400 schools in four years

AMA Youth Run Club is going and growing strong!

January 19, 2017

Post-run, Dr. Padraic Carr joins the “Kool Gang” at Edmonton’s Prince Charles School.
Contributed by: Vanda Killeen, BA, Dip Ad/PR | Senior Communications Consultant, AMA Public Affairs

Leading into its fourth year in 2017, the AMA Youth Run Club (YRC) has developed into a popular Comprehensive School Health (CSH) program under the guidance of program partners the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) and Ever Active Schools (EAS). CHS links health and education in the school setting through its support and encouragement of physical activity, healthy eating and positive social environments.

With the wrap-up of the spring/summer 2016 season in June, with 383 schools and close to 22,000 children and youth participants, EAS and the AMA set a goal of 400 schools and 25,000 students for June 2017. Typically, school participation gets off to a gradual start in the fall, with the shorter season and cooler weather. Then it builds to peak participation with the warmer temperatures and better running conditions of the spring/summer season. But with 370 schools already on board in October, the YRC began its fourth year with a bang!

The bigger picture: More than just running

In its role as the Many Hands™ flagship project, the YRC has always offered opportunities for physicians, residents and medical students to get involved with the program’s primarily elementary school participant communities on a volunteer basis. However, based on the program’s description as the Youth Run Club, there’s been a perception that these opportunities have mostly been in the form of running with or helping coach a club.

But as those physicians and medical students who have been involved with the YRC have discovered, the club has a strong school health advocacy component, as EAS and the AMA connect physicians and medical students with schools to facilitate the delivery of a school health advocacy talk. Talks are supported with seven Health Advocacy Talk tip sheets posted to the AMA website. These tip sheets cover topics including the value of physical activity and good sleep, plus the hazards of too much screen time.

Second-year University of Alberta medical student and YRC CHAMPion Savanna Boutin was able to fit two school health advocacy talks at Edmonton’s St. Teresa School into her busy schedule and found the brief amount of preparation and presentation time required very manageable.

“I did prepare a PowerPoint presentation for one of my talks,” says Savanna. “And I used the tip sheets on the AMA website to prepare my speaking points for both.” She added information from personal experience to her talks, which focused mainly on the importance of being physically active and on nutrition. “They’re both subjects I’m familiar with, which also reduced prep time. All told, I probably spent 45 to 60 minutes preparing for the 10 to 15 minutes of actual speaking time.”

She adds, “I really enjoyed the whole experience! The kids asked great questions and it was good to acquire that school health advocacy experience. I’d definitely do it again.”

Another YRC CHAMPion who looks forward to his next volunteer opportunity with the AMA YRC is Dr. Padraic E. Carr, AMA President. Dr. Carr brought greetings from the AMA to the Calgary and Edmonton fall 2016 launches. And the grin on his face said it all. “What a fantastic experience! I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The energy of the kids is amazing. I’d like to bottle some of that.”

Dr. Carr’s greetings to over 500 French Immersion students from St. Gerard School and Prince of Peace School in Calgary on September 27 were followed the next day with greetings to over 300 students at Prince Charles School in Edmonton. These enthusiastic students ranged from kindergarten to grade six.

“Seeing the enthusiasm and the joy of the kids, outside running around, laughing and playing with each other, was a special thrill,” says Dr. Carr. “The added involvement and support of the teachers and principals, as well as the attendance of family members, tells me the AMA and Ever Active Schools are onto a good thing.”

Health advocacy opportunities: Become an AMA Youth Run Club CHAMPion

Find out more about how you can get involved with the AMA YRC.

Contact: Vanda Killeen, AMA Public Affairs

Have you seen it?

The new AMA-sponsored Comprehensive School Health/Youth Run Club video premiered on September 23 at the AMA Fall 2016 Representative Forum (RF).

Presented at the RF by Dr. Kimberley Kelly, AMA CSH representative, the four-minute professional video was conceived and produced by Dr. Kelly, AMA Public Affairs and Jason Gondziola. Jason is a producer, cinematographer and youth media educator.

Featuring interviews with AMA physicians, the video illustrates the mutual relationship between CSH and the YRC, with the AMA/EAS partnership program serving to unite health and education in the school setting. As a platform for school health advocacy, the YRC promotes community engagement by doctors and the well-being of students.

View the video on the AMA website: www.albertadoctors.org/YRC

The Alberta Medical Association stands as an advocate for its physician members, providing leadership & support for their role in the provision of quality health care.