Gold Coast kids are switching off their Sunday sleep-ins and screen time, to participate in Junior parkrun each week.
A free, weekly, timed 2km running event, junior parkrun is an adaptive version of the traditional parkrun concept, the 5km community run that takes place collectively across the nation at 7am Saturday mornings.
Since its Australian launch in April, which featured 202 Gold Coast kids, junior parkrun at The Southport School has played host to hundreds of kids, aged 4-14 years.
Promising peace of mind to parents, junior parkrun gets kids active, outdoors and moving. But, unlike most weekend sports, Junior parkrun is completely free of charge and designed for kids to participate autonomously, without Mum and Dad. Parents - bring a picnic rug, relax in the Gold Coast sunshine and let the trained volunteer marshals stationed at every 100 metres of the course safeguard your little ones.
At a time when Australian parents are spending billions of dollars annually on kids sports and yet, kids are still overwhelmingly sedentary in their lifestyles, junior parkrun provides a pathway to regular physical activity and counteracts those cautionary tales of screen time overload, without the barrier of cost.
Helping foster independence and autonomy, allowing kids to build a strong sense of self, Junior parkrun is unrivalled in providing kids a space to participate in sports individually, alongside their peers, without Mum, Dad or a coach. In addition, the parkrun model, along with its junior counterpart is uniquely non-competitive. Participants are individually timed and rather than racing, the focus is not on competition, but personal development and a shared enjoyment of running.
The Junior parkrun program goes some way towards answering the questions of parents raising an ‘indoor’ generation – concerns around the social and physical costs of screen time, safely managing kids’ social media platforms and online gaming and navigating the relatively unchartered waters of online bullying. Junior parkrun offers more than a place for kids to run free; it provides a rare platform for social engagement and connectivity outside of school. Through Junior parkrun, kids create their own community with their peers and with a regular weekend commitment, they begin to build relationships, with an enhanced sense of belonging.
Junior parkrun is a pilot programme, rolling out across Australia over the next 12 months. Born in the UK in 2010, the Junior parkrun concept was streamlined to the Sunday morning format in 2014 and following its success in the UK, was brought to Australia this year by parkrun Australia CEO Tim Oberg.
It’s parent program, ‘grown up’ parkrun, is also a free, outdoor community event where participants of all ages and abilities undertake a 5km run or walk through local parks, pathways and parklands. Also originating in the UK, parkrun Australia has grown exponentially, taking place every Saturday morning across the nation in more than 315 locations.
For more information, go to www.parkrun.com.au