06/07/2016 03:29 EDT | Updated 06/08/2017 05:12 EDT

Ottawa Run For Women Brings Smiles For High School Girls

charity cheque

(Photo: Run For Women)

It's been a month since the 4th Annual Shoppers Run For Women rolled through Ottawa on Mother's Day 2016. To say that it was a picture-perfect day for running would be an exaggeration. To quote Winnie the Pooh, "It was a cold and blustery day."

Volunteers arrived early in the pouring rain to set up the race site at the Aviation Museum in preparation for 1645 participants -- a record number! By 7 a.m. the rain had stopped and although we were soaked to the bone it didn't dampen our spirits.

The Run For Women is in support of women's mental health programs in race cities across Canada. Here in Ottawa that recipient is The Royal Ottawa Women's Mental Health Program. It was wonderful to see so many families running together for this important cause on Mother's Day, and most importantly for me was the success of the Run For It high school program.

After six weeks of revised training based off of the Running Room's Learn To Run program, their goal was to complete the Run For Women 5K running or walking. Personally, my goal for the girls was to see them commit to the six-week program and be active. Simply put, physical activity makes us feel happy and more productive. We're more open to learning and more apt to share topics on a run than over a lunch. Perhaps the girls would learn a little more about themselves, be part of something bigger and take away tools to help them in their future. The fact that they made it to the start line and completed the 5K is a bonus!

Ms. Jacklyn Coolican is a teacher at Richard Pfaff Alternative High School. She had seven of eight of her students show up that morning, and she was thrilled. One of her students commuted one hour and 30 minutes taking three buses to be at the starting line. Take a moment and think about that. Tell me if you would be that committed on a "cold and blustery" day as a teenager. This is success!

Ms. Kellie Scrim is a guidance counselor at Sir Francis Xavier High School and she's also a runner. Her goal for this year was to double her numbers from last year. She tripled them and was very proud of the results and how well the girls came together as a group. On race day some of the girls were accompanied by their moms to celebrate Mother's Day. This is success!


(Photo: Kellie Scrim)

Ms. Jennifer Vipond is a physical education teacher at Lisgar Collegiate. Lisgar was not part of the Run For It program in 2015. At our initiation meeting Jenn was worried that she wasn't going to be able to motivate girls to come out and take part. I saw her after the race and asked how it all went. She and the girls found it a rewarding experience and she wants to do it again next year. This is success!

The final dollar amount the Royal received from the run was $124,007.50. This is a record amount and it will ensure that the innovative programs, research and education will continue at the women's mental health centre. This is success!

Since the run I have had feedback from the teachers and Royal Communications and Events folks. It is agreed that in a city the size of Ottawa there should be no reason why we can't get 10 high schools to participate in 2017. A lofty goal to add to the five participating schools this year, but I believe it's achievable.

Prior to the run I was asked to give a three-minute interview on CTV News at Noon. It went well and I received a lot of emails afterwards. We are planning to somehow capitalize on this medium earlier in the New Year to "talk up" the run. Stay tuned.

As for me I was able to shed some light on my own battles with depression and break the silence. This month I have been reminded once again that I have to climb harder out of the hole than most after personal loss.

Someone once told me not to just "talk the talk" but you also have to "walk the walk." Earlier this year I signed up for the Commanders Challenge at this year's Canada Army Run in September. I will put everything into training for this challenge over the summer and leave the darkness behind. Running will be my outlet again and I hope it will be inspiration for the Run For It girls of 2017.

Until next time...

wine * food * run

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