Lindsay Keenan of Mississauga has introduced the Team Unbreakable program to the university level, opening up new opportunities to help young adults. Now starting up the program for its second year at York University, the 3rd year graphic design student has already had 50 people sign up.
Lindsay started the running club last year, after she missed the exercise, stress relief, and comradery of running with a group. She was previously part of the Trillium Health Partners Teen Run Therapy Group, which Team Unbreakable is modelled after. It was a big step for her to start the club, given the challenges she faces on a daily basis while dealing with an anxiety disorder, but thanks to her positive experience as a frosh leader and support from her friends and family, she built up the courage to form the team.
In September of 2014, after posting a notice on her personal Facebook account, she had over 60 “likes” and about 20 people who were interested in signing up. That was enough to get support from the university, which included a meeting space, funds for stationery, and subsidies for the final 5km goal run in the spring.
“Leading the club by myself was a bit scary, and there was a lot of work to do in the beginning. I had to fill in multiple applications, learn to book rooms, contact potential speakers, and host the meetings all by myself.”
Team Unbreakable at York is run just like the high school program. It meets three times a week and there are regular guest speakers to inspire and motivate the students. Most of the participants are not experienced runners, so they start off slow, only doing 1-2km runs while alternating running and walking.
“Everyone is asked to fill in a form to rate their pre-run mood with comments—and then to do it again after the run. One of the most rewarding things for me is to see the positive feedback – it makes it all worthwhile.”
Lindsay now has a club secretary to help her out. Hayllie Durette was initially hesitant about joining Team Unbreakable because she didn’t consider herself a runner. She was nervous at the beginning, but ended up enjoying it so much that she decided to get more involved. She now volunteers to contact members, keeps the social media sites updated, and makes a wonderful addition to the team.
University has its own types of stress, making it different from high school. Some of these might include: living away from home for the first time, long commutes, dealing with newfound independence (learning how to do laundry, make your own food, clean up after yourself), and managing finances.
“You need whatever support you can get. Our runs are a great break; they don’t take too long and they get you out of your routine with some exercise that re-energizes you. I think that it’s really important to have programs like this available to university and college students. It’s a critical time in our lives where we’re really learning about ourselves, and as such it’s extremely important to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. This is setting us up for the rest of our adulthood.”
Lindsay is now helping her friends, Alexander and Marissa Skinner, start up a Team Unbreakable program at the University of Guelph.