I'm Rowan Ardill, parkrun's latest recruit, and my job as Engagement Officer is to encourage children and families from disadvantaged communities to get involved in junior parkrun. Here I am with my clipboard.
As a regular volunteer at parkrun over the past five years nothing delights me more than seeing young people slipping into the hi-vis at junior parkrun. For a young person to choose to participate as a volunteer; to help make it possible for their fellow juniors to take part in a free 2k run, jog or walk absolutely fills me with joy and never fails to put a huge smile on my face.
Volunteering is a great leveller and in a successful event team, each person is as important as the next. It’s not an uncommon sight to see a nine year old standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a doctor, a teacher or a CEO as part of the same volunteer team, all united in their goal of providing an amazing free event.
There is so much for a young person to learn from volunteering at junior parkrun. Besides the technical skills of operating stopwatches and barcode scanning equipment, it offers young people opportunities to develop their moral and emotional intelligence too. Showing empathy to their peers, developing a sense of purpose and belonging and contributing to society in a way they are rarely given chance to elsewhere.
But this is well and truly a two-way street and as much can be learned from speaking to junior volunteers as can be taught to them too. Look no further for the best advice about keeping your event appealing and enjoyable for 4 to 14 year olds!
Yes, it’s wonderful to see so many juniors enjoying running, but seeing juniors enjoying volunteering is something really special too.
I am really excited at the prospect of getting lots more people participating at junior parkrun. #loveparkrun