“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall don’t turnaround and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
The Sarnia Super Ninja Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) Club is so much more than just a ‘gym’. Our motto from our inception has been to support youth mental health by helping our participants develop resiliency through physical activity, skill building, positive social interactions, dealing with frustrations, accepting failure as part of the process and celebrating successes.
When we speak of mental health, what are we talking about? Mental health is the state of your psychological and emotional well-being. It is a necessary resource for living a healthy life and a main factor in overall health. It does not mean the same thing as mental illness, however, poor mental health can lead to mental and physical illness. Everyone's mental health is important. It needs to be taken care of to make sure you stay healthy overall.
Mental health, as it relates to children and youth, is even more so important as they develop socially and emotionally and learn to experience, regulate and express a variety of emotions. Positive mental health in children and youth allow them to be creative, try new things, take risks, learn from failures, deal with adversity and be mindful of experiences.
Our program is tough. We ask our participants to step outside their comfort zone and learn that failure is inevitable. If a skill or obstacle is ‘easy’ guess what? We’ve got a harder one lined up. Once that next level is achieved, guess again? We’ve got an even harder challenge in store. That is what makes our program so unique and challenging, but also so rewarding. We ask each of our participants to be the ‘best version of themselves’ and help them work through frustrations, fears and uncertainties while “accepting failures as part of the process”.
As athletes, coaches and parents ourselves, we recognize that children are living in a unique society that ‘protects’ them from failure. Over time, this ‘bubble wrap’ approach leads to greater feelings of inadequacy, the inability to accept loss, lower motivation and anger. To that end, our program uses challenging physical skills and obstacles along with small group coaching and weekly speaking themes / lessons that include the values of: respect, responsibility, gratitude, awareness, courage, kindness/safety, confidence, honesty and growth, to help our participants develop into the strongest physical and more importantly mental, persons they can be.
Albeit that we do not focus on competition, there are certainly opportunities to do so whether through the National Ninja League, Canadian Ninja League, Spartan Kids, etc. Again, our primary aim is to enrich the lives of our participants and if competition is something “they” strive for, then we are here to support them in this, and whatever other endeavours they may have.
1. Public Helath Agency of Canada (2020). About Mental Health. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/about-mental-health.html
2. Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Government of Ontario (2018). Mental Health Promotion Guidelines (2018) http://health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/publichealth/oph_standards/docs/protocols_guidelines/Mental_Health_Promotion_Guideline_2018.pdf
3. Public Health Agency of Canada (2011). The Health of Canada’s Young People. https://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-ps/dca-dea/publications/hbsc-mental-mentale/assets/pdf/hbsc-mental-mentale-eng.pdf
4. Participaction (2020). https://www.participaction.com/en-ca/resources/children-and-youth-report-card
5. High Five Ontario (2020). https://www.highfive.org/
6. Active After School (2020). http://www.activeafterschool.ca/