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Alberta Medical Association Youth Run Club
Free, fun and flexible!
The Alberta Medical Association (AMA) Youth Run Club (YRC) is a partnership program between the AMA and Ever Active Schools (EAS). It is a free, fun and flexible program aimed at increasing physical activity levels in children and youth across Alberta. We provide registered clubs with all of the necessary tools and resources to implement and maintain a successful run club, including: Runner and Coach handbooks; finisher prizes for all participants; free local workshops for coaches; running logs; and more. The majority of our clubs are school-based with participants ranging in age from grades K-12. Clubs run one to five times per week either before school, at recess, at lunch or after-school. They focus on having fun and encouraging everyone to get moving in whatever way they can.
0%of coaches reported engaging students who are not traditionally physically active
0%of students reported that they will keep running once their club is finished for the year
Ever Active Schools being a leader in Comprehensive School Health in Alberta enables the AMA YRC to connect with school communities that we are already working with; conversely, the AMA YRC helps to build a relationship with school communities that we can then incorporate into other EAS work. The AMA is a great partner for this work as they want physicians, medical students and other medical professionals to be working towards health promotion and supporting physical activity.
In the 2017-18 school year, the AMA YRC received additional funding from Jumpstart Charities to pilot a club for girls: GO! Run (girls only!). This pilot has become a permanent piece of the AMA YRC, growing from 18 to 45 GO! Run clubs province-wide.
The AMA YRC aims to support as many Alberta students in being physically active as possible. The goal is to continue to grow the amount of schools being supported each year by the program. We have seen growth each school year, with our first year starting at 233 schools and 11,000 students, to 500 schools and 25,000 students over the last few years. We have seen more and more schools hosting their own fun run events and continue to see great results in the positive impact that the run clubs have on school communities. Our schools see the AMA YRC as easy to implement and a great support to help them get their students active. It has helped students to build relationships, and teachers have reported better behaviours after run club practice.
We are finding that reaching the high school age group with run clubs can be challenging. We are working to learn how a run club can be successful with older students and how to pique their interest in the program. Some schools, such as those in rural and remote communities, have had difficulties with the program as they cannot easily access the in-person supports offered. As such, we’re looking into developing an online learning module to improve the accessibility for all schools across Alberta. We’re also focusing on increasing the inclusivity of the AMA YRC so that students of all abilities can participate and have fun.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic required that the AMA Youth Run Club pivot from an in-person, school-based program. We were able to support our clubs through at-home and virtual methods from March 2020 to June 2020, such as:
- Give a Pair for Healthcare. We donated 100 pairs of running shoes to healthcare workers.
- Virtual Fun Run. We supported existing school-based clubs to host virtual fun runs by supplying finisher prizes, running bibs and certificates.
- AMA Youth Run Club at Home Resource: This resource features ways to stay active at home.
- Video supports: We created a number of new videos to support clubs and participants virutally.
- Virtual AMA Youth Run Club: We launched the virtual club, where participants (or their parents) could register to receive weekly activity and challenge emails, a 10-week run/walk program to build up to a 2km or 5km fun run, and a certificate of completion at the end of the program.
More than 750 participants joined the virtual club between March and June. 100% of participants reported that they enjoyed being part of the virtual club, and 89% said they would participate in an at-home program again! We will continue providing virtual engagement opportunities through the summer of 2020 and evaluate to determine the fate of the virtual run club come fall.