In a salute to the unsung heroes of our high school Team Unbreakable progam, CameronHelps (CH) is profiling some of the dedicated coaches who teach, nurture and run with our youth. Our first profile is with Maryann Morris, a Child and Youth Counsellor for Holy Rosary School in Burlington.
CH: How did you become involved in the program?
Maryann – I became involved in Team Unbreakable through a presentation at one of our school board team meetings. The program had been running in some of our secondary schools and there was interest building in running it in some of our elementary schools. I suggested the program to our school as we were looking for opportunities to promote children’s mental health. We also liked the idea that students could belong to a team that wasn’t competitive and inclusive of all abilities. This was our first year with the program at our school.
CH: How has the program been working?
Maryann – We started up the program in the late fall for any students in grade 6-8. John (Knox) came to the school and led an assembly for our students introducing the program and how they could get involved. We trained every Monday and Thursday after school. We had staff join us on these practice runs and a teacher led us as our running coach. Our Public Health Nurse, from the Halton Regional Health Department co- led the program along with me. We prepared for the Bold and Cold Run in November. We had 13 students and 4 staff attend this event. During the winter months we took a break from training until mid-March. We then began our twice a week training and continued on until the Mother’s Day weekend Team Unbreakable Run in May. At this event we had 14 students and 4 staff participate.
CH: Any special highlights you would like to mention”
Maryann – For me the most satisfying aspect of the program is the range of student abilities this program suits. We had kids come out who were athletic and on sports teams to our students who do not make it on school teams but wanted to be involved in something extra-curricular as well as have the benefit of the exercise in running. Team Unbreakable gave them something to belong to. One special moment was at the end our Bold and Cold Run all the participants had crossed the finish line except one student and our whole group went out onto the route to meet up with her and cheer for her as she came into the finish area. I felt so proud of our kids and this show of sportsmanship and compassion!
CH: Tell us something of yourself and your own journey
Maryann – For me this was a challenging activity. By setting goals for myself and gradually reaching my goals I think I was a good role model to the students. I am not a distance runner and don’t think of myself as athletic. I enjoy recreational sports like swimming and hiking. I do enjoy being outside and there were days that the weather was beautiful and the run was a great way to finish off my school day.