Your information hub for running in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island

A SMILE worth a few kilometres

Mount Allison students raising funds for special needs program

By Andrew Wagstaff
Maritime Runner
March 21, 2017

SACKVILLE, N.B. – Runners and walkers will gather for a cause here on Saturday, April 1, as they support a valuable partnership between university students and children with special needs.
The eighth annual SMILE (Sensory Motor Instructional Leadership Experience) Walk/Run will be held once again in support of SMILE, a weekly gym and swim program for children with special needs between the ages of three and 21.
The program is run by Mount Allison University students in partnership with the Cumberland SMILE and Shine Program (CSSP) and the Cumberland YMCA.

The annual SMILE Walk/Run will take place in Sackville, N.B. on Saturday, April 1. Shown here are participants during last year’s event.

Photo courtesy of Katie Scott

“Mostly, our goal is to hold another successful walk/run for SMILE and the CSSP,” said Amy Allison, one of three Mount Allison students coordinating the event. “We hope to promote SMILE while encouraging both healthy and active lifestyles in the community.”
The walk/run began in 2010, when the program was in danger of ending due to a lack of funding, according to SMILE coordinator Katie Scott.
“The volunteers at the time developed the run idea as a way to keep the program going, as they understood how valuable it is to the community,” she explained.
The program pairs 60 Mount Allison students with children or adolescents with intellectual disabilities. The students travel to the Cumberland YMCA in nearby Amherst, N.S. every Saturday to join the children in activities such as gym time, crafts, cooking and swimming.
“For many of the volunteers and buddies, SMILE is the highlight of their week – it provides our buddies with recreational opportunities and the chance to build meaningful bonds with the volunteers and one another,” said Allison. “The walk/run is our main fundraiser and it allows for SMILE to continue to run as smoothly as possible.”
The event features 10K, 5K and 1K options, all within the town of Sackville, beginning at 62 York Street, in front of the Wallace McCain Student Centre on the Mount Allison campus.
“No massive hills must be conquered in this course, however the sustained climb through Charlotte Street can be tiring,” said SMILE coordinator Sam Donaldson. “During the event, we will have SMILE volunteers directing runners, keeping them on course.”
Organizers are hoping to see around 100 participants this year. Donations for the program will also be accepted at the race site.
For more information on the event, visit here .