Tag Archives: Catherine Sabiston

Common Purpose Has Drawn CameronHelps and U of T Research Centre Closer Together To Aid Youth Mental Health

In February of 2016, the University of Toronto opened the Mental Health and Physical Activity Research Centre (MPARC), one of the first research facilities in Canada to integrate the study of physical activity and mental health. It didn’t take any time for CameronHelps to take notice. “I was excited about the potential that our Team Unbreakable program had to address some of the monumental issues of Canadian mental health management. I saw an immediate partner to help develop the evidence and to help guide program improvements,” said Executive Director Carl Worrell. He introduced himself to Professor Catherine Sabiston.

 (left, Catherine Sabiston). The feature photo is of the MPARC Centre.

The two organizations quickly realized the potential for partnership. On one hand, CameronHelps, with its running program, had a growing presence in surrounding schools, hospitals and community groups. On the other, MPARC had just created a state-of-the-art centre, conducting cutting-edge research on the impact of mental health and exercise training.

Fast-forward to August 2017 and Dr. Sabiston has joined the Board of Directors of CameronHelps and has strengthened the bond further. “It is a great time to give back and contribute and when asked, I gave it no hesitation. I believe in the people involved in the organization and the programs,” she said. Her team, in collaboration with the network of youth involved in the Team Unbreakable run programs, will be able to further its evidence-based research and analysis.

Dr. Sabiston was always interested in the psychology of exercise, and sports was a big influence on her life. Her early research led her to projects which studied the impact of certain drugs on exercise training, but she realized no one was researching the mental health aspects, or how the drugs “made you feel.” This has been the impetus for her long-standing research program focused on how physical activity affects mental health, and how mental health impacts physical activity participation.

CameronHelps and MPARC have already teamed up on a major program initiative which is proposing to bring together research funding support and a Team Unbreakable presence to Sudbury. The area is not like Toronto, because it is very dispersed geographically and this makes it challenging to identify resources. Unfortunately, the need for programs like Team Unbreakable is greater with more at-risk individuals, Dr. Sabiston said.

MPARC can provide outreach to schools to conduct workshops on stress management and symptom management. It is already helping youth through its partnership with the U of T’s Health & Wellness Centre. The team helps students with a six-week program of exercise, goal-setting, self-monitoring and stress management. “We want them to enjoy exercise and make it part of their lives,” she said.

MPARC’s research can allow us to discover and share knowledge about how best to get more people, more active, more often,” Dr. Sabiston said. For example, what type of physical activity is best, what is the right duration and intensity for exercise, and what differences are there between the sexes, she added.

“Team Unbreakable has a large, diverse and quickly growing population of participants,” admits Mr. Worrell, “a perfect opportunity to find some of the answers to these questions, and to further understand the impact on mental health.” Says Dr. Sabiston, “MPARC can help with evidence-based research and protocols and help to strengthen the process of data collection and analysis.”


Dr. Catherine M. Sabiston is holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Physical Activity and Mental Health. Her research primarily focuses on strategies to improve physical activity, and reduce sedentary behavior, among individuals across the lifespan and how physical activity relates to mental health. Dr. Sabiston has over 160 peer reviewed articles, and has given over 350 conference presentations and community public health talks.

CameronHelps Adds to Board Expertise With Key New Members

CameronHelps has added three new members to its board of directors, adding significant business skills and mental health clinical experience to the charity.

Robert Bracey, CEO and President of Quartet Service Inc., Chad Harper, Vice-President of Confederation Freezers and Catherine Sabiston, Professor, University of Toronto (pictured here) were elected at the August 10, 2017 meeting of the board.

“Our new board members are extremely talented and experienced individuals in their fields and we are extremely fortunate that they have chosen to join us at this important juncture in our growth. CameronHelps has expanded rapidly over the past two years, but the demand for youth mental health programs is very high and the charity requires additional organizational skills, funding and resources,” says CameronHelps President and Founder David Harris.

“Robert, Chad and Catherine are uniquely suited to help the charity to grow during our next phase of development,” said Acting Chair Bob Wordham.  “Our Executive Director Carl Worrell and his program coordinators have developed a strong signature Team Unbreakable run program.  The primary focus of the new members in the expanded board will be fundraising in order to continue the program’s growth.”  Carl emphasized, “We are particularly pleased that Catherine Sabiston will bring her special expertise to support an evidence basis for program improvements.”

In addition to his duties as CEO and President of Quartet Service Inc., Robert Bracey (pictured left) served as Past-President of Venture Tech Network (VTN), North American’s biggest IT service provider association.   He has over 35 years’ experience in consulting, management and sales including roles at Nortel, Coopers & Lybrand and several boutique financial firms.


Along with his Vice-President role at Confederation Freezers, Chad Harper  (pictured left) is an active supporter of CameronHelps and the former Milton firefighter has pledged to raise $10,000 for the charity by running 10,000k over the next few years. He is also involved with the charity Food for Life a volunteer with the operations committee.



Catherine Sabiston, PhD is a Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity and Mental Health and she also has an established relationship with CameronHelps. The U of T Professor contributed a video that was presented to the Sudbury Rainbow District School Board about the positive impacts of physical health on mental health. She will bring to the charity the research rigor, reputation and resources of her department.

“Our search continues to round out and strengthen our board of director team. Expect some exciting additional announcements shortly,” said Bob Wordham.

The recent board additions helped to fill the void with the recent departures of Jennifer Brighton, director of clinical, and Keith Madley, director of finance. “The contributions of Jennifer and Keith helped CameronHelps to grow to the place we are today and I would like to express my deep gratitude for their long service to the board,” added David Harris.