Of the many tree-lined streets and boulevards of Winnipeg, the soaring elms and handsome old homes of Wolseley Avenue and Wellington Crescent make for a fantastic Sunday morning summer stroll. So why not put your running shoes on, get some fresh air, and change a child’s life for the better?
The 2nd annual 5ish Fun Run takes place on Sunday, June 2. The (roughly) five kilometer run–or walk–will raise funds for after-school and summer recreational programming at West Broadway Youth Outreach (WBYO), a year-round recreational program for core area children.
WBYO works to create a safe and positive environment that keeps kids off the street during peak after-school and evening hours. All programming is free, and children have access to nutritious snacks and a variety of regular educational, athletic, and creative activities including swimming, team sports, homework club, computer access, music lessons, and more. The program also reinforces the importance of basic life skills, like sewing, cooking, and even laundry.
Ken Opaleke, WBYO’s director, has been with the organization for more than 20 years, and has seen first-hand the incredible difference it’s made in the lives of West Broadway area kids.
“It’s an empowering time more than anything,” says Opaleke. “That’s essentially what we’re about. Empowerment, seeing strengths, and hooking kids up with mentors that will foster those strengths.”
“We’re trying to get these kids to internalize the belief that their potential is limitless.”
Norm McLean, who began attending the program at age nine, is a great example of the WBYO philosophy. Last year, he graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Manitoba, and is now affectionately known around WBYO as “Doctor #1.” Despite a hectic schedule as a physician and father to a young family, McLean makes time as a volunteer and mentor with WBYO and serves as a board member.
“WBYO serves underprivileged children in the core area with its social, recreational and educational programming,” says McLean. “As a former participant and ‘graduate’ of the program, I can’t speak highly enough about the profound impact that the program has in the lives of the children it serves.”
Many of the kids who attend WBYO have been training for the run for weeks. They’re looking forward to joining the many volunteers, alumni like McLean, and generous Winnipeggers who believe in their future.
5ish begins at Mulvey School field, at the corner of Maryland and Wolseley. The route will take runners down a well-shaded loop along Wolseley, across Omand’s Creek Bridge, back down Wellington, and across the Maryland Bridge back to the schoolyard. Walk-up registration begins at 8:45 a.m. The event will wrap-up with a neighbourhood barbecue and picnic at 1 p.m., featuring live music and children’s activities.
Last year, the run raised over $10,000 for WBYO programming.
To donate new or gently-used running shoes to a WBYO kid, visit Kicks for Kids.