With more than 42,000 kids in Nova Scotia overweight or obese and 33% of kids in the province unable to afford organized sport or recreational programs, it’s key to provide fun and simple ways to get kids moving.
Back in 2004, Doctors Nova Scotia saw this need and decided to do something about it.
Kids Run Club born
The association hired Kerry Copeland to create a program that would help inspire thousands of children to embrace fitness and healthy habits that would last into adulthood.
She created Kids Run Club (KRC), a free, school-based running program. “When Kids Run Club was introduced in 2004, we had no idea what was in store,” says Ms. Copeland.
It started small, with just 3,500 participants at 58 schools. Today, almost 16,000 kids at 220 schools across the province take part. There is no other physical activity program with such longevity or reach in Nova Scotia.
Now a registered charity and the flagship program of the Doctors Nova Scotia Healthy Tomorrow Foundation, KRC continues to help Nova Scotia youngsters discover that fitness can be fun.
“There are so many strong influences taking our children in directions leading away from healthy lifestyles – such as food, electronics, social media,” says Dr. Alex Mitchell, chair of the Doctors Nova Scotia Healthy Tomorrow Foundation.
“Kids Run Club is a positive and wide-reaching force that pulls kids outside to enjoy barrier-free, fun physical activity with an opportunity to learn about other components of a healthy lifestyle.”
Inspiring lasting change
Kids Run Club is not only getting Nova Scotia kids active, it’s helping them make a positive shift toward healthier lifestyle choices. “It’s providing schools and communities with a way to create the cultural shift required to ensure all Nova Scotia children have a healthy tomorrow,” Ms. Copeland says.
The program makes fitness accessible for all kids, no matter their age, where they live or their fitness level. To take part, all they need is a pair of running shoes. That’s been inspiring for medical students, several of whom volunteer their time each year to mentor and coach KRC teams at schools in their communities.
Doctors Nova Scotia’s youth run legacy
Fun runs are another key part of the program’s success. They are a milestone (and motivator!) for young runners, and also an event where they can celebrate their hard work with their peers and their coaches.
For 16 years, Doctors Nova Scotia has sponsored the Doctors Nova Scotia Youth Run at the Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon in Halifax – one of the biggest youth runs in Canada – and the Doctors Nova Scotia Youth Run at the Fiddlers Run in Sydney, Cape Breton. Kids from KRC teams make up the bulk of the young runners at both events.
These races are not only exciting for the kids, but they can also inspire other family members to try running, too.
Helping kids connect with fitness and fun
No matter how you see it, encouraging kids early on to enjoy fitness and make it part of their daily lives is a good thing. That’s why it’s so important to keep supporting programs like KRC that make fitness accessible to kids no matter what.
Want to start a KRC in your school or community? Parents, teachers, students and people who just love fitness can all become champions of the program. Coaches receive free training materials and ongoing support from regional reps who assist with program development and implementation. Here’s how to sign up.