Tag Archives: Team Unbreakable

Team Unbreakable Student Profile highlighting BEN HOPKINS

We recently had the opportunity to ask student Ben Hopkins, one of our most enthusiastic supporters of Team Unbreakable, to talk about his experience with the Program.  Here in his own words, is what he had to say:

When did you become involved with the Team Unbreakable program and what made you join?

In September of 2017, I joined the fitness club at my middle school. We trained every Wednesday morning and started running outside in March. Around April/May, our fitness coach told us about the Team Unbreakable Program and 5K run in June. I was worried at first, but what made we want to join was the fact that I was having such a good time running, especially with my friends. I also wanted to improve my mental well-being as well as my physical well-being — which is what the Team Unbreakable program helped me to do. I first became involved with the program when I did that run in June 2018, and it was amazing. 

What motivates you to run?

What motivates me to run is knowing that each time I do so, I become a better version of myself. On some days, I may be slower than I was the day before, but I know that each time I run: my heart becomes stronger, my mental well-being becomes stronger, and I become stronger as a person.

Please share a highlight or memorable moment from your experience with Team Unbreakable (This can include your training progress or the goal runs)

One of the many highlights I have had when running and training for the Team Unbreakable runs is when I completed my 5K in November 2019. I had been running before that, but not as frequently as I normally would, and I had no idea how fast I was compared to June. But I told myself, ‘You don’t need to compare yourself to anyone else, not even your past self.’ So even though I was worried about my time and worried about whether I could even complete the 5K without stopping, I did it anyway and got my fastest time yet. I believed in myself and as a result, I proved to myself that I am better than I thought I was.

Would you recommend this program to other students like yourself? Why?

I would most definitely recommend this program to other students who are my age, older, and younger because it is a great, fun way to get into running as the program isn’t competitive and everyone can run at their own pace and set personal goals. It also encourages good mental health through physical health, which is just as important as physical well-being; mental health is a very important aspect of everyday life and I am glad that the Team Unbreakable Program has helped me to realize that. This program is great for students especially because mental health is very important as we can sometimes face stress at school and feel anxious, and running with the program, or even training for it, can help battle that stress and allow you to become a stronger person at the same time.

Family Resource Centre on Vancouver Island Starts a Team Unbreakable Program

Team Unbreakable has gone national!

Our first out-of-province program started this fall at the Comox Military Family Resource Centre on Vancouver Island. Youth Services coordinator Courtnea Stolting is taking the lead.

“We were looking for ways to meet the growing psychological and physical needs of our youth,” Courtnea said. “As a youth program, we noticed that our participants were needing an outlet for their energies and extra support navigating their changing brains and emotions.”

“Team Unbreakable offered the full package.”

The Family Resource Centre on Vancouver Island is one of eleven similar Centres in Canada. It is part of the Military Family Services Program, a Canadian Armed Forces-wide community-based support program for military families. Courtnea, having grown up a “military youth,” attended this Centre and is now giving back.

“I have a deep and empathetic understanding of a lot of the struggles this demographic faces.”

The sessions at the Centre will consist of two programs. The first being a daily after school initiative for pre-teens. The second, which will be launched in early October, will happen weekly on Fridays.

Courtnea’s optimistic the program will be well received.  “I do expect the program will create a growing enthusiasm as they are given the skills and reinforcement to see that they can be successful in whatever they do, even running.”

Courtnea hopes Team Unbreakable will help lighten the emotional and mental burden COVID-19 has had on youth she works with at the Centre.

“While running Team Unbreakable, we hope for beautiful weather so we can primarily keep our youth outdoors, which is the safest place for gatherings. It’s also the best place to get grounded and in tune with the outdoors.  But we live in a rain forest and some wet runs will just keep us exhilarated,” she says.

“I am beyond excited to get Team Unbreakable off the ground and get our kids set up for success.”

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!

Program Director interviewed by B.U. Network About Mental Health

Team Unbreakable Program Director Nils Blondon was recently interviewed for a Podcast available on Spotify called the B.U. Network. In the Podcast Joe “Dr Energy” and Kathryn “RaRa” interview subjects on what it means to be your authentic self.  They interviewed Nils on his work with Team Unbreakable helping students understand the importance of physical health on their mental health and overall wellness.

You can listen to the Podcast, which is about a half-hour, here.

The Podcast interviews a host of personalities who are often marketers, entrepreneurs or key note speakers. Nils was introduced to Kathryn at a service club meeting and the rest, as they say, is history.  The Program Director talks about his early career in working with youth and explains how Team Unbreakable is helping youth in the Toronto area.  B. U. Network is named for Be You (e.g. your authentic self)

Support Bell Let’s Talk For Mental Health Awareness January 29

On Wednesday, January 29, 2020, with your help Bell will donate to mental health initiatives across Canada by contributing 5¢ for every applicable text, call, tweet, social media video view, and use of their Facebook frame or Snapchat filter. Team Unbreakable is one of these initiatives.

Silence has been one of the biggest dangers to people with mental illness: silence allows stigma to grow; stigma causes shame, fear, and secrecy. And secrecy prevents people from seeking and getting the necessary help, attention, and care they need. Despite a call for action by an increasing number of people with mental health difficulties, for most Canadians, mental illness remained a topic not open for discussion. That is until Bell started a new conversation and created a needed dialogue about Canada’s mental health with “Let’s Talk Day” in September 2010.

For the past decade, Bell Let’s Talk has been increasing awareness about the importance of mental health by encouraging all Canadians to participate in the conversation with friends, family, and co-workers. Since Bell Let’s Talk Day began, 86% of Canadians reported that they are more aware of mental health issues, and the vast majority of Canadians now say they are comfortable speaking with others about mental health.

On January 29th, Team Unbreakable urges you to speak up and break the silence! Talk to friends and family about mental health! Help Bell help Team Unbreakable!

The race to end stigma starts now.

The Science Behind the Brain and Physical Activity

Team Unbreakable’s first annual Train the Trainer featured a host of fascinating topics and speakers. One of these speakers was Jennifer Lepock, a PhD Candidate in Neuroscience from the University of Toronto. Jennifer spoke on the current research underpinning exercise and mental health, along with her experience using running to help treat her mood disorder.

Jennifer started running in 2013. She used the sport to help stabilize her mood and ease the symptoms of her new medication. Her personal experience would go on to dovetail with her academic and professional pursuits.

Studies have shown that physical activity can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and improve feelings of esteem and boost brain functioning in adolescents. “Higher levels of fitness benefit the brain structure and students feel better. This helps them with their school and social relationships,” Jennifer said.

But what is the actual neurochemistry behind physical activity?

Jennifer explained to the group that running triggers neurotransmitters that send chemical messages between the neurons.  Serotonin is increased when we run, which helps to regulate mood.

Studies have shown that running at least 30 minutes, three times a week can help people better deal with stress, improve the ability to focus and help treat more chronic issues related to psychosis, schizophrenia and Parkinson’s, Jenny said.  Elevated dopamine levels contribute to these results.

And there are additional benefits related to other brain chemicals

Jennifer said that after 30 minutes of running, many people experience a ‘runners high’ that will make them feel better and block pain.  Cortisol levels are higher, and more oxygen is getting to the brain resulting in more adrenaline in the body including the hormone epinephrine. Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone that help us fight off illness or infections, Jenny added. This “natural high” likens the effect of cannabis.

Jennifer is her last year of the Doctorate Degree. She has volunteered with Team Unbreakable since 2016. The focus of her work is early onset psychosis and schizophrenia in youth populations.