The Team Unbreakable program could not run without the leadership, dedication and energy of its school coaches. We are conducting interviews with these selfless heroes to the program. Here is an interview and profile of coach Bridget Keroglidis of Chester P.S.:
Tell us a bit about yourself (job title, school you work at, how long you’ve been teaching, etc)
I teach Grade 4 Extended French at Chester Elementary in East York. I have been at Chester since November of 2015 and also live in the neighborhood.
Tell us a bit about yourself as an athlete/runner
I have always been a very active person but my only running experience before adulthood was elementary school track and field. I didn’t do much running after that for about 20 years. In 2016 I thought it would be fun to start running again and challenged my partner to run a 10k with me. I had run a 10k once before having kids and thought it would be a great way for us to be active together. Long story short, that 10k was the last time we ran together. I increased my distance to the half marathon and ran a few of those over the next 3 years before finally tackling the marathon this fall. I decided to work with a coach who helped me achieve my goal while staying healthy and positive!
What attracted you to the Team Unbreakable Program?
The world we live in today has an unprecedented amount of stimulation and information. Children spend a lot of time on screens and life moves quickly. I think children need the opportunity to get outside and move to build their resilience and self-regulation. I know how running affects my mental health and I think it is a great way for my students to get active and take care of their mental health. Mental health is more than just the absence of illness; it is the ability to cope with challenges in life and feel good about yourself and the world you live in.
In what ways have you seen it impact your students?
The most amazing part of Team Unbreakable is watching students set a goal, work towards their goal, and achieve it. Each time they run, it changes their mood and sets a positive tone for the day. Watching them track their progress and accomplish something new is thrilling. The excitement they feel on the event day is incredible and the pride that they feel and the smiles on their faces as they cross the finish line is priceless.
Any cool Team Unbreakable anecdotes you’d like to share?
Some of my favourite moments have been hearing from parents how they have seen their kids change throughout the program. One parent reported an increase in confidence as their child saw themselves improve through practice. Another parent told me that when their child is struggling with something, they remind them they are unbreakable and that helps them work through their challenge. And then there was the Grade 2 student who ran so fast that his 11-year-old brother had trouble keeping up with him! Running changes the way these kids think about themselves and what they can accomplish!
Do you have an interesting “mental health and athletics” story you’d like to share? IE, how running/sport has had a positive effect on your overall wellbeing.
Although I run in part to reduce stress and improve my mood, any runner knows that there are some days that every step feels like a struggle. This past summer I ran a half-marathon in May. It was one of the first hot days of the year and I was in a negative headspace, just wondering why I was putting myself through this torture. I finished the race, but wanted to stop so many times. When I signed up to run my first marathon this fall, I signed up to work with a coach. As I worked with my amazing coach Brittany Moran and the Stridewise athletes, the training was more than just physical. On race day, I was ready physically, but also mentally. I had practiced positive self-talk and I found myself smiling for most of the marathon. Even when I was tired, there was a mantra for that. Running is mental and when we strengthen our mental game that trickles over to the rest of life. I truly believe in the power of positive thinking. And as my coach would say: “positive vibes only!”