Nils Blondon is known at many schools as the ‘Team Unbreakable Guy,’ the one who is the face – – and apparently the name as well – – of the organization.
The Program Director with Team Unbreakable introduces the program to schools, helps teachers implement the curriculum and coordinates the culmination 5k run at the end of each semester. On December 8 in Toronto at the home of The Runner’s Academy, Nils spoke to 25 current or potential Team Leads about how the program works.
“The idea of holding this ‘train the trainer’ event was to share more background on the program and let new leaders know about resources and support they can expect from us,” said Nils.
HOW IT WORKS
Team Unbreakable has a program that is 8 – 12 weeks in length that is dedicated to mental health. Everyone can join regardless of their ability. “We are not a running or kilometer club. Team Unbreakable has a training log that each student receives so they can track their mood before and after their run. We have a structured program with a mental health toolkit.”
In its partnership with the University of Toronto, high school students are surveyed as part of a larger study on the impacts of physical health on mental. This work is of interest to the Ontario government’s health initiatives.
Nils continues, “The semester has weekly themes to promote health and wellness supported by guest speakers and videos. Through the pursuit of a goal with their fellow students, everyone comes together at the end of the semester for a 5K run. Other schools in Toronto and elsewhere participate in the run to enjoy music, food, laughter, medals and swag – – and to be rewarded for achieving their goal,” he said.
ROLE OF TEAM LEADS
School Team Leads are support by presentations, training, weekly email prompts, and regular support through school visits. The role of the team lead is to stay on message and use the materials and communicate with Team Unbreakable about how the program is progressing, said Nils. “Read your emails, keep track of attendance numbers and make sure your students are filling out their logs and surveys. And of course, encourage and inspire your team and make sure everyone is having fun,” he added.
The program is broken down into nine themes – Physical Health For Mental Health, Goal Setting, Cramps/Stitches, Ready To Move/Ready To Run, Mindfulness, Motivation, Creating a Balanced Life, Self Love/Self Care, and Gratitude. These mental health themes accompany the physical health component of the 5k training program. As Program Director, Nils visits the schools to talk to the teachers and students, run with them, and ensure they have the materials necessary to run a successful program.
Nils’s 10-year career in Education and Social work spans the entire city of Toronto. He has been involved with several grassroots alternative education initiatives, charities, and large not for profits. He has been with Team Unbreakable since August of 2016.