Team Unbreakable is starting the fall 2015 season on a high note. The program is riding on a wave of success from its spring school programs, culminating in the June Unbreakable Father’s Day 5k.
Team Unbreakable is the flagship recreational run program of CameronHelps, a charity established to prevent youth suicide by reducing the stigma of mental illness and promoting exercise as a means to better mental health.
“Our spring programs involved 40 schools, hospitals and health centres and over 1,000 participants, up substantially from the previous fall,” says Program Director John Knox. Despite teacher negotiations with the province over a new contract, schools (and students) found a way to stay committed to the program, says John.
The Program Director is very pleased how the students have responded to the program, even wanting to give back what they’ve learned and mentor younger kids. At Holy Trinity Catholic School in Oakville, the Team Unbreakable students came up with an idea to start a program in one of its elementary feeder schools. They took the initiative and ran with the younger students once a week, he says.
Last year was the first time Team Unbreakable has worked with a Toronto District School Board high school. Maplewood High School in east Toronto was selected to pilot the program after one of the guidance teachers heard about it at a conference. This school is a specialized learning community for students with special needs. John says the enthusiasm and response from the students there has been tremendous, and it’s on his list of highlights from the past year.
During Childrens’ Mental Health Week in Halton, CameronHelps partnered with the Halton school boards (public and Catholic) to organize a Mother’s Day weekend 5k event which drew 350 runners. In June, the Unbreakable Father’s Day event, a culmination goal event for many of the high schools, hosted over 500 participants.
New support from the Pepsico Foundation and the Rotary Club of Bolton has helped the organization to grow. While it is expected that eight new programs will be introduced in the fall of 2015, funding is preventing the run sessions from expanding more rapidly.