Photos by Aidas Odonelis.

Canadian Running in partnership with Nike Canada and Toronto Community Housing was super excited to see the launch of Lane 6, a pilot project that aims to provide at-risk youth with one-on-one mentorship with local runners and community leaders. Together we aim to inspire the next generation of Canadian runners and promote healthy, active lifestyles.

The six-week project launched April 21st and will continue for six weeks throughout the months of May and June. Each week, approximately 50 kids travel to the Central Tech track in downtown Toronto and spend several hours working with mentors, Canadian Running staff and Nike Canada coaches in a welcoming, supportive environment. Each kid, who range in age from 5 to 17, is paired up with a mentor who provides enthusiasm, individual attention and support. The kids also receive a custom pair of running shoes, a t-shirt and a training log to track their weekly progress and achievements.

RELATED: Lane 6, Week 1: Toronto‚Äôs at-risk youth discover the joy of running

Each week will introduce and focus on specific aspects of running and training that build on one another and provide a foundation for self-improvement and gradual progress.

Week one focused on getting the mentors paired up with their mentees and breaking the ice through a number of running-related drills, activities and games. Nike Canada coach Brittany Moran led the session and began by teaching the importance of a proper warm-up, stretching and dynamic running drills, all which tried to stress the importance of running with good and efficient form.

Once sufficiently warmed up–aided by abundant sunshine and above seasonal temperatures–the kids got to stretch their running muscles with fast and fun accelerations called strides… although many of the kids turned this into an opportunity for an impromptu race against their peers, complete with finish line celebrations and fanfare.

The kids then undertook the workout portion of the day which had them do a fartlek alternating between one minute of running with one minute of walking or rest. Given the tendency for kids to start out too fast (oh wait, we grown-ups do that too!), the importance of pacing was also emphasized throughout the day.

The final running portion of the day challenged the kids to see how much track they could cover in 5 minutes, preferably by running with minimal breaks. This distance run would test their endurance and mental fortitude and act as a baseline by which they would aim to improve each week.

Following the 5-minute test, mentors and kids worked together on completing the week one training log which recorded their achievements, highlights and areas for future improvement. Goals were also set for the next session.

Canadian Running, Nike are partnering to inspire the next generation of track athletes and runners through a weekly running and mentorship program. Kids from around Toronto come for weekly training sessions at Central Tech track. This program is designed to be a fun entry way into running and a safe space to set goals and share with mentors.

With coaching, gear, mentor guidance and a fun atmosphere, Canadian Running and Nike are inspiring kids to be active through running.

A special thanks to our nutrition sponsor: