Twenty-Nine and Counting……
The exponential growth of parkrun in Hertfordshire over the last decade has been impressive and testament to the strength of local partnership.
The exponential growth of parkrun in Hertfordshire over the last decade has been impressive and testament to the strength of local partnership working and collaboration, and the hard work and dedication of the army of volunteers that have made this possible.
parkrun is a collection of 5k events for walkers, runners and volunteers that take place every Saturday morning at 9am in more than 2,000 locations in 22 countries across the globe. junior parkrun is the 2k event which takes place at the same time every Sunday morning - and both events aim to transform the health and happiness of local communities by empowering people to come together, to be active, social and outdoors.
Back in 2013, there was only one parkrun in Hertfordshire, and with the recent launch of the 15th junior parkrun at Furzefield Leisure Centre, Potters Bar, that number has now risen to 29 - all of which are organised and delivered by a raft of volunteers which include Event Directors, Timekeepers, Barcode Scanners and Tail-Walkers.
The growth in Hertfordshire has been made possible with the support of Public Health Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire County Council and the respective District and Borough Councils, in collaboration with parkrun UK, and the Herts Sport & Physical Activity Partnership (HSP)- the Active Partnership for Hertfordshire.
HSP Partnership Director, John O’Callaghan was among those supporting the recent Furzefield Leisure Centre (Potters Bar) junior parkrun, where he witnessed a group of young people, aged 4 and over, with their parents and guardians brave a bitterly cold Sunday morning to complete the 2k course.
John O’Callaghan said: “It was a privilege to see once again, how a local community can come together to provide sustainable events which make such an important contribution to the health and wellbeing of our young people.
The growth of parkrun in Hertfordshire over recent years is an important good-news story with thousands of our residents coming together each weekend to get their physical activity fix, to socialise and to meet new friends from with their community and beyond.
I am delighted that HSP has played a small part in this development, and I look forward to the further expansion of the programme locally, and in ensuring that we can reach more of those within our communities facing disadvantage and inequality - areas where inactivity levels are often highest- to introduce them to this fantastic initiative, and hopefully help them develop a physical activity habit for life.
That this expansion has been achieved almost exclusively on the back of the efforts of volunteers says much about the strength and vibrancy of community life in Hertfordshire and we are indebted to the efforts of those volunteers, in delivering this programme each and every week.
I would urge any community in Hertfordshire that is interested in developing its own parkrun, to contact parkrun UK or ourselves and we will be delighted to support them through the process.
In over 40 years working with the sport and physical activity sector, parkrun is singularly the best initiative that I have come across. It meets the three critical AAAs for successful local sport and physical activity programmes - Accessible, Affordable and Appropriate- and is for everyone, regardless of age, ability, or experience.”
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