for. Grace is not bothered about gaining a PB, she loves running and the people who come to junior parkrun, and is always happy to volunteer.
We’re also incredibly proud of twins Amy (on the left) and Laura who both turned 15 earlier this year and are now too old to run at junior parkrun. Up until their recent birthdays, Amy had taken part every week since we started, and Laura volunteered almost every week that Amy ran. Now that they’re 15, they regularly come down to volunteer, and both their parents are junior parkrun stalwart volunteers too.
Peter Pan junior parkrun is in a great local park with a beautiful route and cafe. But what I really love the most is the community that it has created. We have many regular families who are a major part of the event and also we have a superb team of volunteers who all get on really well and are a delight to be with, and it’s that sense of community that defines what I love about our event.
After junior parkrun each week we pile into the Peloton Café that is based within Warners Gym. It’s next to the Peter Pan Park car park so it’s really handy for our parkrunning families and volunteers alike. It’s a new café that has been well designed and they are very welcoming and supportive of our event.
I think that the first thing our junior parkrun did is introduce the concept of junior parkrun to huge numbers of people over a wide area who weren’t aware of it as Peter Pan junior parkrun was, and is, the only junior parkrun for miles around so most families and parkrunners were unaware of how it worked. It has given hundreds of local children and families the chance to spend quality time together by exercising in a local park that has been underused, and given children and adults alike to experience the joys of volunteering. It has helped develop friendships among both children and adults and hopefully helped strengthen the local community indefinitely. Finally, we are aware that some of the parents who have run round with their children have now taken up running themselves as a hobby which is fantastic!
Peter Pan junior parkrun was established in line with the objectives of parkrun’s partnership with Warburtons that aims to increase junior parkrun participation levels in disadvantaged communities.
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