A staggering 10,000 children aged under 15 are expected to turn out for the second edition of the Mumbai Juniorthon in spite of registrations being closed at 3,000. The event's organiser also hopes to take it to other Indian cities, aiming to involve 50,000 children across the country in the event next year.
"We received phenomenal response in the first year (2015). Our registration count was 2,300 participants and our total crowd was over 8,000. This year we have closed registrations at 3,000 participants and our total crowd is expected to be over 10,000," Bhavna Mehta, Founder & Creative Director of event organiser Party Sharty Entertainment, told IANS.
"The idea was to get all the kids together and encourage outdoor activities amongst them. We wanted to promote running as an active lifestyle for children and their families. We saw that running is being actively promoted for adults (Mumbai Marathon) and even for women (Pinkathon) but not for children, and hence the idea came to us," Mehta added.
Towards this, the event will be run in 5 categories: Openers 500 metres-1 parent+1 child aged 6-8, Beginners 1 km - 6-11 years, Amateurs 2 km - 6-13 years and Pros 4 km - 11-15 years. This year will also see The Happy Run which encourages disabled children aged 6-15 participate in a unique 500 metre inspirational marathon.
Noting that today's children have started living a very sedentary lifestyle unlike the life which we or our parents have lived where there used to be a compulsory playtime, Mehta said: "Kids these days are into their apps and gadgets. Playtime these days means iPad, mobile phones, play stations and X-Boxes and there are hardly any outdoor or physical activities."
"It's a common problem which I have observed and due to which children are suffering from stress, obesity, vitamin D deficiency and various other related disorders. Juniorthon's core purpose is to urge children to go outdoors and activate their sedentary lifestyle by giving them an opportunity to set out and accomplish the goal of running," she added.
As an added bonus, all participants will experience an in-depth training cum prep-up session by Holistic Guru Mickey Mehta (no kin) who will teach children to avoid injuries and maintain stamina during the run.
Following the run, Juniorthon will also showcase a special family carnival-cum-fitness expo with multiple workshops, curated shows, fitness activities and food pop-ups for a great family mêlee.
Elaborate arrangements have been made to ensure that the event goes off without a hitch.
"We have done complete police bandobast. We have taken all permissions and compliances for the concerned authorities right from MMRDA, BMC, Fire Depasrtment etc. MMRDA will be blocking the entire back road starting from behind National Stock Exchange up to American School from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. specially for our run," Bhavna Meha explained.
What of the road ahead?
"We plan to take Mumbai Juniorthon to multi-cities next year. We have already identified and done recce at Delhi and Bengaluru and have spoken to the concerned authorities. This year we have a lot of participants from all over India and one kid is specially coming from Dubai. We are also getting calls from Pune and Gurgaon with parents asking if we can conduct this in their city.
"The problem which we are trying to address through Juniorthon is a global problem and we will continue with our mission and try to reach out to as many places as possible in the coming years. Our mission is to have over 50,000 kids being engaged on an annual basis through our event across India," Mehta concluded.
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