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Upper Grand students and staff celebrate Mental Health and Education Week

May 16, 2024

GUELPH, ON – During the week of May 6, 2024, students and staff across the Upper Grand District School Board celebrated Mental Health and Education Week by looking at the “5 Days of Wellness.”

Along with using the materials supplied by the Mental Health and Education Week Committee, many schools also celebrated in their own unique ways. This is just a sample of how some of the schools celebrated the week.

Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute welcomed Amanda Scales, a Health Promotion Specialist from Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, to speak to students about empowering youth when it comes to Mental Health. As part of this presentation, students led some peer engagement initiatives.

At Westside Secondary School, students and staff launched the Learning Commons Mental Health Initiatives, which gives students the opportunity to participate in a Mental Health Initiative each Wednesday in May. The first activity was all about art tasks with the goal of reducing stress, which included turning books into art, creating a mural for the local retirement home, making watercolour paintings and treats for mothers or mother-figures, and colouring. The remaining Wednesdays this month will see activities like the marshmallow challenge where you build the tallest tower using spaghetti, tape, string and marshmallows, and getting moving with the goal of reducing stress for a dance off. Then on May 29, students and staff will gather to participate in an interactive lunch-and-learn to better understand the tools they can use to help reduce stress.

WSS Mural For MHED Week

At Rickson Ridge Public School, students in Celia McDermott’s grade 3 glass decided to make friendship bracelets. Students also learned that a great way to support mental health is by learning a new task or participating in a craft. Students used the week to say kind things to their classmates and to help each other out.

Rickson Ridge Bracelet

At Taylor Evans Public School, students in Melissa Roth’s LRC-16 class started each day with a healthy snack to promote wellness. They also learned new breathing strategies to help students when they are feeling anxious. They connected with nature by preparing their tomato plants as a classroom. Students ended the week with board games with friends.

TEPS Tomato Plants

At Norwell District Secondary School, the Social Equity Group had the whole school participating in mental health and wellness initiatives throughout the week. Each day began with a morning announcement that focused on the theme of the day. The school welcomed guest speaker Paulie O’Byrne to talk to students about his story of resilience. The Social Equity Group also wrote the name of each student in the school on a star and lined the hallways for students to see. The goal of this project was to let every student know they are a star and have a purpose in the school and world.

Norwell DSS Stars

At Harris Mill Public School, grade 4/5 students in Kim Baxter’s class decided to focus on the “Nature of Wellness.” Making a habit of spending some time outside every day, the class focused on exercises that tapped into the five senses. Students and staff also took this time every day to disconnect from technology.

At Orangeville District Secondary School in Anne Thomson’s grade 11 class, they focused on self-compassion and supporting others. They achieved this through a series of lessons that focused on mental health but incorporated artistic expression and play.

ODSS Play

At the Elementary Remote School, Cindy Ware’s grade 1/2 class used Mental Health and Education Week as a chance to build upon the work they are already doing with positive affirmations. Students discussed how affirmations are a great tool to build emotional well-being. By the end of the week, they had created an affirmation song and slideshow of photos to go with it.

ERS Affirmations

At Sir Isaac Brock Public School, Virginia Greig’s grade 8 class engaged in a series of projects at the school throughout the week. Projects included doing mindful art, learning to eat healthy, tree planting and exploring the importance of physical activity.

At Rockwood Centennial Public School in Janna Tuckwell’s grade 5/6 class, students explored what “mental health” means throughout the week. They looked at emotions, studied breathing exercises, techniques to learn to calm down and explored books they could read about mental health.

UG students and staff rose to the challenge of this Mental Health and Education Week by going above and beyond when they engaged in various mental health and wellness activities.

As part of the week, the Mental Health and Education Week Committee hosted a classroom challenge asking classroom teachers to submit a form of media about what they did as a class throughout the week. Taking the top honour for the challenge this year was Westside SS and Virginia Greig’s grade 8 class at Sir Isaac Brock PS.

Thank you to everyone who participated in Mental Health and Education Week and to everyone who submitted to the classroom challenge.

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