All posts by David Rowney

10-Year-Old Zoé LeJeune’s 100K Run for Team Unbreakable

For this west-end Toronto girl, running isn’t usually her “thing,” but with swim practices cancelled, she decided to run 100K this summer and raise money for Team Unbreakable.

10-year-old Zoé set a goal to run 100K, with regular runs of up to four times a week to accomplish her goal.

“Once I told my parents about my goal, I used my mom’s business Wish and Give so that I could ask people to donate to the charity I chose. I had never really heard of Team Unbreakable – so when I went on to the website and looked at what the charity was doing, it looked awesome.  I said, I am definitely going to fundraise for them – they are doing cool and amazing work.”

Zoé would run with her friend, or her parents and her longest run was 10K accomplished one day. By the time she had finished, Zoé had raised over $90.00. Next year she hopes to do this run challenge again and will aim for 200K.

Zoé’s mother Julie LeJeune said, as parents, she and her husband were very proud of their daughter and thrilled she wanted to take on the challenge.  “Zoé was able to experience this sense of accomplishment and learn to establish a goal while raising money for a good cause.”

Thanks Zoé for being an inspiration to us all!

Team Unbreakable Welcomes Laura Somerville As Executive Director

A former Toronto principal with vast experience in leadership positions with the Ministry of Education and the Ontario Principals’ Council has been appointed as Executive Director for Team Unbreakable.

Laura Somerville brings a wealth of public education experience to her role. Through the Ontario Principals’ Council, she is project lead for an initiative examining cyber-bullying and cyber-violence. Laura has also worked in several countries on behalf of the International School Leadership program, a subsidiary of OPC,  to promote strong educational leaders at the school and system level.

Laura was approached to join Team Unbreakable’s Board of Directors in 2018 to provide her perspective on school operations.  “I was impressed by the diverse group of strong board members and liked that the Team Unbreakable program has a research-based model,” she says.”

Adjusting the program so that Team Unbreakable learning modules were more aligned to the Ontario Ministry of Education Health and Physical Education Curriculum provided added value to their own program, she says. “Strong mental health and physical education has an important role to play in supporting student success and well-being,” Laura says. “We can be the partner that provides value added programing to complement the good work that schools are already doing.”

Moving forward, Team Unbreakable can continue to provide more in-depth programs and align actions to goals to promote better mental health of students, she says.  “We have to have programs that resonate with students and that are more family centric as compared to being only school centric.  It’s important to listen to the students through surveys, advisory groups and anecdotal feedback,” she says.

The charity has recently conducted a virtual 5K run which was successful in raising $16,000. “We were very pleased with recent fundraising, but the reality is we have no government funding and support by individuals and corporate sponsors is vital to our future.”

Some new examples of enhancements that Team Unbreakable may consider are modules on the impact of social media on teens, providing a portal or app for parents with resources, and tip sheets. In the age of digital, a training log app may also be in the works for the future. Measurement of the programs goals and providing statistically-based research will continue to be a focus, Laura says.

Now, more than ever with COVID-19, students are isolated physically, emotionally, and socially and it is especially tough for young teens and adolescents. With the need for programs that address the mental health issues of our youth, Team Unbreakable has an easily accessible program that is already on-line and can be adaptable to whatever teaching environments are approved by the Ministry, Laura says.  Sport teams, community groups and universities may be areas for growth in the future as well.

Laura was born in St. Catharines and is married to George Rowell who is also a former Principal. They have a daughter, son in law and two grandchildren. In her spare time, you’ll find her busy renovating or involved in music activities of all kinds.

Bold and Cold 5K Open For Registration

Team Unbreakable will be hosting it’s 5th Annual Bold in Cold in Toronto on Saturday, November 28th in Coronation Park at 9:30 am. Come out in person and enjoy the snacks, music, and lively race day atmosphere! 

Register here

Are you outside of the city or looking to avoid the crowd? Sign up and run the event VIRTUALLY! You’ll still be mailed a TU pin, finishers medal, and the toque pictured above! Virtual registrants can run anytime between 9am-9pm on Saturday, November 28th. Hashtag #boldandcoldvirtual5k and share your experience with us!
$40 For Adults and $20 For Youth! 
REGISTRANTS RECEIVE – Finishers Medal, Toque,Pin, and Swag Bag 
“VIRTUAL” REGISTRANTS RECEIVE – Finishers Medal, Toque, Pin (in the mail) and “Virtual Swag Bag” via email! 

It’s only through your help that we’re able to generate and raise awareness about the importance of youth mental health. Everyone’s  contributions have made each event more successful than the last. Team Unbreakable greatly appreciates all of your support.

Virtual 5K Event Raises over $16,000 for Youth Mental Health

On their residential streets, in their favourite park or walking path, Team Unbreakable supporters accepted the Virtual 5K challenge and rocked it for the charity!  The June 21, 2020 Father’s Day event 288 runners participated in the Virtual 5k, raising over $16,000 for the Team Unbreakable Run for Youth Mental Health Program.

“The event was everything we had hoped for and more,” said Program Director Nils Blondon.  It’s clear that despite COVID-19, students, parents and supporters still wanted to be involved and responded to the challenge of running a 5K – some of them doing it for the first time.”

Several things helped the event be a success.

“This event lent itself to getting people excited and engaged through social media, so we were aggressively promoting the run on all our channels.  And people responded by sending us lots of great photos capturing their training or their race day highlights, “said Nils.

People were looking for opportunities to stay connected with the program during COVID-19 – some by participating in the run, and many other by raising money through their personal pledge pages.

The TU volunteers were a tremendous support throughout, whether it was marketing, writing, video production or social media, or delivering medals. The Team Unbreakable team came together to make it happen. We also want to thank our two sponsors, the Running Academy and So Young for their support.

Next up for Team Unbreakable are the Online Train the Trainer Seminars in Late August for TU Team Leads. And the 5th Annual Bold and Cold 5k in Toronto, on Saturday, November 28th in Coronation Park. Stay tuned for more details!

Top 10 TU Fundraisers to Receive Designer Knapsacks

Top 10 TU Fundraisers to Receive So Young Knapsacks and LunchBoxes

The Team Unbreakable Virtual 5k is less than 3 weeks away. The Top 10 Fundraisers will receive a designer matching knapsacks and lunchbox, courtesy of Catherine Choi, founder of So Young. We hope everyone has signed up, and has created a personal pledge page.  SoYoung is a Canadian brand of elevated lunch bags on a mission to make packing your lunch sustainable, stylish, and self-empowering.

Designed for the wellness-focused woman and parent, their bags feature a minimal aesthetic and thoughtful features like removable insulated inserts, messenger straps, and accessory pockets.

Seen here modelling the merchandise is Ella Brown, 9, an early registrant!

10 TU Program Facts : How Team Unbreakable is Making a Difference

Wondering how Team Unbreakable works?

U of T Professor of Kinesiology and Team Unbreakable Board Member Dr. Catherine Sabiston created this infographic highlighting 10 important facts about the Team Unbreakable program.

“This is a wonderful tool to quickly explain how Team Unbreakable is working in our community to improve mental health for youth,” says Program Director Nils Blondon. “I know it will be put to good use to introduce the program to new schools, educate potential sponsors and donors, and reinforce to existing coaches and students that they are part of something special.”

Check out the information below; for a pdf version contact