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Argyle, MacKinnon’s Y-Not? Program partner for home fitness

June 16, 2022
Brian McKinnon makes another delivery of home fitness kits to Argyle teacher Adam Rush and students.

During the ups and downs of the pandemic, finding resources for physical activity has not always been easy.

Argyle Alternative High School is one of a number of schools that have recently been partnering with MacKinnon’s Y-Not? Anti-Poverty Program to provide students with home fitness kits.

Now in its 20th year, Y-Not? is the brainchild of retired WSD English teacher Brian MacKinnon. The program promotes mental/physical health and well-being as a strategy to deal with the personal impacts of poverty in the community.

Mr. MacKinnon first created the program while teaching at R.B. Russell Vocational High School, originally providing YMCA-YWCA memberships and other fitness opportunities to inner city students who may not otherwise be able to afford to go. Today, the program also includes an Inner City Karate Program, emergency living expenses support, wellness programming and other initiatives designed to tackle poverty issues in the Inner City.

“Poverty, like war, is a failure of the human imagination,” the animated Mr. MacKinnon has often said. “I’ve learned a lot about the suffering and impact that poverty has on Inner City students.”

MacKinnon is a huge proponent of the value of exercise and physical fitness to relieve stress, boredom and build hope in the Inner City.

“We always say that exercise is a wonderful natural anti-depressant,” Mr. MacKinnon said. 

“When we look at exercise like in our karate program, it releases negative energy, develops confidence and builds self-esteem.”

During the pandemic (which caused temporary closures at the YMCA-YWCA), Y-Not? pivoted to providing home fitness kits for local youth. Y-Not? has been delivering fitness kits to a wide number of WSD schools, including Argyle, Hugh John Macdonald, Isaac Newton, General Wolfe and more. 

MacKinnon's%20Y-Not%20Anti-Poverty%20Program%20Inc..jpgMacKinnon makes the first of several deliveries at Argyle (supplied photo).

“We developed an anti-Covid strategy in our program and that really centres around home fitness,” Mr. MacKinnon said.

The kits include a skipping rope, an abdominal roller (with a mat for knee protection), two sturdy push-up grip handles and one hand strength grip. 

Adam Rush, who teaches Grades 10-12 Physical Education and Health Education at Argyle, said the kits have been especially helpful for his students. The school does not have a gymnasium, so students are taught the lifelong skill of adapting their fitness training to their environment.

“One unique opportunity Argyle Alternative High School possesses is we use the community as our source of physical activity when teaching the students Physical Education,” Mr. Rush said. “We use the Sport-For-Life facility just down the road from Argyle, and we use the community as well. We use local parks, we go for walks downtown or different areas.”

Students complete their Physical Education credits by logging hours of activity outside of the school, including recreational sports and afterschool programs. For students who don’t have access or funding to these types of programs, the home workout kits have been especially useful.

“These home workout kits are great because they give students access to workout facilities in their own home,” Mr. Rush said. “With Brian’s help, we’ve been able to give students what they need to perform exercises on their own time, wherever and whenever they so choose.”

The MacKinnon Y-Not? Anti-Poverty Program would not be possible without the generous support of its donors, including The Winnipeg Foundation, which has been a donor since 2005.

For more information or to donate to the program, contact Brian MacKinnon at .

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