Each month, Public Health highlights the Healthy School initiatives happening at a school in Niagara through the #HealthySchoolsNiagara Spotlight. Healthy Schools promote physical, mental, social and spiritual health.
St. Elizabeth Catholic Elementary School
31950 Sugarloaf St., Wainfleet
The Healthy Schools Squad at St. Elizabeth Catholic Elementary School has done some great work. Their exceptional staff and educational supports, principals, parents and students all wanted to make their school a safer and more positive environment. Their team, along with the entire school, decided to focus on mental wellbeing. They understood that mental wellbeing plays a part in our overall health.
The team recently held their first school-wide activity - a stress balls workshop. The students promoted the workshop by talking to their peers and by putting up posters. To start the workshop, the student leaders demonstrated mindfulness through the Take 5 Breathing exercise. The team then introduced stress balls as a tool to help manage stress and to feel more relaxed and calm. They emphasized how stress can affect someone's focus, concentration and motivation in school. The fun truly began when the student leaders led their peers in making their own stress balls out of balloons and flour. Students were encouraged to get creative and pick colours that made them feel happy.
For the rest of the school year, the team plans to continue increasing awareness about mental wellbeing and mindfulness. They plan to start student-led movement and stretching lunches in the next few weeks. They will keep the school informed of their work by putting up a mental wellbeing bulletin board.
St. Elizabeth's Healthy Schools Squad is motivated to make their school even healthier and happier. The team wants everyone to remember to be kind to themselves and to be kind to others. St. Elizabeth's Healthy Schools Squad - you are truly inspiring. Wonderful work!
Twenty Valley Public School
4057 Victoria Ave., Vineland
Twenty Valley Public School is located on Victoria Ave. in Lincoln where traffic, speeding and transport trucks posed a problem for the students and families' feeling of safety on their commute to school. The school community's dedication to making the trip to school safe and engagement in Active School Travel is demonstrated by significant participation and collaboration by staff, healthy school team representatives, students, parents and community partners.
As a result of Twenty Valley's participation in Active School Travel, the location in front of the school was identified for Niagara Region's Community Safety Zone pilot. Community Safety Zones are intended to modify driver behaviour including reducing speed and distracted driving, and improving safety on certain sections of the road where public safety is of special concern. Students are encouraged to take their green route to school and while doing so can now feel safer and are able to participate in a healthier lifestyle with the enforcement of the Community Safety Zones.
A more active lifestyle can have a positive effect on both physical and mental health. To celebrate the school's accomplishment and the Community Safety Zone, community members, students and families participated in October's International Walk fo School month. This is a month where families were encouraged to walk, ride or bus to school.
Great job leading the way for safe and active travel Twenty Valley!
Thorold Secondary School
50 Ormond St. N., Thorold
The Thorold Secondary School Wellness Committee is up and running, and it promises to be another busy year. There's been lots of great discussion and planning by the committee which is made up of students, school staff and community members. With two returning students and a few new faces on both the student and staff side, enthusiasm is high.
A survey revealed that the majority of students believe mental health is a top priority in the school. Mindfulness and meditation workshops ran in October, led by one of Thorold's own teachers. In November, inspirational speaker Joe Pillitteri reminded students of the importance of humour in our lives.
Continuing throughout the year are meetings and other activities to promote school and community services. Plans for next year include a therapy dog day and a smoothie lunch which was a hit last year! Students will also take part in workshops to learn how to be effective leaders.
Go Thorold Secondary School!
St. Kevin Catholic Elementary School
182 Aqueduct St., Welland
The School Recess Project Team at St. Kevin Catholic Elementary School has been hard at work! The team consists of school staff, community members, parents and most importantly, students.
The team has discussed changes to the school playground to allow for inclusion of every student. These changes are thanks to the generosity of a parent's time and donation.
The student leaders have been busy planning activities that they will lead outside at recess. The student champions have trained the grade 6 students to lead these activities. Students are also busy creating an activity schedule and mapping out where each activity will take place on the playground. Careful consideration is being given to the activities to meet the preferences of all students.
The team will keep meeting throughout the year to promote family and community in the school. Their goal is to encourage feelings of belonging and inclusion for everyone.
Great work St. Kevin!
Orchard Park Public School
3691 Dorchester Rd., Niagara Falls
The Health and Wellness Rangers at Orchard Park Public School are off to another great start. Last school year, the team picked healthy eating as their focus. This year, the team will continue focusing on healthy eating through three separate projects, each with a unique twist.
Their first project called "How Food Affects Your Mood" looked at how healthy eating impacts our emotions and mental health. In December 2019, the team developed announcements with fun facts, informative posters, and a presentation for the school's weekly assembly. Their message focused on how different foods make us feel after we eat them and that food affects more than just our physical health. For school-wide involvement, the team also made fun trivia questions and held a poster contest. The winning posters were displayed around the school to keep spreading awareness.
The team will continue to meet regularly throughout the school year to work on their other two projects. The next project will be about healthy eating and the environment, followed by a project on healthy eating and physical activity.
Keep up the great work Orchard Park!
To learn more about Healthy Schools or to connect with a public health nurse, call us at 905-688-8248 or 1-888-505-6074 ext. 7379 or email Healthy Schools.