What a way to celebrate Christmas AND the conclusion of a successful running program!
Credit Valley Hospital’s youth run group therapy members, called CVH Team Unbreakable, completed their 12-week training with a 5K run with over 3,000 other people dressed as Santa.
On Dec. 12, 2011, CVH Team Unbreakable put their twice weekly training to the test running down the streets of Burlington in a full Santa suit as part of the annual 5K Santa Jingle.
The run coaches were proud of their youthful charges. Some had not run for any length of time and learned through the program to build up their endurance from running one minute, stopping, then walking for a minute. Eventually, the runners learned to set higher goals, to persevere, to feed off the encouragement of their teammates and take pride in their budding accomplishments.
“It was a beautiful moment from start to finish,” said Yvonne Harris, a run therapy coach and wife of David Harris, the founder of CameronHelps. (The charity is very supportive of the Credit Valley program in terms of sponsorship and volunteering.) “It’s wonderful to watch the young people finishing the race, being hugged by their parents and their other running buddies,” says Yvonne.
Social worker Dan McGann, who is the founder of the run therapy program at Credit Valley and who leads the Team Unbreakable group was pleased by the team. “This year was freezing, so we really have to thank the parents and friends who literally stood by the runners in bitterly cold weather. As coaches we get so much out of seeing the accomplishments of the kids. They have grins from ear to ear and their parents are so proud of them – some of them have even talked a parent or other family member into joining them in the next session.”
“Running the actual race is priceless,” says Yvonne. “Seeing all those Santas running down the street, people crashing into each other in Santa suits with droopy pants, beards falling down and bits of costume that break apart – everyone is laughing and having a ball.” It’s hard to part after the race and the final meeting, she says. “Like every year I have the feeling that I don’t want to let go – I want to take the whole group into my Christmas and new year.”
While some of the participants may never run as hard or as long as they did in Burlington this past December, the lessons they have learned will stay with them forever, says Yvonne. It’s important that they understand that physical exercise can help them with their mental health. “As a coach it’s our job to get them to the starting line, the rest is in their hands. And we’re so proud of what they have achieved,” she says.
What does Yvonne receive back from the program? “I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share something that I love to do with others that have the courage and patience to try.”