AMA YRC: Supporting wellness and belonging in Alberta Indigenous communities

March 26, 2018

The participating communities have shared their true love of physical activity and the sport of running.

Contributed by: Vanda Killeen | AMA Public Affairs

Over the past five years, the AMA Youth Run Club has been running into more and more Alberta schools, in communities large and small, rural and urban.

The AMA YRC is an inclusive, school-based program welcoming and supporting children and youth in schools in every corner and community of the province. The program provides participants with a healthy, fun outlet for physical activity and all the good-for-the-body, soul and mind benefits that go with that.

It’s also long been the desire of the AMA YRC to develop clubs in Indigenous communities, and in the past couple of years we’ve achieved some success. Currently, there are YRCs and/or GO! (Girls Only) Run Clubs located in the following schools in 10 Alberta First Nations School Authorities:

  • Aahsaopi Elementary School
  • Alexis Elementary Junior Senior High School
  • Chief Old Sun Elementary School
  • Ermineskin Elementary Junior High School
  • Kainai Alternate Academy
  • Kainai High School
  • Kehewin Community Education Centre
  • Kihew Asiniy Education Centre
  • Kipohtakaw Education Centre
  • Miyo Wahkohtowin Community Education Authority
  • Napi's Playground Elementary School
  • Nipisihkopahk Education Authority
  • Paul Band First Nation School
  • Prince Charles School
  • Saipoya Community School
  • Siksika Nation High School
  • Siksika Storefront School
  • Tatsikiisaapo'p Middle School
  • Tsuut'ina High School
  • Tsuut'ina Nation Middle School

Brian Torrance, Director, Ever Active Schools (AMA’s partner in the Youth Run Club) comments: “It’s a positive step to see the AMA YRC embraced in Indigenous school communities. The learning has gone both ways, as the participating communities have shared with us their land-based learnings as well as a true love of physical activity and the sport of running.”

“It’s wonderful to work alongside the communities,” he continues, “but we have so much more to do. Indigenous schools have expressed additional equipment needs, and the youth have requested more coaches in the community.”

Through the AMA YRC program, we’ve been able to provide running shoes, sports bras, socks and some coaching assistance. By working in and with the communities, we’ve identified areas of need and helped to build capacity in the community to address wellness.

“The reality is that there are challenges in the community,” says Brian. “But the strong sense of belonging that the AMA YRC provides is bringing youth and the broader community into a positive and healthy place. I’m hopeful of the future in the participating communities, and the power of sport and physical activity to influence overall wellbeing.”

The AMA advances patient-centered, quality care by advocating for and supporting physician leadership and wellness.