15 Years of Kids Run Club

Join us as we celebrate a big anniversary – and help us reach a new goal!

Fifteen years ago, a small group of school children joined a new after-school activity: Kids Run Club (KRC). It was a simple premise with big promise: a free, accessible program that aimed to get Nova Scotian kids of all ages, ability levels and economic backgrounds running for fun.

That first year, 3,500 kids at 58 schools laced up their sneakers and hit the gym, the schoolyard, and the trails. They started small, using a run-walk program that helped them gradually build up to running 4.2 km.

With the guidance of their teachers and support from KRC organizers, those elementary school students succeeded in improving their confidence, endurance and physical literacy skills – and, most importantly, had a ton of fun.

The following year saw more schools offering the program; the year after that, even more!

By 2018, 17,500 students at more than 215 schools in Nova Scotia were participating in KRC.

A Truly Accessible Program

Kids Run Club is a unique program that focuses on making physical fitness available to every kid in Nova Scotia, no matter where they live or what their circumstances are. At a time when more than 42,000 kids in the province are considered overweight or obese and 33% of Nova Scotian kids can’t afford to participate in organized sport or recreational programs, this type of accessible, inclusive programming is crucial.

“When you watch a child who has challenges and difficulties participating in organized sports smile from ear to ear because they feel like a rock-star runner – you can’t beat that!” said Lee Anne Webber, a teacher and KRC coach at Springvale Elementary School in Halifax.

Kids Run Club serves diverse and vulnerable populations. Program staff work hard to support communities that experience barriers to being active, including inner city and First Nations schools, rural communities, and schools for students with learning difficulties.

In 2011, KRC launched a girls-only program to address the gender inequities in physical activity, supporting young women in staying active through adolescence and beyond. The KRC program can be adapted to include all kids, no matter their challenges.

Big Impact

By partnering with schools and community groups, KRC has managed to reach thousands of kids. And they don’t just learn about running – KRC programming also covers healthy eating, sleep hygiene and other healthy living strategies. Kids Run Club participants report that they eat healthier food and spend less time on sedentary pursuits such as watching TV and playing video games than they did before joining the program. And that’s not all.

“Running club extends well beyond the gym or trail,” said Ms. Webber. “Running allows kids an opportunity to expend that extra energy so they can better focus and sustain attention in class. Kids who have opportunities such as KRC are better prepared to learn.”

Gathering Accolades Along The Way

And the program has been successful. Kids Run Club has received national recognition and two awards for health promotion: the Health Promotion and Innovation Award of Excellence from the Canadian Institute of Child Health, in 2006, and the Ron Draper Health Promotion Award from the Canadian Public Health Association, in 2012.

More recently, we received the 2017 partnership award from the Nova Scotia Teachers Union for Physical and Health Education, which recognizes the program’s connection with teachers, and for its demonstrated support for the development of physical and health education in the province.

And if that’s not enough, we’ve also seen the program spread. We’ve engaged more than 80% of Nova Scotia schools in KRC, helping them get their students active through running, either during class time or as an extra-curricular activity. Our impact can be seen outside Nova Scotia as well as Kids Run Club has been replicated in Alberta and Ontario.

Establishing Healthy Habits

But the best measure of success is the success of our participants – from students and teachers overcoming challenging circumstances to participate, to students who end up excelling in the sport or in academics.

Last year, the entire population of Pleasant Bay School in Cape Breton (two staff members and seven students) decided they wanted to be part of the KRC family. They don’t have a track, or a safe outdoor running space in the winter, but that didn’t stop them; they taped off a course in the school basement and ran laps, gradually building up to their 2.1 km distance goals. At the end of the school year, the group travelled to participate in the Doctors Nova Scotia Youth Run at the Cape Breton Fiddlers Run in Sydney.

Pleasant Bay Elementary students and staff at 2018 Fiddlers Youth Run

Hudson Grimshaw-Surette, from Yarmouth, began running in KRC in Grade 2. He kept it up – and now he’s a provincial record holder, a national champion, and running for Dalhousie University.

And some of the earliest KRC participants are now enrolled in medical school – and giving back to the program that started them on a healthy path in life by volunteering with the program. Kirsten Weagle, now a second-year medical student, was a KRC member when she was a student at Hebbville Academy on Nova Scotia’s South Shore. “It was a positive experience that wasn’t focused on being the fastest,” said Ms. Weagle. “If kids have a positive experience like that early on, they’re more likely to continue being active.”

Not all KRC participants will end up in medical school or as nationally ranked runners, but they will be well on their way to living long, active, and healthy lives.

“Not only does KRC raise awareness about healthy lifestyles among our children, families and communities, but it also generates healthy generations through long-term primary prevention of diseases and illness,” said Dr. Walid El-Naggar, a pediatrician, parent and KRC coach.

A New Day

The future is bright. At KRC, we want to create a healthy tomorrow for every child in Nova Scotia. We’re proud of what we’ve been able to achieve over the last 15 years and we’re excited about the potential for KRC to have an even bigger impact in the future.

Kids Run Club wants to:

  • Grow the KRC team and reach more schools in more communities
  • Grow the girls-only program and support the healthy development of confident young women
  • Increase support to populations who experience increased barriers to achieving active lifestyles including those in  First Nations and rural schools
  • Expand KRC offerings beyond running and activity to nutritional education and healthy living strategies that will last into adulthood

But we can’t do this without your help.

We Need Your Help

Over the last few years, the success and growth of Kids Run Club can be directly linked to the outpouring of support from teachers, sponsors, community members, doctors, students, parents – that is, people like you. The support we receive from volunteers has played a massive impact in helping us inspire more children to live healthier and more active lives.

Now, we’re looking for financial support. As a non-profit program, every donation makes a difference – and helps us continue to bring our programming to young people across Nova Scotia, at no cost.

Donate Today

Can you help students in your community get active today and build healthy habits for tomorrow? All it takes is the click of a button to help keep Kids Run Club running.

Today we’re launching #15in15 – a quest to get 15 donations in 15 days. Could you be one of our 15 donors?

 Help us meet our goal. Please, donate today.