Bernie O’Connor and her family love parkrunning together at Armagh parkrun in Ireland. Bernie’s daughter Jodie has autism and needs one-on-one support.
Like many other parents of special needs children, Bernie sees staying fit and healthy as a way to be able to support her daughter for as long as possible. Her local parkrun helps with that. And it’s just as important for Jodie.
When I first started at Armagh parkrun five years ago, I had never run before.
I decided I was going to do a 5k fun run as our daughter Jodie has autism and I wanted to raise awareness.
The week after I went that first time, my husband came along. And then the week after that we took Jodie with us, and her older sister walked the course with her. It was so encouraging when people passed and said hello and cheered her along. We were all made to feel so welcome.
That was us hooked.
Myself and my hubby have almost reached 250 parkruns now and Jodie is at 193. It’s such a fantastic achievement for her, and she brings along her infectious smile every Saturday morning.
Our eldest daughter is expecting her second baby soon and she has been great, continuing to walk with Jodie.
At parkrun we all know everyone and it is very motivating as a family to be able to do something together that has so many benefits. I have so many happy memories from parkrun over the last five years.
Jodie is not very sociable but at parkrun there is no pressure on her whatsoever. She takes things at her own pace and everyone is very supportive.
parkrun has so many benefits for your health physically and mentally as you push yourself to do your best.
When you have a family member who needs your one-on-one support, you need to keep fit and healthy to be around for them for as long as possible.
It’s motivating to know that Jodie is also getting the benefits of keeping active, socialising and being made to feel part of something.
We intend to make plenty more memories as our family and as part of the parkrun family.
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