Junior parkrun success

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A weekly junior parkrun has got off to a sprint start in Harrogate thanks to support from across the community.

The 2km event is held in the town’s Valley Garden’s each Sunday and is averaging about 150 participants aged between four and 14 years each week.

Event director Helen Williams, with the help of Adam Hearld, Carl Summerscales and other parkrunning parents, got the junior parkrun off the ground.

“Being part of Saturday’s 5km parkrun on The Stray has been a really nice way to meet people in the area,” she said Helen who moved to the spa town from Leeds with husband Tom.

“I thought starting one for juniors would be great for our children in Harrogate.”

The funding required to launch a junior parkrun is £3,000, which Helen, along with a team of parent volunteers, found locally, including £500 from North Yorkshire County Council’s Stronger Communities programme.

“Liz (the Stronger Communities delivery manager for Harrogate) was absolutely on board from the beginning,” said Helen.

“She could see what the benefits were going to be and that it was something that was going to be great for the community.”

Funding was also found from the Harrogate Borough Council Small Grant Fund, Harrogate Round Table, Harrogate Harriers Junior and Betty’s Café.

Harrogate junior parkrun takes place at 9am each Sunday in the Valley Gardens. Runners need to be registered in advance.

“It has really been embraced in the community,” said Helen. “With a course that requires at least 20 volunteers to come forward every week it’s wonderful to see the majority of them coming from the community and we’ve seen a lot of first-timers among the runners, which shows we’re already making a difference. It is a big commitment, but without the help of the volunteers the run could not go ahead.”

While Helen is pleased that junior parkrun is proving so successful, she says it’s not about big numbers.

“It wouldn’t matter if only five children turned up in our park every week,” she said. “What parkrun and its many thousands of weekly volunteers recognise is the importance of participation over the value of numbers.

“If we affect one child’s health, wellness and happiness by allowing them to participate then we are as happy as if we affect 158 (the number that turned up in Harrogate one Sunday).

“But the value is in the actual taking part not the number of those taking part. Our volunteers and our junior parkrunning children are equal participants in something amazing and I’m so very proud to be part of that community in Harrogate.”

There is also a 5km parkrun every Saturday at 9am on The Stray in Harrogate. This is for all ages from four upwards.