Kids Run Club adapts to support healthy and active living from home during COVID-19

Participants of the Kids Run Club
Participants of the Kids Run Club (contributed)

Without school in place from March to June 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nova Scotian parents needed new ways to keep their kids active outside of school. 

For 16 years, Kids Run Club (KRC), a free school-based running program, has helped families stay active and this year was no exception. 

“The most memorable aspect of KRC is its adaptability and ability to create a culture that celebrates active living,” said Leah Jabbour, Kids Run Club Coordinator. Kids Run Club is offered to school-aged children and youth across Nova Scotia. 

Its goal for a typical year is to get 17,500 kids in 220 schools province-wide to participate in the program and get active. 

However, this year KRC needed to find a way to continue encouraging children to be active and develop healthy habits from home. 

With schools and outdoor recreational spaces closed due to public health protocols, this is presented a challenge.

However, the Healthy Tomorrow Foundation helped create a way for KRC participants and their families to stay active together during the pandemic by developing a #LetsKeepMoving campaign.  

“The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly presented challenges, but there are also new opportunities if you look closely enough,” said Dr. Alex Mitchell, board chair of the Doctors Nova Scotia Healthy Tomorrow Foundation. 

The campaign began in April, inspiring people to include more movement in their day. 

Two videos were sent to participants each weekday.

They were built on Alphabet Activity Challenge, which are exercises based on each letter of the alphabet to encourage learning while being physically active. Each day the team would choose an inspiring word for the day, equating to a 10-20 series of activities according to the letters in the word and the activity assigned to each letter. The videos for the challenges consisted of a high-energy activity and a low-impact activity. 

The videos ranged from 10 to 20 minutes and were created for a variety of activity levels. They also were tailored to be done within participants’ homes.

The campaign involved posting the videos every weekday on Facebook and Twitter, encouraging participants to post videos or photos of themselves being active with the challenge of the day, while using the #LetsKeepMoving hashtag on Facebook and Twitter. 

Each week KRC would announce a winner from the hashtag submissions to receive a KRC water bottle.

Kids Run Club was created in 2004 by Doctors Nova Scotia (DNS) with operations throughout the province to help kids get active. 

In 2018, DNS established the Healthy Tomorrow Foundation, a charitable foundation, charged with ensuring KRC continues to thrive, as well as introducing new programs and initiatives that inspire more Nova Scotians to incorporate movement into their daily lives. The organization’s next goal for KRC is to continue developing virtual methods of engaging and supporting teachers and youth in Nova Scotia with modified, adaptable and fun ways to maintain active and healthy habits. 

Taking a new route with virtual opportunities aligns with KRC being an adaptable program where all schools can participate.

Now that school is back in session in Nova Scotia, Dr. Mitchell said “The Healthy Tomorrow Foundation is encouraging teachers to leverage the warmer temperatures and the public health advice of being outside as much as possible and implement Kids Run Club as part of the PhysEd curriculum.” 

“Teachers have a lot on their plate right now as they manage their classrooms in this COVID-19 environment. We’re proud to offer an outdoor activity for every child in the school, which can be done physically distant, without contact or equipment, safely. And that’s pretty awesome!” 

In 2019, this program received funding through the Central Inverness, North Inverness, and Victoria County Community Health Boards (CHB) Wellness Funds.

Each year, Nova Scotia Health designates funds for each CHB in the province to distribute as Wellness Funds.

This Wellness Fund is for non-profit groups working to improve health in their communities and must address the health priorities identified by CHBs in their current community health plans.