YARMOUTH - Laughter, rosy red cheeks and enthusiasm were a popular sight at Meadowfields Community School on May 28 when Kids' Run Club program co-ordinator Kerry Copeland stopped in to cheer and run with the students.
Her visit to 13 schools in the region was to celebrate the 14th anniversary of the run club by showcasing schools and coaches that have been with the program since the beginning.
Copeland said in the first year of the Doctors Nova Scotia sponsored program, organizers identified Yarmouth as one of the rural communities they wanted to really support with a strong program.
Meadowfields is a good example of the results. The run club has 85 students participating and 12 staff “helpers.”
“To have an active after-school program like that is phenomenal because it shows the parents are supporting it and the teachers are staying after school. And to have 12 staff helping out, that’s unheard of. That’s phenomenal. Definitely worth celebrating,” said Copeland.
The Kids’ Run club includes kids who love to skip and don’t like to run but it also includes kids who go on to become great runners.
Doctors Nova Scotia was the first medical association in Canada to offer a provincewide, free running program to address inactivity in children and youth.
The program is designed to be accessible to all and to teach participants about the importance of healthy living.
A walk-jog approach is encouraged and fun is emphasized. Many participants train to complete a final fun-run of 2.1, 4.2 or five kilometres. Program length ranges from weeks to several months and school groups meet one to three times a week with sessions lasting between 20 and 90 minutes.
All grade levels (P-12) participate, with the majority being elementary schools. A girls-only Kids’ Run Club is offered to junior and senior high schools.
Coaches include school staff, parents, peer leaders and/or community members. Each receives a coach’s handbook containing information about running and program implementation.
Kids’ Run Club has received two national health promotion awards and was the 2017 recipient of the Partnership Award from the NS Teachers Association for Physical and Health Education. The program has been replicated in Alberta and Ontario.
Doctors Nova Scotia president Dr. Manoj Vohra says Doctors Nova Scotia is proud to have offered Kids’ Run Club since 2004.
“Since then, the club has encouraged tens of thousands of children and youth in the province to lead active, healthy lives, and it has instilled in them healthy habits that can carry into adulthood. We’re especially grateful to the teachers, schools and volunteers who make this program possible.”
Many participants train for fun runs such as those sponsored by Doctors Nova Scotia at the Cape Breton Fiddlers Run, the Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon and the Valley Fun Run. These fun runs help to motivate participants and act as an exciting finale to Kids’ Run Club.
Kids’ Run Club program growth
The Kids’ Run Club began with 3,500 participants and 58 schools in 2004 and has grown to reach more than 17,000 youth in 270 schools and groups across the province. At its peak, Kids’ Run Club has engaged more than 80 per cent of the province’s elementary schools.