Are you the organizing type? We'll be honest: Sometimes we find it tough to plan a weekend picnic! That's what makes Jasmine de Pencier and Jett Jardeleza-Toole so impressive. In 2015, at the age of 10, these two Toronto friends organized the first Kids' Run for Nature. For them, it was a great way to combine their concern for nature and animals with their favourite sport: running!
Three years later, their project just keeps growing! This year is going to be the fourth annual run. There are 1km, 3km, and 5km categories, and dozens of locations across five provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and Ontario. Though a couple runs have already happened this spring, most will happen this Sunday, June 10 (with still more happening later in the month—details here). All together, it'll be the biggest run yet!
We figured that was a great reason to speak to Jasmine and Jett about the Kids' Run for Nature.
How Jasmine and Jett run things
OWLconnected: How did you come up with the idea for the Kids’ Run for Nature?
Jasmine and Jett: It was during a P.A. day in Grade 4, when we were hanging out. We both loved running (still do!) and had participated in a few different charity events. We thought it would be great to organize our own run, specifically for kids. We also both really love nature, so raising money to protect endangered species seemed like a great fit.
OC: What challenges, if any, did you face getting the event started? Did you have help from parents, teachers, or anyone else?
J&J: The largest challenge we faced was finding sponsors. People or companies that were willing to support our event in numerous ways were difficult to get on board. We think it was maybe hard for people to take a couple of kids seriously and believe that we were actually going to make something happen. Our parents definitely had a big part in overcoming this problem. Our mothers contacted the people who they thought could help and assisted us in getting those companies on board.
Another problem we had was communication. In order to have a successful event, we needed to get the word out. Our mothers helped in this department, too, by creating our original website, helping us with posters, and telling everyone they knew and telling those people to tell everyone they knew. Eventually, it spread and we sold out our first event. Thank you to our moms, Kelly and Julie!
OC: What has been the most rewarding part of this experience?
J&J: There have been many rewarding parts throughout this amazing experience. But, the best one has to be on the actual day of the run, when everyone is smiling and enjoying themselves. Everyone is running, having their faces painted, taking pictures with the WWF-Canada panda mascot, playing, and having fun. It's also rewarding to know that we are making a difference. Not only for the habitats and preservation of endangered species in Canada, but in the lives of the kids and families in our community.
OC: Where is your favourite spot in nature to spend time?
J&J: We both really love to take advantage of the amazing freshwater in Canada for paddling and swimming. Last year, Jasmine went on a 10-day canoe trip in Temagami and still can’t stop talking about how amazing it was. This summer, Jett has a whitewater paddling trip planned down the Dumoine River.
OC: We know you care about ALL animals (as do we!), but are there specific endangered animals that you feel passionate about protecting?
J&J: Our favourite Canadian endangered species is the caribou. Caribou are extremely endangered and these beautiful animals desperately need our help. Did you know that some caribou herds are declining by 98%? Caribou are one of the biggest concerns for Canada's wildlife right now.
OC: Do you have any tips for kids who want to start their own events or fundraisers?
J&J: Our first tip for everyone who wants to start a fundraiser would be to pick an activity that they’re passionate about. We chose our favourite sport of running, but it could be musical performance, drawing, rock climbing, anything really, as long as it’s something you love to do and want to share with others.
Then, think of an issue that you really care about and that you would like to contribute to. Next, talk to everyone about your idea to get support and help in getting your idea to happen. Don’t get discouraged—there will be obstacles, but you can get over them. We would love for more and more kids to use their voices and make a difference in their community or the world!