York’s Faculty of Health walks – and runs – the talk

Despite high humidity and record temperatures, faculty, students and staff from York’s Faculty of Health braved the elements to "Run for Health" at the YMCA Relay for Strong Kids race, held on May 26 at Exhibition Place in Toronto.

Left: Faculty of Health Dean Harvey Skinner (right) during the YMCA Relay for Strong Kids race

"Run for Health" is the moniker given to Faculty racing events by Dean Harvey Skinner. Skinner, an avid runner, led this year’s team of 60 participants. The Faculty registered 12 York running teams and three walking teams for the YMCA fundraising event. Last year, eight running teams braved a windy and wet 20-kilometre relay race course and word spread of a fun evening by Lake Ontario, regardless of monsoon-like rain conditions. No one reckoned on this year’s record-breaking temperature and humidex reading, which made most very thankful for this year’s sponsors of the YMCA relay race – Gatorade, Aquafina and Sleeman, among others.

Above: York University’s "Run for Health" team  

Fourth-year student Praful Handa of the School of Kinesiology & Health Science joined in the race as it was one of his last chances to share in the fun as an undergraduate. "What a great way to end my non-academic time at York University – running with the dean. It’s an awesome event. Can I come back next year?" asked Handa.

Nursing Professors Mina Singh and Christine Jonas-Simpson approached Skinner with the idea in 2009, and along with the Faculty’s director of communications & external relations, Nora Gubins, organized the event. "It’s times like this that we really walk our talk! Or should I say – run it," quipped Singh, who is the School of Nursing’s graduate program director. "We’re about keeping more people healthier, longer, and events like this bring us all together to show it."

Right: Among the 15 teams, three came from Professor Joseph DeSouza’s laboratory team and sported their "JoeLab" shirts. DeSouza’s lab focuses on multisensory systems neuroscience.

This year, more volunteers joined in, including Janet Morrison, the Faculty’s executive officer. Others brought their Web design expertise to bear, with Brett Thompson, design & production officer, developing an easy online sign-up form, as well as creating the Run For Health event Web site complete with post-race photo gallery. Thompson and Gubins are editing the movie version, which will be coming soon.

"The Faculty," said Gubins, "encourages all York community members to join in charity races, both to support charities financially with pledges and to support keeping healthy."

"We’re open to some friendly competition," chuckled Skinner. But be warned, those choosing to pick up the gauntlet may want to know that Skinner is a seven-time marathon runner.