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Supporting youth mental health one step at a time (6 photos)

The Annual Charity Run and Walk sprinted into its 10th year and raised more than $9,800 for the Children’s Centre Foundation in support of youth mental health services

THUNDER BAY - There are many different reasons to run, be it physical fitness, training, or just getting out of the cold on a cold February day. But runners young and old, including students from one local school, were hitting the track to support mental health services for youth.

“We have students at St. Martin that use the Thunder Bay Children’s Centre,” said Grade 6 teacher, Lindsay Wowchuk. “I think it’s near and dear to them. It’s really kids helping kids.”

Wowchuk and her Grade 6 class were among the more than 125 runners participating in the 10th Annual Charity Run and Walk on Sunday at the Lakehead University Hangar

Formally known as the Indoor Marathon, the annual event in support of the Children’s Centre Foundation still includes a full marathon, a half marathon, a team relay, and a 10 kilometre run and walk.

“It really is an effort to think about the integration of mental health and physical health and how important those two things fit together,” said Diane Walker, CEO of Children’s Centre Thunder Bay. “It is an event we’ve held for many years with that idea if we promote health, physical and mental, participation, and activities and families come out, then we do better as a community and ultimately as a society.”

The Charity Run and Walk raised more than $9,800 this year, which will be used to support mental health and developmental services and programs for children, youth, and families.  

Wowchuk and 12 students from St. Martin School participated in the team relay and Wowchuk said the students receive some very important lessons out on the track.

“I’m really trying to promote being active with the kids and it’s hard to get them outside running in the winter,” she said. “So this is a really a good opportunity for them to get out in the community and be active and do something toward a good cause.”

Grade 6 student, Olivia Brassard, said she enjoys keeping active and uses running to train for hockey.

“I love participate in all these different activities,” she said. “I thought it would be really fun to run with all my friends in my class. I like running inside because during the winter time when there is a bunch of snow, you don’t get to run all the time.”

But running around the track with friends is just one small part of the annual run and walk, because it's what Olivia, her teacher, and fellow classmates are all running toward.

“I’m proud that it helps such a good cause,” Olivia said. “My mom works for children aid, so it’s good to be supporting them.”

Walker added that it is fantastic to see so many young people coming out and participating in the team relay or the kids run.

“I would love to see that area grow where we have more schools participating and active in this,” she said. “The marathon is important, but watching these kids come out and being physically active, off their screens, doing something on a cold winter day, I think that’s the best part of it.”

Doug Diaczuk

About the Author: Doug Diaczuk

Doug Diaczuk is a reporter and award-winning author from Thunder Bay. He has a master’s degree in English from Lakehead University
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