Seven years ago nine runners lined up for the start of the first junior parkrun. We had insurance cover from parkrun, the OK from the parks team, a few willing volunteers and a lovely park to host a monthly event. Prior this the usual safe guarding of risk assessments and checks needed to be completed, but we were very much on our own. The times were recorded using the good old fashioned pen and paper and we used word-of-mouth to promote the run.
Since this very humble beginning there has been a huge interest to get children active with a healthy change of political thinking to encourage and support groups all over the country to get involved in children's leisure and recreational activities. At the time there was a fear for getting involved in any sporting events involving children as the mindset was that you would be making a court appearance should something go wrong. Fast forward seven years and the social climate is quite different.
I think junior parkrun was a part of that mind shift as it showed that families could be engaged and motivated to meet up and be active, and more importantly, want to do it all again the following month. Through the persistence of the volunteers and word getting round to more families to hear about the Bushy junior parkrun it became apparent that more regular events in the area were needed.
I don't really know how the parkrun HQ team managed this growth and the investment that would have been needed to get to where we are now but I think we all are very grateful for their efforts. The potential of junior parkrun is huge, and it has hopefully shown a new approach to schools and clubs that sport can be fun regardless of your ability or performance. There are simply more important things at junior parkrun than running fast. Sure we all like a new PB from time-to-time, but it is all the other components of getting a community together that creates a nice atmosphere to support children to be happy.
For us volunteers it is so rewarding to be part of a junior parkrun that it doesn't seem like a massive commitment at all as we are having as much fun as the runners. But, without the amazingly supportive volunteers we simply wouldn't have junior parkrun, so a super huge thank you to everyone of you that have volunteered at Bushy juniors over the past seven years.
Please like the Bushy junior parkrun Facebook page where you can see pics of today's 7th Birthday event.