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A running program focused on promoting resilience in youth.

The program

Bison Run Club was born out of a desire to create connection among youth.  We believe that time spent on trails connects us to the land, our body and mind.  This welcoming and supportive trail running program has been developed in consultation with a team of community leaders with expertise in mental health, running and youth services programming.  This initiative will focus on creating connection, and promoting physical and mental health through coaching, mentorship and evidence-informed strategies.  The skills and experience gained from this program will focus on promoting resilience in youth.  All selected participants will receive a pair of running shoes and a club shirt, and will have access to transportation support to and from the program location (Centennial Park).

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Who is this program designed for?

This running program is for any 14-17 year old interested in gaining skills and connection with others while promoting their physical and mental health through mentorship, coaching and evidence-informed strategies.

How is mental health support addressed?

Through guided mentorship and group discussions, youth will explore various topics, known to promote positive mental health, such as emotional wellness, adaptive skills, and goal setting. It is important to note that this is not a mental health treatment program.  A list of community resources will be provided to all youth, should they be interested in seeking out mental health services.

Do I need to be an experienced runner to participate?

What matters is not your speed or endurance, but rather, your commitment to learning, showing up and participating in the workouts and group discussions.  A head coach will design daily workouts and youth will be supported by mentors to achieve their goals.  

Tell me more about the running part.

No participant will ever be on their own. The groups will follow a structured running program each day, including a warm up, the daily workout and a cool down. Running may be continuous or in intervals, based on the day's goal. Youth will have an opportunity to reflect on their day, and journal their experiences before and after each run, and will have snacks provided following each run.  

How do I join the club?

Parents, guardians or supporting adults may submit applications through our online form.

The program is FREE and is limited to 20 youth participants.  Our committee will review applications and contact selected individuals.  Applications will be primarily based on a first-come first-serve basis as well as the expressed participant interest during the application phase.  

Program Dates*

Mondays and Wednesdays (5:00pm - 6:30pm) starting and ending at Centennial Park from June 6th - July 25th.

*Program start times & location may be subject to change

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Program Goals

  • Increased emotional wellness and level of connectedness

  • Increased overall level of self-confidence

  • Adaptive skills development

  • Promote outdoor physical activity

  • Increased awareness of available mental health support services

  • Increased Resilience

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Antonio Stefanile, Program Manager

Antonio is the owner of UpRiver Running and founder of Bison Run Club.  For years, running has provided physical and mental wellness and has helped him forge lifelong friendships. These have helped Antonio build resilience and with the support of the team, he looks forward to connecting with youth through running.  Outside of running and his career in Education, he loves spending time with his family and exploring the great outdoors.

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Amanda Stefanile, Program Advisor & Facilitator

Amanda is the Achievement Program Coordinator in the Department of Athletics at Lakehead University.  Amanda has 10 years of experience facilitating youth programs in the region and is passionate about working with individuals to promote physical activity, and personal growth. As a former varsity athlete, sport has always been a part of her life, and provide a space to learn valuable skills that can be used in everyday life.  Amanda enjoys spending time outside with her two kiddos and husband Antonio.

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Dr. Aislin Mushquash, Ph.D., C.Psych
Program Advisor & Supervisor

Dr. Mushquash is a Registered Clinical Psychologist with Dilico Anishinabek Family Care. She provides assessment, treatment, and consultation support for Anishinabek children, youth, and adults. Dr. Mushquash is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Lakehead University where she conducts research related to stress and coping, and teaches related to child development and psychopathology, advanced intervention, and research methods. 

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Trent Lynds, Program Advisor & Facilitator

Trent is a 2nd year student in the M.A. Clinical Psychology program at Lakehead University. Being a member of the Dalhousie Tigers cross country team during his undergraduate, Trent is an experienced distance runner having competed at the provincial and national level. After years of experience, Trent has grown to appreciate the importance of mental wellbeing and its relationship with healthy running. 

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Kip Sigsworth, Program Advisor

Kip has been passionate about running and how to improve as a runner for as long as he can remember.  During his time in the sport, he came to realize that the lessons learned in becoming a better runner can be applied to all areas of life.  Outside of running, Kip enjoys spending time outdoors with his family and reading

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Dr. Andrew Smith, Program Advisor & Sponsor

Andrew is a father, husband, and avid trail runner. Having previously competed internationally in multi-sport events and nationally in cross-country, he now finds solace on the trail. In his spare time, he is a bariatric and minimally-invasive surgeon at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

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Elaine Fairhurst, Logistics Support & Facilitator

Elaine has been a long standing supporter of UpRiver Running.  Her role in the Bison Run Club will be to provide logistics support and as facilitator. This is a role Elaine has in the real world too.  She organizes travel for school sport teams in our region, and volunteers to provide timing, score keeping and food prep.  Elaine loves working with youth and looks forward to being a part of Bison Run Club.

A Bison Runner sees strength in unity, and applies their mental and physical strength to conquer adversity. 

A Bison Runner is a Resilient Runner.

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