Successful Team Unbreakable program in Peel schools; More to come in fall 2013

Team Unbreakable, a pilot program that has expanded exponentially in one year, is putting the fun back in running for high school students.

This wellness run program, supported by the charity CameronHelps, and endorsed by both Peel school boards, has achieved breakthrough results in its initial launch in September of 2012.

The program kicked off last fall with five Peel schools participating. Students were asked if they wanted to join a run program where there were no try-outs. Teachers took students on runs twice a week after school to incorporate more exercise into their lives, de-stress and discuss general wellness issues.

For the fall of 2013, close to 13 additional Peel schools are looking to launch the program, says CameronHelps Program Manager John Knox. “A student in grade 12 told me the Team Unbreakable Run Group was the best thing about high school and he only wished the program had been around since his first year.”  Ann Horton of Robert F. Hall Catholic Secondary School feels the same, “Truly, this has been one of the best initiatives I have been involved in, in a long time!”

In the spring of 2012, an existing CameronHelps run-therapy initiative with Ontario hospitals and community groups caught the eye of the Ontario government agency, Student Support Leadership Initiative. SSLI leaders had identified teen stress and mental health as an important issue in high schools and they asked the charity to launch a pilot program in Peel.

The first schools to take part were St. Roch, Robert Hall, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, St. Thomas Aquinas, David Suzuki and Lorne Park with 150 students participating. Father Michael Goetz started a program in the spring. “In the fall, it looks like we will have programs in 20 Peel schools and possibly up to nine schools in Halton Region,” says Knox. There are also other regions of Ontario interested including Midland and Simcoe County, he added. Local private schools Appleby and Mentor College have also expressed an interest in the program.

CameronHelps provides subsidized team T shirts, run logs and worksheets and makes presentations at schools or supports school social awareness fairs to talk to students and distribute information about the impact that physical fitness has on mental health. The charity’s founder, David Harris and Clinical Director Jennifer Brighton presented to the Port Credit Secondary School parent council and staff in February of this year.

The schools themselves are doing their part to promote the program and share in spreading the word.  Students at Our Lady of Mount Carmel produced a 30 second promo spot as part of their media class that was played throughout the school television system.  Media Club students at St. Roch produced an interview segment with program director John Knox and intern Graeme Wykes.

What was the highlight of the year for John Knox?  “ It was seeing all the students coming to the Unbreakable Father’s Day 5k event in Port Credit – – some from as far away as Caledon. It was pouring rain but everyone was having such a good time.”

Anyone who is looking for more information about the program can contact Knox atjohnk@cameronhelps.ca

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