Ontario kids start running on doctors’ orders
By Nadia Daniell-Colarossi, OMA Public Affairs Department
It turns out running is a prescription kids are happy to follow.
Ontario’s doctors have launched a school-based Kids’ Run Club to help children be more active and promote healthy behaviours.
Earlier this month, Dr. Virginia Walley, President of the Ontario Medical Association, had the opportunity to visit Don Mills Middle School in Toronto to see the program in action. Some students sprinted, some ran, some walked – everyone wore a smile.
“Doctors have an important role to play in helping kids get the activity they need to stay healthy,” said Dr. Walley. “The Kids’ Run Club is a way for doctors to provide more opportunities for students to engage in physical activity in schools.”
Before they headed out for their run, Dr. Walley spoke with the group about the importance of healthy living, and how physical activity is a big part of that.
Studies show that children who aren’t active enough are at a higher risk for developing chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular illnesses.
Children should get about 60 minutes a day of medium to intense physical activity. The Kids’ Run Club is for all abilities and was designed to meet the needs of every participant, regardless of physical challenges, or disabilities.
“The Kids’ Run Club has been very easy to implement,” said Carla Robbins, Principal of Don Mills Middle School. “As an educator I am so passionate about physical activity and this program allows everyone to participate by striving to improve their personal best.”
Schools are supported by the Ontario Physical Health Education Association (Ophea) and provided with a Coach’s Guide to help leaders implement a successful run club that builds skills and supports students in setting and fulfilling goals. Kids also receive a Participant’s Guide, which includes running techniques, safety tips, a stretching guide, and information to support an active, healthy lifestyle.
Don Mills students were eager to share their enthusiasm about the Kids’ Run Club on a warm, sunny fall day. Olivia, 11, standing with her arm linked with her friend said that being part of the Club gave her the opportunity to meet new friends and that running with a group made it easier. Fiona, also 11, enjoyed being able to push herself to run for longer distances, but without the pressure of being in a race.
More than 100 schools have started a Kids’ Run club this year, and Ontario’s doctors in partnership with OPHEA are working to increase participation in the program to ensure all students benefit from this free program.
“The students at Don Mills are a great example of how easy it is to get kids active – they want to do this, and we just need to provide the support,” said Dr. Walley. “Thanks to the commitment of teachers and the partnership that has been created with doctors, we are helping the next generation of Ontarians be healthier.”
Visit the Kids’ Run Club, for more information on this program from Ontario’s doctors.
This article originally appeared in our monthly e-newsletter, Spotlight on Health.
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