News - 9th March 2023

Encouraging my students to parkrun

Screenshot 2023-03-07 at 15.17.50

Jonathan Harris fell in love with volunteering and started encouraging his students to come along and join him at his Bradford parkrun in the glorious Lister Park.


He discovered the physical and mental benefits that parkrun has for young people and has been spreading the joy of parkrun ever since!


At the beginning of my parkrun experience, I ran four or five times a week and had completed several marathons already.


My first parkrun was in May 2014, and I had a very different attitude back then. I treated it more like an opportunity to go flat out and do my absolute best.


But since then, I have been injured for six months and have recently had spinal surgery which stopped me from running.


Meanwhile, I’ve volunteered every week and it has given me a sense of belonging amongst our volunteer family.




It has become a huge part of my life, and has had massive benefits both physically and mentally.


I look forward to a Saturday morning, when I can catch up with familiar faces and meet new people.


The first time I volunteered, a lady nervously came over to speak to me about what to do, as it was her first time. Since then, she has come almost every week and has passed her 50th milestone now. It’s so wonderful to see her coming all the time, knowing that she decided to stay because she felt so welcome.


Usually, I scan and it’s become “my thing” – I have my spot to stand in and I get to know the others who scan with me.


In some ways, I have grown to love scanning more than running!




As the principal of Rainbow Primary Leadership Academy, we talk a great deal about ambition and invite people to talk about their lives in order to inspire the children.


One of the visitors was Tony Kingham, who is a local Bradford legend and volunteers every week here! Tony spoke to the students about running, how it makes you feel and about the joys of parkrun.


Since then, I regularly speak to the children in assemblies about parkrun, reminding them that they can come on a Saturday morning, and I will be there to cheer them on.


Some pupils have been coming for several months now, I know a few that are even getting close to 20 parkruns! In the beginning, their mums and dads were watching, but now they take part.


I always put a photograph in the school newsletter to share with the rest of the parents at school.


principal harris


At an event in February, I had the role of parkwalker and it was the first time I was able to walk 5k since my operation.


I love the concept of parkwalk. There are so many people who are put off taking part because they don’t think they can run 5k, or who don’t want to run. So, I wanted to do a parkrun to show that walking is okay, it’s really fun!


It’s good to show to people who are there for a “normal walk”, that they can join us and not feel out of place.


Some students ran and walked at this particular event, and they tell me it’s getting a lot easier!


I also tweeted pictures of the event and the families were so pleased and enthusiastic about the whole parkrun experience.


Some even told me, “The kids enjoy parkrun and we have made it a habit to start their weekend with such a lovely experience with friends and family.”


It’s great to see everyone smiling at the end of parkrun every week. It benefits the children and their families as they have a healthy start to the weekend and a sense of belonging and community.


Bradford parkrun is a diverse and welcoming place for everyone!




I’m so delighted that children and families from school have been inspired to attend parkrun and I am going to continue to promote parkrun at every opportunity.


I’m also trying to set up a new junior parkrun on the other side of the city and would like to arrange a Rainbow Primary “takeover”, with our staff, families and students to all volunteer, walk or run one Saturday.


As I am slowly on the mend, I hope to be able to run again in two or three months but I know I’ll miss scanning, so I’ll have to keep doing it!


I have a different attitude to running now, it’s less of a concern about how quickly I can run and more about enjoying it.




Jonathan Harris



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