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By Gordon Lambie

Local Journalism Initiative

On Monday morning the Foundation of Stars, which supports paediatric medical research in Quebec, launched the fourth edition of its Tough Mountie Challenge, known in French as the Gendarme de Fer. To mark the occasion, three members of Sherbrooke’s SWAT team repelled down the north side of the Fleurimont Hospital to wave in the windows of the children’s floor before stopping by to visit the young patients face to face.

Set to take place simultaneously in Montreal, Quebec City and Sherbrooke on Oct. 2, the large-scale obstacle course is a fundraiser that, this year, aims to raise at least $150,000 for projects benefitting youth mental health.

“We have often heard, over the course of the pandemic, that Covid did not affect children, but that is not at all true,” said Dr. Frédéric Dallaire. “They may not have been as frequently infected, but they were very hard hit by the isolation and missed classes, and that is very important to keep in mind.”

Dr. Dallaire explained that the funds raised by the participants in the Tough Mountie Challenge will go directly into five research projects currently being carried out on the mental health of school aged children in the province of Quebec, touching on matters including disordered eating, attention deficit, art therapy, and the impacts of isolation on family dynamics.

“We are here to provide emergency support to these projects,” said Josée Saint-Pierre, President and CEO of the Foundation of Stars. “Foundation of Stars has been financing research projects across Quebec for more than 45 years to help find ways to ensure that children no longer get sick.”

As in past years, the Tough Mountie Challenge calls on members of the public to sign up for an obstacle course designed around the kind of high-intensity physical activities that police officers use as training throughout their careers. Interested participants are encouraged to sign up in teams of six members in one of three difficulty levels: SWAT (the most difficult, which take place in-person), Patroller (also in person, but lower intensity), or recruit (lowest intensity, and completed at a distance.)

More information on the research projects being supported can be found, in English, on the Foundation of Stars’ website at https://www.foundationofstars.ca/en, and information on the Tough Mountie Challenge can be found at https://gendarmedefer.com/race-details .

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