Tag Archives: Team Unbreakable

Unbreakable Run Program Leader Workshop August 27

On August 27 Team Unbreakable is conducting a Run Program Leader Workshop. The Workshop will provide you with the tools, techniques and novel ideas to help you lead a fun and effective Unbreakable Run Program at your school / facility.  Even if you are just curious about setting up a Team Unbreakable Program or are already doing one and want to make it better, come along to this FREE workshop.

The workshop will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the University of Toronto Athletic Center (55 Harbord St) in Toronto.

To register and more information, click here.  You can also contact Hugh Williams at hughw@teamunbreakable.ca


Two Successful June Run Events

Two perfect weekends on June 8 and June 16 provided a great season finale for Team Unbreakable runners, families and members of the community. The runs exceed our expectations for participation (Toronto’s run was at capacity) and fundraising.

Both events were culmination runs for schools in the Greater Toronto Area that have Team Unbreakable programs.  For three months they train to run the distance, while learning wellness tips to help with their mental health.

Pavan Takes the Unbreakable 1000 Challenge and Runs With Passion

Our thanks to Pavandeep Singh (or Pavan for short), a University of Toronto grad who is excited and ready to take on the Unbreakable 1000 Challenge in order to raise funds for our youth programs. Pavan recently learned about Team Unbreakable when he was at the Runner’s Academy, a staunch supporter of our charity. Its co-founder Dr. Sheppard introduced Pavan to the work that was being done in the schools and the rest is history.

Pavan got in touch with Team Unbreakable’s Program Coordinator Nils Blondon and offered to help in any volunteer capacity wherever his services were needed the most. At one of the charity’s strategy sessions, he learned about the Unbreakable 1000 Challenge and immediately signed up.

Pavan is a long-time runner but has only completed one marathon so far. He hopes to increase his training and complete a triathlon. In the meantime, he is taking it slower due to injuries to his knee and opposite foot. “I am doing a lot of stretching and strengthening and completing shorter runs while cross training – I go with the flow and I am learning to better listen to my body,” he says. “Running is imperative for my mental health and when I am not able to run for any reason, it can be depressing,” Pavan says.

Pavan is currently teaching grade 12 psychology part-time and tutoring students while he applies for graduate studies. His family members are in the teaching profession and he says his passion is health, law and education. “I like helping others with their study habits, which is why I am also an academic coach. I like helping students realize and unlock their own potential, and I admire their enthusiasm. To be part of Team Unbreakable has been a great way to give back to the community that has given so much to me, and I am grateful and excited to be part of it.”

Strong Start to Team Unbreakable Spring Programs

Team Unbreakable is off to a flying start in Toronto this Spring.

In our largest program term ever, 18 schools are participating in the Unbreakable Run Program, some with as many as 80 youth participants. Program Coordinator Nils Blondon credits this success to trust, hard work, and a commitment to the communities and schools Team Unbreakable serves.

Not only is the Unbreakable Run Program growing, but new wrinkles are being introduced as well.  Two schools have incorporated the program into their graded curriculum.  Blake Street Public School has made it an extension of their school wellness initiative; and, at Parkdale CI, three of their gym classes are using the program and training towards completion of a 5k run at our “Toronto Unbreakable 5k” in Coronation Park on June 8.

Along with the students, Team Unbreakable is working with lots of new parents and teachers as well – as many more of them are engaging and getting involved.

“It’s [the program] starting to sustain itself,” says Nils Blondon, Toronto Program Coordinator.

“Teachers are reaching out to me about starting up new programs. We’re becoming a recognizable name in the TDSB. The support we’re experiencing has been fantastic.”

 (l to r: Kris Sheppard, Nils Blondon)

The program has also benefited from increased community and corporate support.  Adidas Canada staff are active in several schools as volunteer coaches and mentors.  Vi’s No Frills in Parkdale is sponsoring all the food for the upcoming Unbreakable 5k, and welcoming students in to fundraise and get community service hours by helping shoppers with their groceries.  The High Park Rogue Runners co-facilitate school sessions with special guest speakers, and The Runners Academy has offered professional strength training and running drill seminars to several Team Unbreakable programs across the city.

“Our volunteer base is expanding,” says Nils. “We’re going to have pacers at the event, a professional videographer, and just a ton of other help.”

In keeping with the season, the program is blooming.


Team Unbreakable is always looking to expand. If you’re a teacher, social worker, or community centre staff who’s interested in starting a program, please reach out to Nils Blondon at nilsb@teamunbreakable.ca


Thunder Bay Team Unbreakable Growing Stronger 7 Years Later

The Thunder Bay Team Unbreakable is an enthusiastic and hearty bunch, having already started their spring run program before most other runners have pulled their shoes from their closet in the much milder Toronto area!

Sporting their own Team Unbreakable shirts and equipped with the Unbreakable Run Program log books, the Thunder Bay group is off and running! “We have a great group of kids and volunteers again this year.” says Diana Mellerup, volunteer coach and a Manager at the Children’s Aid Society of the District of Thunder Bay.  “Our group’s goal event is the Thunder Bay Metre Eaters’ June Classic 5k Race on June 1st, and we know we’ll be fielding a great group of runners at it”.

Team Unbreakable’s northernmost program has continued to thrive since a presentation to a small group of therapists at Lakehead University seven years ago from Dan McGann whose successful run-therapy program at Trillium Health Partners Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga had already been underway for several years prior.  His presentation resulted in the creation of the program in Thunder Bay, spearheaded by then CAS Children’s Services worker Jeanette Kelly.  Team Unbreakable Thunder Bay, with participants aged 10 to 18, started small but grew quickly and in recent years has fielded up to 55 participants with support from about 25 volunteer coaches, run-buddies and caring adults.  The group meets every Tuesday and Thursday with the youth encouraged to put in a training run on their own on the weekends.

“From the vision, enthusiasm and drive of one individual-namely Jeanette Kelly-and support and dedication of volunteers, the program blossomed” said Children’s Aid Society Manager of Volunteers, Charmaine Cades.  “It was difficult in the beginning, there was no manual on how to set up a community Unbreakable Run Program. But with key individuals hard work and dedication things took shape such as partnering with the city, learning to write grant proposals, and getting other agencies on board and offering support.”

Seven year veteran volunteer coach and Team Unbreakable executive committee member, Esme French says “Now that the program has been running J for 7 years, we can really see how it helps so many of our community youth gain confidence, feel better, improve their overall health & mood and really get into the benefits of running.  Our annual final survey reflects this with incredible feedback from caregivers as well as the youth themselves- some of whom return as junior coaches the following year.”

The program is now becoming well known and supported by the community.  With the annual monetary support of the Fort William Rotary, Canadian Tire Jump Start, Port Arthur Rotary and Thunder Bay Children’s Aid Foundation (https://www.thunderbaycaf.ca/) and ongoing efforts to raise funds, money is raised each year to provide running shoes for those in need, wicking t-shirts, post run snacks, registration costs for the 5k race, and celebration graduation banquet for the participants.  Last year a donation from 100 People Who Care Thunder Bay, allowed us to buy run vests, whistles and small graduation gifts for each runner.  The success is based on support by the caregivers/caring adults, volunteers and the community.  People are passionate about this program and see value and the connection between fitness and mental health.  With so many dedicated volunteers and coaches, the program has become so efficient for example with online registration that administrative volunteers helped to make happen.

Brad Bain, Executive Director of the Thunder Bay Children’s Aid Society and volunteer run coach for the past two seasons says, “All the participants get lots of individual attention through the committed volunteers who support this program, making it such a success”.

“I’m really impressed by what the group in Thunder Bay is doing.  They’re rallying community support, innovating, and going above and beyond by doing things like including family members and hosting a graduation party.  This is a great model for other communities in Ontario or elsewhere across the country,” says Program Coordinator Nils Blondon.

For information about Team Unbreakable Thunder Bay Program visit https://www.facebook.com/Thunderbayteamunbreakable