Today we travel to Northern Ireland for our junior parkrun news.
Matt Shields is the parkrun Country Manager for Ireland, and also looks after parkrun in Northern Ireland where he is based. He has been involved in running for most of his life and with parkrun since experiencing it in 2010. He began the first event in Northern Ireland at Waterworks park in 2011 and has worked tirelessly and passionately to change his community through parkrun ever since.
"For us in Northern Ireland junior parkrun is still a relatively new phenomenon but it's also one we are very excited about. Our first junior event on Portrush beach started last July with 167 children in attendance.
Everything that an Irish winter could throw at it has not diminished the excitement.
As we welcome spring numbers are building again in to the hundreds. Since this first event we have added three more events in Larne, Moira and Bangor and there are other new events confirmed and ready to go. We also have two junior events now in the Republic of Ireland at Rush and Ballina.
Collectively this means we had 722 juniors run a parkrun last Sunday somewhere in Ireland and there is more to come soon.
For me the junior events are so different to a senior event. So much excitement and adrenalin and dare I say a little bit chaotic, but to the juniors it's all in the moment.
They are less concerned than their senior peers with results and rankings, for them it's just about the experience. These experiences we hope will fuel a passion for sport that will persist into adult lives so it's important that we ensure they are positive experiences built around fun and enjoyment.
Encouragement rather than pressure.
So mums and dads let’s invest in our kids and embrace the chaos. Join us in the warm up, do high-fives, cheer and whoop, and let loose the kid that lives in us all."
(and his right hand woman, Ruth)