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Junior parkruns around city celebrate NHS75 with Sheffield Children’s

A crowd of small children in running kit smile at the camera from behind a selfie frame in a park.
09 July 2023

Children and young people across Sheffield joined with NHS staff in celebratory fun runs around the city. Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust collaborated with junior parkrun to mark the NHS’ 75th birthday in events at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, Graves Park, and Hillsborough Park.

Participants of all ages and abilities, accompanied by their families, laced up their running shoes to take part in a special edition of the Junior parkrun, a free weekly timed two-kilometer run. The event not only encouraged children to lead active lifestyles but also served as a poignant reminder of the vital role the NHS plays in ensuring the health and well-being of children across the nation.

Staff from Sheffield Children’s volunteered as marshals at the three events while many others ran with their children. Squash world champion and patron of The Children’s Hospital Charity, Nick Matthew, led the warm up and ran alongside his children, while charity mascot Theo bear was there to cheer children across the finish line.

For some the run held extra special significance. Two children ran the course following diagnoses that threatened their ability to exercise again.

Smiling child at a Parkrun. Gabriel Brooks completed the course with his mum, Maria, who works as a Clinical Scientist at Sheffield Children’s. Following his diagnosis of a super rare blood disorder called aplastic anaemia, Gabriel received a bone marrow transplant at Sheffield Children’s Hospital and has spent the last two years in treatment. This massive achievement was celebrated by everyone at the event.

Jonny Hopkinson was diagnosed with hip conditions Perthes’ disease, and has had reconstructive surgery. This was the first time he had run a parkrun since his operation, and another step on his road towards getting back on the road to full fitness.

Chief Executive Ruth Brown said: “We’re delighted to have run alongside the children of Sheffield today. Celebrating the NHS’ 75th birthday is something everyone can get involved with – because the NHS belongs to us all. We’re here to celebrate NHS 75 with everyone. Sheffield Children’s is about helping children live healthy lives for the next 75 years, as well as being there when they’re poorly. We’re glad so many people came out to join us.”

The event was organised to make sure it was extra accessible for children with disabilities. Physiotherapist and Accessible Sport Ambassador Jenny Featherstone said: “It’s been great seeing people of all ages and abilities joining in. We’re keen to spread the message that exercise and sport is for everyone, and that there are lots of ways to be involved. Hopefully today has given some people a taste of how fun it can be.”

Children and families at the event had the opportunity to learn more about the life-changing research led by Sheffield Children’s. Research into the future of children’s health ran alongside the 75th birthday as the Olympic Legacy Park site will soon be joined by Sheffield Children’s with their groundbreaking new development, the National Centre for Child Health Technology.

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