AMA Youth Run Club heads north for its 2016-17 season-end event

Submitted by: Vanda Killeen, Alberta Medical Association

Fort McMurray’s MacDonald Island Park buzzed with activity, as over 300 Fort McMurray students, teachers and families gathered to celebrate physical activity and Canada’s 150th birthday, with the Alberta Medical Association Youth Run Club’s end-of-season Fun Run; an event that was featured on the ParticipACTION 150 Play List national tour.

Identified as a Tour Stop & Event on the ParticipACTION 150 Play List (in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, the 150 Play List “features 150 activities that define our land and people”) the Youth Run Club’s end-of-(school) year Fun Run was accompanied by a showcase sampling of ParticipACTION 150 Play List activities, including kayak and surfboard simulators, field hockey, stick pull and Tae Kwon Do.

“We’re very excited to bring the AMA Youth Run Club to Fort McMurray to run with members of our four local Youth Run Clubs and so many other students and teachers from Fort McMurray schools,” Dr. Padraic Carr, President of the AMA, commented to the crowd. “And we couldn’t think of a community or a group of students more deserving of a Fun Run.”

AMA Youth Run Club

Through the AMA Youth Run Club, a partnership of the Alberta Medical Association and Ever Active Schools, AMA member physicians, medical students and residents can meet with the children, teachers and families of their communities to encourage physical activity and healthful living.

The AMA Youth Run Club ended the 2016-17 season with some impressive statistics: a record 27,000 students running with clubs in 455 schools, in 154 Alberta communities.

A Different Kind of Run Club

Watch the CTV feature here!

Submitted by: Lauren Walker

Richard Secord students flock to school early on Tuesday and Thursday mornings!  Why?  They're all excited get active before school!  Students participate in a variety of activities that change each day.  We run in the halls, play cooperative games, work out with kids fitness videos, dance to 'just dance' songs, and use a TON of Ever Active Schools resources such as domino fitness.

Why is our run club not a run club at all?  Well.... we found that we wanted to appeal to a variety of students who may not consider themselves runners at all. Richard Secord offers many sports clubs and intramurals, so we wanted to appeal to students who were just interested in being active. We opened the doors to students from K-6 and were overwhelmed by the response.  Over 130 students signed up to participate in this club.

The club has been a win win win for students, parents and school staff.  Students are active before school, and better able to participate in a day of learning, staff notice the difference in their students attitudes and attention, and parents/staff notice a marked difference in the morning drop off (fewer drop offs right at the bell, create a calmer drop off zone).

The Richard Secord ACTIVE STINGRAY club is a different kind of run club, for a broad audience!

AMA Youth Run Club - David Thompson High School Style

By: Mike Horembala

We started the Run Club at David Thompson High School in a challenging environment. We are a small school located in west central Alberta. Our first challenge was location. We are located on a highway surrounded by farmland and gravel roads so we had a few options for where to run. We also wanted to run year round. Most of the winter we had two feet of snow in our area and the gravel roads were too icy to safely run on. 

To solve this we had one of the club member's dad show up with his Bobcat type machine to clear a running track around our school grounds. It was great to run on grass in January and February! The other challenge was with setting the important goal of a race in June to cap off our yearlong running program. we had to travel to get to a race. We "Googled" races in Alberta and somehow one of the students landed on the website for the 10km Sun Run in Vancouver (not in Alberta). They decided that was the race they wanted to work towards.

We fund raised and then rented a minivan and headed out for the May event. We went out a few days early to camp and completed a few runs on the Sunshine Coast. The day before the race we went to the Vancouver Aquarium and sea kayaked up Indian Arm. Race day was amazing. The kids were blown away being at the starting line with 45,000 other keen runners. It was an event they will never forget and hopefully a seed was planted for lifelong running. The next year we set our goal for the Loop for the Troops 5 and 10 km run in Calgary. It capped off another successful year of running and supported a very worthy cause. 

We appreciated finding the AMA Youth Run Club. Through the website we were able to see what other school groups were doing and were able to draw inspiration from their experiences. I also like the resources. Thanks to the very supportive and positive AMA Youth Run Club team.

Harry Potter Running Club

Mattie McCullough Elementary School

By AMA Youth Run Club Champion Kelly Roslinsky

Last spring, students, staff and parents from Mattie McCullough Elementary School had the opportunity to take part in our “Harry Potter Running Club” which was organized by our Ever Active Team. All students from grade 1-5 were invited to participate in practices twice a week for four weeks.

The students were organized in four teams, Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, each having Team captains from the Ever Active Team. Each team had a team poster and met with their team in the gym before the run for a quick warm up. During the run, when the runners completed the 1km loop around our field, they collected 1 popsicle stick for their team. At the end of each running session, everyone went back to the gym and placed their popsicle sticks on their team’s poster. Team captains counted the popsicle sticks which gave them their points for the day. The team with the most points after our four weeks brought their lunches outside for a picnic in the field and some parachute games. Fun was had by all! 

“It was fun to be on different Harry Potter teams.” 

“I enjoyed running with my friends at lunch and it was great exercise!"

 

Run Club Tips: A Doctor's Journey & Advice

AMA Youth Run Club Blog – Aug. 4/15
By Dr. Kim Kelly

As I recover from today’s 2-mile run, I consider my recent interest in running. It all began when I got involved as an assistant coach with my son’s AMA Youth Run Club at Belgravia Elementary in the spring of 2013. 

Running has been an unexpected new activity for me. I have shocked many family members and friends, as well as myself, due to my past muttered statements that went something like, “I hate running! I am never going to run.” Hmmmmm… note to self… never say never.

Over time, I have experienced firsthand the many benefits of running including the obvious ones:  increased fitness and endurance, but also the less obvious benefits of socialization, decreased overall body aches, and stress relief. By making time in my daily schedule for some sort of exercise, I realize that I am role modeling healthy behaviour and hopefully influencing my children, my peers and my neighbours.

In my role as assistant coach of my local school’s run club, I learned many things. I would like to share five of these tips with you. 

1.    You don’t have to be an expert.

I took my role seriously but I thought I knew nothing about running and felt ill-prepared. The weekend before our first session, I read through my AMA YRC coach’s manual and discovered it to be an excellent resource. It was full of games, information on how to coach, and specifics on physical activities for kids. It definitely increased my comfort level with the task at hand.

I confess, I also reviewed what to do in case a child had an asthma attack, or fractured their tibia, or suffered a head injury (sidewalk curbs would be involved, right?). Did I mention that I’m also a physician and a mom?

As the Grade 4, 5 and 6 students gradually filed into the gym on day 1 - some wearing UGGs and long necklaces I might add - I quickly discovered that being an expert was not part of my job description. Common sense and enthusiasm would be sufficient for me to do a good job.

2.    Enjoy the outdoors and make use of your local resources.

A gym may be your only option but if possible, try to get the kids outside. Kids are naturally more active and playful outside, and who doesn’t like to breathe in fresh air? 

In the past, our teacher/coach had been unable to make use of our beautiful river valley due to a lack of adult supervision. With my participation as a parent volunteer, we were able to take our students into the nearby river valley. This really enriched their experiences and was absolutely FREE!!

3.    Share the fun!

We encouraged parents and younger siblings to join us along the route.  Our runs became more of a community affair rather than a training session. Our run club also helped support a fun run fundraiser put on by our playschool and community league. You may wish to consider how to get your greater community involved with your run club.

4.    Be creative.

We wanted to continue our run club over the winter but were limited by the size of our gym. One of our parents came up with a great idea for an Adventure Club. Our goals for this club were to get kids outside and to have fun doing winter activities. We hoped that these activities would carry over to weekend and after school hours spent with family and friends. We were excited to learn that this indeed occurred!

Some different activities we organized included orienteering, snowshoeing, skating, capture the flag, broomball, quidditch, and kicksledding (kicksleds loaned to us by the City of Edmonton recreation program). Adventure Club ended up being one of our most popular clubs to date, as rated by students, teachers and parents!

5.    You are a role model.

By showing up and participating you are positively affecting kids and adults, often in ways you will never realize. YOU are inspiring personal triumphs! In turn, the rewards you will receive are many. I savour the smiles, hugs, and silliness that I shared with the 25 kids in our run club.


In conclusion, I discovered that being part of an AMA Youth Run Club was not hard. Kids naturally want to be active and have fun. My role was simply to be myself, to help guide the activity, and to ensure that kids were safe. Somewhere along the way I was inspired in ways that surprised me. I hope that you will be too!  

AMA Youth Run Club - Benefits Beyond the Basics…

Submitted by Tim Berret, AMA Youth Run Club Ambassador

As a parent, athlete, researcher, and promoter of physical activity, when my children started attending Westglen School in Edmonton, I was keen to ensure that, along with their peers, they enjoyed the benefits associated with being active. When I grew up (in England), I was fortunate to attend an elementary school that offered a number of opportunities for both organized and recreational sports and activities. In retrospect, this early exposure to a variety of sports paved the way for me to discover a passion in one particular sport (track and field) that I first tried when I was about 8 years old. It wasn’t until six years later that I first attempted the event (race walking) in which I would eventually participate in five Olympic Games. As was the case with most of my team-mates who competed internationally, I did not discover the sport in which I eventually competed until I was in my teens. So, I know from first-hand experience the benefits of exposure to multiple forms of exercise in the development of athletes and strongly support the notion of Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) and the avoidance of early specialization. However, I also recognize the health and social benefits that can come from participation in physical activity at an early age, regardless of a child’s potential to pursue a career in sport.

My children are fortunate to have the support to enable their involvement in out-of-school organized sport, but I recognize that, for a variety of reasons, not every child has this opportunity. So, I was determined to provide children with an avenue to explore different sports and activities. As a result, I established a program called “AthletiKids,” which develops fundamental physical literacy that enables participants to be active for life. The focus of the AthletiKids program is to develop essential athletics skills that can be applied to many other sports and activities. AthletiKids is activities based, with games, exercises and circuits, and designed to follow “Active Start,” "FUNdamental," and “Learn to Train” stages of Canada’s LTAD Model. AthletiKids incorporates elements of the AMA Youth Run Club and Athletics Canada’s Run Jump Throw Wheel into its programming by teaching the basics of running form, pacing, endurance training, throwing, and jumping with an emphasis on a fun, non-competitive environment. AthletiKids and the AMA YRC form part of Westglen’s Healthy Active School initiative, which is offered in an environment that strongly aligns with the inclusive learning that occurs in the classrooms. Over one third of all students in grades 1-6 (and even some Kindergarten students) have been involved each year.

The short-term benefits of involvement in programs such as AthletiKids and the AMA YRC  are plain to see. Anecdotal reports from teachers have noted that the students who are involved in before-school physical activity tend to be more attentive in class at the beginning of the school day. Moreover, we have found that, despite initial fears that participants would tire toward the end of the day, students who participate are more focused throughout the day. The notion that before-school exercise results in improved concentration levels among child participants is also supported by the research of Neils Egelund and his colleagues in Denmark and (especially for children with ADHD) by Betsy Hoza and her colleagues in the US.

Since the AthletiKids and AMA YRC programs have only been running for seven and three years respectively, the longer-term benefits are as yet unclear. However, it is safe to say that by being provided with the opportunity to explore and experience physical literacy (just as they are taught math, reading, and writing), participants will be in a good position to enjoy the considerable benefits of lifelong physical activity.

Connecting the AMA Youth Run Club and Comprehensive School Health

By: Kim Hlewka, Provincial Comprehensive School Health Coordinator

Research shows a positive relationship between physical activity and improved academic performance in students. When schools create a healthy environment that supports physical activity, healthy eating and positive social environments it is amazing how students within that environment flourish and feel a sense of success.

The AMA Youth Run Club supports physical activity, brings together students from different grade levels, creates a safe environment, provides leadership opportunities and addresses the four pillars of Comprehensive School Health (CSH). 

The AMA Youth Run Club provides plenty of free and fun resources to schools who register, including the Coach’s Handbook. The handbook contains some great ideas that can help support Physical Education and Health and Life Skills curricular outcomes, and help you create a safe, caring, welcoming and respectful environment at your school. Here are a few ideas: 

  • Encourage your older students to lead the run club once a week, to build their leadership skills
  • Use the “Running Games” (pg. 40) or “Circuit Training” (pg. 28) sections of the Coach’s Handbook as inspiration for daily physical activities, active assemblies or your Physical Education class 
  • Host a school-wide fun run, organized and led by your AMA Youth Run Club participants.

A healthy school community embeds a culture of wellness for the entire school community using a CSH approach to create an inclusive, safe, welcoming, respected and holistic environment, and the AMA Youth Run Club is one way to help you accomplish this!

The AMA Youth Run Club:

  • Provides tangible resources that support physical activity, healthy eating and positive social environments 
  • Helps students develop the skills to be physically and emotionally healthy for life
  • Improve students’ abilities to take action for their own personal growth and well-being 
  • Supports students in generating change within their school
  • Supports the 21st century competencies outlined in the Ministerial Order on Student Learning. 

Physical Literacy, Running and the AMA Youth Run Club

By: Megan McKinlay, Resident blogger, Physical Literacy Coordinator & Southern Alberta AMA YRC Coordinator

Physical activity is a lot more fun when we’re physically literate. If kids (and adults!) have the skills they need, they can engage with poise and confidence in any activity they choose.

Being physically fit doesn’t necessarily mean you’re physically literate, although both contribute to the likelihood that someone will choose to participate and be engaged in physical activity. The diagram below, created by Dr. Dean Kriellaars, illustrates the interconnected relationship between fundamental movement skill development, physical literacy, fitness and active participation in sport and physical activity.

 

AMA Youth Run Clubs across the province are raising physical activity levels at school. In the 2013-14 school year, students participating in the run clubs were 2 to 3 times more likely to achieve 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, while 82 per cent of teachers said AMA Youth Run Club helped their school engage students who are not traditionally active. 

Since we know physical literacy is also a big driver of sustained participation in physical activity in the long term, here is one simple way to ensure physical literacy development is a part of your AMA Youth Run Club:

  • Start your practice with a warm up activity that incorporates a variety of skills, beyond just running. To become physically literate, kids need a wide range of skills. The warm up is an opportunity to explore diverse fundamental movement skills, making the practice more fun for students, while helping to prevent injuries. Use the resources below to create a warm up:
    • Canadian Sport for Life’s Physical Literacy Movement Preparation Guide is a great (free) guide to movement preparation that’s geared towards physical literacy – focusing on the techniques that improve and incorporate fundamental movement skills. 

  • Be Fit For Life Network’s Move & Play Through Physical Literacy resource is a guide for leaders with over 75 activity cards for kids aged 3-12, focusing on the first three stages of the Long Term Athlete Development Model. See the Coach’s Handbook for some Move & Play teacher favourites pictured on pages 32-33, available here. The full set of cards are $40, available online

Running at Veteran School

By Taniell, grade 4 student and AMA Youth Run Club participant

Hi,my name is Taniell. I am from Veteran School. I run because it keeps me healthy. I am in grade 4 and I have entered lots of races. I really enjoy it. This year at our school we got a new principal and she loves running too! So we talked about it for a while with some students and then we decided that we should start a running club. 

This fall we ran two times every week (Sept and October). The distance was about 1km. When it got colder outside, we stopped running. Now during the winter months, we are fundraising for the Run Club. Every Tuesday in January we sell hot chocolate and healthy cookies outside at morning recess.

When Spring comes, we will start running again. Our goal for this year is to get students to join (grade 1-9) and also to host a race for our entire school division (Prairie Land Regional Division). We are looking forward to the Spring. 

Taniell