Economical Insurance donates $12,500 as key sponsor of the new Start2Finish Running & Reading Club at Oakwood Public School in Oakville

Enhancing literacy and physical activity for 60 children living in poverty

WATERLOO, ON, April 20, 2015 /CNW/ - When kids living in poverty participate in Start2Finish Running & Reading Clubs, the results are impressive. After 32 weeks in the program, on average, their cardiovascular fitness improved by 22%, their core and overall strength increased by 62%, and 67% of the children leaped in their reading skills by one to two full grade levels, bringing many of them to the expected reading level for their age group.

Economical Insurance, one of Canada's leading providers of home, auto and business insurance, donated $12,500 to Start2Finish to fund the Running & Reading Club at Oakwood Public School in Oakville where the child poverty rate 43%, according to Statistics Canada. The club was launched in January of this year and will have a profound impact on the health, wellbeing, academic success and future of 60 at-risk children in an area.

"Economical's generous financial support will cover the cost of journals and school supplies, books, t-shirts and footwear, nutritious snacks and fitness equipment," said Brian Warren, founder and executive director of Start2Finish. "All of the children in the program receive a pair of new running shoes; many of them have never owned a pair in their lives. When some kids first join the program, they are running in boots, slip-ons or running shoes that are three to four sizes too small or too big."

Robert Gow, Economical's regional vice-president of sales for Ontario, says supporting Start2Finish is a natural fit for Economical, given that youth and education are key elements of the company's community giving program. "Brian Warren's vision is helping to effectively address the root causes of poverty by promoting the physical, cognitive, mental and social health and development of the children who participate," he says. "Economical is proud to be a part of that." 

"It's a fact physical activity improves cognitive function," said Warren, a former CFL all-star linebacker and two-time Grey Cup champion. "In the Start2Finish Running & Reading Clubs, 60 children in Grades 1 to 6 participate in 45 minutes of vigorous physical activity at the beginning of the two-hour program one afternoon per week from October to June. After a healthy, nutritious snack and 'Word of the Day' character and vocabulary building time, they spend the last 45 minutes of the program engaged in one-on-one and small-group reading sessions with their coaches. Each child keeps track of their progress in physical fitness and reading through a journal. They then choose books categorized according to reading levels, and read on their own, with another student, or with the help of a volunteer."

"The physical activity prior to the reading sets the children up for success in the reading component because the exercise prepares the children neuro-biologically to learn," Warren said. "The healthy, substantial snack before reading provides vital nutrients to a population of children who are often poorly nourished, replenishes energy, and alleviates hunger. The impact of the Start2Finish program on children's lives is profound. Our first cohorts of students who participated in our first 2 Running and Reading clubs in Scarborough, Ontario, have successfully graduated from high school and are now succeeding in post-secondary education."

About Start2Finish
The mission of Start2Finish is to break the cycle of child poverty in Canada by providing ongoing educational support to at-risk children throughout their school years by nurturing mind, body and social health so they are empowered to succeed and become role models for change. This is accomplished through several Start2Finish programs that create a comprehensive "Pathway of Hope." Since its inception 15 years ago, Start2Finish has equipped over 100,000 children with the tools they need to succeed. This includes backpacks filled with vital school supplies when they enter school and participation in the life-altering Running & Reading Club in the middle years, to the Pathway of Hope scholarship making their dream of post-secondary education a reality. Today, there are clubs in 28 communities across Canada, with more than 1600 children and 500 volunteers participating weekly.

About Economical Insurance
Founded in 1871, Economical Insurance is one of Canada's leading property and casualty insurers, with approximately $2.0 billion in annualized premium volume and $5.2 billion in assets as at December 31, 2014. Based in Waterloo, this Canadian-owned and operated company services the insurance needs of more than one million customers across the country. Economical Insurance conducts business under the following brands: Economical Insurance, Economical, Western General, Economical Select, Perth Insurance, Family Insurance Solutions, Federation Insurance and Economical Financial.

SOURCE Economical Insurance

For further information: Doug Maybee, Economical Insurance, (T) 519.570.8249, (C) 519.404.0989,


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