Run4Kids is Back!

Virtual High School is excited to announce the return of our popular Run4Kids fundraising event! Beginning in 2012, VHS has held an annual run to generate donations for Make-a-Wish Southwestern Ontario. After a hiatus due to pandemic restrictions, we’re back at it this year to raise money for one of our favourite local, non-profit charities.

Established in 1987, Rural Response for Healthy Children serves families in the Huron County area by offering educational resources, support groups, activities, workshops, and training for youth, parents, and caregivers. Child and family well-being is at the heart of everything they do as they work to foster a healthy community for all.

Rural Response for Healthy Children offers the following services to Huron and Perth families:

  • Drop-in parenting support at local shelters and mobile foodbanks
  • Grandparents Raising Grandchildren support group
  • Circle of Security and Nobody’s Perfect parenting groups
  • Dads & Kids Night at the Museum
  • Family Walk & Talk
  • Community garden programs
  • Crockpot cooking program
  • Classroom presentations on social and emotional learning, mental well-being, and personal safety
  • Kinderoo Kindergarten Readiness resources

We had the chance to interview RRHC Executive Director Katrina Clarke to get more insight on why this non-profit is so important for families experiencing life transitions or coping with vulnerable situations.

What obstacles or challenges has the organization faced in the past few years?

The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to make a number of significant changes to our programs and operations. After closing our Clinton office to the public in March of 2020, we decided to close that location permanently, shifting to a mix of virtual and community-based programs. Families can now access our programs from their homes or in locations across both counties.

Although staff have been working remotely since that time, we have recently opened a satellite office in Goderich through partnership with the Huron-Perth Children’s Aid Society. This serves mainly an administrative purpose, but it also provides us with a home base and a physical presence in the community.

Another important function of our work is providing referrals to other community services, and this is an area where we are seeing increased need in recent years. We work with the families to identify their needs and connect with the relevant services that will help them. This has been a critical area for us, both through the pandemic, and now, as families struggle with food security and housing issues.

What is the most rewarding aspect of contributing to this organization?

I think the most rewarding aspect of supporting RRHC is knowing you’re having a direct impact on a local family and improving the well-being of local children. Although we offer a lot of different programs to different audiences, improving the lives of children and families is our focus. For the most part, this work is done with vulnerable families who are experiencing conditions of risk, but we also recognize the need of all families to share positive experiences, to feel connected and supported in their community, and to have somewhere to turn when they have concerns. We feel fortunate to be able to do this meaningful work, and we are incredibly grateful to those who see the value of our work and are committed to supporting us.

What are you looking forward to with the organization this year?

This will be our second year as the lead organization for the Huron County Christmas Bureau, which is an incredible community initiative that supports families in need to purchase Christmas gifts for their children. We were amazed by the support from the community and the impact we were able to have on local families last year, and we look forward to continuing to grow this program.

We have a special project starting with our Grandparents Raising Grandchildren this year to help identify the challenges that are shared within the group and provide the tools to address each of them through guest speakers, relevant resources, and connections to community supports.

We will also be starting our first book study this year! We have received funding from United Way to pilot a project around a virtual book study of the text “What Happened to You: Conversations on Trauma, Healing, and Resilience” by Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce Perry. This virtual book study will be offered to professionals who work with vulnerable children and families, and if it is a success, we are hoping to offer a second book study to parents and caregivers.

How To Get Involved in Run4Kids

Join us on Saturday, June 17 to run or walk 5 km around the picturesque town of Bayfield, Ontario!

Check out the Run4Kids website for details on how to register, when to arrive, and where you can make a donation!