There are many ways that the LKDSB is promoting mental health & well-being for our staff and students, here are just a few.
Interested to know how the Lambton Kent District School Board supports mental health and well-being? Check out this pamphlet for more information and read the stories below!
How Schools (including yours!) Can Engage Students to Promote Well-being
Student engagement is imperative for learning - and well-being! But how do we do it? Engaging young people is challenging but worthwhile and can be done so many ways. These are just a few of our schools who have created opportunities for student engagement through: the spaces studentsaccess, the content they hear about, and the culture of the school.
AMSS take student engagement seriously, but it doesn't always have to be serious! Students have a range of options for spaces where they can doacademic work, connect directly with staff, or spend time with peers. The choice is theirs and the ability to decide what works best for them and their academic needs creates an easy win for engaging with students. This is a great example of our Student Engagement Model in action!
Provide Relevant Content
According to our Speak Up! Survey of over 8000 students, we heard that students wanted more information about mental health and well-being. So, for 3 years now, the Let's Face It Team at Lambton College has been developing and implementing a pilot project for supporting grade 12 students at LKDSB through the transition out of secondary school. For some students, it feels like the first time they can talk about their stressors openly and hear from current post-secondary students about their own experiences in school.
Trained peer facilitators from the Let's Face It Team go into grade 12 classes 3 times over the course of the school year and engage students in an interactive discussion about how they can keep themselves mentally fit. By sharing experiences of loss and success, the healthy coping strategies they use, and the importance of connecting with others, Let's Face It encourages students to activate their own resiliency and promote understanding of their own mental health.
Involve them in Creating a Positive School Culture
My LKDSB is a recent project that is empowering students to have a voice at their school and supporting adult allies to foster success. School teams made up of administrators, educators, and students are learning and taking action with the power of student voice by developing an initiative to meet the unique needs or desires of the students at their school.
The MyLKDSB Project at each secondary school are tackling tough initiatives before the end of this school year. These range from creating a complete list of services for students at Chatham Kent Secondary School to whole school yoga and mindfulness practices at Great Lakes Secondary School!
So what do the students and young people in your life have to say?
Across the District
Promoting mental health is a whole school concept. Not only does promoting well-being help boost achievement, it can change how students, staff, and the community feel about a school and themselves. These shining examples from LKDSB are big undertakings but awareness and skill-building doesn't have to be. Check out how some schools are spreading the word about mentally healthy living!
Cathcart Road, Lakeroad, Bright's Grove, Bridgeview - Sarnia, Bright's Grove, Point Edward
This year, the grades 7s and 8s at Cathcart will be joined by three other LKDSB schools (Bridgeview, Bright's Grove, Lakeroad) and over twice as many students (almost 300) to ride 10km on bicycles in Canatara Park to continue the conversation about mental health and well-being. In June, LKDSB will still be the only Board in Canada where students participate in a full ride event. Students, staff, parent volunteers, police escorts, CMHA staff, and the rest of the community will be a powerful example of how our community can come together to promote mental health and give back to the community in a meaningful way while participating in an activity to improve our physical and mental health! For more info, check out their website here.
Victor Lauriston – Chatham
There is no better way to bust stress than physical activity and no better way to be physical than a Floor Hockey Tournament! The week before March Break, a busy time when both students and staff are looking for ways to manage their stress, Victor Lauriston Public School plans a school wide Floor Hockey event with help from staff and students alike. Students get to participate in games with their fellow teammates with an emphasis on fun and building community. In addition to a student tournament is a game where Staff and Students face off! These opportunities for engagement between staff and students outside the classroom create positive, meaningful relationships while promoting healthy activity! Adult well-being is important too, so check out this tip sheet for strategies for your own self-care!
Winston Churchill - Chatham
If biking or floor hockey aren't your thing, how about just walking? Even just a 20 minute walk can have a huge impact on our brain activity. AND, it can help to raise awareness for mental health and funds for Kids Help Phone. To celebrate Mental Health Week, Winston Churchill staff, students, and community partners stepped outside to walk around the school and connect with each other. Students learned about the importance of reaching out for help and one of the ways to do that is through the Kids Help Phone. Recently, the Kids Help Phone has revamped their web look, check it out and encourage your students to as well, there is ALWAYS help available.
Wallaceburg District Secondary School
Offering Choices and Spaces at WDSS - check out this video hearing about the impact directly from students!
Wallaceburg District Secondary School students have a lot of choices. There are several spaces around the school that are welcoming and which provide a sense of belonging for students. Each of these spaces is staffed by caring adults and that further fosters a sense of belonging for students. Just having a connection to one caring adult can make the difference in the life of a child.
Meeting the needs of students is never one-size-fits-all. WDSS offers a combination of spaces, each of which has varied features and each meets specific student needs. The overall outcome is that students are able to access the areas that best fit their individual needs and they feel welcome and safe and are able to achieve. They feel like they belong.
School Mental Health ASSIST suggests a number of ways spaces can be welcoming and WDSS knows how to do it:
Mental well-being is explicitly linked to performance – Student Success Room
Classrooms can be challenging for some students to work in for any number of reasons. In the Student Success Room, students can feel a sense of mental well-being that allows them to achieve as others would in a standard classroom. One to one support, a quiet space, or just an alternative place to work, the Student Success Room is available in every secondary school for our students!
Diversity is recognized and celebrated – Harriet Jacobs Room
When diversity is embraced, all students benefit. The Harriet Jacobs Room is a space designed for First Nations students but is open to all. There are computers, caring adults, and an opportunity to socialize during specific times.
Strong sense of belonging – Learning Commons
Anyone that steps into the newly renovated Learning Commons can feel its different, as well as the people who occupy it. A warm welcome from the library staff, a view of the courtyard, and comfy chairs with work tables throughout create a sense of belonging that is good for all students and necessary for the few that don't feel they belong elsewhere.
Students turn to teachers or other adults in the school for help if needed – Resource Room
It is vital for a student to have one adult in the school to turn to for support. Having more than one adult creates a community. In the Resource Room, students are able to get the academic IEP support they need or go to connect with the Resource Teacher and socialize with other students during lunch.
Welcoming spaces are important but welcoming people are what truly make environments feel accepting. How do you create safe and welcoming spaces in your school?
Emma George-Brosh’s visual schedule in her Grade 2 classroom at Dresden Area Central School has included “Relaxation” for so long that that her students are asking to run the activities themselves. And it doesn’t take much. Emma says she started by playing calming music to slow herself down in the middle of a hectic day and the students responded.
“It took me a long time to realize that kids need a break”, she says, and now its become routine, the occasional teachers know the drill now too. Coldplay’s Yellow turned into students picking songs that calmed them, which then grew to Cosmic Kids Yoga and stretching, learning deep breathing techniques to slow the body, and glitter jars to mimic our minds when we’re stressed.
These techniques and more Emma says have helped students to become more compassionate and to respond to parents and caregivers who reported their kids were anxious. Emma says her students are excited to participate and learn about how to manage their own feelings which has in turn helped them co-regulate each other creating a welcoming, inclusive classroom.
Want to try other ideas Emma is using? Give these a try:
- MindUp! Curriculum for elementary-aged lessons on mindfulness or these exercises for secondary students
- Deep breathing strategies (using a Hoberman's Sphere or following a video)
- Building strategies to promote healthy/positive/green thinking such as reading books about resiliency, creating opportunities to express grattitude, and being in nature
- Connecting with the Mental Health Lead for more resources