News and Updates
May 4, 2017

School toolkits available for an active celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday

In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, ParticipACTION has created the ultimate list of physical activities that define us as Canadian: the ParticipACTION 150 Play List. This active, once-in-a-150-year challenge is to try to knock off as many of the 150 Canadian activities on the list as possible, and schools across the nation are stepping up and having a blast bringing the 150 Play List to life for their students.

To help schools create their own action-packed 150th birthday bash, ParticipACTION has created a 150 Play List School Toolkit with great tools and ideas for how you can create a 150 Play List event to get students moving, all while learning about activities that reflect Canada’s different cultures, regions, and abilities.

Register your school’s 150 Play List event and apply for a Celebration Kit with banners, prizes and other materials that will be shipped right to your school. You can also download the digital150 Play List School Toolkit right from the ParticipACTION website. It’s that easy.

So get going, have fun, and see how your school can make celebrating Canada’s birthday an active affair.

May 4, 2017

Register now for full access to the Action Schools! BC website

100+ physical activity and healthy earing resources with connections to mental well-being are now available and downloadable for registered Action Schools! BC users. The Action Schools! BC website now houses over 100 new and enhanced Action Schools! BC resources that can be used by elementary educators as they work with students on learning to be healthy. The response received from users so far has been extremely positive! School staff and educators are excited to have the resources available online and to have them broken down into bite-sized activities. Register for the Action Schools! BC website here to get access to these downloadable resources.

The Action Schools! BC regional teams have been busy engaging schools and supporting them to develop and implement action plans. Those schools with completed action plans are now accessing Action Schools! BC resources and supports, including physical literacy and food literacy mentorship as well as equipment grants. Through the action planning process, schools are encouraged to think BIG and look at healthy living through a holistic and comprehensive lens to improve the education and well-being of their students. Making use of the Comprehensive School Health (CSH) Framework allows educators, health practitioners, school staff, students and others to work together to foster an environment that makes their school the best place to learn, work and play.

As they develop action plans, schools are able to identify tangible and realistic activities under each of the four pillars of the CSH Framework to help them achieve their healthy living goals and objectives. Examples of activities schools have put forward include, reducing student stress levels and increasing happiness in school, working with teachers to develop physical literacy plans for the year, reducing sugar intake and raising awareness of sugar content and many other inspiring ideas. Visit the Action Planning page on the Action Schools! BC website to learn more about action planning and contact your Regional Development Coordinator (RDC) to get your school started. 

May 4, 2017


Apply to increase youth participation and build leadership in priority sports

I·SPARC (The Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council) invites First Nations, Métis Chartered Communities, Friendship Centres and other not-for-profit Indigenous organizations to apply to host a Youth Sport Development Camp, National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP), and/or Officials Training Session in their community.

Each of the I·SPARC’s six Regional Committees have identified priority sports for their respective region.  These priority sports serve as the focal point for region-wide sport development in the areas of youth sport camps and coaching/officials development.  The Northeast Regional Committee has identified seven priority sports:

Soccer                  
Hockey
Volleyball
Softball
Basketball
Ski/Snowboard
Canoe/Kayak

These sports serve as the focal point for region-wide sport development programs including:

The Aboriginal Coaching Module                      
Run Jump Throw Wheel                   
SOAR (in-school delivery)                                                            
BCRPA High Five Program(s)
Steve Nash Youth Basketball
Jr. NBA Basketball Program
Spirit Lacrosse Program

Apply online here: https://aboriginalsportbc.wufoo.eu/forms/rrqn2pj1fwni3e/ or contact your Regional Sport and Physical Activity Coordinator through our website for more information or assistance.  Requests for activities outside of the priority list will be considered during the application review process.
May 4, 2017

School toolkits available for an active celebration of Canada’s 150th 

In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, ParticipACTION has created the ultimate list of physical activities that define us as Canadian:
the ParticipACTION 150 Play List. This active, once-in-a-150-year challenge is to try to knock off as many of the 150 Canadian activities on the list as possible, and schools across the nation are stepping up and having a blast bringing the 150 Play List to life for their students.

To help schools create their own action-packed 150th birthday bash, ParticipACTION has created a 150 Play List School Toolkit with great tools and ideas for how you can create a 150 Play List event to get students moving, all while learning about activities that reflect Canada’s different cultures, regions, and abilities.

Register your school’s 150 Play List event and apply for a Celebration Kit with banners, prizes and other materials that will be shipped right to your school. You can also download the digital 150 Play List School Toolkit right from the ParticipACTION website. It’s that easy.

So get going, have fun, and see how your school can make celebrating Canada’s birthday an active affair.

March 30, 2017

What better way to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation than with the nation’s biggest dance celebration? One of 38 Canada 150 Signature Projects, Sharing Dance Canada 2017 (sharingdance.ca) has been launched by Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS) to celebrate this milestone year for Canada by getting Canadians healthy, active, and artistically engaged through dance.

 “Dance plays an invaluable role in Canada; Sharing Dance is all about encouraging Canadians to celebrate Canada’s strength of diversity and cultural richness through embracing the benefits and joy of dance,” says Mavis Staines, Artistic Director and CEO of NBS.

 Sharing Dance, which is free and easy to access at sharingdance.ca, includes:

  • Unique choreography reflecting Canadian values of diversity and celebrating people’s stories
  • A series of step-by-step online rehearsal videos breaking down the 4½-minute choreography to enable all Canadians—the young and young-at-heart—to learn the dance moves
  • Toolkits and Resources to empower schools and community groups—such as seniors’ centres, youth-based organizations, newcomer centres, as well as dance groups, studios and more—to create their own rehearsal schedules and grassroots events
  • Open rehearsals in communities across the country
  • Community performances across the country at Sharing Dance Day events beginning June 2nd  

For the 2017 choreography, NBS brought together four Canadian choreographers—representing distinct styles of dance, cultural backgrounds and geographic locations in Canada—to give voice and movement to a unique work that embodies and celebrates Canada’s diversity and artistic identity. Led by NBS artistic staff, with Kevin Ormsby as collaborative lead, choreographers include:

  • Kimberley Cooper (Calgary)
  • Eugene Baffoe (Winnipeg)
  • Tracee Smith (Toronto)
  • Roger Sinha (Montreal)

The choreography is set to a specially remixed piece of Canadian music by Afiara Quartet and Skratch Bastid: "Heavy Loaded (Skratch Bastid Remix)", featuring Tiffany Ayalik, a throat singer born in the Northwest Territories and of Inuit ancestry.

Sharing Dance Canada 2017 is funded in part by the Government of Canada through the Canada 150 Fund, and with Shaw Communications Inc. as a presenting partner. The program is made possible with the support of national partners including Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, Physical and Health Education Canada, the Globe and Mail, and Scotiabank, as well as community partners across Canada. 

March 30, 2017

Last month I was lucky to have the opportunity to take part in the ArtStarts Showcase 2017, representing DASH.  I spent the morning engrossed in performances by professional artists showcasing what they can bring to schools across the province.  I went from being immersed in a storytelling soundscape to laughing at the antics of a clown, to marveling at the powerful sound of taiko drums.  Sitting around me, educators from districts across BC took notes about the performances, and kept track of those they would like to invite to present to students in their schools.  Also in the audience were children from a local elementary school who watched each act, and asked the performers questions afterwards. The most popular question from the young people was “How long did it take you to learn that?!”

ArtStarts in Schools is a provincial organization promoting art and creativity among young people in BC. The annual Showcase is one way they connect BC school districts to the arts.

Through my work at DASH in the After School Sport and Arts Initiative, I have seen how offering arts in after school programs can engage diverse learners and support children and youth to express themselves in new ways.  At the ArtStarts Showcase, I was able to learn more about how arts can be integrated into the school day.  ArtStarts’ network of artists offers performances and workshops. They also work with schools on projects that engage students in a creative process and integrate different curricular areas. 

I’ve often heard the phrase “everyone is creative.”  Having the tools to spark and nurture that creativity can help us to support every learner to discover their potential.

For more information on ArtStarts in Schools and their resources on arts in education, visit their website here.

For more information on the Creative Thinking core competency in BC’s new curriculum, click here.

To see DASH’s guide for after school sport and arts programming, click here.

 

-Rebecca Haber, Program Manager, DASH BC

March 30, 2017

Research and Action Schools! BC users have shown us that developing and implementing an action plan is worthwhile. Action planning establishes ownership by bringing different members of the school community together to develop a shared vision and spur them to action!

In response to feedback received from Action Schools! BC program users and staff last spring, the action planning process has been revamped into a streamlined and simplified guide. To access the Action Planning Guide, click here.

The updated action planning process is strongly aligned with the Comprehensive School Health (CSH) Framework, which is internationally recognized to help support improvements in students' educational outcomes while addressing school health in a planned, integrated and holistic way. CSH extends beyond what happens in the classroom. As such, action planning promotes a holistic and whole-school approach to student health by helping a school come together to find ways to incorporate the four inter-related areas which make up a CSH approach. These four areas include: 



Schools are encouraged to complete an Action Plan to identify a relevant and meaningful healthy living goal related to physical activity and/or healthy eating, and to identify specific activities that will help them achieve that goal. A school’s Action Plan is the gateway to a broad suite of resources and supports made available through Action Schools! BC. Action Plans can be submitted anytime during the school year.

Once a school develops and submits their Action Plan, they will become a member of the Actions Schools! BC network. The Regional Development Coordinator (RDC) will connect the school with the Action Schools! BC resources that can help them achieve the goal and objective they have identified. If your school is interested in developing an Action Plan and making use of the full suite of Action Schools! BC resources, contact your Regional Development Coordinator! For a full list of RDCs and the areas they cover, click here.   

March 30, 2017

When people talk about supporting and promoting mental well-being in schools, they usually discuss the practices they use in their environment. Some people are focused on school connectedness, others on social-emotional learning, resilience, mental fitness, or another approach.

While each of these approaches has its own flavour, they are all part of the larger family of positive mental health supportive practices. Some people may see them as competing approaches, but they are not. They overlap and work side-by-side, each strengthening the impact of the others. They all lead to the same place – improved well-being for children and youth. Think of the different approaches as smoothie flavours; they have a lot in common, but some people prefer one flavour over another.

Some of the themes shared by the various approaches include:

ü  Providing students with the emotional and social skills necessary to be actively engaged in school

ü  Creating caring relationships that promote trust and open communication, and make students feel supported and nurtured

ü  Providing professional learning and support for school staff so they can meet the diverse cognitive, emotional, and social needs of students

ü  Establishing structures and processes that enable, empower and engage students, families, staff and all school community members and support student achievement

ü  Providing opportunities for families to be involved in their children’s school lives, and inviting community organizations to partner with the school

ü  Using effective teaching and learning methods and classroom management techniques to foster positive learning environments


So go ahead, pick your favourite positive mental health approach, and also consider exploring some of the other “flavours” now and then. They might bring new insights, or reinvigorate your practice. Anyone for a banana-chocolate smoothie?

To learn more about the practices and approaches that support mental well-being, see Schools as a Setting for Positive Mental Health: Better Practices and Perspectives. The school connectedness area on the Healthy Schools BC website and the JCSH Positive Mental Health Toolkit can help you take action on positive mental health at your school. Search “mental well-beingon TeachBC to find classroom resources to support this work.

March 8, 2017

March is Nutrition Month across Canada and this year Registered Dietitians are encouraging Canadians to “Take the Fight Out of Food”. This year’s campaign theme from Dietitians of Canada  focuses on the enjoyment of food. Schools are an important place to support the joy of eating. 

While information about food is abundant, how do you know the information is credible?  Schools and educators now have the opportunity to get credible nutrition information and support for healthy eating in their school directly from Food Literacy Mentors with the Action Schools! BC program. Food Literacy Mentors are food experts who are passionate about promoting and supporting schools by providing practical, hands-on strategies to support food literacy teaching and learning.

“The ultimate goal is for students to develop food literacy, or the knowledge, skills and attitudes about food that will support their health” says Janelle Hatch, Lead Food Literacy Mentor with Action Schools! BC.  Food Literacy Mentoring is a new component of the Action Schools! BC program and is one way the program builds capacity of educators and schools to support students to learn to be healthy.

To access healthy eating information, activities, and instructional examples or to learn more about Food Literacy Mentoring and Action Schools! BC, visit the Action Schools! BC website.

Also, for school healthy eating opportunities, check out these resources:

These resources (and many more) can be found on the Healthy Schools BC website.

March 8, 2017


When it comes to being a good neighbour, one of DASH’s valued partners, Alberta’s Ever Active Schools, leads by example. On January 26 – 27th, 2017, they brought together passionate leaders from the education, active living, recreation, health and research sectors for their 9th annual conference, “Shaping the Future: To Be Wisely Aware.”  The conference focused on key messages that are promoted and nurtured by good neighbours:

  • honouring the experience of First Nations peoples;
  • fostering wisdom and awareness in youth; and
  • conveying a message of well-being, body, mind, and spirit.

DASH was fortunate to be a part of these conversations. With our partners, viaSport and PHE Canada, we shared our work and approach for updating the Action Schools! BC program, and highlighted the use of Action Planning, an evidence-based process and collective approach for supporting healthy living in schools.

As an additional development this year, we have been inspired to take our neighbourly approach to the next level. We are excited to be working with Alberta’s Ever Active Schools, Ontario’s OPHEA and the Joint Consortium for School Health to host a National School Health Summit that will take place from January 31st to February 4, 2018.

Save the date and consider joining in! Good neighbours await you. 


March 8, 2017

Schools across the province are addressing healthy eating by focusing on a variety of topics, as well as settings from the classroom to the community. For Nutrition Month, we are highlighting a few of the many inspiring stories from the Healthy Schools Network (HSN) that demonstrate the diverse ways schools are exploring healthy eating concepts.  

  • Click here to learn about how one school integrated food literacy and connections to Aboriginal Elders into their lunch hour programming.
  • Click here to learn about how one school linked literacy and math to food in their Cooking to Learn and Brain Food programs.
  • Click here to learn about how one school turned their school courtyard into a productive agricultural area.
  • Click here to learn about how one school integrated food literacy into their after school tutoring program. 
March 8, 2017

March is Nutrition Month! The 2017 campaign is dedicated to supporting solutions to some of the most common issues people have with healthy eating.

Order your 2017 Nutrition Month poster now! The poster, entitled Take the Fight out of Food!, features photos of happy-faced food, colourfully scattered over the poster. The poster is available in French and English. Check out the poster 
here. You may complete your order using the online ordering system at bcdairy.ca/store for orders of up to 10 posters. 

Visit 
nutritionmonth2017.ca to download resources that go along with the Nutrition Month theme. You can download a complete ambassador toolkit, as well as view a number of short videos. Some resources are also available in Chinese and French. 

February 20, 2017

Pink Shirt Day is on Wednesday, February 22nd. Join schools all over BC in support of the anti-bullying movement by wearing pink! This year, Shaw and Coast Capital Savings have teamed up with Pink Shirt Day BC and launched a social media campaign to raise funds and awareness for bullying prevention efforts across the province. Using #pinkshirtpromise between February 6th and 22nd can help make a difference across our province. To find out more, click here.   

 

There are many opportunities for schools to create positive learning environments for their students. Consider incorporating anti-bullying and positive mental health programming into your school’s curriculum and extracurricular activities. Here are some resources that can help you do this: 

 

Pink Shirt Day
This iconic day came to be when two high school students from Nova Scotia arranged for their classmates to wear pink shirts after witnessing a student getting bullied for wearing pink the day before. For more information on how to organize your own Pink Shirt Day, click here, and wear pink on February 22nd!

 

ERASE Bullying
The ERASE strategy is a comprehensive and multipronged approach to promoting positive mental health and wellness, and to prevent bullying and violent behaviour in schools. The strategy includes a coordinated approach involving schools, families and community partners. The ERASE Bullying website provides parents and students with helpful tips and advice on how to address bullying and includes a confidential online reporting tool for youth to report bullying.

 

WITS Programs
The WITS Programs bring schools, families and communities together to create responsive environments that help children deal with bullying and peer victimization. WITS has two components: the WITS Primary Program (Kindergarten to Grade 3) and the WITS LEADS Program (Grades 4 to 6).

 

JCSH Positive Mental Health Toolkit
The Positive Mental Health Toolkit is an online resource that promotes positive mental health practices and perspectives within a school environment. The toolkit is designed to help schools and communities apply their strengths to foster positive growth and development of children and youth.

 

RespectED: Beyond the Hurt
Beyond the Hurt is a Canadian Red Cross youth-facilitated program targeted at bullying and harassment prevention among children aged 11 and over.

 

SafeTeen
SafeTeen is an empowerment program where facilitators offer skills for choosing healthy relationships, strategies to prevent bullying and harassment and techniques for de-escalating verbal, physical and emotional violence. Most importantly, the program cultivates empowerment, self-determination, critical thinking and self-esteem in children and youth.

 

For more resources related to bullying prevention and positive mental health, visit the Healthy Schools BC website!

February 20, 2017

 

Regional Development Coordinators (RDCs) are key champions of Action Schools! BC. As the key support navigator and main “go-to” contact for schools, RDCs help each school embark on their unique journey to a healthier school community. To find the RDC responsible for your school district, click here.

 

Once schools have connected with their RDC, they can start developing an action plan. The action plan is central to the enhanced Action Schools! BC program. It outlines the changes a school wants to make and lists how and when these changes will be made along the journey to achieving a specific healthy living goal. It is the road map for a school.

Research has shown that, in order to influence students’ health in schools, improve students’ health literacy, and shift a school’s culture in a positive direction, a holistic sustained approach is necessary[1]. This is exactly what the action planning process aims to achieve.

Many schools in BC have already started developing action plans with their local RDCs. According to Action Schools! BC users and trainers, developing and implementing an action plan is worthwhile when trying to achieve positive change. It brings people together to develop a shared vision of their ideal healthy school and spurs them to action. Action plans are also the gateway to accessing valuable resources, such as Physical and Food Literacy Mentorship, customized equipment and ongoing support.

Creating healthier school environments is an essential building block in enabling students to thrive as healthy learners.  It is also an important step in supporting the well-being of educators, school staff and the wider school community.

Visit the Action Schools! BC website to learn more about action planning and to get in touch with your Regional Development Coordinator!



[1] Storey, K. E., Montemurro, G., Flynn, J., Schwartz, M., Wright, E., Osler, J., . . . Roberts, E. (2016). Essential Conditions for the Implementation of Comprehensive School Health to Achieve Changes in School Culture and Improvements in Health Behaviours of Students. BMC Public Health, 16(1). doi:10.1186/s12889-016-3787-1

February 20, 2017

Have you ever thought about addressing vulnerability in your school through art? An inner city school in Prince George is doing just that. Ron Brent Elementary reaches a diverse range of students, including many who have histories of trauma, poverty and crisis. Their philosophy is that these students can learn better if they have assistance to first learn to self-regulate, and then develop stamina and a belief in themselves that they can be successful in spite of the circumstances that challenge them.

Always looking to find new strategies that support their philosophy, the school decided to bring more art into their school.  Some of their staff were already familiar with art’s ability to contribute to social emotional learning for students.

They called the project “Artists in the Classroom” and chose resiliency as a key learning outcome. In addition to teaching staff, they got an Art Gallery Community Coordinator, Art Therapist consultant, Administration and School Counsellor on board. They ordered art supplies to create two lessons for three Primary classes. Lessons were collaboratively designed to help children express feelings and gain a sense of belonging within their school community. Staff met and presented the lessons and mentored other teachers to use the materials and lessons with their students. The school counsellor demonstrated the use of art in counseling in SMARTIME [stress management art and relaxation] sessions. Art was posted throughout the school for parents and students to appreciate.

Since the start of the project, teachers have observed and noted students’ increased self-expression abilities, social skills and self-awareness. This unique collaborative initiative contributed to the school’s learning and reinforced their belief that vulnerability can be addressed by using art to enhance social emotional learning and sense of belonging.

Visit the Healthy Schools BC Stories Map to learn more about Artists in the Classroom!
February 20, 2017
The school day is over at Moberly Elementary in Vancouver, but activities are just beginning for a group of students heading to the gym for their after school program.  Using simple, colourful cones and balls, leaders from a community sport organization lead the children through games and activities that build fundamental movement skills and physical literacy.  A community-school facilitator is a co-leader of the program and takes time to bring the children together to discuss what they’re learning about: teamwork, respect, and leadership.

It’s clear at Moberly that learning is not limited to the school day.  A recent article in Edutopia highlights the strengths and opportunities that arise when there is collaboration and communication between those educators supporting students’ learning whether learning occurs during the school day or after.  

  • After school programs can help students complete homework and build on skills they learn in the classroom.

  • Family engagement can be encouraged through after school programs. Programs give parents and caregivers who may not be able to pick their children up right after school a unique opportunity to connect to the school community.

  • In school and after school staff build relationships with students. Caring adults are essential to positive child development for children.

  • Social emotional learning is a key component of after school programs, contributing to core competencies in BC’s new curriculum.

  • When efforts in the classroom and in after school programs align, they support the development of the whole child.

DASH supports high-quality after school programming through the After School Sport and Arts Initiative (ASSAI). In 17 school districts across the province, ASSAI programs provide sport and arts opportunities to children who otherwise might not take part.  Through ASSAI, DASH has seen firsthand the benefits of linking school and after school time, such as:  the development of positive school culture and school spirit, increased school connections with parents and caregivers, and meaningful student engagement.

As children at Moberly get ready to go home from their after school sport program, these benefits are evident in their high fives, laughter, and smiles.

For more information on the after school time in British Columbia, visit:

Association for Community Education in British Columbia (ACE BC) www.acebc.org 

The Lower Mainland Out of School Time Alliance (LMOST) www.lmost.org

The Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI) earlylearning.ubc.ca/mdi

   

February 20, 2017

Action plans play an important role in Action Schools! BC. Your school’s action plan helps you and your Regional Development Coordinator match your elementary school with resources from Action Schools! BC, the community and others that can support your school in achieving its goals. These include:

  • Action Schools! BC healthy eating and/or physical activity workshops
  • Hands-on physical literacy and/or food literacy mentoring for classroom educators
  • Customized equipment
  • Downloadable resources including instructional examples and activities, both aligned with the new BC curriculum
  • Connections with other organizations and resources in your community

Need help getting started? Your Regional Development Coordinator can help your school develop its action plan. Contact them now – it’s a great way to get to know them, learn more about Action Schools! BC, and build a plan for a healthier future for your whole school.

To learn more and download an action planning guide visit here.

February 20, 2017

What are you doing to stretch your thinking? As the organizational leader of DASH, I aim to foster a continuous learning environment for myself, my employees, and our valued partners.

This year, I was pleased to attend the 30th International Congress on School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI) that took place in Ottawa, Canada from January 7th - 10th, 2017.   ICSEI is a global network with an important purpose: to enhance the quality and equity of education for all students around the world. It brings together a wide range of expertise including researchers, policy makers and educators. Because of the diversity of its contributors, it creates a unique opportunity for sharing evidence-informed practice and being part of a collective responsibility for advancing students’ learning.

At DASH, our work would not be possible without our close working relationships with our Ministry colleagues, educators, health professionals and community partners. This is why this year’s conference theme, Collaborative Partnerships for System-Wide Educational Improvement, resonated with me. No matter where we work, we all have a valuable perspective to contribute. Through our collective wisdom, across all levels, we will continue to develop and apply innovative practices to shape our healthy school communities.

The conference made it clear that innovation is underway in BC’s system, where we have key thought leaders on system transformation. We can look to Drs. Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser to learn about how inquiry can lead to school and system transformation. To learn how a positive organizational perspective contributes to flourishing schools, we can gain inspiration from Sabre Cherkowski’s work. From Paige Fisher, Leyton Schnellert, Debbie Koehn, Mary Lynn Epps and Rachael Moll, we can learn how by embedding new teachers into the school environment vs a single classroom practicum, we cultivate and support our new professionals, the teachers of tomorrow.

From my experience, it is when we reach beyond our own work and seek out new perspectives that we are supported towards new ways of learning and adapting everyday practices.

How can you get engaged? Consider checking out the ICSEI website where you can find this year’s ICSEI conference presentations. Perhaps this will inspire you to add this robust learning network to your toolkit as a way for you to nurture your professional practice.

 

- Kathy Cassels, CEO, DASH BC

January 23, 2017

Article:

The Spiral Playbook is a new resource that provides a concise introduction to an evidence-based model of collaborative inquiry. It builds on the momentum that has been generated through the Spirals of Inquiry by the Networks of Inquiry and Innovation (NOII) to further promote an inquiry mindset in schools and school systems. 

The Spiral Playbook is supported by C21 Canada, a national, not-for-profit organization advocating for innovations in student learning. The organization brings together executive leaders of school districts and knowledge-sector businesses who share the belief in the importance of 21st century competencies and innovations in learning.

The Spiral Playbook: Leading with an Inquiring Mindset in School Systems and Schools points the way forward.  It describes a sustainable approach to professional inquiry that aims to transform how educators learn and lead – with teams and across networks.

To view the Spiral Playbook and order copies, click here.


January 23, 2017

Article:

During the busy of December, you may not have had a chance look at the new Action Schools! BC website. Now is a great time to visit the site and check out the Resources area.

 

We’ve been adding updated versions of the activities that you know and love as well as new instructional examples – and we’ll be adding more in the coming weeks.

 

Action Schools! BC activities are now updated and expanded to support the new curriculum. The basic activities remain the same with the same time-commitment in the classroom, but now have expanded support for educators. Icons have been added to highlight the content for each activity, and make it quick to navigate. Sections have been added to reflect and align with the new curriculum, including curriculum connections, First People’s Principles of Learning for All Students, and comprehensive school health connections. Safety considerations have also been teased out and/or added.

 

The instructional examples are new and meant to help educators to “connect the dots” as they implement the new Physical and Health Education curriculum. They provide rich and engaging learning opportunities for students, and can contribute to enhanced student health literacy, physical literacy, and food literacy, all of which are critical to student empowerment.

 

To help you find what you need quickly, we’ve added a powerful search engine that lets you select resources based on your criteria (grade level, topics, resource type, etc.) and then download them.

 

Visit us today at www.actionschoolsbc.ca to find the new resources, register for or request a workshop, and find the Regional Development Coordinator for your region.

January 23, 2017

Article:

If one of your New Year’s resolutions this year is to be a better teacher or administrator — one who makes a real difference in the lives of yours students — take a deep breath. You are already making a significant impact on the lives of your students. By increasing the level of connection that your students feel to school, you can make your impact even greater. Helping them to feel welcome, safe and cared about helps their learning blossom. We can all relate to how much easier it is to ask for help when we feel that the people around us care about us and want us to succeed.

 

So how do you help your students build strong connections to school? Well, there isn’t just one way to do it. Building school connectedness is as individual as you and your students are – one size definitely does not fit all. It is not something that you do once. It’s more about what you do every day and how you do it. The good news is you are probably already doing lots of things that support connectedness, and the new curriculum provides you with the flexibility to do those things that you know make a difference.

 

While we can’t tell you the specific actions that will make a difference in your school or classroom, we can point you in the right direction. The following six strategies have been found to foster connectedness in schools.

 

  1. Involve school leadership at all levels. Principals, teachers, and districts should all be involved in establishing structures and decision-making processes that facilitate student, family, and community engagement, as well as academic achievement and staff empowerment.

  2. Provide education and opportunities that enable families to be actively involved in their children’s academic and school life.

  3. Provide students with the emotional and social skills necessary to be actively engaged in school – learning is social.

  4. Foster a positive learning environment using effective teaching and learning methods and classroom management techniques.

  5. Create trusting and caring relationships that promote open communication among administrators, teachers, staff, students, families, and communities.

  6. Provide professional learning and support for teachers and other school staff to enable them to meet the diverse cognitive, emotional, and social needs of children and adolescents. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009)

 

So, reflect on the strategies, find one or two that you would like to explore, develop an inquiry question and try a few new things. For example, you might explore how intentionally engaging families affects school connectedness. You could provide opportunities for families to participate in your class/school activities. If you are already doing that, think about how you could increase family involvement by making it a regular event, or by refining your approach to reach more families.

You are the expert on what works in your classroom and your school. Start exploring some of the six strategies, and make them your own. It’s a new year – you can be that educator that makes a difference.


January 23, 2017

Article:

Each month, the Healthy Schools Network (HSN) highlights a story to demonstrate innovative healthy schools examples and practices in schools. This month, the HSN is featuring Kidston Elementary School in SD 22 and their story about a whole school approach to gardening, the environment and healthy eating.

 

Kidston Elementary is located in the community of Coldstream in an area surrounded by parks. The school started a garden project for learning opportunities about sustainability, self-reliance and our connection to nature and the importance of caring for our environment.

 

The school sought out partnerships to help reach learning goals. They partnered with Okanagan Science Centre Intergenerational Landed Learning School Garden Outreach Program with the intention to enhance all levels of learning and inquiry in Science and Health Education.

 

The school also led their learning through inquiry and posed the question, “Will the community partnership (local biologist) help children learn to love gardening and gain a sense of pride in producing their own plants and food?”

 

Learning activities that took place included:

  • Planting, maintaining, harvesting, and eating from a school garden

  • Participating in the Science Centre’s “Landed Learning Intergenerational” program

  • Learning about healthy eating and growing our own food

  • Participating in hands-on learning activities with a biologist from the Science Centre

  • Planting, watering, weeding, harvesting

  • Preparing two class salad bars from the harvest and contributing to a school salad bar and school smoothies

 

Through this project, students gained an appreciation for how delicious vegetables are, especially right out of the garden. Many children enjoyed eating vegetables they had never tried before. The teacher learned how to meet learning outcomes from many curricular areas through gardening. The garden club has also expanded as more teachers and parents support the garden and act as garden mentors to students. Overall, there was an increase in student knowledge and appreciation for sustainability and the ability to grow food.

 

Click here to read their entire story. You can also check out their website here.

January 23, 2017

Article:

Celebrate Canada’s 150th and build daily activity habits for Canadian kids!! Join thousands of elementary schools across Canada for the Canada Games Activity Challenge.

GETTING KIDS TO GREATNESS

The Canada Games is turning 50 this year so they created a free program to inspire dreams and build champions in playgrounds and classrooms across Canada. To participate in sports, develop confidence and do well in school, kids need fundamental movement skills, and teachers are the coaches who can help them get to greatness!

TEACHER BENEFITS

  • Activities complement or supplement the learning outcomes for your curriculum – they're not designed as a curriculum replacement.
  • Activities are delivered daily or weekly (your choice!) through the mobile site, and include demo videos, animations and a participation tracker.
  • Activity experience points are collected automatically by the tracker.
  • Activities are accessible, can be done with minimal equipment and in almost any environment with adaptations for various learning communities.
  • Activities are age and skill-appropriate, and are based on Canada's Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model.
  • To top it all off, you’ll receive regular updates on student progress and great articles on the benefits of physical activity to pass along to parents. Way to go, coach!

Sign up: canadagames.ca/activitychallenge

 

Questions? CGACinfo@canadagames2.ca

 

Follow CGAC on Twitter and use the hashtag: #CGAC150

January 23, 2017

Article:

Whether it’s our morning coffee, occasional antibiotic use, or weekly beer with a friend, drug use of different kinds has been part of human culture for many years – in fact, thousands of years.

Unfortunately, as humans, we sometimes get ourselves into trouble with the substances we use. As teachers and others who support young people’s development, we share a role in helping them develop the competencies they need to manage their use of substances in their lives.

 

The current focus on fentanyl is another opportunity to consider how we can best approach addressing substance use with young people.  Drug Education Is Conversation is a brief that reminds us that the principles of good education apply even in the context of a perceived crisis. Being reactive and retreating to a dissemination of “the facts” about fentanyl will not help.

 

So what does help?  

Research reminds us that facts, stats and fear-focused approaches to drug education are rarely effective when it comes to helping young people develop the competencies they need to navigate a world where substance use is common practice. What offers more promise is a truly educational approach – where teachers (not guest ‘experts’ and not just PHE teachers) create a context of inquiry across subject areas helping learners explore issues and build competencies in an open, honest way in a safe and caring class context and school community. Drug education can fit well in a variety of subject areas (e.g., English Language Arts, Social Studies, Arts Education, etc.) and it certainly fits well with PHE – especially when it can be addressed in a way that gets youth physically active. Sometimes our best learning is accomplished through a walk and talk with a friend – or in the case of a young people maybe with their PHE teacher who takes the class outside for a hike.

To find more examples or learn more about how PHE teachers can help young people learn to navigate this world of ours check out  www.helpingschools.ca for other iMinds learning activities that align with the revised curriculum – including, but not limited to, PHE.

CARBC continues to add new activities and welcomes your ideas for addressing drug literacy and building physical literacy at the same time! Send them to ciandrew@uvic.ca and let them know if they can support your efforts in other ways.

October 3, 2016
October 10th is World Mental Health Day. World Mental Health Day is observed on October 10th every year with the overall objectives of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. This year’s theme is “psychological first aid.” For more information, click here.

October 10th is also the day that Amanda Todd, a B.C. teen, took her own life after experiencing the effects of bullying and cyber-abuse. Join the Amanda Todd Legacy Society this World Mental Health Day by Lighting Up Purple. Cities, businesses, schools, landmarks and people will be Lighting Up Purple to promote more awareness about mental health. Click here to see a list of supporters who will be participating. You can Light Up Purple by wearing purple, hanging purple LED lights, putting up purple balloons and more. Click here to read more ways that you can Light Up Purple this year.

To learn more about responding to mental health problems and promoting positive mental health in your school community, check out the following programs and resources:

  • ERASE Bullying – A comprehensive and multi-pronged approach to promote positive mental health and wellness, and prevent bullying and violent behaviour in schools. Click here to visit the ERASE website, which includes helpful tips, advice and a confidential online reporting tool for bullying.
  • Mindcheck.ca – An interactive website to help young people identify and understand mental distress they may be experiencing, and to link them to sources of help that will teach them skills and strategies to manage these problems. To find out what resources they offer, click here.
  • F.O.R.C.E. Society – The F.O.R.C.E. Society provides families and professionals with information, tools, and tips on how to help children with mental health challenges. Click here to access their resources, such as a mental health guide for teachers.
  • Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre – B.C.'s information source for children, youth and families who have mental health and substance use concerns. Click here for B.C.’s support and treatment options, tips for self-help and prevention, and free educational monthly pinwheel series for families, educators and clinicians.

For additional resources and supports for positive mental health at school, click here.

October 3, 2016
October 3rd to 7th, 2016 is Walk and Wheel to School Week!  DASH and Doctors of BC are supporting schools to be active and walk and wheel to school this week and throughout the month of October.  We are cheering on participating schools and encourage all schools to promote active living this month.  Click here to check out active living programs and supports for schools. 
October 3, 2016
Here we are in October, with a month of the school year already behind us. It’s time to take a deep breath and spend a few minutes reflecting on how things have gone so far. Undoubtedly, many good things have happened.  Our schools and classrooms are gliding into a positive, regular rhythm, and we’ve gotten to know our students.

Upon reflection, are there students that you don’t know as well as you’d like to? Students that are introverted, challenging, or seem to require more support to connect with others?

Last year, as part of the WellAhead initiative, staff in the Esquimalt family of schools in SD61 decided to foster healthy and intentional relationships with students they were less connected to using a 2x10 practice.  With 2x10, school staff take the time to connect with a vulnerable or overlooked student for at least 2 minutes per interaction, for a minimum of 10 times to build a connection. This practice helps build a relationship based on the student’s interests and life outside of the classroom, rather than one limited to academics and/or behaviour.

As they discovered in the Esquimalt family of schools, different staff will approach relationship-building practices such as 2x10 in slightly different ways, and that’s a good thing. Tweaking the practice to suit your personality will make your efforts more comfortable for you and feel more authentic to the student. Some Esquimalt staff found that the initial student conversation might be only 30 seconds, and that it took time to work up to 2 minutes.

Taking relationship-building practices school-wide can be particularly rewarding. Enlisting all of the adults in a school – educators, administrators, educational assistants, custodians and other support staff – to ensure that every student has one or more adults at school who cares about them can make a positive difference for that child and the culture of the whole school. A recent UBC study found that, for Grade 4 students in Vancouver, school support was more important than family support as a predictor of their emotional well-being.(1) So, as Esquimalt high school counsellor and positive educator Lisa Baylis says, “A 2x10 is never just a 2x10; it is really a 2xforever.”

The 2x10 practice is one of many ways to build strong connections with students. The links below provide some other approaches to nurture positive relationships with your students.

(1). Oberle, E., Schonert-Reichl, K., Guhn, M., Zumbo, D., & Hertzman, C. (2014, June 22). The Role of Supportive Adults in Promoting Positive Development in Middle Childhood: A Population-Based Study. Canadian Journal of School Psychology.

 
October 3, 2016
The Healthy Schools Network (HSN) is highlighting previous year-end stories to ignite creativity and share ideas about curriculum-based approaches that are aligned with the redesigned curriculum and foster student health and learning.

These stories are shared as examples to demonstrate the innovative ways in which BC educators have been fostering student competency development, creating flexible learning environments, and focusing on student-centred approaches to health and learning, all while undergoing their own professional learning. These examples primarily align with the Physical and Health Education curriculum and also highlight cross-curricular learning opportunities that integrate health education into other subject areas. These examples focus on the core competencies.

This month we are featuring a story from Queen Elizabeth Secondary School in SD 36 and their inquiry about student engagement and First Nations traditional coastal foods. Below is an example based on their story. Click here to read their story in its entirety.

Example: Traditional First Nations Coastal Foods Pilot


Grade: 4-7

Learning area: Physical and Health Education

Big ideas: Understanding ourselves, and the various aspects of health, helps us develop a balanced lifestyle (Grade 5)

Curricular competencies: Describe the impacts of personal choices on health and well-being (Grade 5)  

Curricular content
:  Food choices to support active lifestyles and overall health (Grade 5)

Core Competencies:

Communication:   
  • Explain/recount and reflect on experiences and accomplishments: This facet is well-demonstrated within this project through the use of journaling.  Students were required to provide journals to recount and reflect on the experiences provided to them through the project.  The HSN Year-End Story report includes samples of these journals

Positive Personal and Cultural Identity:
  • Relationships and Cultural Contexts: This facet is developed through the hands-on experience of this project.  Students were provided with the opportunity to learn about the foods of different cultures but then had a ‘hands-on’ experience working with an Aboriginal chef from the Musqueam Nation to create a traditional meal.  

Social Responsibility:
  • Building Relationships:  Although not specifically identified, the idea of discussing the different traditional foods around the world offers the opportunity for students to improve their understanding of the many different cultures of the world.  This in turn, works towards building relationships with other members of the community.
Formative assessment strategies: Journaling

October 3, 2016
The start of a new school year is a great time to see if the healthy choice is the easy choice in your school food environment. One way to support healthy eating choices in your school is to ensure food and beverages sold align with the Guidelines for Food & Beverage Sales in BC Schools (the Guidelines).  

The Guidelines support healthy eating at school by increasing access to healthy food while limiting access to unhealthy food. They define the minimum nutrition standard that schools must apply to all food and beverages sold to students. Click here to access information, tools and fact sheets to support implementation. You can also call 8-1-1 to speak with a Registered Dietitian at HealthLink BC to support using the Guidelines at your school.  

Healthy school food policies like the Guidelines support healthy food environments, which in turn increase access to healthy food and support healthy eating and food literacy initiatives at schools.  These policies can be developed at the school or school district level, and in some cases at the provincial level.

Addressing the school food environment by looking at healthy eating policies aligns with a comprehensive school health (CSH) approach to have a greater impact on health and learning. Click here to read more about a comprehensive school health approach to healthy eating and food literacy.
October 3, 2016
HASTe is a hub for groups taking action on reducing school transportation emissions in British Columbia, Canada. It's a resource and networking center that helps students, teachers and schools improve the health of individuals, communities and the environment.  Groups can start or enhance initiatives to reduce the negative impacts of school-related transportation choices, and plan active and safe routes to school.

HASTe organizes the Walking School Bus and Bicycle Train Program. This BC program supports school communities to set up active transportation programs by providing a host of online resources, including “how-to” guides, safe route mapping tools, and road safety tips. This program promotes Walk and Wheel to School Week taking place this month. Click here to access the program and organize a Walking School Bus and Bicycle Train in your community.
October 3, 2016
BC’s redesigned curriculum now features a stronger connection to cultural learning opportunities, including curricular competencies relating to First Nation’s history. When implementing the new curriculum, resources such as those created by the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) can be very useful.

The Indian Residential Schools and Reconciliation Teacher Resource Guides for Grades 5, 10 and 11/12 were developed by the First Nations Education Steering Committee and the First Nations Schools Association. They are a response to the call by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada for education bodies to develop age-appropriate educational materials about Indian Residential Schools.

The FNESC hopes that these resources will help students of all cultural backgrounds gain an understanding of the history of the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people over Canada’s history, with a focus on the BC experience.  The materials are also designed to engage young people and draw them into this journey of reconciliation.

Access these resources and watch an informational video here
October 3, 2016
We have been working away with our partners and collaborators on the enhanced Action Schools! BC program updates. We are looking forward to sharing them with you and your colleagues across the province in the coming weeks and months.

Action Schools! BC workshops is one program component that will continue to support student learning about healthy eating and physical activity and have been updated to include:
  • links to the new BC curriculum;
  • alignment with the four inter-related pillars of comprehensive school health; and
  • a more holistic view of health including a focus on the connections between physical activity, healthy eating and mental well-being.

What to Expect at an Updated Workshop:
While it will be a few more weeks before we are offering the workshops, here is a heads-up of what you can expect for the updated workshop component of the program:

Workshop Length: 2-3 hours

Types of Workshops Offered:

  1. Physical Activity (PA)
  2. Healthy Eating (HE)
  3. Combination (PA & HE)
Focus: Each updated workshop offered will provide the following content and practice opportunities:
  • Snapshot of the enhanced Action Schools! BC program
  • Action Planning
  • Instructional Strategy Examples
  • Physical Activity and/or Healthy Eating Resources
  • Practical component
*Approximately 75% of each workshop will be spent on the focus (PA, HE, or Combination)

How to Book:
Are you finding it difficult to squeeze in an Action Schools! BC workshop on Pro-D days this year? We can work with you to find some alternative times/approaches that may work for your situation. You can book a workshop for your district or school through our website.  Send email to info@actionschoolsbc.ca

Find out More:
We will be sharing Action Schools! BC updates at the upcoming events:

  • BC School Centred Mental Health Coalition meeting on Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 at BCTF, 6th Ave., Vancouver, BC
  • First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) and FNSA Principals Meeting on Monday & Tuesday, Oct 17-18, 2016 in Richmond
  • Annual QDPE Physical Education Pro-D Conference on Friday, Oct. 24th, 2016 at Douglas College, New Westminster, BC
  • School Nutrition Practice Meeting on Wednesday, November 16th, 2016 (9:30–10:30am) via Webinar


September 12, 2016
DASH BC is excited to present the 9th annual Walk and Wheel to School Week from October 3rd - 7th, 2016, as part of International Walk to School Month (iWalk). This week-long provincial event held every year in October encourages students, parents, staff, and community members to celebrate the many benefits of walking and wheeling to school.

Organize an event at your school, and you will be:
  • celebrating active transportation and encouraging daily physical activity;
  • promoting opportunities to practise safe walking and biking skills and identifying safe routes to school;
  • enhancing the connection between students, parents, schools, and communities in a fun and interactive way; and
  • reducing school traffic congestion and vehicle emissions.

When you register your school, you will receive:
  • resources and supports you know and love, such as posters and stickers
  • classroom supports to help with planning and activities
  • support in making community partnerships
  • support for starting year-round walk to school events

Register online here and receive the free Walk and Wheel package to help you organize the best event of the year! Registration closes September 16th, 2016.

Whether this is your first time signing up, or you want to make this year’s event bigger and better, DASH BC is here to help! Please contact DASH BC here for questions or more information.

To give your school an extra boost, you can also register your school in the Be Active Every Day initiative held by Doctors of BC from October 3 – 28, 2016. Be Active Every Day is an annual initiative that helps kids be more active and make healthy choices. In partnership with their local elementary school, doctors across BC coordinate a challenge to kids: be active for 60 minutes every day in October. Register your school by September 12, 2016 to participate in this challenge. Creating a partnership with a local doctor is a great way to adopt a Comprehensive School Health approach to healthy schools through creating community partnerships.
September 12, 2016
Can after school programs support children and youth to prepare for the future? Based on the experience of the After School Sport and Arts Initiative (ASSAI), the answer is yes. ASSAI arts programs encourage children to discover arts and culture as a tool for creative expression and imaginative problem solving. The term “arts” is used broadly to encompass performance arts (theatre, music, dance, etc.), creative writing, visual arts (drawing, painting, photography, etc.), and decorative arts (pottery weaving, textiles, etc.)  

One key aspect of high quality arts programs is relationship-building – for children to learn how to express themselves creatively, it’s important that they feel valued and supported by caring adults who are interested in supporting their development.

If you are someone who has experience working with diverse groups of children, and a passion for sharing your artistic or creative passion, read on about an exciting opportunity:

DASH is working on a project that will make high quality training available to leaders of children’s arts programs. This work is being done in partnership with BC Recreation and Parks Association and HIGH FIVE®, a national standard committed to supporting children along the path of healthy development. The project involves modifying HIGH FIVE® Principles of Healthy Child Development training so that it can be adapted for training children's arts program leaders. Two consultation sessions will be held to support this – one on Vancouver Island, and one in Northern BC. They will include one full-day training session in HIGH FIVE® Principles of Healthy Child Development and then a half-day consultation.

Dates:
  • Prince George: Monday, October 17th, 8:30-5:00 and Tuesday, October 18th, 8:30-12:30
  • Victoria: Wednesday, October 19th, 8:30-5:00 and Thursday, October, 20th,  8:30-12:30
If you are interested in participating in one of these sessions, or if you have any questions, please contact Rebecca Gibbons at rgibbons@dashbc.ca for more information. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to contribute to a quality standard training program for arts leaders.  

We gratefully acknowledge financial support for the ASSAI by the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

September 12, 2016
The wait is almost over! Your favourite physical activity and healthy eating program is coming back. Over the coming weeks, the revised Action Schools! BC program will be available to schools across BC.

We’ve Been Busy!
We’ve been updating Action Schools! BC to reflect the new BC curriculum, and to incorporate the feedback and best practices in school health that Action Schools! BC trainers, program users and experts from BC and across Canada gave us on how to better support schools as they help students learn how to be healthy.

Building on Existing Strengths
Action Schools! BC will continue to provide classroom activities and workshops that support student learning about healthy eating and physical activity.  These have been updated to include:
  • links to the new BC curriculum
  • alignment with the four inter-related pillars of comprehensive school health
  • a more holistic view of health, consistent with the new curriculum, focusing on the connections between physical activity, healthy eating and mental health
The Changes You Requested
Many of the changes to Action Schools! BC were recommended by current program participants and others involved in healthy schools initiatives. The changes include:
  • increased support for school-wide action using a comprehensive school health approach
  • streamlined resources and website that make it easier to find what you are looking for
  • a simplified and supported action planning process that helps your school achieve its well-being goals
  • ongoing support from Action Schools! BC regional staff to help your school take action on healthy eating and physical activity and tap into the resources in your community
  • multi-session hands-on mentoring in physical activity and healthy eating
  • customized equipment that meets the needs of your school

Increased Focus on a Whole School Approach
Action Schools! BC will continue to serve the needs of individual classroom teachers with free workshops and web-based resources. An addition to the updated Action Schools! BC program, there is support for schools who wish to engage more deeply in physical activity and healthy eating actions across all aspects of their school’s learning environments. To access this support or learn more about it, contact us at ActionSchools@dashbc.ca

Workshops Available Starting Mid-October
The updated Physical Activity workshop will be available starting in mid-October.  The updated Healthy Eating workshop will be available starting in early November.  Contact us at ActionSchools@dashbc.ca to book a workshop for your school or district, or to find a workshop near you.
September 12, 2016
The start of the school is always a time of promise and new beginnings. That sense of promise is heightened this year for teachers, students and their families as the new BC curriculum is implemented for Grades K-9.

At the recent Promoting Mental Wellness in BC School Communities Summer Institute, discussions about the new curriculum, and the changes it brings, filled the air. There was a sense of hope and excitement around the “invisible curriculum” – the social emotional skills, behaviours, attitudes and perspectives that educators have taught informally for years – becoming a visible and supported part of the curriculum. Keynote speaker Maureen Dockendorf, Superintendent of Early Years (BC Ministry of Education and Provincial Office of the Early Years) spoke about the importance of building relationships with students, and said, “The new curriculum gives teachers the time and space to do what they know is right for kids.”  For those of us who are passionate about the importance of school connectedness, mental well-being and all aspects of positive mental health, this is music to our ears.

Summer Institute speakers and participants spoke passionately about taking the time to uncover the gifts of each learner, moving conversations about mental well-being out of the counsellor’s office and into every classroom and creating a supportive school culture for both staff and students.
One of the exciting threads running through the conversations was the role of the educator in modelling social emotional skills – and not just the things we handle perfectly. Seeing the adults at school express their frustration or other emotions using the social-emotional skills and language taught in the classroom provides a powerful reinforcement of the learning for students.

As you start on your new adventure – learning the new curriculum – remind yourself that no one expects you (or anyone else) to know everything. It is a learning process for us all. Take time to care for yourself, and to get to know your students. Be confident and find the joy in what you are doing as an educator.

The presentations and handouts from the Summer Institute can be found here.
September 12, 2016
Mental health is an important aspect of a young person's life. Talking about mental health isn't always easy. Mindcheck can help.

Mindcheck.ca is pleased to offer Stop Wondering, Start Knowing: A Mental Health Video Resource for Schools. This resource includes a facilitation guide, video stories from youth with personal experience with mental health challenges, and links to additional resources and supports. It is designed for Grade 8 to 10, but can be for used for other groups at the discretion of the educator. The goals of the resource are:

  • to better understand and be more aware of mental health
  • to recognize the early signs of mental health challenges
  • to reflect and share ideas about mental health
  • to help decrease the stigma around mental health
  • to learn about resources available for support

Click here to access the Stop Wondering, Start Knowing resource. 
September 12, 2016
The First People’s Principles of Learning are an excellent resource to integrate Aboriginal ways of knowing into the classroom and school environment, as they reflect a respectful and holistic approach to teaching and learning. These learning principles were articulated by the BC Ministry of Education and the First Nations Education Steering Committee in 2007 in an effort to enable educators to focus more authentically on Aboriginal experiences, values, and beliefs.

In the redesigned BC curriculum, aboriginal content is embedded at every grade level in a number of subject matters. Educators can use the First Peoples Principles of Learning to address these aspects of the new curriculum as well as the core competencies, such as the Personal and Social core competency, and specifically the Positive Personal and Cultural Identity competency.

Click here to access the First People’s Principles of Learning and click here to access additional First People’s learning resources.

September 12, 2016
Health Canada is pleased to provide this free online resource to teach children from Kindergarten to Grade 3 about the health effects of air pollution.  To join Super Eddie and his friends on an interactive, environmental adventure, download the game here.

This resource is available to everyone and may be particularly applicable to the following sections of the BC Ministry of Education curriculum:
  • Social Studies 1 - Relationships between a community and its environment
  • Social Studies 2 - Types of environmental challenges faced in different communities
  • Science K and 1 - Experience and interpret the local environment


August 4, 2016
Save the Date for the 2016 PHABC Conference on December 11th and 12th in Richmond, BC.

The 2016 PHABC Conference will focus on Strengthening Healthy Development: Education and Public Health in Partnership. Registration opens September 1st at www.phabc.org.

Questions? Contact coordinator@phabc.org.
June 15, 2016
Registration now open for Kelty Mental Health's Summer Institute on August 25th and 26th!

The 7th annual Summer Institute is a two-day event that will bring together teachers, school counsellors, school support staff, school administrators, district staff, health professionals, parents, students and school community partners from across BC to exchange knowledge and ideas about improving mental wellness in school communities.

Key areas of focus for this year's event include:
  • Supporting implementation of the new BC school curriculum, as it relates to mental health and wellbeing
  • Fostering school connectedness in classrooms and school communities
  • Supporting students experiencing mental health and substance use challenges in classrooms or schools
  • Creating school-community partnerships to support student mental health and wellbeing

Click here for more information.


June 6, 2016
DASH BC is excited to present our 9th annual Walk and Wheel to School event as part of International Walk to School Week (iWalk). This year’s event will take place during the week of October 3rd - 7th, 2016. Join students, teachers, parents, and community members across BC and celebrate the many benefits of walking or biking to school. Register your school today!

Some of the benefits of a Walk and Wheel to School event at your school include:
•    Celebrating active transportation and encouraging daily physical activity
•    Promoting opportunities to practice safe walking and biking skills and identifying safe routes to school
•    Enhancing the connection between students, parents, schools, and communities in a fun and interactive way
•    Reducing morning school traffic and vehicle emissions

Why should you register your school? You’ll receive:
•    Resources and supports you know and love, such as banners, posters, and stickers
•    Classroom supports to help with planning and activities
•    Support making community partnerships
•    Information on how to start year-round walk to school events

Register online here to receive your free Walk and Wheel package, full of exciting posters, stickers, and practical planning resources to help you organize the best event of the year!

Whether this is your first time signing up, or you want to make this year’s event even bigger and better, DASH BC is here to help! Please contact DASH BC here for more information.
May 26, 2016
In a lively community centre in Vancouver, ideas flowed, connections were made, and laughter filled the air. Rebecca Haber, DASH BC’s community engagement liaison for the After School Sport and Arts Initiative (ASSAI), wearing a brightly-coloured name tag she crafted herself, kicked off the two-day gathering by explaining DASH’s gratitude for the unique role it plays in ASSAI.

“DASH is proud to be part of ASSAI, to work with all of you to connect to resources and partners, and to learn from each other,” she said. She emphasized the importance of the ASSAI in creating “supportive environments for children across the province who might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in sport and arts programs.”

The ASSAI Community Forum was first launched in 2012 as a way to bring together representatives from school districts across the province delivering ASSAI after school programs. It is intended to create a space for them to share their learnings and build relationships. These connections are invaluable – each year new ideas are sparked that help strengthen programs in ASSAI communities.

This year, the forum created a particularly stimulating and challenging environment for the 33 participants that attended from 17 school districts. Session leaders encouraged hard work with the intention of “stretching” participants.

“Stretch” is one of the 7 Principles of Learning, aimed at guiding learning environments for the 21st century. It acknowledges that effective learning involves high expectations as well as learning strategies and experiences that push and stretch all learners, including students, teachers, program leaders or coordinators. Pushing learning beyond one’s comfort zone calls for endurance and persistence, and is much better done collectively than in isolation.

In one session, participants collectively stretched their minds reflecting on the meaning of “inclusive.” They came up with a vision for an after school program where barriers for children were eliminated.

Throughout the forum, participants appreciated the opportunity to discuss their challenges. According to one participant, “It was really interesting to learn some of the similar struggles we share between programs, regardless of how differently they've been set up.”

Participants brainstormed together and explored strategies to improve their after school programs. One participant remarked, “It was great to hear a variety of ideas and solutions to bring back with us and try in the future.”

The ideas shared at the forum will certainly open up new doors and possibilities for ASSAI communities.  What have you learned recently that might open a new door?

“One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”  
– Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.


We gratefully acknowledge financial support for the ASSAI by the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.
May 26, 2016
DASH BC is pleased to announce that the Action Schools! BC program will be available to schools in the 2016-2017 school year!

DASH will be managing and administering the Action Schools! BC program in partnership with viaSport and PHE Canada.  The Action Schools! BC program is made possible due to funding support from the Ministry of Health.

We are currently undertaking a comprehensive review on which aspects of the Action Schools! BC program best support schools to enable students to learn about healthy living, be physically active and make healthy eating choices at school. A huge thank you to everyone who filled out a survey or participated in a focus group to support us in this process – your input is greatly valued!

Throughout the summer we will be updating the Action Schools! BC program based on what is learned through the review process, and are excited to be re-launching the program for the 2016-2017 school year!

If you are interested in staying up to date throughout the summer, or in participating in the program next year, please let us know at info@actionschoolsbc.ca. Updates will also be posted on the Action Schools! BC website at www.actionschoolsbc.ca.
May 26, 2016
Since 2014, our Healthy Schools BC Francophone initiative has provided resources and support to Francophone and French immersion schools throughout BC. We are currently undergoing an evaluation of this initiative so that we can continue to strengthen our efforts in supporting these Francophone and French immersion school communities.

If you are an educator or administrator in a Francophone or French immersion school, we are looking for your feedback on healthy living tools, resources and supports, as well as suggestions for what else is needed to help you create healthier school communities.

By completing the survey, you will be entered in a draw for a chance to win a $50 Chapters Indigo Gift Card for your school. The survey is available in both English and French. Please take 10-15 minutes to provide your input on the survey here.

May 26, 2016
To understand the benefits of fostering caring environments, it's helpful to take an ecological view.  Our colleague, Dan Reist of CARBC uses a simple analogy of frogs in a pond to help us understand a whole school approach, or what we term comprehensive school health. As he says, “If some of the frogs in the pond started behaving strangely, our first reaction would not be to intervene by providing a fix or treatment for the frogs. Instead, we'd wonder what was going on in the pond environment.”

Just like the frogs in the pond, students are more likely to thrive when they feel safe in their environment. Making our classrooms and schools safe and accepting places can support students to stretch in their learning – to try new things and risk failing – because they know you, their classmates, and other school staff are there to support them. For children and youth who have challenges outside of school, a supportive school environment can be a safe haven.  This isn`t news though. Educators and others who work with children and youth have known and acted on this for a long time.

As the school year winds down, it`s the perfect time to reflect on the great work that you have done to make your classroom and school environment a welcoming and caring for place for all. There are many ways to foster caring environments at school. Pat yourself on the back as you check off some of the many approaches below that you and your colleagues have used to foster your students’ sense of emotional and physical safety this year:
  • School staff know students’ names and greet them each day.
  • There is open, frequent and positive communication among students and school staff.
  • School staff teach, model and reinforce respectful behaviour towards students and their families and each other.
  • The classroom is an inviting space with regular opportunities for dialogue among students, family members and community members.
  • Learning activities are designed to draw on students’ learning styles or preferences.
  • At-risk students have a staff member assigned to them who will take additional initiative and make a positive connection.
  • Behavioural expectations are reviewed with students and are clear.
  • There are opportunities for all students to participate in academic and non-academic activities.
  • Classroom discussions are organized to encourage students to share and convey respect for diverse perspectives.
  • Reports of harassment, name-calling, bullying and cyber-bullying are responded to in a timely fashion.
  • Emergency procedures are posted in hallways and reviewed on a regular basis with students.
  • All staff and students have a clear understanding regarding behaviour expectations in the classroom, halls, lunch area and during special events.
  • Educational staff are assigned positions to monitor student movement at doors and hallways during times of arrival, departure and class transitions.
  • School meeting areas are well maintained, free from litter and clutter, and facilitate movement and interactions among students and school staff.
  • Spaces are designed for use by individuals with a wide range of physical abilities and characteristics.
  • Processes are in place to address accommodation requests by individuals for whom the design of the space does not automatically provide access.
  • School rules and policies are fair and equitable.
  • Students and teachers collaboratively develop classroom rules and expectations.
  • The school identifies practices for ensuring welcoming, accessible and inclusive experiences for everyone using the space.
  • Opportunities are available:
    • to learn about, appreciate and celebrate differences among people;
    • to develop social skills like sharing, cooperating, communicating and resolving conflict constructively; and
    • for students to participate fully in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities that will  enhance their overall development.

Adapted with permission from JCSH Positive Mental Health Toolkit.

May 26, 2016
Summer is coming, and we are all looking forward to spending lots of time outside! Refresh your sun and water smarts to ensure you have a safe and happy holiday.

Did you know? Swimming skills alone aren't always enough to prevent water-related accidents. It is swimming abilities combined with safety knowledge that helps save lives. In particular, one of the most important safety skills recommended by the Canadian Red Cross is the active supervision of children around water. Always watch children attentively (no matter how well they can swim), whether they’re at the pool, the beach, on a boat, or in the bathtub.
 
You can click here to learn more about preventing water-related accidents from the Canadian Red Cross. Topics include active supervision, backyard pools, bathing children, diving, open water, and more.
 
Did you know? Research suggests we need only about 15 minutes of sun exposure to get our daily dose of vitamin D.

Overexposure to the sun’s UV rays can not only lead to the visible consequences of skin damage—spots, wrinkles, sagging skin, and other signs of aging that can make you look much older than your years—but can also lead to skin cancers such as melanoma. British Columbia’s rates of melanoma are the highest in Canada and, sometimes, even very young people can get melanoma. The best way to minimize your risk of skin cancer is to protect yourself from the sun. That means wearing long sleeves and a hat, finding shade (especially during the hottest part of the day from 11 am to 3 pm), and wearing SPF 30+ sunscreen.
 
To support your knowledge about sun protection, check out these sun safety tips and resources  from the BC Cancer Agency.

Have a safe and happy summer!
May 26, 2016
PreparedBC recently released learning resources to help educators across BC teach their students about the risks in their region and how to take a proactive approach to preparing for disasters and emergencies. PreparedBC’s Master of Disaster learning resources consist of three core modules, each with supporting resources and interactive components that teachers can use to enhance in-class delivery. The modules teach students about the importance of knowing the risks, having a kit and having a plan. Upon completion of the Master of Disaster program, teachers may print their students a certificate of completion stating they are now officially a “Master of Disaster”!

Be a part of the pilot project!
This project is currently in a pilot phase. Resources went live during the kick-off to Emergency Preparedness Week on April 29, 2016. PreparedBC is requesting teacher expertise in piloting the resources for the remainder of the 2016 school year and providing their feedback. Over the summer, the PreparedBC team (along with a stakeholder working group comprised of teachers, administrators and emergency management professionals from across the province) will work to incorporate the feedback and suggestions to improve the program. Following this stage of revision, PreparedBC will launch the resources more formally in the fall.

Modules
The program is made up of three core modules that have been designed for Grade 6 students. All modules build upon the prior module, but can be used on their own and are designed to be flexible to suit the needs of the teachers, students, classrooms and regions. Grade 6 was identified by the Ministry of Education as the best age to take the information learned in the classroom and translate it into their home environment. Modules touch on Big Ideas as outlined in BC curriculum guidelines, which are clearly outlined within each module.

Module 1 focuses on personal preparedness and knowing the hazards in your region, what their warning signs are and what you should have in your emergency kit. Module 2 explains household preparedness and the importance of considering your family’s unique needs in preparing your kit and your plan. Module 3 teaches the importance of working together with classmates, neighbours and the greater community to identify strengths in yourselves and others. Historical events have shown that when disaster strikes, the most immediate help will come from those around you – your neighbours; therefore, knowing how to work together will mean a better response and faster recovery.

Why teach about disasters and emergency planning?
Many natural hazards are recurring, cyclical events in BC. Each year, different regions of the province face the very real threat of evacuation alerts and orders, often requiring residents to be able to flee with little to no time to prepare. Other hazards occur rarely, and science has no way of predicting them. It is this reality that highlights the importance of teaching students about the risks in their region, as well as the importance of preparing in advance. Together, we can contribute to the shared responsibility to prepare for emergencies and create healthier, more resilient communities across BC.

Become a Master of Disaster!
To browse PreparedBC’s Master of Disaster learning resources and learn more about the pilot project or the program itself, visit www.gov.bc.ca/PreparedBC/learningresources.

To learn about hazards in your region and to access resources to help you prepare, visit www.gov.bc.ca/PreparedBC.
May 26, 2016
With a student population of 34 from Kindergarten through Grade 12, Captain Meares Elementary Secondary School in Tahsis is one of the smallest schools in BC. You wouldn’t know that, however, by the size and diversity of their Farm to School program. It has been thriving since 2011 and is a great example of community and school collaboration. The program has strong initiatives around reducing food waste and even put together a cookbook to raise funds for the program. The program coordinator gets hands-on support from the school staff, community groups and others which makes the program a beacon of success. You can read the full story here
April 28, 2016
National Child and Youth Mental Health Day is about connecting with children and youth. On May 7th, all Canadians are encouraged to get involved and help connect children and youth with parents and caring adults. Caring, connected relationships are a big deal to young people, and impact their mental health.

School connectedness, which is a key focus area of Healthy Schools BC, focuses on building strong, positive relationships—among students, between students and school staff, and between school staff, families and the larger community. The presence of caring relationships in schools, the heart of school connectedness, is increasingly recognized as a vital component of successful schools. The research is strong and consistent; students who feel connected to school do better academically and are healthier.

On May 7th, positive mental health events will be happening all over BC. Check out the Institute of Families website for information about activities in your area, and ideas for planning your own event. You can also “Share the Care” by wearing green on May 7th and showing your support on Facebook or Twitter.

There are also many programs and organizations that support positive mental health in BC. The resources shared below, and many more, can be found on the Healthy Schools BC website.
  • The FRIENDS Program: The FRIENDS program is a 10-12 week classroom-based, anxiety prevention and resiliency program, delivered by teachers for students in kindergarten to Grade 7. The FRIENDS Program also has a parent component whereby parents and caregivers are taught ways they can reinforce the FRIENDS program skills at home.
  • iMinds: iMinds is a collection of health education resources that address multiple areas of BC's new curriculum.  The resources seek to maximize young people's drug literacy—the knowledge and skills they need to survive and thrive in a world where caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and other drug use is common. Resources are available for elementary, middle and secondary school students in English and French.
  • F.O.R.C.E. Society for Kids' Mental Health: F.O.R.C.E. is a provincial organization that provides families with an opportunity to connect with other families who understand and may be able to offer support or advice on what has worked for them. The organization works to support and empower families and work collaboratively with professionals in order to meet the mental health needs of families.
  • Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre: The Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre offers options for support and treatment in BC, tips for self-help and prevention, as well as a free monthly educational pinwheel series for families, educators and clinicians. Visit their website for resources and events. 
  • Mindcheck.ca is a young adult-focused, interactive website where visitors can check out how they’re feeling and connect to support early and quickly. Support includes education, self-help tools, website links, and assistance in connecting to local professional resources.
  • HeretoHelp: HeretoHelp is the website of a group of seven of BC’s leading mental health non-profit agencies working together to help people of all ages better prevent and manage mental health and substance use problems. Their website contains dozens of useful resources for educators.
  • JCSH Positive Mental Health Toolkit: This is an online resource that promotes positive mental health practices and perspectives within a school environment.
April 28, 2016
DASH BC has been working in partnership with the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development to improve after school programming throughout BC since 2010 through the After School Sport and Arts Initiative. Over the years, community partners have expressed a desire to have a flexible guide, filled with tips and tricks, to support the start-up and ongoing delivery of high-quality after school programs that reduce barriers to children’s participation and are meaningful to each unique community.

If you are interested in, or already involved in, the development and/or delivery of after school programming for students, DASH would greatly appreciate your input. Please click here to answer a few quick questions that will be used to shape the creation of a new after school program guide. It will only take 5 minutes! After participating, you will have the chance to be entered in a draw to win a $100 gift certificate to Wintergreen for supplies for your school or after school program. Thank you in advance for your support!
April 28, 2016
Many BC schools undertake activities that support the mental wellbeing of students and build their connection to school. While some of the work is visible, like peer mentoring and social emotional learning programs, much of it is less visible and obvious. You have to really look for it and in some instances, search outside of the box.

For example, when you look at a picture of a school garden, what do you see? Do you see a place that teaches students about growing things and encourages healthy eating, or do you see it as a way to support students’ mental wellbeing and school connectedness?

Applying a mental fitness lens can help you more clearly “see” the school connectedness and mental wellbeing aspects of your everyday practice.  Mental fitness is one of the family of practices that helps us understand mental wellbeing.

Mental fitness is a state of mental wellness that is based on our perception of how our needs are being met in three psychological areas:
  • relatedness
  • competency
  • autonomy
Relatedness is our sense of belonging; it involves our need for connection or closeness to family, peers, and other significant individuals. Fulfillment of this need requires interaction with others, membership in groups, and support and encouragement.  When a child’s relatedness needs are met, their self-perceptions might include:
  • I belong.
  • I am part of the group or community.
  • I feel encouraged and supported by others.
Opportunities to work together with other students, or side-by-side with caring adults, help students practice their social emotional skills as well as fulfilling their relatedness needs. Opportunities to participate in clubs or other structured groups with peers that share an interest also supports a sense of belonging. GSAs (gay/straight alliances or gender/sexuality alliances) are a good example of such a structure, and have demonstrated positive benefits for both gay and straight students.

Competency is the need for recognition and for using personal gifts and strengths in achieving goals. Fulfillment of this need provides students with a sense of personal achievement and accomplishment.  When competency needs are met, a child’s self-perceptions may include:
  • I have strengths and gifts that are recognized by others.
  • When I use my strengths and gifts to meet goals, I feel a sense of worth and accomplishment.
By considering the individual strengths of your students, you can incorporate opportunities for them to shine and have their talents recognized.  See Okanagan-Skaha SD’s work in this area for some ideas.

Autonomy is the need for personal freedom to make choices or decisions. When this need is satisfied in conjunction with other need areas, freedom and choice are expressed in ways in which respect is demonstrated for self and others. When autonomy needs are met, children’s self-perceptions may include:
  • I am able to make decisions about things that are important to me and others.
  • I feel hopeful because others support my participation in decision-making.
Personalized learning approaches can provide students with more opportunities for autonomy by allowing them to choose their areas of exploration. By simply allowing students to choose how to provide their response for an assignment–whether it be a traditional written response, a drawing or piece of artwork, a video, a poem or rap or something else– teachers support both autonomy (students choose) and competency (students use their strengths).

So take a few minutes, put on your mental fitness “lenses”, and find the strengths in your own practice. For more information on mental fitness and other members of the mental wellbeing family of practices, see the JCSH Positive Mental Health Toolkit.

The explanation of mental fitness has been adapted from the JCSH Positive Mental Health Toolkit, 2nd Ed.
April 28, 2016
MindShift is an app designed to help teens and young adults cope with anxiety. It can help change how youth may think about anxiety. Rather than trying to avoid anxiety, MindShift can make an important shift and help youth face it.

MindShift will help youth learn how to relax, develop more helpful ways of thinking, and identify active steps that will help take charge of their anxiety. This app includes strategies to deal with everyday anxiety, as well as specific tools to tackle:
  • Test Anxiety
  • Perfectionism
  • Social Anxiety
  • Performance Anxiety
  • Worry
  • Panic
  • Conflict
Think of MindShift as a portable coach that helps youth face challenging situations and take charge of their life.

MindShift is the work of a joint collaboration between AnxietyBC, a non-profit organization devoted to increasing the public’s awareness and access to evidence-based resources on anxiety disorders, and BC Children’s Hospital, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority. Funding for MindShift enhancements was made possible by the RBC Children’s Mental Health Project.
April 28, 2016
Are you looking to enhance your professional development this summer? There are a variety of exciting professional development opportunities through summer institutes, workshops and conferences. Below are some highlights of opportunities, and links to access additional offerings:

Developing Self-Regulating Learners in Inclusive Classrooms
July 4-6, 2016

Ecology of Food Studies Summer Institute
July 4-8, 2016

Outdoor Environmental Education Leadership Summer Institute
July 5-22, 2016

Inquiry and Innovation Summer Institute
July 8-9, 2016

Agriculture in the Classroom Summer Institute

July 18-22, 2016

Theories and Dimensions of Place-based Learning Summer Institute
July 25-August 5, 2016

Kelty Mental Health Summer Institute
August 25-26, 2016

Full list of UBC Summer Institutes and Workshops

BC Teachers’ Federation Professional Development Calendar
April 28, 2016
Better Together BC is pleased to announce the seventh annual Hands-on Cook-off contest with a special category for Youth.

Anyone in BC can enter until noon on May 20th, 2016.

Here is how it works:

Cook. Simply team up with friends aged 18 and under and create a short, punchy video that shows the world in 3 minutes or less how to make one of your favourite recipes (breakfast, BBQ, pizza, salad, dinner, snack, dessert or other tasty items).   

Film. There are no tech skills required—videos can even be made using phone video cameras. Check out these tips for making and editing videos.

Win. A panel of judges will select winners for the Youth Category.

The Grand Prize is $500 cash for your team plus $500 cash to donate to your school or youth program.

The Runner Up Prize is $250 cash for the winning team plus $250 cash to donate to your school or youth program.

Friends and family can also vote for your video for a chance to win the People’s Choice award in the Youth Category. The prize is $150 cash for your team and $150 cash to donate to your school or youth program.  

Full contest details, including sample videos, can be found here.

Get your video ideas ready now and enter this contest before 12pm on May 20th, 2016!
April 28, 2016
Chocolate, cherry, menthol and strawberry. Sound appealing? You’re not the only one who thinks so. Many youth prefer fruit, candy and menthol flavours and tobacco companies know this. In fact, tobacco companies add fruit, candy and menthol flavours to products to make them more appealing and palatable to youth. This marketing ploy, coupled with the fact that flavoured tobacco products are affordable to youth and falsely assumed to be healthier than conventional tobacco, make them a threat to the health of young people.

Effective December 2015, advocacy efforts saw most categories of flavoured cigarillos taken off Canadian shelves.  Unfortunately, flavoured water pipe, roll-your-own, and chewing tobacco, rolling papers and menthol cigarillos that are marketed to youth are still available in BC. Flavours in tobacco reduce the harsh effects of cigarette smoke for people experimenting with smoking, making it easier for new users to become addicted. In BC, almost half of young tobacco users report using flavoured tobacco products. Click here to learn more about what you can do to help stop this.

The Canadian Cancer Society is concerned with the increasing popularity of flavoured tobacco product use among youth. As a strategy to help address this issue, the cancer prevention team at the Society has created a flavoured tobacco teaching kit for teachers and health educators.

This learning tool is designed for youth by youth to teach about the harms of flavoured tobacco, including menthol. The resource consists of a presentation, visual images and hands-on activity that teachers and health educators can use to start a conversation with students about the risks of using tobacco and the marketing ploys used by tobacco companies to hook youth on nicotine.

Put this toolkit to use in your classroom and teach students about the harms of all forms of tobacco. Click here to access the toolkit.
April 28, 2016
The soil is softening, trees and plants are in bloom – it’s the season for planning, preparing and planting. This lovely season means that it is time to get school and home gardens underway. There is a lot of great information in the Farm to School Spring Newsletter and on their website. In the current issue, you can read about one of their Start-up Grant recipient schools, Logan Lake Secondary. They produced a video showcasing the school's journey from planning a school garden, to using the produce in food classes, to creating healthy meals for students. There is also information about the Regional Hub spring events – they would love to see you there! 
April 18, 2016
DASH BC is pleased to announce it will be managing and administering the Action Schools! BC program in partnership with viaSport and PHE Canada.

In the coming months, DASH BC will explore which aspects of the Action Schools! BC program best support schools to enable students to learn about healthy living, and to be physically active and make healthy eating choices at school.

We feel it’s important that user feedback is incorporated into this review ensuring the Action Schools! BC program and materials match the classroom of 2016. There are three surveys below; one is intended for those who previously participated in or feel familiar with the components of the Action Schools! BC program (e.g. attended workshops, received/used Action Schools! BC resources or equipment), and one is intended for those who did not participate.  The third survey is intended for parents or caregivers of children who were in classes or schools that were using Action Schools! BC resources and/or supports; we would appreciate if you could share this survey link with parents that fit this description (or you can fill it out if you are a parent of a child in an Action Schools! BC school).   Upon completion you will be entered into a draw to win one of four iPad Minis for your school.

We will also be conducting a focus group to learn more about educators’ and administrators’ experiences with the program, as well as recommendations for what to retain, revise, or remove from the program moving forward.   The focus group will be held over teleconference during the week of April 25-29 and be about 1 hour, and all participants will receive a $25 gift card to Chapters.  There is limited space available, so if you are interested in participating please respond to info@actionschoolsbc.ca with your interest as soon as possible (please include your role and school district as well).

Your participation is greatly appreciated!

Surveys:
(NOTE: Surveys will be closing on Wednesday April 27 at 11:59pm)

I have participated in Action Schools! BC

I have not participated in Action Schools! BC or don’t remember if I have

Link to parent/caregiver survey – please share:  https://bit.ly/1NxY7kA
March 30, 2016
How do environments influence learning? How do our environments influence our wellbeing? How does the school environment influence the health of our students? What does redesigning schools and schooling through innovation mean in practice?

There is no doubt that learning is complex and influenced by a number of factors, including contextual factors such as physical surroundings and social environment (a pillar of comprehensive school health). School environments influence the wellbeing of students and school staff through social, emotional and physical aspects of health. Innovative learning environments affect the holistic wellbeing of students. Establishing positive and healthy learning environments is essential for creating teaching and learning opportunities and enabling students to thrive at school and beyond.

The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice is a book from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), written by leading researchers from North America and Europe. It explores the nature of learning from the perspectives of cognition, emotion and biology, and utilizes current research in its discussion of how to optimize learning environments at school. To inform practice, it summarizes seven key principles of learning (outlined below). They serve as a guide in everyday experiences in current classrooms, as well as future educational programs and systems.

The OECD has also recently released a report about innovative learning environments: Schooling Redesigned – Towards Innovative Learning Systems.  The report draws on initiatives from around the world and describes common strengths around a series of Cs: Culture change, Clarifying focus, Capacity creation, Collaboration and co-operation, Communication technologies and platforms, and Change agents. It suggests that, to grow, innovative learning needs approaches rooted in the complexity of 21st century society.

Check Out the Practitioners’ Guide!

A 12-page summary version of the Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice, called the Practitioners’ Guide, is also available. The Practitioners’ Guide highlights the core messages and principles from the full report, and explores how the learning sciences inform the design of 21st century learning environments. The guide reviews the fundamentals of learning, including how people learn, the influence of context in shaping learning, the collaborative and social nature of learning, and the role of emotions and motivation in learning. It also reviews the seven principles of learning discussed above, key shifts for learning in the 21st century, and building blocks for innovative learning environments.

What Are the Seven Principles of Learning?

  1. Learners are at the centre. The learning environment recognizes the learners as its core participants, encourages their active engagement, and develops in them an understanding of their own activity as learners.
  2. The social nature of learning. The learning environment is founded on the social nature of learning and actively encourages well-organized co-operative learning.
  3. Emotions are integral to learning. The learning professionals within the learning environment are highly attuned to the learners’ motivations and the key role of emotions in achievement.
  4. Recognizing individual differences. The learning environment is acutely sensitive to the individual differences among the learners in it, including their prior knowledge.
  5. Stretching all students. The learning environment devises programs that demand hard work and challenge from all but without excessive overload.
  6. Assessment for learning. The learning environment operates with clarity of expectations using assessment strategies consistent with these expectations; there is a strong emphasis on formative feedback to support learning.
  7. Building horizontal connections. The learning environment strongly promotes horizontal connectedness across areas of knowledge and subjects as well as to the community and the wider world.
The seven principles align with the First Peoples Principles of Learning as presented by the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC).
March 30, 2016
The “Caravane Santé” project aims to build capacity within the Conseil scolaire francophone (CSF) and French immersion schools to promote healthy living in students. This is done through training champions in schools on the Healthy Schools BC Learning Framework and creating a learning community around healthy habits in students and staff. Check out the promotional video here.

The “Caravane Santé” project builds on both the Healthy Schools BC Learning Framework and the learning communities approach to help sustain healthy school projects in schools, connecting schools with health partners in their communities and embody the idea that healthy living is fun for students.

During the Caravane Santé, specialists visited selected schools to spend a day with the students and to identify school champions. Check out the exciting videos from each of the BC communities that were visited by Caravane Santé:
The Caravane Santé project is a partnership between Healthy Schools BC and RésoSanté.


March 30, 2016
When people talk about supporting and promoting mental wellbeing in schools, they usually discuss the practices they use in their environment. Some people are focused on school connectedness, others on social-emotional learning, yet others on resilience, mental fitness, or another approach.

While each of these approaches has its own flavour, they are all part of the larger family of positive mental health-supportive practices. Some people may see them as competing approaches but they are not. They overlap and work side-by-side, each strengthening the impact of the others. They all lead to the same place – improved wellbeing for children and youth. Think of the different approaches as smoothie flavours; they have much in common, but some people prefer one flavour over another.

As you would expect, the various approaches share many of the same themes. These include:
  • Providing students with the emotional and social skills necessary to be actively engaged in school
  • Creating caring relationships that promote trust and open communication, and make students feel supported and nurtured
  • Providing professional learning and support for school staff so they can meet the diverse cognitive, emotional, and social needs of students
  • Establishing structures and processes that enable, empower and engage students, families, staff and all school community members and support student achievement
  • Providing opportunities for families to be involved in their children’s school lives, and inviting community organizations to partner with the school
  • Using effective teaching and learning methods and classroom management techniques to foster positive learning environments
So go ahead, pick your favourite positive mental health approach.  And consider exploring some of the other “flavours” now and then. They might bring new insights, or reinvigorate your practice. Anyone for a banana-chocolate smoothie?

To learn more about the practices and approaches that support mental wellbeing, see Schools as a Setting for Positive Mental Health: Better Practices and Perspectives. The school connectedness area on the Healthy Schools BC website and the JCSH Positive Mental Health Toolkit can help you take action on positive mental health at your school.
March 30, 2016
SAVE THE DATE – THURSDAY AND FRIDAY AUGUST 25 – 26, 2016!

The 7th Annual Summer Institute is a two-day event that will bring together school professionals, parents, youth and school community partners from across BC to exchange knowledge and ideas about improving mental wellness in school communities.

New this year, we will be taking applications for breakout session presentations. If you are interested in hosting a session at the Summer Institute, please complete the Session Presenter Application Form. The deadline to apply is April 15th.

Key Areas of Focus:
  • Fostering school connectedness in classrooms and school communities
  • Supporting implementation of the new BC school curriculum, as it relates to mental health and wellbeing
  • Supporting students experiencing mental health and substance use challenges in classrooms or schools
  • Creating school-community partnerships to support student mental health and wellbeing
Click here for more information.
March 30, 2016
Part of our job as educators is to help kids navigate the twists and turns in life, including those related to alcohol and other psychoactive substances. Researchers say one of the best ways to help is to engage kids in honest, open conversations. More useful than telling them what to think, encouraging kids to explore, discuss and question their own ideas about drugs—and those of others—can go a long way toward helping them develop important life skills.

Open conversations about drugs may seem intimidating to some educators, but the fact is that drugs touch almost every aspect of human life—the economy, our social lives, our physical and mental health, our spiritual wellbeing—and have done so since the beginning of human history. It only makes sense for us to be discussing drugs in a way that promotes drug literacy—the knowledge and skills students need to survive and thrive in a society where drug use is common.
 
So how can we do it?
Exploring the role and meaning of drugs, not simply learning facts and statistics, is at the heart of a set of cross-curriculum drug education resources known as iMinds, created by the Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC) at the University of Victoria. Featuring drug literacy modules designed for Grade 4-10 classrooms, the iMinds collection now also includes drug-related conversation starters and adaptable learning activities that match BC’s new curriculum competencies in Grade 8-12 Language Arts, Social Studies, and Physical and Health Education courses. (Drug-related lesson activities for Science, Mathematics and other key secondary-school courses are currently in the works.)
 
CARBC also offers support for educators interested in implementing iMinds resources or learning more about the philosophical inquiry approach that forms the foundation of all the conversation-based drug education materials. These materials and approaches support young people in becoming ‘professional human beings.’
 
So far the response from BC educators using iMinds materials has been positive, with many teachers expressing appreciation for resources that speak to humankind’s diverse and complex relationship with drugs, and the factors that contribute to both positive and negative drug-related outcomes in individuals and communities.
 
 “What I am noticing and really liking about Lunch with Lenin [a short-story collection for the Grade 9 iMinds module] is it is getting kids to break out of that paradigm of ‘everything about drugs is automatically bad’ mindset and they are thinking about the layers of the drug story.”
– Trent, teacher.

To access these learning resources and learn more about how CARBC can support your efforts, visit www.helpingschools.ca or touch base via helpingschools@carbc.ca.
March 30, 2016
Yarrow Community School applied for a Farm to School BC Start-up Grant in the winter of 2014 and, after less than one year, the fulsome program already includes a garden, smoothies, connecting with local farmers and communities and local food meals. The entire school student population—all 307 students, plus the on-site preschool and daycare programs—participate in the program in one way or another.

Smoothie Tuesday is one of the most engaging components of Yarrow’s Farm to School program. Every classroom in the school rotates through being in charge of Smoothie Tuesday. The class makes smoothies, with grown, donated and gleaned ingredients, and delivers samples to the entire school population. They bring knowledge along with their tasty treats, entreating kids to "Guess what's in it?” and “Guess which healthy ingredients were grown right here in Chilliwack?" Students then share their recipe. To read more about this inspirational group, click here to read this “Story from the Field”.
February 24, 2016
Nutrition Month, presented by the Dietitians of Canada, is being celebrated all across the country in March. This year, the theme for the campaign is dedication to making a small change and making it stick! The slogan for the campaign is Take a 100 meal journey. Make small changes one meal at a time.

Order your 2016 Nutrition Poster here and learn more about the poster and supportive resources for your students here.

All across British Columbia, many schools are already engaging in activities that promote healthy eating, and there are numerous programs and resources available to help you encourage nutritious choices in your school community. Promoting healthy eating can involve healthy eating education, food skills development, improved access to healthy food while at school, and school policies that support positive nutrition habits.

A key focus area for Healthy Schools BC is food literacy. Food literacy is having the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to choose, grow, prepare and enjoy food to support one’s health, community, and the environment. Twenty schools and school districts have received food literacy grants to support food literacy in their communities. Stay tuned as these schools and school districts share their stories! In the Healthy Schools Network, schools are addressing healthy eating through asking questions such as, “How can the building and maintaining of the school garden allow students to actually learn about the fruit and vegetable preparation in the kitchen?” Schools are also engaging community members, such as Elders, to share knowledge of local food, and supporting students to develop skills needed to prepare healthy foods.

Read about other schools’ healthy eating experiences on the Healthy Schools BC Stories Map.

Also, for school healthy eating opportunities, check out these resources:
These resources (and many more) can be found on the Healthy Schools BC website.
February 24, 2016
The School Food Literacy Capacity Building Initiative currently underway is supporting schools and districts to adopt a comprehensive school health approach to food literacy. This approach has been shown to have a significant impact on students’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviours around nutrition and healthy eating.  

Research has shown that enhanced teaching and learning practices involving cross-curricular approaches (e.g., physical and health education, science, social studies) along with experiential learning (e.g., gardening, cooking/food preparation activities) have the greatest impact on increasing students’ fruit and vegetable consumption and improving overall healthy habits. Students’ learning is enhanced when experiences are hands-on and extend beyond the classroom throughout the school, schoolyard and community. Community partners often provide critical support through programs and resources that encourage and support these enhanced teaching and learning practices.

Research has also shown that the greatest impact on student learning and healthy eating practices is achieved when action related to health and food literacy is taken across the whole school, addressing all four pillars of the CSH approach: teaching and learning, relationships and environments, school policies, and community partnerships. Intentional use of a CSH approach is especially critical in healthy eating and food literacy to ensure the informal learning in the school environment is addressed so as to not undermine classroom teaching and learning activities. Lessons from the School Food Literacy Capacity Building Initiative currently underway will provide direction on how to support schools and districts to adopt a CSH approach to healthy eating and food literacy.

Stay tuned for updates and stories from the 20 schools and school districts that received food literacy grants. To learn more about a whole school approach to food literacy, click here.
February 24, 2016
In January, DASH staff travelled to Kananaskis Village, Alberta for Ever Active Schools’ Shaping the Future 2016 conference. We received a warm welcome – both from the healthy schools champions in attendance and the Chinook wind blowing through the area!  DASH gave a presentation on the After School Sport and Arts Initiative (ASSAI), sharing what we have learned in BC about offering engaging after school programs to children facing barriers to participation.  We were encouraged to find that some of ASSAI’s key outcomes, including positive relationships and confidence-building, aligned with the conference’s message of strengthening children’s developmental assets and resilience as a path to health and learning.

Here are a couple of highlights from what we learned at the conference:

Resilience – This ability to bounce back from challenging life events, impacts the long-term health of children. Dr. Martin Brokenleg introduced the Circle of Courage, a model of positive youth development fostering resilience. The Circle of Courage is based on traditional Aboriginal ways of knowing and follows the principle that in order for to be healthy, youth need a sense of belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity. Schools are a key component of a child’s ecology; supportive educators, positive relationships, and successes at school all contribute to positive youth development.  Dr. Alan Warner broadened the perspective of the child’s ecology to include the planet, and presented the importance of experiences in nature in building children’s competence and wellbeing.  Both Dr. Brokenleg and Dr. Warner reminded us that feelings and values are the starting point for education.

“If we care for it, we will want to understand it, and if we understand it, we will want to do something about it” – Dr. Alan Warner

“We have to teach the heart, not the head. We never forget what we learn in the heart” – Dr. Martin Brokenleg

Healthy schools across Canada – The DASH team connected with Ever Active Schools (the conference host) and Ophea, our sister organizations in Alberta and Ontario. We talked about focus areas for schools across the country, including positive mental health, daily physical activity, school connectedness, and aboriginal perspectives and knowledge. We are excited to continue our national dialogue on healthy schools.

Further reading:
  • Click here for a video on the science of resilience from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University
  • Read more about developmental assets from the Search Institute
  • Learn more about healthy school activities in other jurisdictions from the Joint Consortium for School Health 
  • Check out the Shaping the Future Twitter feed at #STF2016
February 24, 2016
It’s almost Spring Break — a perfect time to “recharge our batteries” and focus on our wellbeing as we head into the homestretch of the school year.

While making your own wellbeing a priority may feel indulgent, it’s not – it’s a gift to you and to the students that you care so much about.  Research confirms that improved wellbeing among teachers is linked to enhanced academic achievement and reduces risk and problem behaviour in the students they teach (Sisask, 2014). As self-care guru Jennifer Louden says, “We cannot nurture others from a dry well. We need to take care of our own needs first, then we can give from our own surplus, our abundance.” 

So take time during Spring Break to do things that contribute to your sense of wellbeing – spend time with family and friends, curl up with a good book, play outdoors, or whatever else works for you – but don’t let it end there. Including wellbeing-focused activities in your regular routine will keep you feeling good and provide a positive example to the children and youth in your life.

Here are some quick tips to help you reduce your stress and nurture your wellbeing. Your students will thank you!

  • Make physical activity a priority – It’s a proven stress reducer. Go for a walk, run, dance, ski or whatever else you like to do.
  • Be grateful – Research has shown that gratitude helps your brain produce chemicals that can lower your stress levels. Stop for a moment each day and think of three positive things you’re thankful for. They don’t have to be major events, just moments when you felt content. 
  • Laugh – Laughing increases blood flow by more than 20%, about the same amount as aerobic activity. This lowers the effects of stress and raises levels of endorphins, which have pain-relieving properties. 
  • Express yourself – Keep a journal or write poems, stories or songs. Expressing yourself can help you organize your thoughts and feelings, gain perspective and release tension. 
  • Take a break – Use quiet time to slow down your body and mind. Try things like mindful breathing, visualization exercises, going for a walk, taking a bath or listening to calm music.
February 24, 2016
Many schools from across the province are addressing healthy eating by focusing on a variety of topics as well as varying scopes, from the classroom to the community. For Nutrition Month, we are highlighting a few of the many inspiring stories from the Healthy Schools Network (HSN) that demonstrate the diverse ways schools are exploring healthy eating concepts.  

  • Click here to learn about how a school community garden transformed the way students think about food and their food choices.
  • Click here to learn how food was used as a means to explore Indigenous culture. 
  • Click here to learn a school’s experience with asking, “What is the relationship between cooking skill/knowledge and healthy eating?  How does eating together change our thinking about food?” 
  • Click here to learn about how students are discovering that sugar isn’t so sweet.
February 24, 2016
March is Nutrition Month! The 2016 campaign is dedicated to supporting Canadians to make small changes in their eating habits – one meal at a time.

Order your 2016 Nutrition Month poster now! The poster, entitled, Make Small Changes One Meal at a Time —Take a 100 Meal Journey, features a chalkboard menu with full colour food photography illustrating simple changes, such as beans added to a rice bowl with vegetables, or berries added to yogurt. A “100 meal journey” adds up to about a month’s worth of small changes such as these.

The poster is available in French and English. Check out the poster here. You may complete your order using the online ordering system at bcdairy.ca/store for orders of up to 10 posters.

Visit nutritionmonth.ca to download resources that go along with the Nutrition Month theme. You can download educational sheets for teens and adults, as well as your own copy of the Nutrition Month 2016 poster. Some resources are available in Chinese, French, and English.
February 24, 2016
In the spirit of Nutrition Month, Farm to School BC would like to share a new Story from the Field from Grandview Elementary School in Vancouver. Grandview’s Farm to School program is substantial and growing. A large focus for their program involves educating students on how to prepare fresh, local food and incorporate it into daily living – and it is working! Students at this urban school are engaged, passionate and increasingly well informed about healthy eating habits and local food. Grandview has 15 active garden plots. The school’s goal is to grow as much food as possible for their twice-weekly salad bar. The school even grows indoors during the winter months.

Read the whole story here then, in the spirit of sharing great visuals, follow our new Farm to School BC Instagram stream using the #farmtoschoolbc hashtag and post all of your Farm to School related images there. 
February 22, 2016
The CATT for School Professionals is now available online at: www.cattonline.com.

CATT for School Professionals, developed in partnership with the BC Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, provides educators and school administrators the necessary resources for supporting a concussed student in his/her integration back to school:

•    RECOGNIZE the signs and symptoms of a concussion
•    RESPOND to a concussion event
•    Understand what a student needs to RECOVER from a concussion
•    PREPARE for a student’s return to school
•    Support a student’s RETURN to learn and activities
•    PREVENT and support PRACTICE through strategies and POLICIES

January 27, 2016
This year, Pink Shirt Day is on Wednesday, February 24th. Join schools all over BC in support of the anti-bullying movement by wearing pink! This year, the theme for Pink Shirt Day is kindness. Many schools in BC are working to foster healthy relationships through promoting kindness. Last month, Harriette Chang from Maple Creek Middle School, SD 43 Coquitlam shared her school community’s story of Real Acts of Caring (RAC) – doing something caring and kind for another and not expecting anything in return. SD 43 is hosting a RAC week from February 14 – 20, 2016. Click here to learn more about RAC week and how you can get involved. Schools in Penticton have also focused on kindness through participating in random acts of kindness in the school community that included shoveling driveways and thank you notes. Click here to read their story. Even a simple and kind “hello” can help to promote kindness in your school.

Anti-bullying, school connectedness, and positive mental health programming can be incorporated into your school’s curriculum and extracurricular activities, and the resources below can help you make it happen.

Pink Shirt Day
This iconic day came to be when two high school students from Nova Scotia arranged for their classmates to wear pink shirts after witnessing a student getting bullied for wearing pink the day before. For more information on how to organize your own Pink Shirt Day, click here, and wear pink on February 24th!

School Connectedness
Strong scientific evidence demonstrates that increased student connection to school decreases bullying and other negative behaviours while promoting educational motivation, classroom engagement, academic performance, school attendance and completion rates1. Learn how BC schools and districts are helping students feel more connected to their school. Find resources and tips on making your own school or district more caring and welcoming. Click here to learn more about Maple Creek Middle‘s approach to school connectedness, including their RAC program.

ERASE Bullying
The ERASE strategy is a comprehensive and multipronged approach to promote positive mental health and wellness, and to prevent bullying and violent behaviour in schools. The strategy includes a coordinated approach involving schools, families and community partners. The ERASE Bullying website provides parents and students with helpful tips and advice on how to address bullying, and includes a confidential online reporting tool for youth to report bullying.

WITS Programs
The WITS Programs bring schools, families and communities together to create responsive environments that help children deal with bullying and peer victimization. WITS has two components: the WITS Primary Program (Kindergarten to Grade 3), and the WITS LEADS Program (Grades 4 to 6).

JCSH Positive Mental Health Toolkit
The Positive Mental Health Toolkit is an online resource that promotes positive mental health practices and perspectives within a school environment. The toolkit is designed to help schools and communities apply their strengths to foster positive growth and development of children and youth.

RespectED: Beyond the Hurt
Beyond the Hurt is a Canadian Red Cross youth-facilitated program targeted at bullying and harassment prevention among children aged 11 and over.

SafeTeen
SafeTeen is an empowerment program where facilitators offer skills for choosing healthy relationships, strategies to prevent bullying and harassment, and techniques for de-escalating verbal, physical and emotional violence. Most importantly, the program cultivates empowerment, self-determination, critical thinking and self-esteem in children and youth.

For more resources related to anti-bullying, school connectedness, and positive mental health, visit the Healthy Schools BC website!


1Blum, Robert. School Connectedness: Improving the Lives of Students. 2005.
January 27, 2016
While the title may conjure up thoughts of Adele’s powerful new song, give it a bit more thought and it will likely make you think about a time when someone’s friendly “hello” put a smile on your face, reassured you during a challenging time or perhaps made you feel welcomed in a new environment – like when you started at a new school (whether as a student, a teacher or an administrator!)

Studies tell us that students who are well connected to teachers and peers within their learning environment are more likely to prosper. Most of us even know this intuitively. It makes sense that young people who feel cared for and liked by others tend to experience  better mental health, have reduced involvement in health risk behaviours (including but not limited to substance use), and are more motivated to learn and achieve higher academic performance.

The good news for school professionals and other adults is that supporting the academic and social development of young people need not be complicated. In fact, most schools’ informal curricula emphasize school as community and present abundant opportunities for fostering the connections most  kids need to survive and thrive in today’s world. Here is a peek at a couple of connection-based efforts that have demonstrated benefits in both individuals and school communities in BC.

Cariboo-Chilcotin SD 27’s focus on developing a sense of belonging forms the foundation of everything they do with students, involving teachers as well as support staff, bus drivers, maintenance workers and parents. Their shift to the attitude that “belonging is the key” has changed the way that they work in the District. Want to know more? Click here for this and other districts’ school connectedness efforts.

Inclusion clubs for LGBTQ and all - Creating gay-straight alliances in the school setting is one way to help all students feel safe, respected and valued as an important part of a community. According to a UBC study co-led by Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc, “schools with anti-homophobia policies and clubs are safer schools, and safer schools mean students are less likely to abuse alcohol, regardless of their sexual orientation”.  Looking for ideas and resources? Check out LGBTQ Resources from BCTF.
 
Here are a few other excellent resources that may help:
  • Healthy Schools BC (including its section on school connectedness) offers everything from the research base on school connectedness to a wide array of practice focused tips and approaches.  
  • The Centre for Addictions Research of BC at UVic has developed resources to support peer mentor programs. These include a short summary of the evidence for such programs, and practical resources to use in supporting peer mentors’ efforts to support their peers on substance use matters.
While a kind “hello” is not completely sufficient on its own, it does have the potential to help us all – young and old alike – feel cared about, and it represents an important foundation on which to build.
January 27, 2016
Begin the year with the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s newly REFRESHED & FREE comprehensive curriculum-aligned resources. The response since the 20th Anniversary launch this past September has been outstanding and they would like you to join them in educating children and youth in heart health!

The new resources include activities exploring nutrition, physical activity, living smoke-free, marketing to kids, sugary drinks, healthy transportation and communities, traditional Aboriginal-health concepts, mental health and wellness, HeartSmart™ recipes and more. Included are activities for the classroom as well as for families, to ensure that heart-healthy themes are touched on throughout the year and in multiple settings.

Visit the brand new interactive online tool for educators at www.hskids.ca and each individual educator must register and order separately. If you’re new to the program please complete the training and receive your dated certificate.

For more information or to organize an in-person workshop, call 778-372-8032 or 1-888-473-4636 ext. 8032, or email mhealthpromotion@hsf.bc.ca.
January 27, 2016
Farm to School BC has two new resources to share that were developed by the Farm to School Vancouver Area Regional Hub: a new Farm to School Guide for the Vancouver Area, and a powerful video about Vancouver-based Farm to School programs. These resources, while regional, are highly useful for any individual or groups interested in sourcing local food for their school. Both of these projects are great examples of how the work of one hub supports the growth and sustainability of Farm to School programs in the region, and beyond. The Farm to School Guide offers suggestions on where to find local foods, networks to tap into, recipes and other useful information. It can be accessed and downloaded from the Farm to School BC website. The inspiring Farm to School Vancouver Area Hub video offers insight and personal perspectives from local schools and can be found here. Please share both resources freely!
January 27, 2016
February is anti-bullying awareness month but, when it comes down to it, every month offers opportunities to broach this important topic with our students.  Sparking dialogue through stories, videos and exercises throughout each month of the school year (while still aligning with curriculum standards) is possible. Whether teaching social studies, language, or even fine arts – there are ample opportunities for teachers to focus on how people treat one another. With the help of the free, ERAC approved online resource Voices into Action (in particular, the cyberbullying chapter), teachers can use thought-provoking lessons that ask questions based on real world events to foster compassion and, thus, to fight bullying.

Voices into Action is current and topical. It is comprised of primary and secondary resources, as well as first person accounts, in original short films which are compelling and eye opening.  The intention is to support teachers as they present topics of oppression, hatred, racism, and bullying to their students in order to fuel conscious dialogue. Let’s face it, in today’s tumultuous political climate, teachers often feel challenged. When topics like immigration, islamophobia, aboriginal and LGBTQ rights come up in humanities classes, they may spark student discussions riddled with prejudice and personal biases. Safely facilitating discussions to help students adopt more educated (and open) viewpoints can be challenging.  Ensuring that these discussions will lead to students adopting more inclusive perspectives so that they treat one another better is even more difficult. While there are no guarantees, discussions focused on the marginalization of certain individuals or groups throughout history (especially regarding past atrocities), can inspire more anti-bullying behavior in the school and online.

Another challenge for teachers is to facilitate dialogue when the information students are filling their minds with is often one-sided and/or incorrect (especially when their sources can be questionable).  Fully researching each topic may exceed the time teachers actually have to plan lessons. Voices into Action’s curriculum team at OISE has already done extensive research on each unit topic, which can certainly help teachers provide information with more veracity.  The facts are shared and then thought-provoking questions are posed. Examples include:
  • “Can Canada be proud of its human rights record?”
  • “Should we continue to search for leaders involved in past crimes against humanity?” 
  • "Are there children elsewhere in the world whose lives are at risk not because of what they’ve done, but because of who or what they are?”
Profound dialogue can come out of some heavily debated questions like those about Canada’s treatment of our Aboriginal peoples. Consider, “To what extent has Canada, as a nation, fulfilled our human rights obligations to our Aboriginal peoples?” and regarding stereotypes, “What impact do these stereotypes have on the creation of policies involving Aboriginal people?” When we view each topic through a bullying lens, we can see where it all started – that there was an imbalance of power and people wound up as victims, victimizers, and bystanders. There’s bullying throughout our collective histories, and during February you can certainly make good use of Voices into Action’s chapter on cyberbullying.

The cyberbullying chapter offers teachers a host of invaluable information, including:
  • Explanations of different forms of cyberbullying
  • Statistics 
    • In Canada, for instance, 34% of students in Grades 7-11 have been cyberbullied 
  • Discussion prompts 
    • Imagine coming home from school, grabbing a snack, turning on your computer only to discover numerous hurtful comments and several pictures of you at awkward moments during the last few days. You are crushed, sad and angry because you thought you had lots of friends. Why would they do this to me? What's wrong with me?
  • Engaging lessons broken down into a series of actions
    • Creating an online survey
    • Designing a Venn diagram to determine the differences between traditional bullying and cyberbullying
    • Listing practical strategies for protecting online identity
    • Creating a mock trial on the laws surrounding cyberbullying
    • Analyzing real scenarios to determine fault and punishment
    • Developing an online code of behavior
    • Watching retired police sergeant Brian Trainor share true stories of people he’s encountered who were victims of online harassment
When we really think about it, we can see that bullying is prevalent in the Komagata Maru, Japanese Internment Camps, Chinese Head Tax and many more historical events.  When we broach these topics with sensitivity and with this kind of focus, we are honouring the curriculum while keeping the bullying subject open for discussion.  This is one way to extend anti-bullying month to each and every month of the school year. Teachers are welcome to use www.voicesintoaction.ca to explore history and modern issues to raise social consciousness and inspire positive change.  Have an inspiring Anti-Bullying Awareness month!  

Feel free to contact Jodi at jderkson@fastcyv.ca with any comments or for a cost-free teacher or student workshop, or to inquire about additional anti-bullying workshops & SEL for students and educators.
January 27, 2016
Dr. Shelina Babul at the University of British Columbia, Department of Paediatrics is leading an evaluation of the new On-line Concussion Awareness Training Toolkit for School Professionals (CATT School Professionals). CATT provides up-to-date education, tools and resources to effectively recognize, respond and help support a student’s return to school following a concussion. This research study seeks to evaluate this new resource.

The study consist of two on-line surveys, as well as access to CATT School Professionals, with a total time commitment of approximately 40-60 minutes (10 min pre-survey, 20-40 min Toolkit, 10 min post-survey). Your participation in this study is voluntary.

All participants who complete the study will be entered into a draw for an iPad Mini for their school.

Please follow this link to FluidSurveys for the Online Consent Form & Registration Page and the Pre Intervention Survey.

If you have any questions about this study please contact the project co-ordinator Kate Turcotte at kturcotte@cw.bc.ca.
January 7, 2016
Food literacy is having the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to choose, grow, prepare and enjoy food to support one’s health, community, and the environment. Beyond healthy eating, food literacy is also connected to competencies and concepts in the draft Physical and Health Education curriculum as well as other curriculum areas.

A comprehensive school health (CSH) approach, which is a whole school approach, coordinates actions across all areas of the school in a planned, integrated and holistic way. This is so effective because learning is enhanced when learning experiences extend beyond the classroom, throughout the school and into the community. There are four distinct, yet interrelated pillars of CSH: Teaching and Learning, Relationships and Environments, Community Partnerships and School Policies. Incorporating all four pillars supports the development of food literate students in healthy school communities.

There are many possible ways to engage your students and community to foster food literacy. It will look different in each school depending on your unique context and surrounding community. You may begin work by focusing on any one of the pillars. Click here to find programs and resources to support each pillar and help foster healthy eating and food literacy.

In November 2015, 20 schools from across the province were awarded School Food Literacy Grants through the School Food Literacy Capacity Building Initiative. The vision of the School Food Literacy Capacity Building Initiative is for students in BC to be food literate now and as they grow, with schools and school districts adopting a comprehensive school health approach to food literacy. The grants are intended to support schools to explore a CSH approach to food literacy through action and reflection on the linkages between ‘Teaching and Learning’ (one pillar of a CSH approach to food literacy) and at least one other pillar.

The projects that the schools and districts are going to be working on are as diverse as the many communities in which they exist. They cover the broad range of activities that are part of a whole school approach and the many different components of food literacy. From gardens and greenhouses to healthy snack policies and traditional Indigenous foods, these projects are taking innovative approaches to connecting teaching and learning activities and the others pillars of a CSH approach to food literacy. There are plans underway to share the lessons learned from the efforts of these schools and districts during this school year, so please stay tuned.

To learn more about food literacy, visit the Healthy Schools BC website here, and to learn more about the School Food Literacy Capacity Building Initiative read more here or contact Brent Mansfield, Project Lead, Food Literacy in Schools with DASH, at bmansfield@dashbc.ca.

January 7, 2016
Healthy Schools BC resources are now available in French for Francophone and French Immersion schools!

The new resources are part of a three year partnership project designed to address a gap in French language healthy living resources and services for BC schools, and support the Conseil scolaire francophone (SD 93) with their five-year strategic plan that identifies helping students develop in a healthy way as a priority, including the adoption of healthy and active lifestyles.

These new resources have been developed through a partnership between DASH BC, RésoSanté Colombie-Britannique (RésoSanté), Conseil scolaire francophone (SD 93), and the BC Ministry of Health, with additional support from the Francophone Affairs Program.

Resources that are now available in French include:
• The Knowledge Guide for Comprehensive School Health
• The Resource Guide for Teaching and Learning
• The Comprehensive School Health Resource for Health Professionals
Assessment Tools
• Action Guides (coming soon!)

The Healthy Schools BC website is also now available in French! Highlights of the French website include:
• The Healthy Schools BC Stories Map where French Immersion and Francophone schools can share their healthy school stories in French and learn about healthy school initiatives in other French schools
• Information regarding the grants, including grant applications offered in French (coming soon!)
• A comprehensive list of programs and supports in French

Stephanie Palisse is the Outreach Coordinator for Francophone and French Immersion Schools at DASH BC. She can support schools in starting an initiative, assist with accessing and utilizing resources, support connections between schools and health professionals, and help schools with sharing their stories in French. You can connect with Stephanie at spalisse@dashbc.ca or 604-681-0600, ext. 260.
January 7, 2016
This month we are highlighting an inspiring story about how Coquitlam School District’s acts of caring have fostered school connectedness. School connectedness is about creating a school community where everyone feels safe, seen, heard, supported, significant and cared for. Harriette Chang, School Counsellor at Maple Creek Middle School in Coquitlam (SD 43), wanted to share how Real Acts of Caring (RAC) began in SD 43, how it has evolved and how it has benefited their school community.

Here is Harriette’s story:

Real Acts of Caring (RAC) is doing something kind and caring for another and not expecting anything in return. RAC builds self-esteem and confidence, empowers students to make a positive difference in their lives and in the lives of others, and creates a sense of belonging and community connectedness.

Our journey of RAC began in 2005 in the Coquitlam School District. I was the school counsellor at Central Community School and taught a class of Grade 4 and 5 students. I read the students a story about spreading kindness and the students decided to promote this idea. They lobbied the local mayor in Port Coquitlam, and a proclamation was passed which recognized a special kindness week for Port Coquitlam in February 2006. Since then, RAC has spread throughout the Coquitlam School District and to other parts of BC and is celebrated each year during RAC Week (February 14-20, 2016).

I am now a school counsellor at Maple Creek Middle School and, throughout the year, we provide our students with opportunities to experience how good it feels to be kind. This year, we have 164 students involved in our RAC Club. A big focus at our school is to teach bullying prevention and problem solving skills, which we teach in conjunction with RAC. RAC builds strong connections between students which helps to protect kids from being on their own and potentially becoming a target. Students who are seeking power and attention through bullying are being redirected to get involved in modeling and spreading kindness instead. Several of our former bullies are now some of our keenest “RACers”.

We have been gathering evidence to understand the effect of RAC. If we look at qualitative measurements, we see that our parent community is extremely supportive of RAC and many parents help out with RAC activities on a regular basis. Quantitatively speaking, the MDI (Middle years Development Instrument) has indicated that, in the last five years since we have implemented RAC, there has been a steady and significant improvement in areas including students:
• feeling safer;
• feeling more welcome;
• liking school;
• feeling that adults care about them; and
• experiencing less bullying.

Today, thousands of students have now become involved in RAC. Students are lobbying the local governments again in Coquitlam, Port Moody and Port Coquitlam AND the provincial government in the hopes of having both a municipal and a provincial proclamation passed which recognizes RAC Week. Students have also been giving presentations about RAC to schools, the Coquitlam School Board Office, the Safe Schools Coordinators in both Richmond and Vernon this fall, and students in Prince George last year. Over the years, students have been featured in the media including Global News and Canada AM.

The goal this year is to promote RAC to every school district in BC. Students are sending out 6000 RAC posters to spread awareness to all districts in January 2016 with the goal of taking RAC to a higher level.

Click here to learn more about RAC at Maple Creek Middle School, check out their school connectedness video and learn about tips, approaches, strategies and resources for school connectedness.

January 7, 2016
Healthy eating in BC schools will get a jumpstart this year thanks to BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation’s (BCAITC) Fresh to You Fundraiser. Partnering with the BC Ministry of Health, BCAITC is offering Fresh to You as a way for schools to have greater access to BC-grown fruits and vegetables.

Fresh to You was created as a healthy fundraising alternative for those schools that are currently participating in the BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional Program (BCSFVNP), another BCAITC initiative. The objective of the program is to sell locally grown produce to family and friends in order to assist with schools’ fundraising initiatives. Schools can make a 40% profit by selling bundles of healthy BC grown vegetables such as potatoes, peppers and butternut squash.

The program includes both an autumn and a spring session during the school year and will help support the BC Ministry of Health’s Guidelines for Food and Beverage Sales in BC Schools. According to the Guidelines, “offering healthy food choices in the cafeteria, at school events, in vending machines and for fundraising contributes to a school environment that consistently supports students to develop the knowledge, skills and habits needed for lifelong wellbeing.” The guidelines are one part of a broader healthy schools approach that promotes healthy choices both in and out of the classroom.

Fresh to You enjoyed success this fall, with 80 schools participating and selling a total of 60 325 kg of produce and raising an average of $743 per school. Enthusiastic reports from parents and volunteers have been coming in citing a successful spring session. “What a successful fundraiser for us,” said Jennifer Lindberg from Lord Selkirk Elementary in Vancouver. “Not only was it a great return financially for the school, but knowing these are BC products and ones we all need and love makes 'selling' a no brainer. Thank you!”

Fresh to You will continue with a spring session in 2016. Applications will be accepted in January.

The Fresh to You Fundraiser is one of the programs managed by the BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation (BCAITC), a non-profit foundation working with educators through various programs to bring BC’s agriculture to their students. For more information visit www.aitc.ca/bc, or contact Emma Sweeney, Communications Coordinator for BCAITC by email or at 604-556-3094.
January 7, 2016
The Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness (PEDAW) Campaign is pleased to share a number of upcoming events aimed at promoting positive body image and raising awareness of eating disorders.

Upcoming events include:

Interrupting the Stigma: Putting an End to Size-Shaming

Where: UBC Robson Square, Main Lecture Hall, 800 Robson Street, Vancouver
When: January 30, 2016, 12:00-1:30pm
Description: Free panel discussion in recognition of Eating Disorder Awareness Week (Feb. 1-7, 2016) presented by the Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness (PEDAW) campaign. Panelists bring professional and personal expertise in the areas of weight stigma, body image, and eating disorders. Come for a rich dialogue and discussion and leave with ideas how to put an end to size-shaming. Panel members: Kristi Gordon, Tyson Busby, Caitlin O’Reilly, Ali Eberhardt Moderator: Chiara Fero
• Registration link: pedawpanel.eventbrite.ca

#Purple4PEDAW
Where: Online and at various landmarks in BC
When: February 5, 2016
Description: Presented by the Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness (PEDAW) campaign, #Purple4PEDAW is a day designed to bring awareness to eating disorders. Various landmarks in BC will be turning #Purple4PEDAW in support. Wear purple and send photos of yourself and purple landmarks to our Facebook and Twitter (@loveourbodies) accounts.
Event page: http://bit.ly/Purple4PEDAW2016

The Hunt to Love Our Bodies, Love Ourselves!
Where: Online
When: February 1-29, 2016
Description: Want to win prizes? Using your Android, iPhone or tablet device, complete missions for points using a free app called "Goosechase," all in the name of Eating Disorders Awareness! Grand prize is an iPad Mini! Presented by the Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness (PEDAW) campaign.
Event page: Learn more about the hunt here. Order your FREE wrist band here.

Want to learn more about the PEDAW Campaign? Check out their website and their social media channels:

• Facebook: www.facebook.com/loveourbodiesloveourselves
• Twitter: @loveourbodies
• Blog: jessieslegacy.com/love-our-bodies-love-ourselves/our-blog/
• Youtube: www.youtube.com/user/loveourbodies

December 7, 2015
A whole school approach is grounded in holistic concepts for creating healthier school communities. Recently, DASH has focused on bridging holistic concepts, such as comprehensive school health, which is a whole school approach, and physical literacy to broaden the understanding of how school health can be supported across the whole school environment. 

Physical literacy is defined as “the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life.” (International Physical Literacy Association, May, 2014)

On the October 23rd provincial professional development day, DASH attended the 29th annual QPDE (Quality Physical Daily Education) conference at Douglas College to present on how to build physical literacy with a whole school approach using the Comprehensive School Health framework. In this session, we explored how physical literacy can be enhanced by shifting the focus from individual students to the school as a whole.  

Using the Comprehensive School Health (CSH) Framework, physical literacy can be coordinated and promoted through each of the four pillars of CSH: teaching and learning, relationships and environments, healthy school policy and community partnerships. A whole school approach provides opportunities to extend physical literacy beyond P.E. class into all areas of the school environment, having a great impact on building physical literacy for students. 

If you are interested in learning more about building physical literacy through a whole school approach or having this presented in your school district, please contact us at info@dashbc.ca

For more information, check out these websites:
www.healthyschoolsbc.ca
www.dashbc.ca
www.phecanada.ca/programs/physical-literacy
www.physical-literacy.org.uk 
http://canadiansportforlife.ca/

December 7, 2015
Representatives of the After School Sport and Arts Initiative (ASSAI) were in Vernon, BC on November 12th and 13th for the bi-annual Cities Fit for Children Provincial Summit. This summit brings together policy makers, First Nations, and health, education, child and youth development practitioners to strengthen the community capacity to build cities, towns, and villages where children thrive. While DASH’s work focuses on the school, we know that each child learns, plays, and thrives within a whole school, which exists within a whole community. So we take a holistic approach and look beyond the school to include community partners as essential stakeholders in creating healthy schools. 

In Vernon, ASSAI representatives teamed up with the Surrey Schools Community-Schools Partnership initiative to talk about our experience in community-school (or C-S) partnerships, why they are important, and how to get the most out of them. Much of what we have learned about C-S partnerships stems from our experience in ASSAI. This Initiative provides safe, accessible, and high-quality after school programming for students across BC, and partnerships are key to its success.  The structure of the ASSAI also supports the notion of schools as community hubs, and using the school as the setting for after school programming so coordinators of the Initiative can leverage existing community partnerships as well as foster new ones.  

Schools as Community Hubs

There are a number of reasons why schools are a key setting for actions to support children and youth:

Most children attend school, and those that do spend the majority of their waking hours there
Families often place trust in schools, so they tend to be supportive of programs that the school is involved with
School staff can serve as a resource or as collaborators in projects
Schools can provide facilities for activities
Positive experiences in the school setting contribute to greater school connectedness

While many groups use schools as a setting, they may not always be working together with the school to leverage their assets. Our experience has shown that, while developing meaningful C-S partnerships takes time and effort, the benefits are significant. C-S partnerships can bring in expertise in specific topic areas, help to build broad community support around a cause, and coordinate efforts so that resources can be used more effectively.

Schools as Partners

There are unique considerations for community groups when working with schools. A school or district may have a key contact identified for partnership. This could be a Community School Coordinator or a Community School Association. Schools and school districts frequently have policies that guide how they work with partners (e.g., requirements for partnership agreements, liability insurance, and protection of student information). When fostering a C-S partnership, consider how your program, organization, or specific expertise can contribute to the core business of school: student learning and success. This exercise will help to facilitate early conversations, and also ensure shared goals are being met. 

At Cities Fit for Children, DASH and Surrey Schools highlighted four success factors for C-S partnerships:
  1. Define roles and responsibilities, and be flexible to adapt if the situation changes. It’s important for all partners to be clear on what they are accountable for. Written partnership agreements are a tool to support this.
  2. Have a clear focus or framework to bring partners together around. A project plan or mission helps partners to define what they are working towards. What topic can partners in your community come together around (e.g., physical literacy, healthy eating, or positive mental health)?
  3. Draw on the strengths of each partner and work to build the skills of all partners. Each partner can offer their particular expertise and share it with others.
  4. Keep the end goal in mind: supporting children. Partnerships are not just for the sake of partnership, but for the sake of supporting children.

Interested in reflecting on a partnership you’re involved with? Have a look at the Cross-Sector Engagement Rubric to check in on where your partnership is at and how it can be further developed. 

We gratefully acknowledge financial support for the After School Sport and Arts Initiative by the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

December 7, 2015
The Healthy Schools Network (HSN) is an open learning community of educators, students, and community members across the province who are working together to optimize health and learning, meet healthy living goals, and improve overall wellbeing in students and the broader school community. HSN participants lead inquiry and sustainable project-based learning initiatives in their school communities, and share their stories to support and inspire others.

The importance of a living a healthy lifestyle is significant to the wellbeing of students. This month, we are sharing an inspiring story from Fairview Elementary School in Nanaimo, BC. Their healthy living inquiry took place from October 2014 until March 2015, and the main purpose of this project was to develop a healthy living mindset within a group of Grade 6/7 learners. Their classroom teacher, Gary Chantrell, a Vancouver Island University instructor, Mary-Lynn Epps, a Healthy Schools Network Leader and a group of student teachers from Vancouver Island University collaborated to co-plan and co-teach learning opportunities through inquiry that primarily supported learners in developing healthy relationships through active living and story. They used the motto, “We are all teachers, we are all learners,” as a foundation for learning partnerships and formation of a community of learners.

At the conclusion of this project there was an abundance of positive feedback. The unit was innovative and stepped away from the traditional pen and paper worksheets. Students engaged in co-creating criteria, small to whole group discussions, and self-reflection. As the student teacher candidates became more confident with their teaching practices, they began to take on more responsibilities in the planning and instruction. Likewise, the learners in the Grade 6/7 class became school-wide leaders in healthy living by acting as peer coaches in healthy living for the younger students. Through the process they designed and implemented their own fitness activities. As a result, the Grade 6/7 students felt valued and stated they learned a lot by having the student teachers support their learning. This experience proved to be a rich learning opportunity for everyone.  View other HSN stories on the Healthy Schools BC Stories Map. 

December 7, 2015
If your  back-to-school plans to focus on school connectedness have been long forgotten or derailed by other priorities, get back on track by spending  10 minutes a day trying out a few quick and low-effort ideas to foster connectedness.  With all of the distractions this month, it might be the perfect time to try something new! Here are few ideas to try.

  • Mindful Breathing: Adding mindful breathing or other mindfulness practice to your classroom routine can help improve focus and reduce stress levels. These quick resources will help you start tomorrow: How to breathe mindfully (Heart-Mind Online); Breathing Balloon (Kids Help Phone) and 4-7-8 Breathing (GoZen).
  • Sharing Circle: Sharing Circles can provide opportunities for students to practice their social-emotional skills build community and learn more about Aboriginal culture. SD 48 Sea to Sky identified circles as an everyday practice that supports mental and emotional wellbeing in a recent WellAhead ideation session. Here’s what they said. See how a school in California uses circles here.
  • Kindness: During this time of year when many students are focused on what they are going to receive, shift the focus to giving and acts of kindness. After an initial discussion on kindness, you might ask students to talk or write about a time when someone showed them kindness; the next day they might share a time when they were kind to someone else. For inspiration for you and your students, see Maple Creek Middle School`s Real Acts of Caring website and student-made videos here and here
  • 2 by 10: Focus on building stronger, more positive relationships with your most challenging student(s) using a simple 2 by 10 approach. Have a two minute personal conversation with the student 10 times over a pre-determined period of time on topics that she/he is interested in.  At a November WellAhead ideation session, SD 61 (Victoria) identified 2 by 10 as one of the everyday wellbeing practices that they were interested in exploring.
For more ideas on building school connectedness and mental wellbeing into your schools, see the Resources and Programs section of our School Connectedness page.  See all of the ideas generated at the WellAhead ideation sessions here

December 7, 2015
This month we are featuring a story from the social media contest winner of the October Healthy Schools Week, Kulvir Mann from North Vancouver. Kulvir is a proud parent and PAC member from Canyon Heights Elementary School and is also a North Shore Safe Routes Advocates (SRA) Co-Chair.

Kulvir shares a motivating story about how a school community can come together to make a positive change in their community! 

Here is Kulvir’s story:

“We love living in North Vancouver because of its beautiful nature, amazing hiking trails, walking on the beach, the sense of community and the many activities you can do by walking or biking all year. My kids and I walk everywhere and love being outdoors. In the summer months, we try to find a new place to explore every day and take transit as there are no schedules just having fun. It gets harder when school starts due to different activities after school, homework, birthday parties and play dates. The best part of my day is walking my kids to and from school every day - the excitement of starting their day and hearing about what they did at pickup time is very special to me.

At my children’s school, Canyon Heights Elementary, there are many initiatives that students take part in during the school year – morning fitness, zen zone, track & field, cross country, volleyball, basketball, tennis, badminton, soccer, sports day, walking field trips (e.g. walking within our community) and Think Globally Walk Locally Day.  

A few parents and I formed a group called North Shore Safe Routes Advocates almost 2 years ago. We wanted to promote a safe and healthy environment for all the children in our family of schools. Our goal was to get kids out of the car and get them walking, biking, using their scooters and taking transit. We encourage parents that have to drive to the school to park 5 minutes away and walk their child to school, or “Drive to 5”. Our school did a month-long “Walk & Roll Event” in May 2015. Every student that participated got a ticket if they walked, biked, took a scooter or the bus. Each week prizes were given out to students in all the classes. At the end of the month, one lucky student won a “bike” as a grand prize. There was a lot of positive energy and the whole school environment was full of happy and excited kids. 

As North Shore SRA, we collaborate with our municipality and other peer groups to make our neighborhood school communities safer for everyone. We have been successful in getting quite a lot of improvements implemented from our suggestions.  We are also helping other schools set up these initiatives at their schools. Our hope is to get more parents and community members involved to help and motivate change to drive less and be more active. There has to be a shift in attitude for change to happen. 

This year we will be starting a program called “Freedom Fridays”. Every Friday there will be party atmosphere setup at the school – decorations, DJ music, coffee for parents, special guests, stickers, etc. Every child that participates will get a ticket and there will be lots of prizes. We are also making tags for each child to record data and see how behaviour and culture changes during the course of the year. In the spring, we will be doing the Walk & Roll event again. We will have parent volunteers start “walking school buses” from different areas and then meet up at the school every day which will create a community feel for the students and allow them to meet and make new friends from their neighborhoods which otherwise they might not have had the opportunity to do. 

We want children to feel safe and be more aware of their surroundings. It is being said that kids are being driven everywhere, causing them to have no sense of where they are going or even in some cases their own home address. There are lots of studies that show walking to school is healthier for children, they are more alert and ready to learn once they arrive at school. Their bodies are rejuvenated which also makes it easier for the teachers to get more done in class. Our wish would be that it became second nature to walk, bike, take a scooter or the bus to school as we did when we went to school.

One of my fondest memories as a child is of walking to school every day with my friends and more kids joining in as we passed their houses. We used to discuss all sorts of things and it was the best way to start the school day. We made new friends from other classes and there was a sense of safety and independence we all felt. I think that is missing today as parents are more protective, not allowing kids to explore, more rules and everyone is in such a rush to get somewhere that you are really missing out on spending time with your child. The connection you can establish with your child gives them the security and self-confidence to become anything they strive to be. Every parent’s wish is for their child to be happy, enjoy going to school and playing with their friends, and have a wonderful learning environment.”

- Kulvir Mann @BeingKulvir 

Canyon Heights Parent & PAC Safety Committee
North Shore Safe Routes Advocates (SRA) Co-Chair 
Twitter @northshoreSRA 
Facebook.com/northshoresra 

December 7, 2015
The Seventh Generation Club is an initiative for BC First Nations students. Through fun contests and activities, and with the help of the Club Captain, the Vancouver Canucks, the club encourages students to make healthy choices, participate in sports in their community, and stay in school.

The mission of the Seventh Generation Club is to create a club where First Nations youth can envision their future by recognizing their own energy, the culture of their people, and the teamwork needed to succeed, and by giving them opportunities to make healthy life choices, participate in community, and meet the challenges of life.

The club is coordinated by the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) and partners with the First Nations Schools Association (FNSA), First Nations Health Council, and the Vancouver Canucks.

Some of the Seventh Generation Club initiatives include:
  • Newsletters: Five issues are distributed throughout the school year to all club members. The newsletter features fun facts, the Canucks Corner, contests, and contest winning entries.
  • Day-timers: Club members receive a day-timer at the beginning of each school year full of school tips, cool facts, fun games and pictures of what other kids are up to.
  • Science Day: The club sponsors an annual Science Day to educate students about the exciting world of science. To assist teachers, the club has developed a booklet that highlights science experiments for teachers and support workers to conduct in their classrooms.
  • Sports Day: The club organizes an annual Sports Day to promote healthy living, teamwork and fun. All participating schools receive ribbons and buttons for participants.
  • Contests: Club contests are featured in each of the newsletters and only members of the club can win. Some of the great prizes given out are books, Seventh Generation Club t-shirts, hats, backpacks and various Canucks items. The winning entries are published in the newsletter and will soon be displayed on the club website.
  • Attendance Incentives: All students who have attended 95% or more of their classes throughout the school year will receive a prize. Students achieving 100% attendance will be entered into a draw to win autographed Canucks memorabilia.
To learn more about the club and how you can join, click here
December 7, 2015
ArtStarts in Schools provides innovative arts programs for young people, practical resources for teachers and artists, and leadership in advocacy for arts in education.

Founded in 1996, ArtStarts is a unique not-for-profit organization that brings professional artists into BC schools for performances, workshops, residencies and exhibitions.

ArtStarts envisions a society where the arts are regarded as an essential part of educating young people and a catalyst for creating innovative, engaged and contributing members of society. ArtStarts in Schools has a leadership role in transforming the way children and youth are engaged, in and through the arts, and in promoting the value of the arts in young lives. Click here to learn more about this program. 

ArtStarts and DASH have worked together to strengthen arts opportunities for children and youth through the BC After School Sport and Arts Initiative, a partnership for after school programming funded by the Province of BC and managed by DASH. Click here to learn more. 

November 17, 2015
WellAhead is a collaborative initiative aimed at integrating social and emotional wellbeing into school communities. Working in partnership with six school districts in British Columbia, SD 43, SD 48, SD 61, SD 67, SD 70  and SD 92, WellAhead is helping build local capacity to innovate within school communities. In Year 1, WellAhead is focusing on 'everyday practices that make a difference': sustainable, scaleable, approachers to advancing student wellbeing that don't require major resources to implement; that fit naturally within the role and skill set of educators and school partners; and that build upon existing assets and capabilities. 

WellAhead has been active in these six school districts since August 2015. All of the ideas on the WellAhead website have been co-designed by various members of the communities. To date, students, parents, teachers, school administrators and community partners have been consulted in each of the school districts. 

From now until November, 23rd, WellAhead is looking for your input, insights and feedback on the idea to help give us a sense of which of these ideas would be the best choice for districts to prototype, iterate, evaluate, and learn from starting in January 2016. You are encouraged to share your experience with these ideas. Have you tried them? What worked? What didn't? How could we make these ideas better? Your input and feedback directly informs WellAhead's processes to create change in the six school communities. Click here to share your input! 
November 16, 2015
School connectedness is about creating a school community where everyone feels safe, seen, heard, supported, significant and cared for (BC School Based Mental Health Coalition, 2013). The focus in school connectedness is on building strong, positive relationships: among students, between students and school staff, and between school staff, families and the larger community.

In June 2014, four schools and two school districts were awarded school connectedness grants. The purpose of the school connectedness grants was to allow schools and districts from across BC to learn from and be inspired by the experience of these leaders in school connectedness. In the past year, the selected schools and school districts reflected on their school connectedness practice and developed a video to help share their experience with other school communities. Their inspiring videos are now available on the Healthy Schools BC website. Click here to watch the videos and learn more about school connectedness! 
November 16, 2015
From October 5th to 9th, DASH BC kicked off the first annual Healthy Schools Week by inviting school communities to take action to ensure all students are healthy, engaged, and connected at school. Each day during the week, we focused on a different aspect of healthy living by sharing resources, stories, grant opportunities, and more! 

Recap of the week with Tweets from each day:

Monday, Oct. 5th – We kicked off the week by addressing the benefits of healthy living in school communities.

@bctf: Celebrating #worldteachersday & great work of #BCed teachers! See how SD67 teachers reach students https://youtu.be/bSyodWC5cWc #HSW15 #bcedchat

Tuesday, Oct. 6th – Healthy School Network Grant applications opened! 

@ERASEbullyingBC: Today Healthy Schools Network grant opportunities become available http://ow.ly/SXqdU #HSW15 @DASHBC

Wednesday, Oct. 7th – We focused on the importance of physical activity and the many benefits of active transportation. Read about School District 44’s active transportation efforts and partnerships in the Healthy Schools Stories section of this newsletter.  

@DASHBC: There are so many benefits of walking to school! @travelsmart #HSW15 #WalkToSchoolDay 

Thursday, Oct. 8th – New Key Focus Areas section went up on the Healthy Schools BC website, to include School Connectedness and Food Literacy!

@WeatherbyKim: Looking 4 school connectedness tips? Make ur 1st stop Resources & Stories @ http://healthyschoolsbc.ca/key-focus-areas/school-connectedness/#bcedchat #HSW15

Friday, Oct. 9th – To celebrate World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10th, Friday’s focus was positive mental health. 

@DASHBC: Looking for mental health resources? @KeltyCentre has resources for health professionals, educators & youth! http://ow.ly/TbVb0  #HSW15

Throughout the week, we also showcased a different school connectedness grantee video each day as part of a School Connectedness Film Festival. Watch all of the videos here

Thank you to everyone that participated in Healthy Schools Week, which included schools, PAC members, health professionals, and community organizations. We hope that the week inspired school communities to join the healthy schools movement by connecting with others in your community, accessing resources and programs, reading stories and applying for grants. 

Congratulations to the #HSW15 social media contest grand prize winner @Kulvir, look for her featured article in the December edition of the Healthy Schools BC newsletter! 

We look forward to next year’s Healthy Schools Week!



November 16, 2015
We all know the African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child”, but are we making the most of what our village has to offer? How might our village participate in fostering connectedness in our classrooms and schools?  

In reflecting on school connectedness practices in SD 67, teacher Jeff Fitton said that, “In addition to providing opportunities for the students to use their strengths and passions, we found that facilitating a connection with an adult at school who shares their passion can make a real difference for some students.”  (Learn more here.) By enlisting the help of your community, you can provide more opportunities for the meaningful student-adult relationships that are the backbone of school connectedness. After all, not every school has a staff member who shares your student’s passion for YouTube, cooking, robotics or weaving.

One-on-one relationships are not the only way your community can help you foster school connectedness. While it may take time and effort to put things in place, building connections to your community can have a lasting effect for your students and your school. Here are some ideas to consider.
  • Invite the neighbourhood in. Actively inviting your neighbourhood and community to school events can open the door to unexpected partnerships and supports. Perhaps that person who lives around the corner could be the perfect person to mentor a student you’re concerned about.
  • Move beyond the obvious. Visiting a seniors’ home is worthwhile. Having seniors or other community members cook with your students or teach them how to knit provides a richer bonding experience – particularly if the relationships are sustained over time. 
  • Aboriginal elders and cultural organizations can foster a sense of belonging in students and their families by helping to explore diversity and their cultural heritage. See how bringing Aboriginal culture into the school  has enriched Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary in SD 82.
  • Contact your local government to explore opportunities to build connections between your school and the larger community. Many local governments are working on connectedness.
  • Approach your local service club to see how they would like to be involved in your school. Simple funding can be helpful, but building real connections between club members and students can be meaningful for everyone. Students benefit from relationships with caring adults, and club members become invested in the success of the school and its students.
  • Invite a local technology company or community college to lead an Hour of Code event at your school. Don’t think of it as a one-off event; think of it as the beginning of an ongoing relationship between your students and the company’s employees and/or community college students.
  • Build a school garden. Ask your local garden centre or gardening club to mentor students as they build it. A School Food Literacy grant could provide some of the start-up costs.
  • Work with your local YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, neighbourhood house or other community organization to offer after-school programs in your school. While it may take time and effort to get in programs in place, ASSAI schools have found it to be worth the challenge, especially as it helps them build connections with harder-to-reach students. 
  • Bring a local artist into your classroom or school to help students explore their emotions and their creativity.  An Artists in the Classroom Grant  could provide funding to help grow your idea.


November 16, 2015
On the North Shore, there is a united effort to increase the use active transportation. In January 2015, HASTe facilitated a workshop on Active and Safe Routes to School for stakeholders from all 3 municipalities; City of North Vancouver, North Vancouver District and West Vancouver District. The City of North Vancouver is funding the HASTe’s School Travel Planning program for all their schools, West Vancouver District works closely with the key stakeholders at the school board and enforcement to keep school zones safe and along with the North Vancouver District are taking advantage of a Heart & Stroke grant funded in kind by the Bullitt Foundation to launch Walking to Schools Programs.

This year, 12 North Vancouver schools from School District 44 participated in DASH BC’s Walk and Wheel to School Week on October 5th to 9th, up from four schools in 2014. Three of these schools took the event to a full on extravaganza; Ridgeway, Larson and Montroyal. Each day the schools had music, skipping, hula hooping, street hockey and special guests; including the Fire Department, RCMP, Elmer the Safety Elephant, the Mayors, Councillors, School Board Trustees, City employees, Parks Commission staff, and instructors from North Vancouver Recreation Commission putting on fitness classes before school. These fun events help families see that they CAN wake up earlier and walk or cycle to school. They have the students requesting to walk or cycle to be able to get prizes for using active transportation. Participating in the 5 day event, starts the process of making active transportation a habit. STUDENTS are the key; today’s parents want to make their kids happy. Having students wanting to walk or cycle, loving the feeling of independence, self-confidence, the chance to socialize and the improvement in their ability to concentrate in school eases the reluctance of the parents.

Children are not just our future, they are our present. They very influential in making walk and cycling the “Cool Routes” to school, hence through our Youth Engagements Program we provide students in Grade 5 to 7 the information about how their actions impact their health, mind and their world.  They then share their knowledge with their peers during an assembly, lead the Walk & Wheel Week events and walk to school programs. They become the leaders; leading by example, becoming a role model, and each year new Grade 5 students join the team to keep the roaster full.

The first week of school with the assistance of ICBC, we held a Safety Blitz to educate parents about safe driving and how to teach their children to be safe pedestrians and cyclists. The understanding that law enforcement, bylaw officers, school administration and municipal employees are all are focused on safe school zones ease parents concern about safety while understanding they are part of the solution.

Lastly, the schools and school board’s back to school communication this year focused their messaging on making activate transportation the primary mode of travel, before where to park or how to drop off students. This subliminal messaging will change the behaviours of new families and hopefully shift the current chauffeuring trend.

We on the North Shore hope that working together will create healthy, active and safe schools.


November 16, 2015
In collaboration with a dynamic team of certified teachers, Be the Change Earth Alliance (BTCEA) has co-created middle and secondary school curriculum materials called SLS: Student Leadership in Sustainability. This inquiry-based program helps students develop core competencies of critical/creative thinking, communication skills, and personal/social responsibility regarding 21st century global sustainability issues. This program also supports students to be engaged in their health and the health of those around them, including the planet to address healthy students, healthy community, and healthy planet.

SLS helps students connect global issues to local behaviours and ways to participate in positive change, as well as support students in be engaged in their own health and the health of their community and planet.  The curriculum materials focus on five ‘healthy person – healthy planet’ values including Health, Conscious Consumption, Conservation, Connection & Justice with 44 unique “Action Packs” that lead students through a structured inquiry into local/global sustainability issues.  

Student Action Pack’s include:
  • Learning Goals that are directly connected to BC Ministry of Education’s Core Competencies
  • An online ‘Library of Links’ for students to answer key questions that is updated semi-annually
  • Experiential local activities
  • Critical thinking questions that address stakeholders and a holistic cost and benefits analysis
  • A list of ways students can take action 
  • A presentation outline that aligns with the goals 
  • Questions about current events listed on the website
  • Materials that connect students to alternative career paths and educational pathways 
Contact BTCEA directly for more info: sls@bethechangeearthalliance.org or 604-269-9874.

November 16, 2015
2015 is Canada’s “Year of Sport” and a great way to celebrate is to get your school involved in RBC’s Sports Day in Canada! This national celebration of sport is an opportunity for all Canadians to celebrate the power of sport and build community and school spirit! 

Presented by ParticipACTION, CBC and True Sport and supported in BC by Healthy Families BC, RBC Sports Day in Canada will be held on November 21st, 2015 in communities across the country.

From November 16th-21st, schools across Canada will host local events that showcase their school’s character. Join hundreds by celebrating with a sports day or by wearing your school colours or favourite team jersey on Jersey Day, November 20th!  Available free resources include a school event manual and promotional tools (posters, social media kit, and media kit). For more information, and to register your school’s participation, visit sportsday.cbc.ca/howtogetinvolved.

November 5, 2015

The Inaugural Annual

Physical Activity and Health Summit
Friday Nov. 20, 2015
8am to 4:30 pmPrince George Civic Centre
Room 208

How healthy are we?
What is the role of physical activity and inactivity?
Canada's Physical Activity Report Card: D minus - What does this mean?
A Provincial Strategy for Physical Activity
What is Physical Literacy and its role across the life course? 
What does Active and Safe Transportation to School look like?
Active Outdoor Play – Risk versus Health Enhancement

What:  Presentations will cover current knowledge and promising practices, and workshops will engage in translating knowledge and opportunities for northern contexts.

Who should attend:  Stakeholders in physical activity and health, School district and Educators, Health services, Municipal planners, Community Rec, Not for profit, Parents, Community leaders - all who have an interest in enabling health enhancing physical activity in any age group or setting in communities.

Poster/Display Gallery:  Do you have an innovative, successful or promising school, municipal or community physical activity project to share?  
Please submit your proposal by November 5th to:  executivedirectorwinbc@gmail.com

We will endeavor to provide space to all contributors, but if there are more proposals than space, selections will be made that provide a variety of approaches.  Responses to poster proposals will be sent November 8th.

Registration fee:  $55.00 per person includes lunch and nutrition breaks
A limited number of bursaries are available to ensure that cost is not a barrier to participation.  Detailed program will be available and distributed on November 6th. 

Register at:    

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/physical-activity-and-health-summit-tickets-19143040349
You will need to type or cut and paste the above link into your browser.

For alternative payment options and bursary inquiries please contact the Event Organizers at: executivedirectorwinbc@gmail.com 

                                  

October 13, 2015
The Healthy Schools BC (HSBC) Year Two Evaluation Progress Report has been completed, and is available online. This report showcases progress of the HSBC initiative across the four key action areas (cross-sector partnerships, coordination of healthy living programs and schools, capacity building and student engagement & leadership), and knowledge and application of the Comprehensive School Health approach among key stakeholders. Thank you again to those members of the committee who facilitated dissemination of the surveys to educators and school administrators that helped to inform the evaluation of this initiative.

October 13, 2015
Dr. Shelina Babul at the University of British Columbia, Department of Paediatrics is leading an evaluation of the new On-line Concussion Awareness Training Toolkit for School Professionals (CATT School Professionals). CATT provides up-to-date education, tools and resources to effectively recognize, respond and help support a student’s return to school following a concussion. This research study seeks to evaluate this new resource.

The study consist of two on-line surveys, as well as access to CATT School Professionals, with a total time commitment of approximately 40-60 minutes (10 min pre-survey, 20-40 min Toolkit, 10 min post-survey). Your participation in this study is voluntary. All participants who complete the study will be entered into a draw for an iPad Mini. Please follow this link to the FluidSurveys for the Online Consent Form & Registration Page and the Pre Intervention Survey. If you have any questions about this study please contact the project co-ordinator Kate Turcotte at kturcotte@cw.bc.ca.
October 1, 2015
It`s been an exciting year since the school connectedness grants were awarded. We’ve been inspired by the school connectedness work in many BC schools and districts, we`ve developed new professional relationships, and we`ve learned so much – about school connectedness, about working collaboratively, and about the value of relationships. 

Later this week, as part of Healthy Schools Week, we’re releasing an expanded website with lots of school connectedness resources as well as the school connectedness videos. These videos were conceived and developed by the grantee schools/districts and provide a window into some of the strong and diverse approaches to school connectedness across our province.  The website resources reflect what you – educators, administrators, counsellors and health partners – told us you wanted to see.

Last May, the school connectedness project team and grantees met to reflect on what we had learned together and individually. The school connectedness grants have provided a rich and meaningful learning opportunity for all of us.  This quote captures the spirit of our work together.

I come to you humbly not to tell you what to do on your journey
but to share with you what I have learned on mine.
 Here are our key learnings:

Invest in relationships 
  • With students, parents, colleagues and the community; the trust you build will enrich your work and life as well as theirs. We’re more able to stretch ourselves when we know that others have our back.
  • Finding colleagues to work with on school connectedness can help deepen and expand your practice. They can act as a sounding board, a cheerleader, an inquiry partner and be another pair of hands.
 We are all learners  
  • This, our project mantra, has contributed to building a safe space for exploring challenges as well as successes. It has kept us curious, flexible and in a growth mindset.
  • This perspective can help set the stage to positively change relationships with students, peers and families.
  • Seeing more and more new school connectedness research reminds us that we are in a time of great learning and that we all have things to learn and things to contribute.
The social nature of learning goes hand in hand with mental wellbeing
  • School connectedness and learning are linked, mutually reinforcing ideas, not competing ones. The school connectedness grantees consistently confirmed this, as you will see in their videos.
  • Connectedness is attuned to motivation, engagement and the key principles of learning.
  • Thoughtful construction of learning environments fosters connections across activities inside and outside of the school building.
Fostering school connectedness and wellbeing is an ongoing process 
  • Working on school connectedness doesn’t have to be a massive project, nor does it have to be done all at once. Observe what is going well, try some new things, find some success and build on it.
  • This work is never done. It’s not a rote activity or a project to be completed, so make manageable changes that you can maintain for the long-term.
  • Think about how you might make your school/class meet the needs of students, not how students can fit into the system.
Draw on research, data and your own experience
  • Reflect on research and information about strong practice as you consider how to foster connectedness in your environment.
  • There is not just one way to address school connectedness. Your knowledge of your students and the school/district will help you find good approaches for your situation.
  • Use data available (Satisfaction Survey, Climate Survey, MDI, etc.) to help hone in on areas for action. For example, Centennial Secondary noticed that their new Canadian and foreign students were feeling less connected, and took action to try and change that.
Enjoy the videos and the expanded website. If you have feedback, or would like additional information, contact schoolconnectedness@dashbc.ca.

October 1, 2015
The Indian Residential Schools and Reconciliation Teacher Resource Guides, developed by the First Nations Schools Association (FNSA) and the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC), were inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendation that departments of education develop age-appropriate educational materials about residential schools for use in public education.

These unique, BC-specific, resources for Grades 5, 10, 11 and 12 use age-appropriate literature, archival resources and videos to increase students’ understanding of the historical context of residential schools and to develop students’ awareness about the reconciliation process as a way to move us all forward. The materials are also designed to engage young people to take part in the journey of reconciliation.

Importantly, these resources are not just for First Nations students, but are intended for students of all cultural backgrounds.

The instructional materials include a wealth of lesson plans, suggestions for student activities, reproducible blackline masters, videos and archival materials. The units and lessons support the BC Ministry of Education curriculum learning standards. In addition, due to the nature of the subject matter, the resources contain suggestions for how to deal sensitively with the topic of residential schools.

The development of these resource guides included input from an advisory committee of FNESC, FNSA, Ministry of Education, and BC Teachers’ Federation representatives, as well as over 30 pilot schools. Hear stories from some of the pilot school participants here.

FNSA and FNESC would like to recognize the invaluable role that the Vancouver Foundation has played in its support of this project.

The Grade 5, 10 and 11/12 resources are available free online.  To enquire about hard copies, please visit www.fnesc.ca/ordering/

October 1, 2015
Recent research identifies several recommendations a nutrition education program must meet in order to make an impact on students’ choices. The BC Dairy Association’s nutrition education programs meet these recommendations. To learn how to teach these nutrition programs, simply book a workshop. The workshop will provide you with all the necessary resources and knowledge to teach the program in your classroom the very next day!

Key recommendations from nutrition education research state that the best nutrition education(1):
  • focuses on specific behaviours rather than just general knowledge;
  • considers the multiple factors that influence food choices, such as food availability, food accessibility and the social environment;
  • engages parents through sharing of the program’s key messages and tips to support their child in adopting healthier habits (particularly important for elementary school children); 
  • allows students to self-assess so they can plan for improvements;
  • is taught intensively (in multiple sessions) and sequentially over a sufficient period of time; and
  • is tailored to the students’ developmental stage and includes grade appropriate learning activities. 
Why teach one of the BC Dairy Association’s nutrition education programs*?

They meet all of these recommendations:
  • They consist of six to ten lessons designed to be taught sequentially over three to four weeks with extension activities for follow-up and review throughout the school year.
  • They guide students through a self-assessment process to identify areas for improvement and develop grade-appropriate specific plans for making changes.
  • They help students problem-solve when implementing plans: students identify factors that may prevent them from changing their behaviour and brainstorm strategies for overcoming these challenges.
  • They include a parent communication piece (letter or guide) that informs parents about the program’s objectives and provides strategies for supporting change at home. They also encourage students to share with their family key concepts and skills they learn throughout the program.
  • They lead to behaviour change, with students reporting results such as eating more balanced meals, choosing healthier snacks and making plans to meet Canada’s Food Guide recommendations for their age.  
As for teaching strategies and approaches, a recently published systematic review2 reported that enhanced curriculum approaches (such as specialty nutrition education programs), cross-curricular approaches, parental involvement and experiential learning were the top four strategies shown to promote healthy eating. Experiential learning was associated with the largest effect on positive changes such as increasing fruit and vegetable consumption or preference(2). BCDA programs link to many BC curriculum areas and encourage experiential learning.

Would you like to use one of BC Dairy’s nutrition education programs*? Book a workshop at your school to learn about a nutrition program. The workshops help you to get prepared to teach the nutrition program as soon as the next day in your classroom! Help your students start this school year right!
 

*Programs are only available to teachers who attend a workshop. Workshops are free. Programs can be purchased at a one-time cost of $15 to $20. Student materials and program updates are then re-supplied annually free of charge. 

References
  1. Roseman MG, Riddell MC, Haynes JN. (2011). A content analysis of kindergarten-12th grade school-based nutrition interventions: taking advantage of past learning. Journal of Nutrition Education Behavior. 43(1):2-18.  
  2. Dudley DA, Cotton WG, Peralta LR. (2015). Teaching approaches and strategies that promote healthy eating in primary school children: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Behavior of Nutrition and Physical Activity. 12:28. 

October 1, 2015
Mark your calendars, Farm to School Month Canada kicks off in October!  Farm to School Month is a celebration of all that is happening to get more healthy, local and sustainable foods into the minds and onto the plates of students in Canada.  F2SBC is supporting this national campaign and we encourage schools to participate. Farm to School Month is all about highlighting and celebrating successes, and encouraging new Farm to School activities.
 
Fun ways to engage your school in Farm to School month include:
  • Heading to a local farm for a field trip
  • Preparing a special local meal with students
  • Celebrating in the cafeteria with a special local meal plan for the month
  • Kicking things off in the classroom with a special guest or project
  • Celebrating in the garden, or even online 
We’d love to hear about your festivities and what you plan to do. If you need inspiration, check out the amazing gallery from last year, posted on Farm to Cafeteria’s website here

Your Time to Shine
While running Farm to School Month activities, why not connect with your local media for some coverage? Check out farmtoschoolbc.ca for a sample press release to help you craft your pitch.
 
Great Prizes This Year
This year, Farm to Cafeteria Canada invites students to submit artwork, poetry or a recipe, for a chance to win a $2000 school garden grant or other great prizes.
 
To register your school, download the registration form here.

October 1, 2015
October is Health Literacy Month. Health literacy is the ability to access, understand, evaluate and communicate information as a way to promote, maintain and improve health in a variety of settings across a lifetime. Health Literacy Month is a time for organizations and individuals to promote the importance of understandable health information. The theme for Health Literacy Month 2015 is “Be a Health Literacy Hero.” It’s about taking action and finding ways to improve health communication. Health Literacy Heroes are individuals, teams, or organizations who not only identify health literacy problems but also act to solve them.

There are many ways to be a health literacy hero. For example, in past years, health literacy heroes have raised awareness of why health literacy matters, have created materials that are easy to read, understand and use, and have partnered with communities to advance health literacy. Read more about these examples here

To learn more about health literacy, read about the various levels of the Health Literacy Framework below. This framework is supported by the Healthy Living Performance Standards and aligns with the comprehensive school health approach.

The Health Literacy Framework includes:
  • Functional health literacy: basic communication of health information, involving accessing, understanding and evaluating information about health 
  • Interactive health literacy: development of personal skills regarding health issues, involving decision-making, goal-setting and practices to enhance health 
  • Critical health literacy: respecting different cultural, family and religious beliefs in respect to health, and advocating for personal, family and community change that enhances health
For example, a student that is functionally health literate would understand that smoking is bad for them. A student that is interactively health literate would understand that smoking is addictive, and that there are complex factors at play that impact people’s ability to quit.  Finally, a student that is critically health literate might create a campaign or club at school that acknowledges the challenges in quitting smoking, but supports students to do so.  

Read more about health literacy here

October 1, 2015
We are excited to kick off this school year with the first annual Healthy Schools Week! From October 5th – 9th, 2015, we will be celebrating Healthy Schools Week with HSN Grants, Walk and Wheel to School, Healthy Schools BC resources and World Mental Health Day! 

Celebrate throughout the week:
  • Monday, Oct. 5th - Kick-off day! Host an event, access resources, connect with others in the school community or develop your healthy schools plan
  • Tuesday, Oct. 6th - HSN Grants are live
  • Wednesday, Oct. 7th - Walk and Wheel to School (International Walk to School Day)
  • Thursday, Oct. 8th - Learn more about school connectedness and food literacy
  • Friday, Oct. 9th - Share resources and stories to promote World Mental Health day, which takes place October 10th
  • A week-long school connectedness film festival highlighting some of the great work in BC schools and districts
We encourage you to join the kick-off and celebration by hosting an event at your school; accessing resources; connecting with colleagues, partners and students to develop a healthy schools plan for the year; and raising awareness of the importance of healthy schools. 

How can you join DASH in the celebration?

Join us in celebrating Healthy Schools Week by:
  • Sharing pictures of your students being active or engaging in healthy living activities 
  • Reviewing the resources, HSN Grants and stories that we share
  • Watch a video from the School Connectedness Film Festival with a colleague
  • Taking part in Walk and Wheel to School on International Walk to School Day, October 7th, 2015 
  • Following us on our social media channels and sharing our posts and tweets
  • Talking to your students and colleagues about ideas for healthy school initiatives for the year and making a plan
Social Media Contest – #HSW15

For every re-tweet, share, or use of our hashtag #HSW15 on social media, you will be entered into a daily draw for fun prizes as well as the grand prize draw to be featured in an upcoming edition of the Healthy Schools BC Newsletter and receive free registration to our 2016 Healthy Schools Leadership Symposium

Questions about Healthy Schools Week? Contact us at info@dashbc.ca

October 1, 2015
The Healthy Schools Network (HSN) is an open learning community of educators, students, and community members across the province, who are working together to optimize health and learning, meet healthy living goals, and improve students’ overall wellbeing. HSN participants lead sustainable project-based learning initiatives in their school communities, and share their stories to support and inspire others.

There are two HSN Grants available this year:
  • Activity Grant ($500)
  • Inquiry Grant ($750)
The HSN Grants are intended to provide financial support for educators and school community members as they transform the way in which they address health living in their classroom and across all aspects of school environment.  The HSN Grants assist school communities to ensure all students are healthy, engaged and connected in a safe, supported, caring and strong learning environment, and to realize and practice the concept that healthy students are better learners. The grants aim to provide funding as a catalyst and to support healthy living initiatives that are relevant and meaningful to each applicant’s unique school context.

Read more about these grants here. Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis from October 6th, 2015 until March 1st, 2016; however, grant funding often runs out before the closing date, so don’t wait to apply! 

If you applied for an HSN Grant last school year, we encourage you to apply again this year! Just remember that, in order to apply for a grant, you must post your year-end story on the Healthy Schools BC Stories Map. If you need any support in sharing your story, please contact us at hsn@dashbc.ca

If you have any questions about the HSN or the available grants, please contact Kari at 604-681-0600, ext. 240 or hsn@dashbc.ca
September 10, 2015
The start of the school year brims with possibilities and exciting challenges -  what can we accomplish? How can we support the wellbeing and learning of the children and youth in our care? This sense of optimism was in abundance at the recent Promoting Mental Wellness in BC School Communities Summer Institute, where two topics resonated with the 250 educators, administrators, counsellors, youth workers, public health professionals, students and families attending:
  • Everyday practices:  The actions and interactions that take place day-to-day in our schools; and 
  • Self-care and staff wellbeing:  Student wellbeing starts with the wellbeing of the adults in the schools. 
Everyday Practices
There was much discussion about the “little things” that make a big difference in the mental wellbeing of students. Sometime these practices are intentional; sometimes they are just part of what we do as humans.  Here are some of the everyday practices that have been successful in other schools.

Greetings
Some schools have all staff welcoming their students at the door every morning. In others, principals and staff focus on knowing and greeting every student by name. Yet other schools make a point of warmly greeting latecomers, ensuring that the student knows that the staff is glad – and not in a sarcastic way – that the student is there.

Welcoming school /classroom environments
Some schools have replaced the usual trophies and awards at the entrance with a gratitude tree, bucket filling or other interactive display focused on kindness. These can have different themes for the tree/bucket by month or even by week.

Schools also found that giving students a say in decorating the classroom and/or developing classroom expectations contributes to their school connectedness. It’s not too late to try this in your classroom. Just use the existing classroom rules/setup as the starting point for their input.

Start-of-day routines
Many people talked about how a start-of-day routine could positively change the dynamics of a class. Recommended routines included:
  • Mindfulness moment 
  • Morning check-in to see how everyone is doing (thumbs up/neutral/thumbs down) 
  • Allowing teachers to assign a buddy or keep an eye on students who may need additional support
  • A “soft launch” to the day allowing time to make connections and informally check in
Agenda/plan for the day
Older students in particular valued the sharing of class agenda in advance.  Allowing students to prepare for, and have a say in, what the day or week will look like is an important step in their development.

Self-care and Staff Wellness: Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First
As one Summer Institute participant said, “We know from the safety card on airplanes that adults need to take care of themselves before they can help a child”. When our own mental wellbeing needs are met, we can be our “best self” — caring, patient, passionate and perceptive — and effectively support the wellbeing of the children and youth in our care. Here are some tips for maintaining your mental wellbeing so you can be at your best for the entire year.

Participate in student wellbeing activities
Activities that support the mental wellbeing of students work for adults too. So, don’t be tempted to make “To Do” lists in your head while your students are practicing mindful breathing. Participate fully, and reap the rewards.

Connect with others
Just as our students need strong connections to thrive, we need the positive support that we get from authentic relationships with fellow staff members. Our colleagues can provide encouragement on a tough day, and share the joy of our breakthroughs. To get started, at the next staff meeting propose adopting an old African tradition — that all staff greet each other every day.

Honour your breaks
Avoid the temptation to work through lunch. Instead, do something positive to recharge your batteries.  Enjoy a healthy lunch and then go for a walk and/or have a great conversation with a colleague. Whatever you do, make sure it’s enjoyable and refreshing.

Care for yourself
Get enough sleep. Eat well. Stay active. Make time to play with family and friends. Be kind to yourself.  All of the common-sense advice you give to your students and family applies to you too! 

More tips:

September 10, 2015
Terry Fox often said that it was the youth of Canada who would carry forth his efforts and work towards a world without cancer. Help make his vision a reality by getting your students involved in Terry Fox National School Run Day on September 30th, 2015!  You can register your school’s event with the Terry Fox Foundation here

The Terry Fox Foundation website is full of tools and resources to support the Terry Fox Run at your school. Students can make personalized fundraising pages to raise pledges online, and teachers can register their school, order materials, as well as download lesson plans. Check it out here!

If your school is registered in the run, you can take it a step farther by taking the Terry Fox Challenge!  Issue a challenge to your students, and if the objective is met, then a fun promise is kept! This is a great way to raise more funds, and bring the school community together in a fun atmosphere.  You can register for the Terry Fox Challenge here.

“Even if I don’t finish, we need others to continue. It’s got to keep going without me.” 
                                                                                                                                                         - Terry Fox
Learn more at www.terryfox.org.

September 10, 2015
The Healthy Schools BC website is a fantastic resource to help you support the health and wellbeing of your students. It contains three main areas of support: 
 
Programs
Under the Programs and Supports tab, you’ll find hundreds of healthy school related programs you can use in your classroom.  Looking to start a school garden?  How about anti-bullying and positive mental health resources? Maybe even healthy vending machine guidelines?  Searching for what you need is made easy by keyword and search options.

Resources
The Healthy Schools BC Resources page offers custom-made resources designed to support multiple aspects of health and wellness promotion in BC classrooms and school communities. Check out the Healthy Schools BC Newsletter archives, apply for a Healthy Living Grant, and use the Resource Guide for Teaching and Learning to help make your ideas become reality. 

Stories
Have you ever wondered what healthy activities are happening in BC schools? Maybe even in your own neighborhood? The Healthy Schools Stories Map is a collection of healthy stories from schools around the province brought together in an interactive map.  Have a story to share?  It’s as easy as becoming a member of the site.  Sign up here to get started and to get inspired.

Also, we will be updating the website throughout September. Keep an eye out for new sections on Food Literacy and School Connectedness, and check out the Healthy Living Grants page for new information!
September 10, 2015
Each year, BC Dairy Association (BCDA) awards Mini Food Grants to teachers using one of the BC Dairy nutrition education programs. The grant is intended to support purchases of ingredients for use in the classroom. In the 2014-15 school year, BCDA awarded a record 150 grants to teachers across BC!

Applications for 2015-16 are now open. Teachers instructing at any grade level (K–12) can apply, as long as they are teaching one of the BCDA nutrition education programs. The deadline to apply this year is September 30th, 2015. Check out the BCDA website for information, frequently asked questions, and the grant application form. 

September 9, 2015

The 9th annual Walk and Wheel to School event is coming up fast! It will take place during the week of October 5th-9th, 2015. 

Some of the benefits of a Walk and Wheel to School event at your school include:

  • Celebrating active transportation and encouraging daily physical activity
  • Promoting opportunities to practice safe walking and biking skills and identifying safe routes to school
  • Enhancing the connection between students, parents, schools, and communities in a fun and interactive way
  • Reducing morning school traffic and vehicle emissions

Why should you register your school? You’ll receive:

  • Resources and supports you know and love, such as posters and stickers
  • More classroom supports to help with planning and activities
  • Support making community partnerships
  • Information on how to start year-round walk to school events

Register online here to receive your free Walk and Wheel package, full of exciting posters, stickers, and practical planning resources to help you organize the best event of the year! 

Whether this is your first time signing up, or you want to make this year’s event even bigger and better, DASH BC is here to help! Please contact DASH BC here  for more information. 

 

August 6, 2015
On November 16 and 17, 2015 Physical and Health Education Canada (PHE Canada) will host a Healthy School Communities National Forum in Ottawa/Gatineau. This national event will bring together professionals from the health, education, active living and research sector to connect with, celebrate, and learn from school communities working collaboratively to make healthy schools a priority goal of Canadian schools.

The Experience
The 2015 Healthy School Communities National Forum will provide delegates with the tools, skills, network, and motivation to successfully implement comprehensive school health approaches in schools or school jurisdictions. Through keynotes, plenaries and breakout sessions, delegates will discover strategies for fostering healthy school communities, hear and share stories of success, better understand the evidence in support of healthy school community approaches, and be motivated to affect positive change in the lives of students, school staff, parents and other community members. 

Value of Healthy School Community approaches
A healthy school community increases student well-being and learning by promoting a culture of wellness for all members of the community. Students, teachers, administrators, staff, parents, and community partners all have a role to play in creating an environment that supports healthy choices among its members. A whole-child approach recognizes the relationship between health and learning and when students are healthy, learning outcomes are positively affected.

Registration is now open.

Join us November 16 and 17, 2015 to make a positive change in your school community. Find out more here!

July 27, 2015
The BC Sport Conference is a leadership event designed specifically for coaches, to learn new perspectives on some of the most pressing and personal challenges we come across in our coaching practice.
  • Learn about fostering leadership and growth within your athletes and yourself
  • Hear perspectives on how to mentor athletes’ personal development
  • Discover easy to implement mental training techniques
  • Meet coaches from across BC who share your love of sport
  • Earn 3 NCCP professional development credits
  • Lunch and are refreshments included
The conference will be held at the Michael J. Fox Theatre in Burnaby, BC on Saturday, January 16, 2016.

Are you ready to become the best coach you can be? Register now.
June 25, 2015

Dr Shelina Babul at the University of British Columbia's Department of Pediatrics is leading an evaluation of the new online Concussion Awareness Training Toolkit for School Professionals (CATT School Professionals). CATT provides up-to-date education, tools and resources to effectively recognize, respond and help support a student’s return to school following a concussion. This research study seeks to evaluate this new resource.

The study consists of two online surveys, as well as access to CATT School Professionals, with a total time commitment of approximately 40-60 minutes (10 min pre-survey, 20-40 min Toolkit, 10 min post-survey). Your participation in this study is voluntary.

All participants who complete the study will be entered into a draw for an iPad Mini!

Please follow this link to the survey.

If you have any questions about this study, please contact the project co-ordinator Kate Turcotte at kturcotte@cw.bc.ca

Thank you very much! We value your feedback.

June 10, 2015

The 2015 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth stresses that the biggest risk is keeping kids indoors.

The ParticipACTION Report Card (formerly the Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card) provides a comprehensive assessment of the current state of physical activity for children and youth in Canada. For the first time, the Report Card takes a stand on play in nature and the outdoors—with its risks—and includes a Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play developed by the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute (HALO-CHEO), ParticipACTION, and a group of 12 other organizations.

The following materials are available on the ParticipACTION  website:

  • A Highlight Report which summarizes the 2015 cover story, indicators and grades.
  • A Full Report which includes background on the report's methodology and process, in-depth analyses, summaries of key research, charts and figures and complete references.
  • Communication tools to support the dissemination of the Report Card findings in presentations, social media, on websites and in newsletters.
Read the report card here... and let's get kids outside!


June 1, 2015
The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation recently announced a new initiative to support child and youth wellbeing in the K-12 school setting. WellAhead is not a new program or organization; rather, it is a process that brings together people from multiple perspectives – educators, students and parents, alongside policy-makers, academics, practitioners and community partners – to collectively advance integrated approaches to social-emotional wellbeing in schools. BC will be the first province to participate in WellAhead with activities starting in the new school year. 

WellAhead is seeking BC school districts that have a passion at the board, school and community level to advance students’ social-emotional wellbeing. They are looking for communities that want to move beyond traditional silos and see value in drawing upon multiple perspectives to surface ideas. Ideal pilot districts will be interested in learning about what strategies are most effective and why, and using this to inform their work.  Learn more here.

Click here for more information on what it means to be a Pilot District.  Informational webinars are also being held at several different times to provide more information:
Wednesday, May 27th from 4-5pm PST
Monday, June 1st from 12-1pm PST (new date)
Wednesday, June 3rd from 7:30-8:30am PST
Thursday, June 4th from 3-4pm PST
Tuesday, June 9th from 6-7pm PST

Click here to sign up for a webinar.

In addition, WellAhead will be launched at the Kelty Mental Health Summer Institute 2015: Promoting Mental Wellness in BC School Communities on August 20-21. As a gathering of educators, community partners, parents and youth, this event is a great opportunity to both learn about wellbeing in schools and directly contribute to the development of solutions. Click here to learn more or register for this event.
May 27, 2015
The 60 Minute Kids Club empowers kids, parents, teachers, coaches and communities to be physically literate. It's about giving elementary school aged children the opportunities, competence and confidence to succeed to live a happy, healthy, long life. 

So JOIN the 60 Minute Kids Club program for your 2015-2016 school year! Spots are limited, and the deadline is June 30th, 2015

You can join as an entire school or as one class. It is free and flexible, and as  Val Gordon (two year 60MKC Champion) says, "it supports curriculum outcomes perfectly. It leads to good discussions around health, and the goal setting and action plan is great!" 

Become a Champion in activating kids' fundamental movement skills! Your students can measure their physical literacy improvements with tools such as the healthy habit tracker and the fundamental movement skills tracker. These tools can teach, assess and instruct fundamental movement skills that can continue to be tracked throughout the elementary school years. 

We look forward to seeing you as a 60MKC school soon!
May 27, 2015

Enhance your professional development this summer! Take a look at these summer institutes, workshops and conferences:

UBC & BC AITC  Integrating Agricultural Themes Across the Curriculum
July 20-24. Register before June 8.

UBC 2015 Home Economics Summer Institute
July 13-17. Register before June 8.

UBCO Faculty of Education Summer Institute: Transformative Teaching and Learning
July 6-10, July 13-17, July 20-24, July 27-31, Aug. 3-7, Aug. 10-14. Registration open.

SFU 2015 Summer Institute: Equity and Excellence
July 10-11. No registration required.

Canadian Wildlife Federation - BC Summer Institute 2015
July 31-Aug. 9. Registration open.

Kelty Mental Health Summer Institute: Promoting Mental Wellness in BC School Communities
Aug. 20-21. Registration open.

SD 23 Early Childhood Education Summer Institute
Aug. 24. Register before August 20.

Full list of UBC Summer Institutes and Workshops.

BC Teachers’ Federation Professional Development Calendar
May 27, 2015

On May 4th and 5th, DASH and Healthy Schools BC welcomed over 140 healthy school partners from across the province (and the country!) to our 9th annual Healthy Schools Leadership Symposium in Richmond, BC. This year’s event focused on topics such as the importance of school connectedness; using food literacy and food systems to foster healthier school communities; scaling our work up, out, and deep through the lens of social innovation; and the incredible impact that cross-sector collaboration can have on the health and learning outcomes of students in a variety of communities across the province.

The Symposium also featured a wide range of presentations from healthy school organizations and partners, including:

This year’s Symposium also featured an engaging poster session that showcased creative projects from schools across the province, including celebrating indigenous culture, exploring social-emotional wellbeing by teaching students to care for animals, and learning about the connections between physical literacy and the arts, among many others.

Take a minute to check out our Symposium Experience Video! As well, DASH will be sharing more updates (including some videos of presentations from the Symposium) in the coming weeks—so stay tuned!
May 27, 2015

It can be challenging to get the professional learning that will enable you to strengthen school connectedness and confidently meet the diverse cognitive, emotional, and social needs of your students. Budgets, time, and conflicting priorities can all stand in the way.  And when you have finally taken that long-awaited workshop, how many times have the course materials sat in your reading basket unopened for months? We’ve all been there.

Maybe it’s time to take a fresh look at how to make the most of learning opportunities to build your school connectedness practice. Professional learning doesn’t only happen in workshops, lectures and symposiums. It can be as simple as finding a learning buddy or two, and embarking on a learning journey together.

This year, the six BC schools and districts who were awarded school connectedness grants have been reflecting on their school connectedness practice, and creating videos so other BC school communities can learn from their experiences. Although each of the grantee schools/districts is working independently, they have intentionally formed a learning community to explore their shared work together. They’ve had two in-person meetings and half a dozen conference calls so far. Through these meetings, they’ve seen how good it feels to connect – even over the phone – with kindred spirits who share a passion for school connectedness, and who are also striving to expand their practice. As they’ve gotten to know each other better, they’re able to bring new perspectives and ideas to each other’s work. Seeing how others are approaching their practice — the resources they use, and what has and hasn’t worked for them — has sparked their learning. They’ve encouraged and supported each other when the challenges seemed insurmountable, they’ve applauded each other’s successes, and they’ve learned so much. Each member now has colleagues that he/she can call on when advice, or a boost up, is needed.

 What the School Connectedness Group Has Learned

Participating in this learning community has been a rich and rewarding experience for each member. Here are some of the things they’ve learned:

  • Get off on the right foot

Deciding up-front what kind of community you want simplifies things. The group wanted a supportive, safe space for learning about school connectedness where members were encouraged to try new things. That made the focus clear –the discussions would be structured in a way that invited participation and discouraged judgment. 

  • Relationships matter

To foster an environment where members truly invest themselves in learning together, you need trusting relationships. Include activities at your first meeting that foster positive relationships. Thoughtful questions like, “On a personal level, what draws you to this work?” or “What role did school connectedness play in your school experience?” can open the door to deeper discussions and establish trust.

  • Technology is great but…

Using conference calls or web-based collaborative platforms can allow people in different schools/cities to participate in the same learning community. Nevertheless, while the geographically-dispersed school connectedness group has been able to maintain relationships through conference calls, it wouldn’t have formed such warm, trusting relationships without face-to-face meetings. Getting to know each other as individuals has been critical to building relationships where members can be more open and feel supported.

  • A little preparation goes a long way

The learning community most often met for one hour after school by phone. After a busy day, it can be difficult to transition to thoughtful discussion. Sharing a discussion topic and a reflective question or two before the meeting helped the group quickly dive into the conversation. Exploring an inquiry question for over a series of meetings would be another good approach.

  • A work in progress

In a successful learning community, members feel they get more out of the experience than they contribute. A quick check-in from time to time can ensure that everyone’s needs are met.

Being part of this learning community has been a rewarding experience for the grant recipients. It has fuelled their passion, while also expanding both their knowledge and their confidence in their ability to make a difference. The group’s diverse perspectives, knowledge, and life experience have helped each individual member see their own challenges in a different light, and identify strategies that they might not have seen on their own. Their work together on the school connectedness grants is coming to an end, but they’re looking to the future and how they might continue the journey.

What’s Next for You?

What does this mean for you? Your self-styled professional learning journey can start today.

  • Look around – Find others in your school, your district or your community who are interested in school connectedness or other positive mental health concepts. Talk about what you might do or learn together. 
  • Build on what you already know – Use your knowledge of student buddy programs, inquiry and other strong approaches to build your own learning community.
  • Pick a focus – Attend this year’s Promoting Mental Wellness in BC School Communities Summer Institute or another workshop with your “learning buddies” to get ideas. Hint: watch past Summer Institutes here.
  • Get support – Look for things that can support your learning, like an experienced school connectedness practitioner or funding to support collaboration time. HintBCTF’s Teacher Inquiry program provides grants that would be a good match for a school connectedness learning community.

Enjoy your school connectedness learning journey. Bon voyage!

May 27, 2015

Summer is coming, and we are all looking forward to spending lots of time outside! Refresh your sun and water smarts to ensure you have a safe and happy holiday.

Did you know? Swimming skills alone aren't always enough to prevent a water-related accidents. It is swimming abilities combined with safety knowledge which helps save lives. In particular, one of the most important safety skills recommended by the Canadian Red Cross is the active supervision of children around water. Always watch children attentively (no matter how well they can swim), whether they’re at the pool, the beach, on a boat, or in the bathtub. 
 
You can click here to learn more about preventing water-related accidents from the Canadian Red Cross. Topics include active supervision, backyard pools, bathing children, diving, open water, and more.
 
Also, did you know that research suggests we need only about 15 minutes of sun exposure to get our daily dose of vitamin D?

Overexposure to the sun’s UV rays can not only lead to the visible consequences of skin damage—spots, wrinkles, sagging skin, and other signs of aging that can make you look much older than your years—but can also lead to skin cancers such as melanoma. British Columbia’s rates of melanoma are the highest in Canada and, sometimes, even very young people can get melanoma. The best way to minimize your risk of skin cancer is to protect yourself from the sun. That means wearing long sleeves and a hat, finding shade (especially during the hottest part of the day from 11 am to 3 pm), and wearing SPF 30+ sunscreen.
 
To support your knowledge about sun protection, check out these Sun Safety tips and resources from the BC Cancer Agency.

Have a safe and happy summer!

May 27, 2015

Mark your calendars—the second annual Canadian National Farm to School Month is kicking off in October 2015!  Farm to School month is a celebration of all the great things happening across our country to connect children and youth to healthy, local and sustainably produced foods. It’s all about highlighting and celebrating successes and encouraging new activities.

There are many ways to celebrate Farm to School Month—what will your school do? Now is the time to plan! Fun ideas include:

  • getting out on the farm to dig;
  • preparing a special meal with the kids;
  • celebrating in the cafeteria with a special meal plan for the month;
  • kicking things off in the classroom with a special guest or project; or
  • celebrating in the garden or on social media.

Watch for more details about Farm to School Month 2015 coming in the fall! In the meantime, if you are looking for some inspiration, check out this amazing gallery of activities from last year, posted on Farm to Cafeteria Canada’s website.

May 26, 2015
REGISTRATION FOR THE 2015 SUMMER INSTITUTE CLOSES TUESDAY, JUNE 30TH!

On August 20-21, 2015, meet with BC school community members @ the University of British Columbia to:

• Exchange knowledge and practical strategies on how to foster school connectedness in
classrooms and school communities;
• Hear from youth and families about collaborating and creating strong networks
to actively support children and youth;
• Improve awareness and understanding of mental health and substance use challenges;
• Network with colleagues and partners in mental health and education.

FEATURING:

Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, Professor, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology,
and Special Education, Faculty of Education, UBC; Interim Director, Human Early Learning Partnership,
School of Population and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, UBC

Vani Jain, Associate Program Director, J.W. McConnell Family Foundation

AND

Dan Reist, Assistant Director at the Centre for Addictions Research of BC, University of Victoria

• Registration fee: $70 (lunch will be provided)
• Space is limited! Register by June 30th (deadline extended)

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS AND REGISTRATION!

A limited number of travel reimbursement opportunities are available.

We would like to encourage youth and parents/caregivers to attend this event, and so a limited number of subsidized registrations for parents are available. 

In addition, a limited number of complimentary registrations are available for high school age youth to attend the Summer Institute. If you are 13-19 years old and you would like to attend, please email Paul Irving at paulirvingys@gmail.com. 


April 30, 2015

 National Child and Youth Mental Health Day is about connecting with kids. This May 7th, all Canadians are encouraged to get involved and help connect children and youth with parents and caring adults. Positive mental health events will be happening all over BC; check out the Institute of Families website for information about activities in your area, and ideas for planning your own event. You can also “Share the Care” by wearing green on May 7th and showing your support on Facebook or Twitter.

In addition, there are many programs & organizations that support positive mental health in BC. Check them out!

  • Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre: The Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre offers options for support and treatment in BC, tips for self-help and prevention, as well as free educational monthly pinwheel series for families, educators and clinicians. Click here to learn about May 7th activities happening at the Kelty Centre.

  • Mindcheck.ca is a young adult-focused, interactive website where visitors can check out how they’re feeling and connect to support early and quickly. Support includes education, self-help tools, website links, and assistance in connecting to local professional resources.

  • HeretoHelp: HeretoHelp is the website of group of seven of BC’s leading mental health non-profit agencies working together to help people of all ages better prevent and manage mental health and substance use problems. Their website contains dozens of useful resources for educators.

  • F.O.R.C.E. Society for Kids' Mental Health: F.O.R.C.E. is a provincial organization that provides families with an opportunity to connect with other families who understand and may be able to offer support or advice on what has worked for them. The organization works to support and empower families and work collaboratively with professionals in order to meet the mental health needs of families.

  • JCSH Positive Mental Health Toolkit: This is an online resource that promotes positive mental health practices and perspectives within a school environment.
Visit the Healthy Schools BC website for more programs and supports
April 30, 2015

*NOTE:  This list is no longer current. Check out the updated June version here.


Enhance your professional development this summer through a variety of summer institutes, workshops and conferences. Check out these learning opportunities!

UBC Inquiry and Innovation for System Leaders, led by Linda Kaser and Judy Halbert
July 7-8. Register before May 26.

UBC Self-Regulated Learning Inquiry Hub Summer Institute
July 2-4. Register before May 21.

UBC Health Literacy for Children and Youth
July 6-24. Register before May 25.

UBC Health Education: Curriculum and Pedagogy
July 27-Aug 14. Register before June 15.

UBC Physical Education Summer Institute
July 6-24. Register before May 25.

UBCO Faculty of Education Summer Institute: Transformative Teaching and Learning
July 6-10, July 13-17, July 20-24, July 27-31, Aug. 3-7,  Aug. 10-14. Register now.

SFU 2015 Summer Institute: Equity and Excellence
July 10-11. No registration required.

Canadian Wildlife Federation - BC Summer Institute 2015
July 31-Aug. 9. Register now.

UBC & BCAITC  Integrating Agricultural Themes Across the Curriculum
July 20-24. Register before June 8.

SD 23 Early Childhood Education Summer Institute
Aug. 24. Registration available soon.

Kelty Mental Health Summer Institute: Promoting Mental Wellness in BC School Communities
Aug. 20-21. Registration available soon.

Full list of UBC Summer Institutes and Workshops.

BC Teachers’ Federation Professional Development Calendar.

April 30, 2015

With the end of the year approaching, participants of the Healthy Schools Network will be sharing their stories on the Healthy Schools BC Stories Map.

Sharing stories is about highlighting the successes of your activity, reflecting on improvements, and examining what you learned. By sharing your story, you will contribute to the learning of others throughout the province; it may generate further support for your next inquiry question, and will help inspire others!

HSN Participants/Grant Recipients:

  • We have a story template. Please email us if you need another copy.
  • Please submit your story by the end of the school year. In order to apply for a grant next year, you must submit your story from this year.  If you received multiple grants, then you need to submit one story for each.
  • For support in sharing your story, please contact us at hsn@dashbc.ca.
  • New feature: you can now share your story in either English OR French!

For everyone else:

  • Check out the Healthy Schools BC Stories Map to see what is happening in the HSN this year. New stories are added every week! Here are a few to get you started:

-      Nala'atsi Alternate Program Healthy Living Fair

-      Student Health Helpers at Columbia Elementary School

-      Creating Calm, Focused Learners at Trout Creek Elementary

We look forward to reading about your experiences this year!

April 30, 2015

Changes are being made in classrooms across BC to better support learning, and these changes are also helping build stronger connections to school. As brain research provides us with a deeper understanding of how children learn, it’s becoming clear that approaches that offer the best learning outcomes also support high levels of school connectedness—this is the best kind of two-for-one deal! You can deepen your students’ engagement in their learning while strengthening their connection to school by incorporating learner-centered approaches that:

  • acknowledge individual and group differences;
  • promote inclusive and collaborative learning;
  • harness students’ passions and interests; and
  • deliver tailored feedback and coaching.

This year in the Okanagan Skaha School District (SD 67), some educators have been exploring this. As part of their School Connectedness Grant and the Through a Different Lens project, educators have been using active lessons and assignments to help make students excited about coming to school every day. The educators are working in inquiry groups, doing collaborative unit planning, and using innovative assessment and instructional strategies to develop the lessons. In many cases, they are researching best practices as well as interviewing students to identify their strengths and talents. The result has been a myriad of dynamic, creative lessons that use dance, scavenger hunts, music, geocaching, and many different creative activities to engage students at all grade levels.

Providing opportunities for less connected students to link their strengths and talents to the curriculum has been an important learning experience for the SD 67 team. In a case study, they focused on a less connected student who was sometimes bullied. His teachers identified his interest in YouTube/videos and looked for opportunities for him to use his technical and creative skills. Making a promotional video for a school trip allowed him to showcase his skills, and bond with another teacher. His excellent video has improved his self-esteem, and has started to change other students’ perceptions of him. His teachers see a real change: they find him more focused, confident and engaged in school. His parents also see a difference, and the student himself has reported that he feels more connected to school than he did before. When asked how he felt when his video was shown to his whole class, he replied “I felt like doing backflips!” Evidently, what helped this student cultivate a stronger sense of school connectedness was both the positive relationship he formed with his teacher, and the opportunity he was given to pursue his learning interests. Learn more about Through a Different Lens here.

The following are some tips for strengthening connections to school through effective teaching and learning practices. Congratulate yourself on how many you are already using!

  1. Communicate clear, developmentally appropriate expectations for learning and behaviour that apply to all students.
  2. Use interactive and experiential activities, such as group discussions, problem solving, and role playing, to engage students in learning and help them personalize the information.
  3. Clearly describe lesson goals and how the information relates to students and the real world.
  4. Use a variety of teaching methods such as discussion questions, extra readings, and group projects to foster critical and reflective thinking, problem-solving skills, and the capacity to work effectively with others.
  5. Engage students in leadership positions and provide avenues for their voices and opinions to be heard. For example, include students in the decision-making process for setting classroom rules and consequences for breaking the rules.
  6. Encourage the intrinsic rewards of learning by displaying student work and accomplishments to peers, parents, teachers, and members of the community.
  7. Provide diverse opportunities for students to be meaningfully involved, learn, and be recognized (through service learning, extracurricular activities, or creative projects, for example).
  8. Encourage open, respectful communication about differing viewpoints. Creating opportunities for students to challenge and debate can teach respect for diverse opinions and perspectives.

Adapted from School Connectedness: Strategies for Increasing Protective Factors among Youth

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009)

Get some fresh ideas for innovative approaches and/or lesson plans at:

  • TeachBC: BCTF’s go-to site for BC teaching resources  
  • Educational Technology and Mobile Learning: A resource of educational web tools and mobile apps for teachers and educators, operated by a group of Canadian teachers  
  • Edudemic: Dedicated to connecting education and technology in an accessible way   
  • Mind/Shift: Exploring learning in all its dimensions  


This article is part of our series on
the six strategies for fostering school connectedness. Click here to learn more about the six strategies!

April 30, 2015

There will be many exciting celebrations of First Nations culture happening this spring for Aboriginal Awareness Week (May 19th-22nd) and National Aboriginal Day (June 21st). Educators can join in by implementing the First Peoples Principles of Learning in the classroom. These learning principles were articulated by The BC Ministry of Education and the First Nations Education Steering Committee in 2007, in an effort to enable educators to focus more authentically on Aboriginal experiences, values, and beliefs. Educators can use the First Peoples Principles of Learning to help foster an inclusive learning environment, and to help make students more aware of First Nations issues and realities.

Click here to read the First People Principles of Learning, and here for even more Aboriginal education resources.

April 30, 2015

Healthy in Nature is a cohesive movement that explores the relationship between human health and nature.

The website was developed by the BC Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA) to support parks and recreation professionals, as well as other community leaders, in connecting people to the outdoors. The site offers resources and materials to support healthy outdoor activities, and it also provides a platform for individuals to collaborate online with others involved in outdoor initiatives.

The site includes resources on topics such as:

  • the health benefits of getting outside
  • public planning
  • programming
  • promoting the Healthy in Nature movement


Click
here to check it out!

April 30, 2015

It is becoming increasingly evident that physical activity supports positive mental health as well as good physical health. Encourage students’ awareness of self-regulation with these Action Schools! BC Resources and Supports:

DPA Pages!: Self-Regulationa quick overview of self-regulation strategies for students. It provides implementation ideas for classrooms and alternative spaces, action tips, and recommended resources.

Enhancing Learning and Self-Regulation through Physical Activity a complimentary workshop for K to 7 and middle school teachers.

Action Pages! – a listing of health promoting school resources and organizations, including a section about Personal and Social Development.

Healthy Together – family newsletters, designed to be sent home with school’s newsletters, including one on Self-Regulation and Mindful Eating.

“I am really impressed that Action Schools! BC looked at brain research and found ways to help kids develop their brains through activity. The kids are having lots of fun while doing it, and so am I!”

     – Action Schools! BC Workshop Participant, Provincial Intermediate Teachers’ Association Conference
April 27, 2015
Healthy Families BC is excited to announce the launch of a new, comprehensive health resource: Alcohol Sense. This resource has been designed to help BC parents in their important role in raising healthy children to adulthood, and to support them in having conversations with their children about alcohol. 
 
AlcoholSenseBC.ca was launched on April 1, 2015.  The website is full of resources such as an Alcohol Sense quiz and a Blood Alcohol Calculator, along with articles on Low-Risk Drinking, Alcohol and Aging, and many more topics.

Alcohol Sense is a resource for everyone. Check it out here
April 9, 2015

Share or retweet information about the DASH BC Healthy Schools Leadership Symposium on Facebook or Twitter, and you will be entered to win a prize at the event!

Contests are rarely as easy as this! Simply retweet or share one of our Symposium-related posts on Twitter or Facebook, or tag us in a Symposium post of your own devising, and you’ll be entered to win a draw prize at the event!

Just remember:
- Be sure to tag DASH BC in your post, or use the handle #dashbc, to ensure that we see your post.
- You must be in attendance at the Healthy Schools Leadership Symposium (May 4-5) to claim your prize.

Information about how to register for the Symposium is available here, as well as through our daily Twitter and Facebook updates.

Simply share & win—it’s as easy as that!

April 2, 2015

DASH BC, in partnership with Healthy Schools BC, is proud to announce the 9th Annual Healthy Schools Leadership Symposium, occurring May 4th- 5th, 2015 at the Westin Wall Centre, Vancouver Airport Hotel in Richmond!

The theme of this year’s event is “Leading and Learning: Challenging our perspectives for supporting innovative healthy schools practice”. Over the course of two days, we will be joined by nearly 200 cross-sector partners to explore:

  • the concept of school connectedness, and ways in which we can address it through leading edge and emerging practice;
  • the connecting threads that tie our work together across and within the sectors of education, health, and community; and
  • ways in which we can celebrate healthy schools work through examples of strong practice, as shared by healthy schools partners.

Learning and discussions will be guided by presentations from key partners such as Kevin Millsip of the Next Up youth leadership program, Vani Jain from the J.W. McConnell Foundation, and Annie Kidder and David Cameron from People for Education, among many others involved in supporting healthy school communities across our province and the country.

We very much look forward to this opportunity to collaborate, create, and share innovative ideas with those leading and fostering healthy schools activities. We hope you will be there to join us!

For more information about the symposium, including registration details, click here. Please register before Monday, April 20th.

April 2, 2015

Everyone has a story, and sometimes it takes courage to share. Two years ago, Rylee McKinlay, an HLYC alumnus and student at Princess Margaret Secondary School in Penticton, chose to share her story about her battle with depression. Her story was particularly powerful because she appeared to have it all; she was admired by her peers, star of the volleyball team, and a top student academically. Rylee’s story came as a shock to so many, but also as a sign of hope, as Rylee was able to thrive in spite of living with depression. In April 2014, Rylee shared her story again at a youth event called IDEASfest, which ignited collaboration between the school district and the local Rotary Club to support child and youth mental health initiatives throughout SD 67.

The momentum has continued this year. With the support of the Penticton Rotary Club, and in an effort to continue to raise mental health awareness in Penticton schools, Princess Margaret Secondary School hosted comedian and mental health activist Kevin Breel (watch “Confessions of a Depressed Comic” here) in February 2015. Kevin shared his own journey from deep depression to a life filled with hope – all because, on one fateful day, he chose to share, rather than end, his story. He reminded the students that having the courage to share your story is what makes life open up. This powerful presentation was followed by small group discussions in classrooms where students began to talk about stigmas associated with mental illness.

To continue to conversation of mental health in the community, later that evening Kevin addressed a packed audience of parents and families at the local community theatre. After the presentation, Maggie Cares (a collaborative group of school staff at Princess Margaret) hosted a mental health fair where over 15 community agencies shared resources and engaged in conversations. The theme throughout these events was to begin the conversation across the community.

Students throughout the district have become ongoing champions of mental health. Thanks to support from the Rotary Club and local hockey organization the Penticton Vees, 45 students from all three local high schools attended the Balancing Our Minds Youth Summit in Vancouver in February 2015. Since returning, the students have formed action teams at their schools and will be meeting as a large district-wide group in April to collaborate and plan events for Mental Health Awareness Week in May. These students are also involved in creating a public service announcement for mental health that will be aired on various media outlets and in the local movie theatre in May, and they are working with the Rotary Club to plan and host a Youth Mental Health Summit in November 2015.

Realizing that parents and educators need tools to support the mental health of children and youth, a series of education nights are being offered on topics including stress management, anxiety, depression and suicide. Each high school in Penticton has received funding from the Rotary club to support activities, in addition to Healthy Schools Network grants. The Rotary Club will also be purchasing resources for classrooms to support teachers. Elementary and middle schools will receive MindUP curriculum materials, as well as books for their classrooms.

In the midst all of the amazing work being done, it has become obvious that everyone shares a piece of a similar story – we all know someone that has been affected by mental illness. The support and collaboration with the Rotary Club, together with a wealth of outstanding community resources, has created opportunities that would not have been possible for the school district alone. This support has highlighted the challenges students, teachers and schools face, but, more importantly, has shown what is possible when communities work together to support their kids.

April 2, 2015

Have you ever been starting something brand new and wished you could talk to someone who had done it before?  A Quesnel principal recently had this opportunity.  The venue was the 4th Annual After School Sport and Arts Initiative (ASSAI) Community Forum, hosted by DASH and funded through the generous support of the Public Health Agency of Canada.  The forum brings together representatives from 14 school districts around the province that are delivering ASSAI after school programs to allow them to learn from, and share with, one another. 

Surrounded by this group, this principal from Quesnel, a community just beginning to think about starting an ASSAI after school program, was able to ask others, “What are the things you wish you hadn’t done?”   What he came away with was a long list of things other communities had done that were successful in engaging children and youth.  Those already delivering programming benefited from this question as well, with one describing it as “a neat way to reflect on the idea of a do-over.”

DASH works with educators, schools, school districts and community partners from all around the province.  We have a unique position, gathering learning from the field and helping to share it.  Our work in the After School Sport and Arts Initiative is an example of how we do this.  DASH supports the network of ASSAI after school programs around the province by sharing information on training and resources; collecting feedback on programs’ successes and challenges and reporting these back out to the group; and engaging external partners that can contribute to after school programs.

The annual ASSAI Community Forum is the culminating event for the ASSAI community of practice.  Over the course of two days, the group meets face to face and engages in a variety of learning and networking opportunities (workshops, dialogues, presentations, and discussions over lunch).   While programming might look different in Surrey than it does in Prince Rupert or Kamloops, everyone is working toward the same goal of offering quality opportunities for students.  Here are a few comments from forum attendees on what they gained from the event:

Connecting / reconnecting…and knowing that we aren’t alone in this work.  Honestly, the feeling of community and a shared purpose is invaluable.

Being inspired by professionals in the field…motivation to be an agent of change

So enlightening, so inspiring, and a little scary – the good kind, where you know…that it can be done

For DASH, events like this forum demonstrate the value of working within networks, learning from others, and the unique impact of face-to-face engagement.  DASH is excited to be hosting another opportunity for in-person connection among the education, health and community sectors soon: the 9th Annual Healthy Schools Leadership Symposium, May 4th-5th, 2015 in Richmond, BC.  We hope you’ll join us for an opportunity to get motivated, inspired, and maybe even a little scared.

We gratefully acknowledge financial support for ASSAI by the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

April 2, 2015

As the end of the school year hurtles toward you, it’s worth taking time to reflect on your relationships with your students’ parents. Gathering the seeds of wisdom now will help improve your family relationships next year.

Parent/family engagement plays an essential role in student achievement and wellbeing, and has been identified as one of the six key strategies for fostering school connectedness.  John Field Elementary School in Hazelton learned that it can also help shape the future.

A New Beginning for the Flowers of the Rivers

John Field Elementary School (SD 82 Coast Mountains) was one of the few BC public schools on an Aboriginal reserve. In an effort to reconcile past wrongs with the community and create a new beginning, the school district presented the idea of a name change to the school.  The school staff assumed that they would pick the new name, but the parents and the community had a different idea: it was their school and they wanted to have a say.  The school staff listened to the parents and changed their approach, submitting a long list of possible names to the local clan chiefs. When those names didn’t resonate, they empowered the chiefs to come up with three names which could be presented to the parents and community members for final selection. In November 2014, the school celebrated its renaming to Majagaleehl Gali Aks, which means flowers of the rivers in the Gitxsan language.

According to Principal Mark Newbery, the name change and the process of engaging families and the community has been a “game changer.” By listening to the parents, the Elders and the community, and acting on their wishes, the school set the foundation for a new beginning, one with strong connections to students and their families, where local culture is celebrated and where families and the community actively participate in school life. Majagaleehl Gali Aks is a school connectedness grantee.


So, where do you begin?

Reflect on what’s working with parents
Start your reflection on your own practice by thinking about your successes, and what has helped build strong relationships with your students’ families:

  • What specific actions and attitudes are making a difference in your relationships with families?
  • What school/district resources and policies have supported you in building relationships (e.g., interpretation/translation)?
  • What are you proud of? For example, have you been successful in overcoming cultural or other obstacles in forming a relationship with a parent? What was the key to that success?

Get off on the right foot
Getting the school year off to a positive start can make all of the difference. Think about the strategies you used to establish positive relationships and how well they worked for you.

  • Looking through the eyes of a parent, how welcoming does your school/class look and feel to students? To parents?  What simple changes might make it more welcoming?
  • When and how did your school communicate its behavioural and academic expectations to families (e.g., newsletters, parent-teacher-student conferences, school websites)?
  • Some schools intentionally make the first contact with each parent about a positive experience the student had. Has that approach been effective for you? 
    In Nanaimo’s After School Sports and Arts Initiative (ASSAI) program, program leaders call at least two parents/guardians each week – not necessarily to follow up on any incidents or behaviour, but just to check in on what’s happening in the program and how the child is doing.

Learn about your students and their families
Sometimes we’re quick to categorize people or families. Gaining a deeper insight into our students’ families can help put things into context, and help us see new ways to connect.

  • What opportunities are there for parents to share their culture, needs, and expectations for their children? How have those contributed to your relationship with parents? With your students?Bayview Elementary’s (SD 68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith) school-wide family heritage project fostered greater engagement with families of Aboriginal students as well as Elders.
  • How did you go about learning more about your students’ families and neighbourhoods? Some schools have found that neighbourhood walks guided by parents provide new perspectives and a unique opportunity to connect with parents.

Provide opportunities
Thoughtful and varied opportunities for parent participation can broaden engagement, including with harder-to-reach parents. 

  • Are there opportunities for parents to be involved in meaningful school and classroom activities that fit diverse schedules, skills, and abilities? 
    A parent might be thrilled to help students set up a class/school website, cook a meal, or illustrate a graphic novel. Getting to know your families will help plant the seeds of possibility.
  • Does your school offer workshops on parenting skills, such as communication strategies, conflict resolution and setting expectations? What topics might attract less engaged parents?
    Working with your PAC, administrators and/or district on a workshop can make it more manageable.

Address barriers
Sometimes the parents we want to reach most are the most elusive. Language, culture, family issues, and lack of time can all be barriers.

  • What do you see as the key barriers to connecting with the parents of your students? Who might be able to help you get past them?  What strategies have been successful in overcoming them?
  • Are parent materials translated into the most commonly spoken languages? Are interpreters available to assist non-English-speaking families at school events?
  • What methods have you used to build and maintain relationships with parents with time constraints? Have you used school/district websites, apps or other technology to support you?

Where do you go next?
When you have completed your reflection and made a few notes, tuck them away with the list of resources below.  They’ll be waiting for you in August when you’re ready to sow the seeds of strong partnerships with your students’ families.

Home-to-School Connections: Resource Roundup; Edutopia.com, 2014. Includes many different resources, blogs and tip sheets (USA)    

Seven Innovative Apps for Parent-Teacher Communication; Teach.com, 2015 (USA)

The Parent Inclusion Manual; People for Education, 2011 (Ontario)

School Administrator’s Guide to Parent Engagement; Ontario Principals’ Council, 2011 (Ontario)

Parent Engagement: Building trust between families and schools; Education Canada, 2013 (Canada)

School-Family Partnership Strategies to Enhance Children’s Social, Emotional, and Academic Growth; CASEL, 2011 (USA)

 

April 2, 2015

The Roots of Empathy program aims to build caring, peaceful, and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults.  It is an evidence-based classroom program that has shown significant effect in reducing levels of aggression among school children, while raising social/emotional competence and increasing empathy.

The program brings neighbourhood infants and parents into classrooms to engage with students every three weeks over the school year. A trained Roots of Empathy Instructor coaches students to observe the baby's development and to label the baby's feelings. The baby is the teacher, which the instructor uses to help children identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others. The emotional literacy taught in the program lays the foundation for more safe and caring classrooms, where children are more competent in understanding their own feelings and the feelings of others.

Roots of Empathy is currently recruiting French and English speaking instructors for the coming 2015-16 school year to lead the program.  Recruitment is ongoing from now until October, and separate French and English training takes place in the late summer/early fall.  Applicants who have experience working with children and youth are welcomed.

To find out more about instructor training, or about how to bring the Roots of Empathy program to your school, contact Christine Shepherd at cshepherd@rootsofempathy.org or 604-713-5230.

April 2, 2015

Better Together BC is excited to announce the annual Hands-on Cook-off contest, featuring a special category for youth.

Here’s how it works:
Anyone in BC can enter, anytime between April 15th and May 15th, 2015.

Enter in the Youth category.
Simply team up with friends aged 18 and under and create a short, punchy video that shows the world in 3 minutes or less how to make one of your favourite recipes (breakfast, BBQ, pizza, salad, dinner, snack, dessert etc.).  

There are no tech skills required—videos can even be made using phone video cameras.

Win great prizes.
The grand prize is $500 cash for your team plus $500 cash to donate to your school or youth program. The runner up prize is $250 cash for your team plus $250 cash to donate to your school or youth program.

Ask friends and family to vote for your video for a chance to win the People’s Choice award in the Youth category. The prize is $150 cash for your team and $150 cash to donate to your school or youth program.  

Full contest details, including sample videos, can be found here.

Help us spread the word about the contest by sharing this flyer with your friends and relatives.

Get your video ideas ready now, and enter this contest between April 15th and May 15th, 2015!

April 2, 2015

Celebrate Move for Health Day on May 10th and promote outdoor healthy living with these resources from Action Schools! BC.


Activate Your Playground!

  • Now is the perfect time of year to book your school’s complimentary Action Schools! BC Outdoor Intercultural Games Student Leadership Training.
  • Take your students outside with your school’s own Playground Circuit, downloadable here.
  • Book a Teacher Workshop or Teacher Mentorship on Orienteering, Outdoor Intercultural Games or Outdoor Circuits.
  • Refer to the Physical Activity Action Resource for outdoor activities that teachers can integrate throughout the day (like skipping, hopscotch, 4 square, or Chinese jump rope) as well as tips for including students with disabilities in playground activities.
  • Refer to the Physical Education Planner to support outdoor physical education time.

Family Newsletters
The Action Schools! BC April and May Healthy Together Newsletters include after dinner physical activity ideas, benefits and ideas for growing food at home, and delicious, easy-to-make recipes. Healthy Together Newsletters (see the complete set here) are designed to be integrated into schools’ family newsletters or posted on bulletin boards.

Learning and Playing in Nature
The Healthy Eating Pages! and DPA Pages! enhance and expand on the activities in the Action Schools! BC Healthy Eating Action Resource and Physical Activity Action Resource. Several of them encourage learning and playing outside, including:

 See the full list of Healthy Eating Pages! here and DPA Pages! here.

Additional Outdoor Healthy Living Resources
Looking for resources on school gardens, field trips, farm to school resources, BC Agriculture, and other outdoor activities that promote healthy living? Search the index of the Action Pages! for a list of best practice resources available to support healthy and active schools communities.

Top 10 Ideas for Move for Health Day on May 10th
Celebrate Move for Health Day with Action Schools! BC! Click here for the Top 10 Daily Physical Activity Ideas for Move for Health Day which provides ideas for schools on how to prepare for and engage in physical activity on May 10th and every day.

April 2, 2015

Although many teachers would be enthusiastic to use a vegetable garden as a teaching tool, planting an entire in-ground school garden can be daunting. As a solution, BC Agriculture in the Classroom (BCAITC) has developed a program called Spuds in Tubs, where schools can sign up to receive materials and instructions to grow their very own potatoes. Students plant seed potatoes in tubs of soil, and then tend them until they are ready to be harvested. 

Workshop demonstrations are available to teachers who are interested in the program, so they will be able to use their hands-on learning and bring back a contagious enthusiasm for growing potatoes to their students.

Additionally, the Planting a Promise program enables teachers and their students (especially those already enrolled in Spuds in Tubs) to extend their gardening experience into the fall, and to help students explore plants and what they need to grow. The activities begin in the classroom in September, where daffodil bulbs are examined, then planted in a designated garden area for a school. In the spring when the bulbs begin to sprout and bloom, the activities continue as the daffodil plants are observed and measured while they grow.

To apply for either of these programs for the 2015-16 school year, please forward your contact information to Glenda Johnston at glenda@aitc.ca.

March 30, 2015
The School Connectedness area of the Healthy Schools BC website is currently under development, and we would like your feedback. What type of information you would find most useful in supporting your school connectedness practice, and how you would like that information presented?
 
Please take a moment to click here and let us know what you think. We truly value your feedback.


March 12, 2015
The Association for Community Education in BC Provincial Conference, The Heart of the Matter, will take place in Sechelt, BC on April 9th and 10th.

A conference for community school coordinators, teachers, administrators, parents, community partners, non-­-profits and everyone interested in working together for kids and communities.

Click here for more information on speakers, sessions, and registration.
March 5, 2015
ParticipACTION is a national not-for-profit organization solely dedicated to inspiring and supporting healthy and active living for Canadians, and they have a blog full of fun articles about healthy and active living. The following posts contain ideas and inspiration for getting active this spring!

Try the 31-Day Challenge
Your challenge for the month of March is about making small changes and developing healthy habits for a lifetime.

A Moving March Break
10 Suggestions for an active March Break that are tons of fun!

Beat the Cold and Get Warm With Walking!
Check out Katherine's cure for a chilly commute. Hint? It just requires putting one foot in front of the other.

Check out the blog here, or follow ParticipACTION on Facebook and Twitter.

It's time to emerge from hiberbation; get active, unplug from your screens, and get outside to play!
March 5, 2015
The 9th Annual DASH Healthy Schools Leadership Symposium will be taking place on May 4th & 5th, 2015. Don’t miss this opportunity to collaborate, create, and share innovative ideas with those leading and fostering healthy schools activities across the province!

To see a visual summary of last year’s event, take a look at Sam Bradd’s illustrations (Part 1 and Part 2) or our photo album.

We are very much looking forward to this year’s Symposium. Event details and registration information coming soon!
February 25, 2015

Nutrition Month, presented by Dietitians of Canada, is being celebrated all across the country in March. This year, Nutrition Month is dedicated to helping Canadians learn how to eat well all day long – whether at work, at school or at play. With the right recipes, tips and a little planning, anyone can prepare nutritious meals and snacks for anytime and anywhere. Make it and take it, wherever the day takes you!

2015 Nutrition Month posters are available for purchase. The poster, entitled Eating 9 to 5, pictures an array of food mirrored against a cityscape featuring a school, an office building, and a playing field. “Wherever the day takes you, make it and take it” is the slogan. The food pictured creates a few mental images of what you could prepare at home and take with you wherever you go during the day. The poster is available in French and English. Check out the PDF here, or order your own copy here

All across British Columbia, many schools are already engaging in activities that promote healthy eating, and there are numerous programs and resources available to help you encourage nutritious choices in your school community. Promoting healthy eating can involve healthy eating education, food skills development, improved access to healthy food while at school, and/or school policies that support positive nutrition habits.

So, let’s get started! Here are some of BC’s key healthy eating resources:

These resources (and many more) can be found on the Healthy Schools BC website.
February 25, 2015

Social-emotional skills are a popular topic among BC educators these days – and for good reason. Providing students with the social-emotional abilities necessary to be actively engaged in school puts them on road to school and life success. School-based social-emotional learning (SEL) programs can help students acquire the skills they need to make good academic progress, and can also benefit their health and wellbeing. In fact, research has found that social-emotional competencies are a more significant determinant of academic attainment than IQ,1 and students receiving quality SEL instruction report less emotional distress.2

You are their Navigation System!
Your students will be using SEL skills for their whole lives. The social-emotional abilities they learn in your classroom or school can help them be a better student; a kinder friend; a healthier, happier person; and, maybe someday, a better parent and partner. So, start navigating the way to that better future for your students by integrating SEL into your daily practice.

Whether you are just getting started or looking to “tune up” your practice, ask yourself some of the following questions and discuss them with your colleagues:

  • In what ways can I provide opportunities for students to identify and label their feelings, express their feelings, and assess the intensity of their feelings?

®     If your school is using the FRIENDS programs, Roots of Empathy or another SEL program, how are you reinforcing their language, messages, and strategies throughout the school day?

  • How might I better use classroom incidents as “teachable moments” focused on self-control, empathy, cooperation, and conflict resolution skills?

®     How can your school’s or district’s approach to peaceful conflict resolution (e.g. WITS, restorative approaches) inform your approach?

  • Am I engaging students in my classroom in planning their future? How I can I assist them in mapping out the steps to take to meet their goals?

®     Reviewing some resources on a developing a growth mindset and grit might give you some ideas.

  • How can I provide more opportunities for my students to improve their interpersonal skills (i.e., problem-solving, conflict resolution, self-control, communication, negotiation, and sharing)?

®     Have you considered peer mentoring opportunities within your classroom, or between classes/grades?

  • How might I be more effective in teaching and modelling stress management skills?

®     Learn how educator Sonja Franke of J. V. Humphries School in Kaslo is using Mindful Movement in her school to help her students self-regulate and concentrate, and read recent BC research findings on mindfulness.  Here is one educator’s simple way to integrate mindfulness into her classroom chores.

  • Would placing greater emphasis on helping activities, such as service learning, peer tutoring, classroom chores, and teacher assistance, foster pro-social behaviour in my classroom/ my school?

®     The article, New Class Roles: Building Environments of Cooperation, may prompt some new ideas on classroom jobs.

  • How successful have classroom activities and lessons been in exploring and discussing empathy, personal strengths, fairness, kindness, and social responsibility?  What changes might I make?

®     Need some inspiration? See the Gratitude Resources on the Heart-Mind Online.

Learn More

With so many places and ways to learn about social-emotional learning it can be overwhelming. Just as you help navigate the social-emotional learning of your students, we’ve done the research to navigate you to so some great places to expand your knowledge.

As always, the Healthy Schools BC website has lots of great resources and stories from BC schools, and its School Connectedness area has resources and links for social-emotional learning and the other five strategies for fostering school connectedness.

1 Brooks, F. (2014, November). The Link Between Pupil Health and Wellbeing and Attainment. Public Health England. London: Public Health England.

2 Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). (2014). Outcomes Associated with the Five Competencies. Retrieved February 3, 2015, from Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning: www.casel.org/social-and-emotional-learning/outcomes/

February 25, 2015

Check out these complimentary Healthy Eating Teacher Resources and Supports for your school! Contact Action Schools! BC here to book any of the following sessions.

Healthy Eating Student Leadership 

Healthy Eating Student Leadership sessions empower student leaders to organize activities that promote healthy eating, as well as develop and utilize skills such as communication, problem solving, cooperation, and group management. Healthy Eating Student Leadership sessions are available to Grade 4-7 groups and high school leadership teams. A complimentary Healthy Eating Student Leadership Bag filled with equipment and resources will be provided. Click here for more information.

Teacher Mentorship

Teacher Mentorship brings hands-on professional development into the school. Book an Action Schools! BC Regional Trainer for the day to come to your school and mentor teachers in healthy eating activities and classroom physical activity, in the gymnasium (or alternate) and outdoor spaces. Click here for more information.

Healthy Eating Teacher Workshops and Grant

Action Schools! BC Healthy Eating Workshops share ideas for incorporating healthy eating messages into your classroom and school. Participating schools will be eligible for the Healthy Eating School Food Grant (up to $300), and will be provided with resources including the Healthy Eating Action Resource, and Healthy Eating Pages!as well as Action Packs filled with additional resources and equipment. Choose from the following workshops:

  • 5-2-1-0: Steps to Healthy Living
  • Healthy Eating Veggies and Fruit
  • Sugary Drinks
  • Guidelines Support

Click here for a full description of these (and other) Action Schools! BC workshops, available at no cost to BC elementary schools.

Contact Action Schools! BC here to book any of these free sessions.
February 24, 2015

The new Healthy Living for Teens resource is now available! The booklet was created for youth, with youth; it contains tips that will help teens to feel their best and make the most of their potential.

The booklet is available in both English and French.
February 17, 2015
The 2015 Canada Winter Games are happening Feb 13th-March 1st, 2015 in Prince George, BC. Many talented young athletes from all across the province have qualified for Team BC and will be competing at the Canada Winter Games over the next two weeks.

You can stay connected with the games in many different ways. You can:

WATCH EVENTS

Online: the Canada Games TV website will have 900 hours of footage available, and almost every sport will be covered.

On TV: Some events will be shown on TSN  and RDS.

CHECK OUT SCHEDULES, RESULTS & STORIES

Team BC website

Sign up for the Team BC Newsletter

Canada Games Council website.

Download the 2015 CanadaWinter Games App (free on all phones)!

CONNECT ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Make sure to use the hashtags #GoTeamBC and #WEareBC, and connect with the Canada Winter Games on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Best of luck to all athletes!
February 6, 2015
On Tuesday, February 10, 2015 from 4:30 -5:30 PM, the Centre for Addictions Research of BC is hosting a free public lecture by Dr. Joel H. Brown entitled "Resilience, Risk and Retrospect: A 20-year youth drug prevention reflection."

Dr. Brown will be reflecting on his drug education research. This will include a critical examination of the roles of risk and resilience, and their respective impacts. In so doing, he will advance a modern, practical and evidence-based resilience approach to prevention as lifelong development.

Location: David Strong Building (DSB) Room C118, University of Victoria

Time: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 from 4:30 -5:30 PM

This lecture is hosted by the Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC). To hear about more upcoming lectures, follow CARBC on Twitter and Facebook!


January 29, 2015
The Healthy Schools BC Evaluation Year One Summary Report is now available for viewing!

In September 2013, Context Research was contracted to lead, with oversight from the Provincial Health Services Authority, a three year evaluation of Healthy Schools BC. This brief summarizes the evaluation methods and results from the Year 1 (2013/14) HSBC evaluation report developed by Context Research.

Click here to read more.
January 26, 2015

This year, Pink Shirt Day falls on Wednesday, February 25th. Join schools all over BC in support of the anti-bullying movement by wearing pink! Anti-bullying and positive mental health programming can be incorporated into your school’s curriculum and extracurricular activities, and the resources below can help you make it happen. 

Pink Shirt Day
This iconic day came to be when two high school students from Nova Scotia arranged for their classmates to wear pink shirts after witnessing a student getting bullied for wearing pink the day before. For more information on how to organize your own Pink Shirt Day, click here, and wear pink on February 25th!

ERASE Bullying
The ERASE strategy is a comprehensive and multipronged approach to promote positive mental health and wellness, and to prevent bullying and violent behaviour in schools. The strategy includes a coordinated approach involving schools, families and community partners. The ERASE Bullying website provides parents and students with helpful tips and advice on how to address bullying, and includes a confidential online reporting tool for youth to report bullying.

WITS Programs
The WITS Programs bring schools, families and communities together to create responsive environments that help children deal with bullying and peer victimization. WITS has two components: the WITS Primary Program (Kindergarten to Grade 3), and the WITS LEADS Program (Grades 4 to 6).

JCSH Positive Mental Health Toolkit
The Positive Mental Health Toolkit is an online resource that promotes positive mental health practices and perspectives within a school environment. The toolkit is designed to help schools and communities apply their strengths to foster positive growth and development of children and youth.

RespectED: Beyond the Hurt
Beyond the Hurt is a Canadian Red Cross youth-facilitated program targeted at bullying and harassment prevention among children aged 11 and over.

SafeTeen
SafeTeen is an empowerment program where facilitators offer skills for choosing healthy relationships, strategies to prevent bullying and harassment, and techniques for de-escalating verbal, physical and emotional violence. Most importantly, the program cultivates empowerment, self-determination, critical thinking and self-esteem in children and youth.

For more resources related to anti-bullying and positive mental health, visit the Healthy Schools BC website!

January 26, 2015

Relationships are the first things that come to mind for many of us when we think about school connectedness. We think about our favourite teacher, or the students who have a special place in our heart. While forging these strong, positive relationships between students and educators is essential for school connectedness, they are not the only relationships that we need to cultivate.

School connectedness is stronger when there are trusting and caring relationships that promote open communication among everyone in the school community, including administrators, teachers, staff, students, families, and the surrounding community.

Essential and Well-Studied: the Teacher Student Relationship
There has been a great deal of research around the way students interact with their teachers and how that relationship fosters resilience and school connectedness. Resilience-promoting teachers have been shown in studies to:

  • make themselves available and accessible to students;
  • engage students by actively listening to their concerns and worries;
  • take responsibility for actively teaching their students the basic reading, writing and numeracy skills needed for independent learning, even if the students have struggled before to master these skills;
  • have empathy with, and understanding of, their students’ difficult family circumstances, yet provide them with positive strategies to deal with adversity;
  • advocate for their students by mobilizing existing support provisions that are available for “at risk” students;
  • use their power as adults and professionals actively to identify and oppose bullying and harassment at school; and, finally,
  • remember the ‘human touches’ that promote pro-social bonding between teachers and students. (Johnson, 2008).

These are not particularly remarkable or unusual practices. In fact, good teachers have been doing these and other positive things for generations. The research confirms what we intuitively know – that the everyday interactions have a significant impact on students’ wellbeing; however, we need to go beyond that relationship to the broader community.

Beyond the One-on-One
Caring relationships are not just the responsibility of the classroom teachers, we all have a role to play. These are some suggestions for fostering caring relationships in your school community:

  • Use a variety of strategies to communicate expectations, values, and norms that support positive health and academic behaviours. Communications can be addressed to students, school staff, families, and members of the community through a variety of channels such as emails, school assemblies, newsletters, or a school website.

®     Cariboo-Chilcotin School District’s focus on developing a sense of belonging forms the foundation for everything they do with students, and involves teachers, as well as support staff, bus drivers, maintenance workers and parents.

  • Provide opportunities for students of all achievement levels to interact with one another and develop friendships, promote teamwork, and lessen hierarchical divisions between older and younger students.

®     In addition to the peer-tutoring programs, some BC schools are trying innovative cross-grade mentoring approaches, including “text buddies” to ease the transition to secondary school.

  • Support student clubs and activities that promote a positive school climate, such as gay-straight alliances and multicultural clubs.

®     Maple Creek Middle School’s Real Act of Caring Club focuses on caring and kind acts without expecting anything in return. The club has blossomed from 40 members in 2011 to more than 100 students this year. To see their 2014 presentation to Port Coquitlam’s City Council, click here and choose clip 4, at 5:19.

  • Apply reasonable and consistent disciplinary policies that are collectively agreed upon by students and staff and are fairly enforced.

®     In Cariboo-Chilcotin, SD27, they have developed the Making Connections Alternative to Suspensions program for Grades 2 – 8. Take a fresh look at your school’s discipline policies using The Centre for Addictions Research of BC’s (CARBC) policy resources.

  • Hold school-wide activities that give students opportunities to learn about different cultures, people with differing abilities, and topics such as arts or sports. This will increase students’ respect for diversity, and form connections among students. Increasing understanding of similarities and differences can engender respect.

®     Centennial Secondary in Coquitlam has implemented strategies to better integrate English Language Learners into their school, including providing leadership opportunities, peer mentoring programs, and improved orientation.

  • Create opportunities for students to work in partnership with adults in helping roles. For example, service learning opportunities enable students to connect with adults in the community (e.g., field trips, community volunteer events, and internships). In the school, involve students in activities that traditionally involved only adults (e.g., parent–teacher conferences, curriculum selection committees, or school health teams).

®     School gardens, like the one at Trafalgar Elementary in Vancouver, provide many opportunities for students to partner with adults. Learn about their “pocket market” here.

  • Commit to and model respectful behaviour toward principals, other teachers, and school staff.

®     The caring relationships we form and maintain with other adults involved in the school are a model for our students, and help us feel more connected to and supported by our colleagues.

  • Challenge all school staff to greet each student by name.
  • Encourage teachers, counsellors, health service professionals, coaches, and other school staff to build stronger relationships with students who are experiencing academic or personal issues.

®     As we work on strengthening relationships with those students, Bev Ogilvie, Burnaby district counsellor and author, encourages us to: 

    • use a strength-based approach, focusing on the student’s “sparks”
    • consider where the student is at developmentally;
    • think about what they need – whether a friend, an adult mentor, or something else;
    • provide the student with choice, so they have a say; and
    • evaluate, to see how it’s going.
  • Check in with a school counsellor, psychologist, or other expert for consultations or student referrals when needed.  (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009)

TMI! (Too Much Information!)
Feeling overwhelmed by so much information?  Start with something simple, and remember: 

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”

Carl Jung


January 26, 2015

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is February 1st-7th, 2015, and the Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness (PEDAW) program is running two social media campaigns to promote positive body image: the Wristband Challenge, and Purple for PEDAW.

To participate in the PEDAW Wristband Challenge, order a “Love Our Bodies, Love Ourselves” wristband here for FREE, and then share a photo of you with your wristband on PEDAW’s  Twitter and Facebook pages.

Then, February 6th, 2015 is Purple for PEDAW Day! Promote positive body image by sharing a picture of yourself wearing purple on Twitter or Facebook, and stay tuned to find out what structures in BC will also be purple.

If you are planning an eating disorder awareness event in your community, the PEDAW in a Box Guide is available for support, and the PEDAW calendar is available to help promote your event.

January 21, 2015
Have Your Say!
The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation is designing a new child and youth initiative focused on wellbeing in schools. Students, parents, teachers, and administrators are encouraged to complete an anonymous 20 minute survey  by February 15, 2014.

Click here to take the survey!


This survey will provide essential input to the design of a robust initiative: what schools are doing now and what they could be doing better/differently, and who needs to be engaged and how. If you would like to be kept informed and engaged in other ways, sign up for their newsletter using the link at the end of the survey.


January 15, 2015
The Healthy Aboriginal Network motion comic on staying in school, Level Up,  is now available for free viewing online.

In Level Up, Terry is contemplating dropping out of school. But before he does, he’s asked to spend some time with his cousin Dave, a successful game developer. Rather than lecture Terry, Dave makes the importance of school relatable – he compares education to moving up a level in a video game.

Click here to view the motion comic!

The motion comic is also available for purchase as a DVD, click here for more information.

January 14, 2015
Northern Health’s new mascot, Spirit the caribou, was unveiled today at Duchess Park Secondary school in Prince George. Spirit was designed by 13-year-old Prince George resident Isabel Stratton, and he will be helping Northern Health engage youth in thinking about healthy living.

“I congratulate Isabel Stratton for putting forward the winning entry for Spirit the caribou,” said Mike Morris, MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie. “Her creativity showed and reflected the goals of the contest, which looked for a mascot that reflected healthy living, the North and, of course, had to be fun.”

"There are few things that cause worry and stress for families like the health of their children. Ensuring that there are unique and creative ways to share information and health messages with children and youth is essential,” said Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond. "I love the new mascot "Spirit" and congratulate the Grade 8 student that was part of the design team. I am confident that Spirit the caribou will make it much easier to reach out and share important healthy living information with our young people."

Youth are a challenging audience to reach directly. Through Spirit, Northern Health hopes to showcase and promote healthy habits that begin at a young age and carry on for life. Spirit will encourage:

•    physical activity (children need 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day);
•    healthy eating;
•    not using tobacco products;
•    proper dental hygiene; and
•    injury prevention, including making sure to wear helmets and other protective equipment.

“The northern population is not as healthy as the rest of the province, and we’re working hard to improve the health of the population,” said Dr. Sandra Allison, Northern Health’s chief medical health officer. “By beginning with healthy habits at a young age, we’re hoping that children and youth will be able to avoid more chronic diseases and prevent injuries.”

Last summer, Northern Health called upon northerners to submit mascot design concepts. Submissions were then narrowed down to the two entries that best represented the North and Northern Health values by a panel of employees. The two final entries – Spirit and a bear named Rex – were then voted on by the public. After Spirit was selected from the public vote, Northern Health worked with Vancouver-based JBW Mascot Design to take the mascot from concept to reality. The total cost of the mascot development, $6,272, was sponsored by the Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation.

“We recognize the importance of supporting upstream health care strategies encouraging people to live healthier lives,” said Judy Neiser, Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation chief executive officer. “We’re very excited to sponsor Spirit the caribou in engaging with youth across the Northern Health region!”

Spirit’s submission came from Prince George resident Isabel Stratton, a 13-year old Duchess Park Secondary student. As part of her submission, she submitted an original art piece and Spirit’s origin story, which featured Spirit as an adventurous youth who gets a nasty cold, forcing him to see a doctor and learning about the importance of health. In her story, Spirit “enjoys exercising, eating well, and making the right choices for himself and his body.” For Spirit’s full story, visit the Northern Health blog here.

After his debut at Duchess Park Secondary school, Spirit will make appearances during the 2015 Canada Winter Games. He will then make appearances at events across the North, promoting healthy habits for young people.
January 12, 2015
The 2015 Vancouver Island Parent Conference on School Wellness: Mental, Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Well-being will be held on February 7th in Victoria, BC.

Keynote Speaker: Robin Grille
Featured Speaker: Gary Anaka

Other  speakers include:
  • Sophia Baker-French, MSc, RD
  • Jennifer Gibson
  • Kelly Graham
  • Monique Gray-Smith
  • Sydney Massy
  • Adrienne Ngai, MSc, RD
  • Dr. Richard Stanwick
  • Brenda Whittam-Neary 

Early bird deadline is January 21st, click here for more information!

January 7, 2015
What do we know about how people learn? How do young people’s motivations and emotions influence their learning? What does research show to be the benefits of project-based learning, and when is it most effective?

There is no doubt that learning is complex and influenced by a number of factors, including contextual factors such as physical surroundings and social environment. Establishing positive learning environments is essential for creating teaching and learning opportunities and enabling students to thrive at school and beyond.

The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice is a book from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), written by leading researchers from North America and Europe. It explores the nature of learning from the perspectives of cognition, emotion and biology, and utilizes current research in its discussion of how to optimize learning environments at school. To inform practice, it summarizes seven key principles of learning (outlined below). They serve as a guide in everyday experiences in current classrooms, as well as future educational programs and systems.

Check Out the Practitioners’ Guide!
A 12-page summary version of the Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice, called the Practitioners’ Guide, is also available. The Practitioners’ Guide highlights the core messages and principles from the full report, and explores how the learning sciences inform the design of 21st century learning environments. The Guide reviews the fundamentals of learning, including how people learn, the influence of context in shaping learning, the collaborative and social nature of learning, and the role of emotions and motivation in learning. It also reviews the seven principles of learning discussed above, key shifts for learning in the 21st century, and building blocks for innovative learning environments.

What Are the Seven Principles of Learning?

  1. Learners are at the centre. The learning environment recognizes the learners as its core participants, encourages their active engagement, and develops in them an understanding of their own activity as learners.
  2. The social nature of learning. The learning environment is founded on the social nature of learning and actively encourages well-organized co-operative learning.
  3. Emotions are integral to learning. The learning professionals within the learning environment are highly attuned to the learners’ motivations and the key role of emotions in achievement.
  4. Recognizing individual differences. The learning environment is acutely sensitive to the individual differences among the learners in it, including their prior knowledge.
  5. Stretching all students. The learning environment devises programs that demand hard work and challenge from all but without excessive overload.
  6. Assessment for learning. The learning environment operates with clarity of expectations using assessment strategies consistent with these expectations; there is a strong emphasis on formative feedback to support learning.
  7. Building horizontal connections. The learning environment strongly promotes horizontal connectedness across areas of knowledge and subjects as well as to the community and the wider world.
The 7 principles align nicely with the First Peoples Principles of Learning as presented by the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC).


January 7, 2015
Kathy Cassels, Executive Director of DASH BC was on hand at the beginning of December to receive $25,000 from the RBC Learn to Play Project – a program that supports kids to learn the skills to be active for life.  The grant will support a project bringing together partners from the education, recreation, and physical activity sectors to support children seamlessly from the school year to the summer months.  

The newly-funded project will focus on the barriers children face to participating in physical activity programs in the summertime, and how those barriers can be reduced.  This work is part of a growing movement to ensure children are active in and out of the school day, and to build their physical literacy skills, that is, their confidence and competence to move their bodies in a variety of activities.  With partners including the Vancouver School Board and the BC Recreation and Parks Association, DASH will work to find out how summer programs currently promote physical literacy, how they can be better coordinated with schools and community partners, and how to make physical activity programming accessible to all children and youth. 

The RBC Learn to Play Project builds on DASH’s work on the After School Sport and Arts Initiative, a program funded by the Province of BC, which developed a model for school-based after school programs that makes learning fundamental movement skills like running, hopping, and throwing accessible and fun.  “We are excited to work with the RBC Learn to Play Project to ensure all children are engaged in activities that support active lives, learning and increased opportunities to play in healthy school communities,” said Cassels.

January 7, 2015
If one of your private New Year’s resolutions this year was to become that educator or administrator —the one who transforms even the most challenging students’ lives, and the one whose students, as they accept their Order of Canada/ Nobel Prize/ Oscar recognize you as the pivotal figure in their development — take a deep breath. This doesn’t have to be a fantasy, except perhaps the Nobel Prize/Oscar part.

You are already making a significant impact on the lives of your students. By increasing the level of connection that your students feel to school, you can make your impact even greater. Helping them to feel welcome, safe and cared about helps their learning blossom. We can all relate to how much easier it is to ask for help when we feel that the people around us care about us and want us to succeed.

So how do you help your students build strong connections to school? Well, there isn’t just one way to do it. Building school connectedness is as individual as you and your students are – one size definitely does not fit all. It is not something that you do once; it’s more about what you do every day and how you do it. The good news is you are probably already doing lots of things that support connectedness.

While we can’t tell you the specific actions that would make a difference in your school or classroom, we can point you in the right direction. The following six strategies have been found to foster connectedness in schools.
  1. School Leadership at all levels – principal, teacher, district – establishes structures and decision-making processes that facilitate student, family, and community engagement, academic achievement, and staff empowerment.
  2. Provide education and opportunities to enable families to be actively involved in their children’s academic and school life.
  3. Learning is social: Provide students with emotional and social skills necessary to be actively engaged in school.
  4. Use effective teaching and learning methods & classroom management techniques to foster a positive learning environment.
  5. Create trusting and caring relationships that promote open communication among administrators, teachers, staff, students, families, and communities.
  6. Provide professional learning and support for teachers and other school staff to enable them to meet the diverse cognitive, emotional, and social needs of children and adolescents. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009)
 So reflect on the strategies, find one or two that you would like to explore, develop an inquiry question and try a few new things. For example, you might explore how intentionally engaging families affects school connectedness. You could provide opportunities for families to participate in your class/school activities. If you are already doing that, think about how you could increase family involvement by making it a regular event, or by refining your approach to reach more families.

You are the expert what works in your classroom and your school. Start exploring some of the six strategies, and make them your own. It’s a new year – you are that educator that makes a difference.
January 7, 2015
There are growing educational policies at local, provincial, territorial, and national levels that clearly demonstrate the need for change in the way we design and deliver learning opportunities for Indigenous students. In order to support the need for growth of Indigenous ways of knowing in Canadian classrooms, the UBC Faculty of Education is delivering a free 6-week online course on Indigenous Education (IndEdu200x). Participants will join Dr. Jan Hare to learn about Indigenous Education through the lens of reconciliation. The course will explore important resources, as well as the experiences of educational leaders, in order to demonstrate how education programs and teaching practices can be modified to meaningfully integrate Indigenous knowledge worldviews and pedagogies in classrooms, schools and communities.

IndEdu200x will run from January 27-March 10, 2015.

Click here for more information about course content and registration. You can also click here to listen to Dr. Hare discuss the value of bringing Indigenous ways of knowing into educational spaces.
January 7, 2015
Complimentary Student Leadership Training for Your School
Winter is a great time to enhance your school’s indoor Student Leadership programming with Action Schools! BC’s complimentary Physical Activity Student Leadership Training or Healthy Eating Student Leadership Training. Click here for more information. Contact Action Schools! BC at info@actionschoolsbc.ca or 1-800-565-7727 to book your sessions.

Family Newsletters Highlight Physical Literacy, Self-Regulation and Embracing Tradition

Healthy Together Newsletters are designed to be integrated into schools’ family newsletters. Newsletters can be found here and are offered in a monthly format (e.g., January and February include meal time conversation starters, winter physical activities and brain boosting food and activities) or by theme (e.g., Self-Regulation and Mindful Eating, Physical Literacy, and Embracing Tradition – Aboriginal Wellness Perspectives).

Snowy Day Physical Activity Resources

Looking for ideas for activating your playground on snowy days? Check out Action Schools! BC DPA Pages! Snowy Day Activities and DPA Pages! Snowshoe and Cross-Country Ski Activities. These and several other DPA Pages! are now available in French here.
January 7, 2015
For Grade 12 students across the province, high school graduation parties are an important rite of passage before entering adulthood. It is now a popular trend for schools and parents to organize a dry grad party as a way for graduating students to celebrate the end of their high school years in a fun and safe way. Life Starts Now! describes dry grad planning from start to finish, incorporating ideas and suggestions for success from previous dry grad organizers, and information on relevant BC legislation.
    
Read the guide for details on important topics such as:
•    Finances
•    Communications
•    Fundraising
•    Event Management
•    Activities, Prizes, and Food

The aim of a dry grad party is to reduce the risk of alcohol-related harm to the graduates, as well as the community at large, on a night when that risk is unusually high. A dry grad is an all-night supervised party for graduating students and their guests, with absolutely no alcohol or drugs allowed. A dry grad party immediately follows the formal convocation, banquet, and/or dance, and typically ends at 5:00 or 6:00 a.m.

A dry grad requires parents, sponsors, and communities to work together to commemorate the success of the graduating students and to send them on their way in a safe and celebratory style. By helping to plan and stage an unforgettable dry grad, parents and teachers give grads the opportunity to reap the rewards of responsible behaviour, and to recognize that alcohol is not essential for fun. The Life Starts Now! guide was written to support parents, teachers and grads in their efforts to plan a celebration for a very special, one-of-a-kind moment, a moment where each grad can truly reflect that “Life Starts Now!”

For ideas and support planning your school’s dry grad party, please visit the Healthy Schools BC website here.
January 6, 2015

The Action Guides are new resources from Healthy Schools BC that share evidence-based practices and promising innovations that are showing results in creating healthy schools in British Columbia.  The guides are organized into four topic areas; click on each of the topics below to download the corresponding action guide.

  1. School Connectedness
  2. Healthy Eating
  3. Physical Activity
  4. Injury Prevention

The ideas for action in these Guides come from professionals working to create healthy schools, including from schools and districts, researchers, and community partners.  Where possible, the Guides link to BC resources available to support in your healthy schools work.  
 
The healthy schools process supports school communities and partners to work together through four main steps: Assess → Plan → Act → Evaluate. This guide can support you in the planning step of this process.  
 
Some of the actions in the Guides take little effort, while others may take a bit more. Explore actions that meet the needs of your students and the capacity of your school or district.

December 19, 2014
MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do It!) is a FREE, fun healthy lifestyle program for families that been offered in many BC communities since 2013 as a part of the Childhood Healthy Weights Intervention Initiative. MEND is a 10-week program that empowers children aged 5-7 and 7-13 and their families,  who are above a healthy weight, to become fitter and healthier through group sessions that promote healthy eating and physical activity.

Participating municipal and YMCA recreation centres are gearing up to run more programs in 2015, and there is still space in programs starting in January. Parents or caregivers interested in registering or learning more about MEND should contact their local program, and leaders will help parents decide if the program is right for their family.  

Click here for project locations and information.

Click here for more information about MEND.

December 18, 2014
Drug education isn't what it used to be, and that's a good thing! Evidence tells us that promoting mental health and addressing problematic substance use is about two key elements: i) helping young people develop the knowledge and skills to navigate today’s world, and ii) fostering a greater degree of connectedness within school communities.
This webinar will provide a comprehensive look at evidence-based approaches to promoting mental health and reducing problematic substance use and will introduce participants to a range of BC resources that can help put research to practice.
 
Facilitators:
Dan Reist, Assistant Director (Knowledge Exchange), Centre for Addictions Research of BC at the University of Victoria
Dr. David Smith, Psychiatrist, Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative
 
To register, please email cspence@uvic.ca by January 20, 2015. A confirmation and details for logging on to the webinar will be sent closer to the date.
December 11, 2014

Looking for a way to help promote positive mental health with students at your school?

Registration is now open for Balancing Our Minds 2015: Everyday Champions of Wellness! This is a free, one-day event for high school age youth (13-18) in BC to learn about mental health and engage in fun activities and thoughtful dialogue. 

Where?
Rogers Arena
When?
Thursday February 12, 2015, 9am-3pm
Cost?
Free!

Event Goals:

  • Increase knowledge about mental health and substance use
  • Build awareness of available mental health tools, resources and services
  • Decrease stigma and discrimination towards individuals experiencing mental health challenges
  • Generate ideas about how to promote mental wellness in schools and communities

Balancing Our Minds 2015: Everyday Champions of Wellness is organized by BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services in partnership with the Vancouver Canucks. The event is planned in collaboration with youth organizations that work in the area of mental health and with youth who are passionate about breaking down barriers and creating connections.

For more information, check out the event website and event flyer, or click here to register now!

December 8, 2014

At School District 73’s after school drama program, the king sits on his throne holding court to a throng of servants offering him gifts, stories, and dances.  One of the servants performs the dance move, “the worm,” to please the king.  Another offers to paint his portrait, to which the king responds, “Yes, but you must get my good side...and I order you to tell me which side of my face you like better!”  If, at any time, the king is displeased, he claps and the servant flops to the floor and dies. 

At first glance, this improvisation game may seem fun and silly, but it is much more than that according to Devon McBride, SD 73 teacher, actor, and after school drama program leader.  “Being a servant gives the students the freedom to pretty much try anything and even showcase a talent they may have.”  Being the king gives students “a sense of empowerment and control.”  In the after school drama program, performing in front of others builds students’ confidence, and “creating, rehearsing, and performing a scene with a group takes a lot of teamwork.”

After school programs have a number of benefits for children and youth.  Participation in after school activities increases students’ self-esteem, engagement in school, cooperation, and self-regulation.  After school programs also represent flexible learning environments, a timely concept in British Columbia.  Greater flexibility is a priority in BC’s Education Plan and curriculum transformation, in recognition that learning can take place using multiple methods, times, and locations.  The vision in the curriculum redesign is that districts, schools and teachers will be able to “create courses or learning experiences that go beyond learning area borders to focus on students’ needs, interests, and/or the local context.”  After school programs demonstrate some of the ways this may be achieved.

DASH is involved with after school programming through BC’s After School Sport and Arts Initiative, which provides programming in 14 school districts, including the drama program in SD 73.  The students who take part in the Initiative’s programs are learning outside the classroom setting.  Programs are designed according to students’ interest and local resources.  For example, in Prince George, students use after school program time to train for the city’s annual Iceman, a winter multi-sport event.  In Alert Bay and Haida Gwaii, students learn traditional aboriginal cedar weaving.  Participants improve their fundamental movement skills or artistic techniques.  They learn alongside students from different grades and learn from community coaches and artists.  As the kings and servants in the drama game show, after school programs are also a place to develop creative thinking, positive personal identity, and cooperation – all aspects of the core competencies proposed in the BC Ministry of Education’s curriculum transformation.

While after school programs are not part of the curriculum, the skills and competencies students gain transfer into the classroom, the family, and the community.  In the After School Sport and Arts Initiative, principals have observed better attendance on days when there are after school programs, an increase in school spirit, and students taking on leadership roles and teaching classmates what they’ve learned in after school programs. 

School is an ideal setting for after school programs:

  • There is no transportation needed for students to get to the programs – they simply walk down the hall. 
  • Schools are a familiar and comfortable environment for families.
  • After school programmers can liaise with school staff and strengthen students’ support networks within the school
  • School connectedness increases.  At school-based programs, participants build relationships with other students, gain positive experiences in the school setting, and get to be part of a group.

 

Are you interested in opening up your school to after school programs?  Here are a few steps you can take to explore the opportunities:

  • Find out what’s currently happening in your community and what activities students are interested in doing after school.  If your district takes part in the Middle Years Development Instrument, take a look at the section on after school time to find out your students’ experience and perspective on after school activities.
  • Consult resources to help with the logistics of setting up a program and creating shared use agreements for school facilities, including:
  • Consider community partners who might be suitable to deliver programs in your school - sport or arts organizations, municipal recreation services, Big Brothers & Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Clubs, and more.
  • Check out the grants section of the Healthy Schools BC Website.  RBC, Canadian Tire Jumpstart, and others support after school programs. 
  • Get school staff and families involved – create an advisory committee on after school programs.  Once programs are running, staff can assist with promotion and liaise with after school program leaders to discuss learning styles and strengths of different students.
  • Contact DASH for more information on what we’ve learned through the After School Sport and Arts Initiative.
December 2, 2014
Check out these new and updated Action Schools! BC resources:

2014/2015 Action Pages! Available Now
Action Pages! is a listing of hundreds of physical activity, physical education and healthy eating resources for Grades K to 9 from across Canada including published and online resources, in-services and presentations, and support organizations. In addition to enhanced Aboriginal and French resources, enhanced themes include body image, inclusion, physical literacy, social emotional learning, and student leadership. Download the 2014/2015 version here or contact Action Schools! BC at info@actionschoolsbc.ca to request a hard copy.

Teacher Workshop Spotlight: Enhancing Learning and Self-Regulation Through Physical Activity
The Action Schools! BC Enhancing Learning and Self-Regulation Through Physical Activity Workshop shares physical activities that can contribute to brain function and development and assist students and teachers with self-regulation. Click here for a full description of this and other Action Schools! BC workshops available at no cost to BC K to 7 elementary and middle schools. To book your school’s workshop, contact Action Schools! BC at info@actionschoolsbc.ca.

Healthy Eating Pages!
The Action Schools! BC Healthy Eating Pages! resource provides school-wide healthy eating support and complements the activities in the Healthy Eating Action Resource. They include:
•    Eat Smart Celebrations
•    Food Fit for Fun Days
•    Healthy Eating – Aboriginal Wellness Perspectives
•    Non-Food Rewards for Children and Youth
•    Play First Lunch Toolkit

Click here to view the Healthy Eating Pages!
December 1, 2014

On November 4th and 5th, DASH and Healthy Schools BC welcomed a variety of community organizational partners to the Healthy Schools BC Community Leadership Workshop. The two-day workshop provided a unique opportunity for community-based organizations involved in healthy schools work to explore their role as school community partners, beyond their respective areas of focus.

Participants connected with each other during hands-on learning activities to examine new ideas for innovative practice that will support us in achieving the broader goal of taking a collective impact approach to our work across sectors. We were very fortunate to welcome Paul Born, President and co-founder of the Tamarack Institute, to guide us in our learning.

This workshop with community partners marks an important step in collaboration in support of the belief that we can achieve more together than we can on our own.  We very much look forward to adding another layer to the conversation by connecting with our education and health sector partners in support of building healthier school communities in BC.

December 1, 2014
The recent 2013 McCreary Centre Society’s BC Adolescent Survey reported that 94% of youth who felt highly connected to school reported good or excellent mental health, compared to 58% who felt less connected. Findings from the survey identified school connectedness as an important protective factor for youth. A recent UBC research paper based on MDI data from Grade 4 students in Vancouver echoed that in finding that connections with adults at school were the most important connections to the students even more important than family support. So what does that really mean? And what is a protective factor?

Protective factors are defined as individual or environmental characteristics, conditions, or behaviours that reduce the effects of stressful life events; increase an individual’s ability to avoid risks or hazards; and promote social and emotional competence to thrive in all aspects of life now and in the future (Kipke, 1999).

Essentially, we can think of school connectedness like good rain gear; it doesn’t change the “bad weather” that children and youth may be experiencing, but it does minimize the impact on them, and keeps them feeling comfortable, secure and cared for.

We can all visualize the difference good rain gear can make in a downpour (versus, for instance, a newspaper over our head), but what does the impact of school connectedness – or the lack of it – look like? In short, strengthening a child’s connection to school can take him or her from just getting by to thriving.

Students who are connected to their school place a greater value on school, and have:

  • increased motivation to engage in class and do homework;
  • better attendance and self-reported grades;
  • greater expectation of continuing education beyond high school; and
  • higher school completion rates. 

The protections offered by school connectedness also extend beyond academics into the health and wellbeing of children and youth. Students who feel greater connections to their school are:

  • more likely to report good or excellent health;
  • more likely to have higher self-esteem;
  • less likely to have considered suicide; and
  • less likely to have behaviour problems.

Compared to students with lower levels of school connectedness, those with higher levels have:

  • better mental health;
  • lower rates of substance use; and
  • fewer reports of depressive symptoms in late adolescence.

While all children and youth benefit from strong connections to school, the greatest benefit is for those who are most vulnerable. Its protective influence has been found to compensate for poor quality family relationships. For females in nearly every vulnerable group, school connectedness is an even stronger protective factor than family connectedness for good or excellent health.

So while we may not be able to provide great rain gear for every student, we can help give them the emotional equivalent – school connectedness – and help set them up for the best future possible. In the coming months, we will share more about the strategies that BC schools and districts are using to build strong connections with their students. Until then, learn more about school connectedness here, including the benefits and what the research says.


December 1, 2014

The Healthy Schools Network and Be The Change Earth Alliance are uniting to bring inquiry-based curriculum to BC schools.

Educational innovation happens in exciting ways when community and schools come together. Such partnerships are becoming more relied upon for necessary investments in the social resilience of students and schools in these changing times.

Be The Change Earth Alliance (BTCEA) is an NGO dedicated to global health and sustainability through education that empowers critical thinking and behaviour change. The inquiry-based curriculum they have developed in collaboration with teachers is a reflection of how new ideas arise from the edges of systems undergoing change.

It’s called Student Leadership in Sustainability and the modular design of its extensive materials makes it accessible to a broad range of high school courses, from Planning/Health/Careers through to Socials, Science, and Leadership.

 “SLS helped me make the link between health and environmental resilience for my students. The transformation I see in my students in amazing,” says Brenda Kvist, curriculum designer for Planning 10 at the Vancouver Learning Network.

The Healthy Schools Network and BTCEA encourage teachers to be a part of this educational shift. The Healthy Living Inquiry Grant is available to any teacher in BC who is keen to take the leap into inquiry, sustainability and health education. Click here to learn how to apply for the SLS program and the Inquiry Grant.

SLS is designed to increase interpersonal, school and community connectedness, opening doors for students to inquire into global sustainability issues and discover how they can become agents of change in an increasingly complicated world. Inquiry may be one of the most powerful tools at teacher’s disposal to foster students’ thirst for knowledge and passion for positive change.

SLS uses an inquiry approach to:

  • Connect school learning to a student’s own knowledge and experiences.
  • Provide a context to develop critical thinking skills and encourage problem solving – an important learning strategy for developing engaged citizenship and entrepreneurial, employment, community and interpersonal skills.
  • Provide students with opportunities to apply a wide range of reading, writing, communication, listening, and thinking skills.
  • Improve school-wide inquiry across all grades and subjects.
  • Promote the development of a community of learners where group knowledge-building contributes to individual understanding.

As Garnet Ayers, Deputy Superintendent of the Delta School District says, "The need for sustainability education is here, and it’s not going away.”

December 1, 2014

Take a Closer Look: Media and Health is a resource for teachers to support Grade 10 students to be media savvy in the modern world.  From advertising to branding, social networking to Googling, media messages are everywhere, especially in the lives of teens.  It’s not just because they are mass consumers of technology; popular media often aims to influence them most.

The impact of media messages on teens’ health is well documented, showing an influence on violence, relationships, substance use, physical activity, food choices and disordered eating to name a few.

Opting out of this media world isn’t an option, so let’s help teens be smart about it. Help them understand how it all works. It isn’t that hard, it’s just a process of developing some filters to help see media for what it really is.

Check it out!  You can access the resource on the Healthy Schools BC website.  

November 17, 2014
Register now for the BCRPA After-School Programming in BC: Building on Lessons Learned Webinar on December 2nd.

Participants of this webinar will:
• Learn about what is working in after-school programming and what challenges are prevalent
• Discover tools and resources available to support after-school programming
• Hear from the Kamloops School District (SD73) about their after-school programming best practice

Click here to register!
October 28, 2014
Despite a late start to the school year, we can still help students form strong connections to school.  The relationships formed between students and school staff members are at the heart of school connectedness. Think about your students and the things that you are already doing to build strong, positive relationships with them. How might you fine-tune your classroom/school environment to foster stronger connections? Are there ways you might make the classroom/school feel more welcoming to all students and their families? Are there ways that you can give students more responsibility and more opportunities to contribute? By doing this, you are signalling that their opinions are valuable, and that they are capable problem solvers. That contributes to a positive environment and strengthens connections.

The changes you make in your classroom and school to increase connectedness can be big or small. They can be as small as intensifying your effort to form a relationship with that one distant student, or as big as creating a peer mentoring program. Both ends of the spectrum (and everything in between) help students feel more engaged in their learning and more cared for by the adults in their school.

To feel even more inspired about school connectedness, watch Rita Pierson’s eight minute TED talk, Every Kid Needs a Champion!

No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.
– James P. Comer, 1995

The tips below can help you reflect on the strengths of your current connectedness-supportive practices and identify new or modified strategies to consider. Try a small change, and then build on it. You have everything to gain – and so do your students.

Ten Tips for Teachers that Foster Connections to School

1.    Build a strong relationship with each student.
2.    Help students get to know each other’s (and your) strengths.
3.    Involve students in planning, problem solving, identifying issues and assessing curriculum in the classroom.
4.    Promote cooperation over competition. Post everyone’s best work. Offer opportunities for the class to work together to help everyone achieve their highest level of excellence.
5.    Convey attentiveness to students and excitement about learning through nonverbal gestures.
6.    Involve all students (especially new students) in chores and responsibilities in the classroom.
7.    Integrate concepts of discipline and respect for classmates through instruction.
8.    Give students more say in what they will learn.
9.    Involve students in developing the criteria by which their work will be assessed and provide guidelines so they clearly understand what is expected of them.
10.    Use first person plural (we, us, let’s) when presenting classroom activities.
(Military Child Initiative, 2005)

Ten Tips for School Administrators that Foster Connections to School
1.    Brainstorm with students, faculty, staff and parents simple changes that could make school more welcoming.
2.    Create policies that are based on student, family and neighbourhood strengths and assets.
3.    Turn mistakes into learning opportunities rather than failures that merit punishment.
4.    Acknowledge and honour accomplishments and all types of competencies (such as helpfulness, good citizenship, most improved performance, volunteerism, participation in decision making and cessation of negative behaviour).
5.    Set high standards and challenge students to meet them.
6.    Reinforce explicit expectations for positive behaviours and academic success.
7.    Encourage highly interactive teaching strategies.
8.    Create a welcoming environment for all who come to the school.
9.    Invite family and community members to take active and regular roles in the daily operation of the school.
10.    Create a common vision of success and keep the vision statement visible.
(Military Child Initiative, 2005)
October 28, 2014

The Guidelines for Food and Beverage Sales in BC Schools (the Guidelines) support healthy eating in BC schools by promoting the sale of healthy food choices and limiting access to unhealthy choices. The 2013 edition of the Guidelines is now expected to be fully implemented in all BC public schools. 

A number of new and revised resources are available to support schools to meet the Guidelines. These resources provide practical tips and are useful for everyone selling food and beverages to students.

 Bake Better Bites (updated in 2014): In this recipe book you will find tasty and healthy recipes for muffins, cookies and breads that meet the Guidelines, as well as simple instructions for making healthier baked goods. 

• Tips and Recipes for Quantity Cooking (updated in 2014): This resource provides recipes for healthy and delicious large-quantity meals and snacks that meet the Guidelines, plus tips on how to choose healthy recipes or alter favourite traditional recipes. 

• Ready-to-Use Guidelines Presentations: There is a series of three presentations that can help administrators, parents, community partners, teachers, students and food service staff understand and implement the Guidelines. Topics are: An Overview of the Guidelines; How to Implement the Guidelines; and Learning to Use the Checklist.

• Guidelines Fact Sheets: These fact sheets will help you put the Guidelines into practice. You will find tips on serving healthy choices wherever food is sold to students (e.g. bake sales, sporting events, cafeterias and vending machines). There are also suggested ways to boost the sale of healthy food in your school, include everyone in implementing the Guidelines and raise funds with healthy foods.

• Brand Name Food List: The Brand Name Food List can help you choose ready-to-eat food and beverages that meet the Guidelines. 

For links to the Guidelines and all supportive resources, please visit Healthy Schools BC at: www.healthyschoolsbc.ca/foodguidelines.

In addition to these resources, you can contact a Registered Dietitian at HealthLink BC for information and support in implementing the Guidelines in your school. Dial 8-1-1, or send an email.

October 28, 2014

Check out these new and updated Action Schools! BC programs/resources:

Activate your school with Student Leadership Training

Inspire a group of dedicated students to become healthy living leaders by booking complimentary Action Schools! BC Student Leadership Training this school year. Choose to have the group trained in Outdoor Intercultural Games, Indoor Workouts/Dance, or Healthy Eating. Resources and Student Leadership Certificates are provided. Contact Action Schools! BC at info@actionschoolsbc.ca or 1-800-565-7727 to book.

 
Check out the NEW Action Schools! BC DPA Pages!

• Body Percussion (which accompanies the new Body Percussion Workshop)
• Yoga Connections – Aboriginal Wellness Perspectives
• Self-Regulation (which accompanies the Enhancing Learning and Self-Regulation through Physical Activity Workshop)

These and other DPA Pages! are provided at all Action Schools! BC workshops and can be downloaded here.

Family Newsletters
• The Action Schools! BC November and December Healthy Together Newsletters include winter physical activities and healthy gift ideas. Healthy Together Newsletters are designed to be integrated into schools’ family newsletters. These newsletters are posted at www.actionschoolsbc.ca.

October 28, 2014

Fall is an exciting time for Farm to School programs across the province. The main harvest season is now behind us, and Farm to School is thrilled to have joined colleagues from across the country in celebrating the first ever Canadian National Farm to School Month in October. Everyone is already looking forward to next years’ celebration – rally your team and start to dream about how you would like to celebrate next October.

Farm to School BC is pleased to share that they have hired a new team member. Please welcome Cindy Hughes as Farm to School BC’s new Communications Coordinator. Among many communications projects to come, Farm to School BC has successfully launched a new logo and brand that they are excited to share. Also, stay tuned for a new series of Farm to School fact sheets to be released throughout the fall and winter describing Farm to School and supporting schools in getting started. 

Farm to School BC wants to connect you with amazing resources, news, learning opportunities, funding resources and much more to support you in your Farm to School activities. ‘Like’ and ‘follow’ them on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date and to connect with other Farm to School network members.

Their popular newsletter is now moving to a quarterly seasonal format. If you’re not signed up to receive it, you can do so here. If you missed the fall edition of the Farm to School BC newsletter, you can find it on our archives page. You won’t want to miss out on the great tips, ideas and grant opportunities each issue holds.

And speaking of grant opportunities… 

Want to start a Farm to School program at your school? Funds are available!
Farm to School BC is thrilled to be growing the Farm to School network. They currently have the opportunity to fund new Farm to School programs across BC. You can now submit an application for a grant of up to $4000 to plan and initiate a Farm to School program at your school.

Want to learn more? Ready to apply? Grant applications and information can be found on the Farm to School BC website. Deadline for proposals is December 19, 2014.

October 28, 2014

Anaphylaxis Canada has released a new online training module to support educators to prevent, recognize, and respond to anaphylaxis.   The module takes approximately 30 minutes to complete, is free of charge, and is available in English and French.  Graphics, audio narration, practice scenarios, and step-by-step visual guides provide an engaging learning experience.  Please access the module at www.allergyaware.ca

By completing the module, school staff will learn about:
• The signs, symptoms and common causes of anaphylaxis
• Ways to reduce risks and create an allergy aware school
• The contents of school and student-level emergency plans
• How to respond appropriately to emergency situations, including administration of epinephrine via auto-injector (Epipen® and AllerjectTM)

Financial support for the module was provided by provincial governments, including Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health, as well as private donors and TELUS.

October 28, 2014

Do you really know where your food comes from? Check out BC at the Table, the newest resource from the BC Dairy Association. Through videos, learn about BC’s food system and how we produce, process, distribute and acquire local food, following the stories of produce, grains, dairy and salmon. Teacher resources are available as well.

BC at the Table includes videos that can be watched together in full (55:02) or as segments:
• produce with a focus on greenhouse tomatoes and small-scale vegetable growing (16:44)
• grains with a focus on wheat (13:14)
• dairy with a focus on milk and cheese (12:01)
• salmon featuring both wild and farmed salmon (19:08)

The featured foods were selected because of the major role they play in BC (in terms of revenue, jobs and importance to the local community). They are also representative of the four food groups in Canada’s Food Guide.

The videos are intended to show the various steps the featured foods go through in BC. They address some of the challenges related to each food and give a glimpse of the career opportunities in the agrifood industry.

In addition to the videos, teachers are strongly encouraged to refer to the video discussion guides to facilitate student inquiry and bring up relevant and controversial issues. Students are encouraged to further explore specific issues of interest to them.

BC at the Table links to many curriculum areas:
• Sustainable Resources 11 and 12
• Food and Nutrition 8 to 12
• Science and Technology 11
• Social Justice 12
• Graduation Transitions

The BC Dairy Association encourages you to share the information with colleagues, family and friends and welcomes comments on any of these materials. Simply email them at nutrition@bcdairy.ca or call  1-800-242-6455.

October 9, 2014
THE YOUTH EMPOWERMENT PROJECT (YEP) was created by Caitie Shaw (Healthy Living Youth Council Alumni) and Dan Nixon, two high school students from Summerland, BC, in October of 2014. The website and social media platforms connect with youth from all over the world. The purpose of the group is to empower youth to create positive change in the world. YEP is launching their group with the #cyberlove campaign.

Shaw and Nixon are also the co-founders of the Epilepsy Awareness Squad, which has been recognized as a finalist for the World Summit Youth Award. Shaw won the Canadian Living Me to We Youth in Action Award in 2014. Both Nixon and Shaw are honoured guests at both We Day Vancouver and We Day Toronto. In addition, Caitie is a speaker and Dan is a workshop leader at TedX Kids BC 2014.

Starting on October 10, which is World Mental Health Day and the anniversary of Port Coquitlam teen, Amanda Todd’s tragic death, YEP is challenging people all over the globe to fill their social media with positive messages. The goal is to send a message to someone who really needs it – whether it be a friend or a stranger. Hashtag the message #cyberlove and light up all social media platforms with positive messages.

30 Days of #cyberlove
The campaign kicks off on October 10th but will run for 30 days.

Youth Reclaiming Social Media
Youth live so much through social media and YEP co-founders, Caitie and Dan say that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. They urge youth to take back their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube and AskFM accounts and fill them with positive energy.

More information about the campaign can be found here.
October 7, 2014

Do you really know where your food comes from? Learn about BC’s food system and how we produce, process, distribute and acquire local food, following the story of produce, grains, dairy and salmon.

These foods were chosen because of the major role they play in BC (in terms of the economy, jobs and importance to the local community). They are also representative of the four food groups in Canada’s Food Guide.

The video may be watched in full (55:00), or in segments:

  • Produce (16:43)
  • Grains (13:13)
  • Dairy (12:00)
  • Salmon (19:07)

Click here to watch the video!

Discussion guides have been developed for each segment to help teachers facilitate student inquiry and bring up relevant and controversial issues. Students are encouraged to further explore issues of interest to them. BC At The Table links to many curriculum areas, including Food and Nutrition 8to 12, Sustainable Resources 11 and 12, Science and Technology 11, Social Justice 12 and Graduation Transitions.

October 6, 2014
Join presenters from around our province and country in a professional learning experience like no other! Find out about new information, skills and strategies that will support all learners on October 24th, 2014.

Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond, BC Representative for Children and Youth, is the keynote speaker at a full-day symposium sponsored by the BCPVPA in collaboration with the School-Centered Mental Health Coalition. In addition to the keynote, both morning and afternoon breakout sessions will be held. Among the confirmed speakers, presenters and panelists: WorkSafe BC; Keli Anderson, Family Institute of Canada; Dr. Candice Murray, Dr. Connie Coniglio & Dr. Jana Davidson Children’s Hospital; Jeff Stewart, District Principal, Comox Valley, BC School Centered Mental Health Coalition; Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc, McCreary Centre Society; and Laurie Ebenal, SD#43 District Principal Aboriginal Education, Kathy Cassels, DASH BC.

Full session descriptions and presenter bios here
Register online here.


September 30, 2014

October 10th is World Mental Health Day. October 10th is also the day that Amanda Todd, a BC teen, took her own life after experiencing the effects of bullying and cyber-abuse. In honour of Amanda, and to raise awareness of the importance of positive mental health, communities around the world will be lighting up the world purple on World Mental Health Day.

Carol Todd, Amanda’s mother, is giving Amanda’s life new meaning and purpose by bringing awareness to mental health. Through the Amanda Todd Legacy Society, and by speaking out about Amanda’s situation, she is giving voice and courage to others to do the same.  “I don’t have to sit and mourn my daughter every October 10th; I can remember her and make a positive difference on this day by promoting World Mental Health Day.”

Join Carol and others around the world in honouring this day by lighting up purple to build awareness and prevent the suffering of millions of people by shining a purple light on mental health. You can show your support by wearing something purple, using a purple light bulb, stringing purple lights or putting purple highlights in your hair. Click here to see a list of places and organizations that were lit up purple for World Mental Health Day in 2013.

If you are interested in learning more about positive mental health and how you can help, check out the following programs and resources:

ERASE Bullying – A comprehensive and multi-pronged approach to promote positive mental health and wellness and prevent bullying and violent behaviour in schools. Please click here to access the ERASE website, which includes helpful tips and advice and a confidential online reporting tool for bullying.

Mindcheck.ca An interactive website created to assist young people to identify and understand mental distress they may be experiencing, and to link them to sources of help that will enable them to learn skills and strategies to manage these problems. To find out what resources they offer, click here.

F.O.R.C.E. Society – The F.O.R.C.E. Society provides families and professionals with information, tools, and tips on how to support and assist children with mental health difficulties. Click here to access their resources, such as the Mental Health Guide for Teachers.

Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre – BC's information source for children, youth and families who have mental health and substance use concerns. Click here for options for support and treatment in BC, tips for self-help and prevention, as well as a free educational monthly pinwheel series for families, educators and clinicians.

For additional resources and supports for positive mental health at school, visit the Healthy Schools BC website.

September 30, 2014

How do students use colours to determine if a packaged food is healthy or not? How do students differentiate between “kids’ food” and “adult food”? These questions are explored in the Media Literacy and Food Marketing Fact Sheets created by the University of Calgary.

A Media Literacy and Food Marketing curriculum was developed from focus groups with over 600 Canadian children in Grades 1 to 9. Children discussed their thoughts on package images, colours and claims, as well as the nutrition facts table and ingredient lists. Children were asked what they look for on food packaging to determine whether the food was healthy.

Four Media Literacy and Food Marketing Fact Sheets are available:
• Brand Names, Taglines and Health Symbols on Food Packaging
• Colour Use in Food Packaging
• Food Classification and Food Marketing
• Images and Spokescharacters on Food Packaging

Click here to access these fact sheets.

September 30, 2014

Literacy is more than the ability to read or write. To participate effectively in daily life, people require communication skills, the ability to critically analyze, make use of information and make sound decisions that allow them to exert greater control over life events and situations. These skills are needed at home, at school, in the community, at the workplace, in the market place and in the health care system.

Health literacy is the ability to access, understand, evaluate and communicate information as a way to promote, maintain and improve health in a variety of settings and across a lifetime.

The theme for Health Literacy Month 2014 is “Be a Health Literacy Hero.” It’s about taking action and finding ways to improve health communication. Health literacy heroes are individuals, teams, or organizations who not only identify health literacy problems but also act to solve them.

To learn more about health literacy, read about the various levels of the Health Literacy Framework below. This framework is supported by the Healthy Living Performance Standards and aligns with the comprehensive school health approach.

The Health Literacy Framework

Functional health literacy: basic communication of health information, involving accessing, understanding and evaluating information about health

Interactive health literacy: development of personal skills regarding health issues, involving decision-making, goal-setting and practices to enhance health

Critical health literacy: respecting different cultural, family and religious beliefs in respect to health, and advocating for personal, family and community change that enhances health

For example, a student that is functionally health literate would understand that smoking is bad for them. A student that is critically health literate would understand that smoking is addictive, and that there are complex factors at play that impact people’s ability to quit.  Finally, a student that is critically health literate might create a campaign or club at school that acknowledges the challenges in quitting smoking, but supports students to do so.  

Learn more about health literacy here.

September 18, 2014
The Mental Health Commission of Canada is hosting a National Youth Anti-Stigma Event, November 16-22, 2014. Students from across Canada, aged 14-17, will be hosted at Encounters with Canada** in Ottawa.
 
The goal of this event is to ignite a national dialogue about mental health. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about mental health and how to reduce, in their schools, communities, and homes, the stigma often associated with mental health problems and mental illness.

This journey will include group presentations, opportunities for self-expression through the arts and social media, explorations around health and wellness, as well as trips within the Ottawa area. There is no fee for students to attend this event. All of their costs for travel, accommodation and ground transportation, are being subsidized by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and partners of Encounters with Canada.
 
If you have a student who has demonstrated leadership experience within your school and shows an interest in learning more about issues related to mental health and the role they can play in reducing the stigma often associated with mental health problems and mental illness, please share this opportunity with them.

Click here for more information!
September 15, 2014

Run with your school community on September 24th, 2014 for the Terry Fox National School Run Day. This is a great event for the school community to come together to support an important cause. Check out the Terry Fox Foundation website to obtain lesson plans, register your event, access organizer resources, start a new event, and more! You can also learn about the Terry Fox Challenge to enhance your school’s fundraising.

How are BC students motivating each other to run? Read this story from Bayview Elementary School in Nanaimo which was in inspired by Terry’s run across Canada. The school created a whole school running program to see how far their combined school population could run across Canada.

September 15, 2014

As Breakfast for Learning (BFL) gets ready to help nourish children across Canada this back-to-school season, BFL is offering five irresistible, easy “Before the Bell” breakfast-by-the-batch recipes for busy families. The booklet features kid-friendly recipes from BFL funded nutrition programs across Canada and includes ways to get your little helpers involved in the kitchen. Every recipe is dietitian-approved, loaded with healthy ingredients and easily made in batches for nutritious breakfasts all week long.

To try the easy Scrambled Egg Muffin recipe from the booklet, click here.

*This recipe aligns with the provincial Guidelines for Food and Beverage Sales in BC Schools. Use the Checklist tool available in the Guidelines manual for more information on scoring freshly made food and beverages. You can also access scoring summary reports here.

To download your copy of the Before the Bell recipe booklet, click here, or to check out other great recipes, please visit the Nutrition Corner.

About Breakfast for Learning

Breakfast for Learning is committed to ensuring that students attend school well nourished and ready to learn. In the 2013/14 school year, Breakfast for Learning funded 2,402 breakfast, lunch and snack programs, served 251,531 children and youth and provided over 40 million nourishing meals and snacks. Since 1992, Breakfast for Learning has helped serve over 510 million meals to children and youth across Canada. For more information, please visit breakfastforlearning.ca

September 15, 2014
DASH BC is excited to present the 7th annual Walk and Wheel to School Week in October. As part of International Walk to School Month (iWalk), this week-long event is held every October across BC, and encourages students, parents, staff, and community members to celebrate the many benefits of walking and wheeling to school, such as:
  • Celebrating active transportation and encouraging daily physical activity;
  • Promoting opportunities to practice safe walking and biking skills, and identifying safe routes to school;
  • Enhancing the connection between students, parents, schools, and communities in a fun and interactive way; and
  • Reducing school traffic congestion and vehicle emissions.
Register your school and receive:
  • Resources you know and love, such as posters and stickers
  • More classroom supports to help with planning and activities
  • Support making community partnerships
  • Support starting year-round walk to school events
Register online here to receive your free Walk and Wheel package, full of exciting new posters, stickers, and practical planning resources to help you organize the best event of the year!

Whether this is your first time signing up, or you want to make this year’s event bigger and better, DASH BC is here to help! Please contact DASH BC here with questions, or for more information. 
September 15, 2014

Have you ever wondered where bannock came from? Or where you can find wild game meat in Vancouver? Two short, youth-targeted videos about traditional foods explore these topics. Informed by Aboriginal youth and Aboriginal organizations involved in food and health, the videos were produced by the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) Population and Public Health and Aboriginal Health programs, along with Dr. E Entertainment.

  • Myth Busting Bannock – This video aims to address the question of whether bannock is a traditional food by examining the history of bannock before and after colonization. It also demonstrates healthier ways to make bannock.
  • Traditional Foods on the Table – This video explores Indigenous foods by following an Aboriginal chef in an urban Aboriginal restaurant. Indigenous foods are highlighted through the preparation and sharing of a meal.

Learn more about these videos, including information about food security, at PHSA's Population and Public Health Program (PPH) page here.

September 15, 2014

Action Schools! BC would like to thank the provincial government for its sustained funding commitment, as well as all of the stakeholders and sector partners for their collaboration and support over the past ten years. Action Schools! BC is a best practices whole school model designed to assist schools in creating and implementing individualized action plans to promote healthy living while achieving academic outcomes and supporting comprehensive school health.

Visit the Action Schools! BC website to check out the complimentary supports available to promote physical activity, physical education, and healthy eating at your school this year, including professional development, teacher mentorship, and student leadership training. The website is also home to Action Schools! BC resources including:

September 15, 2014

The Healthy Living Performance Standards can support your school and students in their healthy living inquiries and projects!

What are the Healthy Living Performance Standards?

These standards, developed by BC educators, are available as a resource for BC schools, aligning with the BC provincial curriculum. There are four aspects of the Healthy Living Performance Standards (HLPS): Healthy Eating, Active Living, Healthy Relationships, and Healthy Practices. They are available for all grade levels and support learning progression.

Why use the HLPS quick scale?

This quick assessment tool helps to provide feedback on where your students/classes are currently at (e.g. Emerging, Developing, Acquired, or Accomplished) in different healthy living areas.

How do I/we use the HLPS?

Students can complete the quick scales themselves or, if they are too young, a teacher can assess the class. It is meant to help start a conversation about where everyone is at with their knowledge around healthy living and how they can progress their learning.

Learn more about the HLPS and access the quick scales for Grades K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12 here.

September 15, 2014

The AbOut Program (Aboriginal Outreach Program) is an innovative approach to service delivery for vulnerable students aged 12-19 in School District #68.  The program’s personalized learning approach provides learners, who might otherwise leave the system, with the chance to stabilize in a supportive atmosphere that allows them to have success, and create self-esteem and confidence.

Last year, students in the AbOut Program wanted to learn how to stay active at school. They asked, “How can one transform their worksite and/or classroom to stay active and improve their health each day?” Read their story on how they answered this question here.

Each month, we highlight healthy schools stories. Have a healthy school story to share? DASH wants to hear from you! Click here to view the Healthy Schools BC Stories Map to read more stories and submit your own.

September 15, 2014
For youth transitioning to adulthood, life can sometimes feel overwhelming when stacked up against new challenges and pressures not previously experienced.

OpenMindBC.ca, a Doctors of BC initiative, links youth and their families, as well as teachers and health care providers, to valuable resources and tools that help open up the conversation on mental health and lists services available close to home.

The key is that everyone – families, friends, doctors, and educators –can be part of a strong system of support to help deal with any physical or emotional issue.

Visit OpenMindBC.ca to learn more.
August 25, 2014
Save the date! Free training sessions!

The Aboriginal Healthy Living Activities annual Leader Training Sessions are designed to support individuals from First Nations, Métis Chartered Communities and Friendship Centres who are committed to serve as volunteer Community Leaders within the Aboriginal RunWalk (ARW) or Honour Your Health Challenge (HYHC) initiatives.

Registration closes Friday, September 19th, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. Click here for more information!
July 10, 2014
August 21-22, 2014 – University of British Columbia, Vancouver

Join teachers, school counselors, support staff, administrators, district staff, school healthcare professionals, parents, students and school community partners from districts across BC to build strong resilient school communities and address mental health and substance use challenges.nd t
 
Some of the topics are school connectedness; mindfulness, self regulation; attachment theory; mental health; restorative practices; anxiety and much more!!

Space is still available!  Only $65 for two days of great workshops and networking.

http://keltymentalhealth.ca/summerinstitute2014

 
June 17, 2014
The Annual National Aboriginal Day Celebration on Coast Salish Territories at Trout Lake takes place on June 21st! It’s a community-based full day of events that celebrates the diversity of Aboriginal people from across Canada. First Nations, Métis & Inuit peoples gather to share their experiences, stories, songs, traditional games, dances & spirit with each other & the general community. All events are FREE, all Aboriginal community members & supporters are welcome.

Click here for more information!
June 5, 2014
The 2013-14 Healthy Living Youth Council members each initiated healthy living inquiry projects in their schools across BC. These projects were summarized on posters and presented at the 2014 Healthy Schools Leadership Symposium.

Click here to view the posters.
May 12, 2014
Celebrate biking to school with friendly competition and prizes from May 26 - 30!

Have your school take part in HUB's Bike to School Week. A free and fun week-long celebration of biking to school. Register your school or class, and you could win prizes, and join in friendly competition with schools across Metro Vancouver!

Participating in Bike to School Week is a fun way to build off your class or school’s participating in Bike to School courses, and to take advantage of your kids’ interest in cycling.
  •     Win prizes for your class for logging the most commutes
  •     Win random prizes — draws held every day of Bike to School Week
  •     Find out how many kg of GHG emissions your class saved

Click here to register your school!

May 9, 2014

DASH BC is excited to present our 7th annual walk to school event as part of International Walk to School Week (iWalk) from October 6th – 10th, 2014. A week-long provincial event held every year in October, iWalk encourages students, parents, staff, and community members to celebrate the many benefits of walking to school, such as:

  • Celebrating active transportation and encouraging daily physical activity
  • Promoting opportunities to practice safe walking and biking skills and identifying safe routes to school
  • Enhancing the connection between students, parents, schools, and communities in a fun and interactive way
  • Reducing school traffic congestion and vehicle emissions
Click here to register!

April 14, 2014
This year’s At My Best Play Day will officially take place on Friday, June 13, 2014. We invite your school to sign up and join in the fun!

When you register for Play Day, you will be entered to be considered for a Signature Play Day Event. This includes a visit from Rae the Star, a catered nutrition break and a $1,000 grant for the purchase of equipment or the creation of a program that supports the At My Best philosophy.

Click here for more information!
April 11, 2014
Students across Canada are welcomed to TAKE ACTION in promoting mental health awareness and fundraise to support a mental health charity of their choice for the Let's Talk Mental Health National Video Conference and Campaign.

In addition, the Charitable Impact Foundation (CHIMP) will generously match student raised funds by up to $1,000. On May 28th students across Canada will join via video-conferencing to share their success stories. If you have any questions please email mentalhealth@takingitglobal.org. This project is made possible through the collaboration of TakingITGlobal, the Centre for Global Education, the Charitable Impact Foundation (CHIMP) and the Canadian Education Forum.

Click here to register!
April 7, 2014
The 3rd Annual Richmond Earth Day Youth (REaDY) Summit will be held on April 26th this year at McMath Secondary School!

The REaDY Summit is a youth led conference that is open to everyone. We hope to inspire and empower the future generation, as well as promote awareness of ecological and environmental sustainability. Workshops, exhibits, and guest speakers provide an opportunity to explore a wide range of topics. The conference as a whole serves as an opportunity to share ideas and connect with others who share a similar passion in the community and beyond.

The REaDY Summit is honoured to present Dr. David Suzuki as this year's keynote speaker. Dr. Suzuki will also answer pre-selected questions from students after his speech. Dr. Suzuki is an award-winning scientist, author, broadcaster, and co-founder with Tara Cullis of the David Suzuki Foundation. 

For more information, click here.


March 31, 2014
To help Canadians become more physically active throughout their workdays, ParticipACTION is gearing up for the third annual Sneak It In Week (April 7-11).

It’s easy to participate.  Wear sneakers to work.  Walk to lunch.  Park a few blocks away.  Hit the pavement on your coffee break.  As long as your heart beats faster for 10 minutes, it really counts!  You’ll see how easy it can be to fit in more activity during your workday.  So get active and sneak it in.  You’ll be rewarded with a longer, happier, more fulfilling life!

Tools and resources are available here.
March 25, 2014
If you live in the Vancouver Coastal Health or Fraser Health regions, take the My Health My Community survey and enter to win prizes like an iPad!

You’ll be helping us learn how our lifestyles, our neighbourhoods and our environment, all work together to affect our overall health and well-being. Your information will help shape future programs & community services that will benefit you, your family and your community.

Click here to take the survey!
March 25, 2014
Today’s Children & Youth, Tomorrow’s Families
2014 Youth and Family Consensus Conference
Friday & Saturday, May 2 & 3, 2014
Coast Plaza Hotel & Suites, Vancouver, BC
Early-bird registration deadline: March 31, 2014

Hosted by UBC Interprofessional Continuing Education in partnership with the National Institute of Families for Child and Youth Mental Health and the National Infant, Child and Youth Mental Health Consortium

The 2014 Youth and Family Consensus Conference brings together youth and families with researchers, policymakers, service providers and educators to share knowledge and experiences about practices that best meet the needs of people living with mental health and/or substance use challenges. What do youth and families need from each other, their communities and service systems to flourish today and in future generations?

This conference also aims to further define FamilySmart, a values-based approach to listening, understanding and responding to the mental health needs of individual family members and whole families, conceived by the Institute of Families.

Click here for more information and to register!

March 20, 2014
Registration is now open for the 14th Annual Nutrition Forum presented by the BC Dairy Association!

When:    Wednesday, May 14, 2014 12:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Where:   Villa Amato Ballroom  88 East 1st Ave., Vancouver, BC

This year the forum will explore food marketing to children and youth - the issues and implications.

  • Does marketing food to children undermine our health promotion efforts?
  • What is the evidence to support or challenge current food marketing practices in Canada?
  • Can food marketing be used to promote healthy eating to children and youth?
Click here for more information on how to register!
March 14, 2014
Calling all Metro Vancouver Teachers! Inspire your students with Projecting Change.
 
A unique field trip opportunity for your students.
View award-winning documentaries. Experience an idea incubator & watch students pitch their innovations. Discover new ways to engage students in on-the-ground action & inspire conversation.
 
EVENT: Projecting Change Youth Day
DATES: April 24 & 25, 2014 (Two days. Two different experiences for students!)
TIME: 11:30am - 6pm
LOCATION: Goldcorp Centre for the Arts at SFU
COST: $10.00 for students

For more information, please contact:
Projecting Change Festival: Leah Primeau ldprimeau@shaw.ca


March 4, 2014
Registration is now OPEN for the 8th Annual Healthy Schools Leadership Symposium! The event will take place on May 5th and 6th.

If you are an educator, student, parent, public health professional or a community organization that is interested in creating healthy schools in BC, join us for an exciting day of sharing, learning and discussion. The symposium this year will focus on Collective Impact, the commitment of a group of actors from different sectors to a common agenda, using a structured form of collaboration.

For more information and to register, click here!
February 13, 2014
TEDx is Coming to Kamloops this Friday!

The TEDx Youth event, titled "What Matters to You?", is scheduled for February 14th, 2014 at the TRU Actors Workshop Theatre!  The livestream will begin at 9am and run for the duration of the program (until approximately 2pm).  The link to the livestream video broadcast is: http://www.livestream.com/livetru.

TEDx Youth Day events vary widely in size, format and theme, but share a common mission: inspiring curiosity, igniting new ideas, and empowering leaders among today's youth.

Click here for more information.
February 12, 2014
The 8th Annual Healthy Schools Leadership Symposium will take place this year on May 5th, 2014 at the Hilton Airport Hotel in Vancouver.

Join us for a day filled with networking, collaboration, and learning with those who are  committed to the creation and facilitation of healthy schools in BC. The symposium will bring together the health and education sectors, community organizations, and students who are all passionate about healthy learners and healthy schools.

Registration Details:
This event is free to attend. Registration will open at the end of February, please stay tuned for more information. You can also stay updated by checking our website here.

February 11, 2014
Want to ski and ride free this winter? The Canadian Ski Council’s SnowPassTM lets you ski and ride three times  at EACH participating ski area for $29.95. That’s a lot of skiing and boarding right across Canada!

To join in, you need to be in grade 4 or 5 (or 9 or 10 years old) and live in Canada. Every skier and rider is welcome; especially if you’re a beginner.

You only need to apply once for the SnowPasstm and the pass is valid until the end of grade 5. This means if you apply in grade 4 the pass is valid for two years.

Click here for more information on how to apply!

February 3, 2014
The Healthy Aboriginal Network has created a motion comic based on its staying in school book, Level Up. The trailer can be seen here and on their website. The DVD will be released in March and is now available to pre-order for $15.00.

In Level Up, Terry is contemplating dropping out of school. But before he does, he's asked to spend some time with his cousin Dave, a successful game developer. Rather than lecture Terry, Dave makes the importance of school relatable - he compares education to moving up a level in a video game.

Please send an email to sean@thehealthyaboriginal.net with your address for the invoice if you would like to place an order.
January 30, 2014
The Pan-Canadian Joint Consortium for School Health's (JCSH) Youth Engagement Toolkit is now available! The toolkit is intended to:
1. Help communicate the importance of youth engagement as a key approach to implementing comprehensive school health;
2. Provide research and rationale for practicing youth engagement in schools, school boards and districts, government ministries, health regions, and community organizations;
3. Provide a "how-to" resource of effective practices to support youth engagement in these contexts.

To access the toolkit, click here.
January 27, 2014
Empathy and compassion cannot be taught formally, but develop spontaneously in a child whose need for connection and contact are properly met. Explore the challenging topic of emotion, in both our children and ourselves, with two leaders in childhood development.

Public Talk: 7:00pm - 9:30pm
On February 26, Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté’s dialogue is moderated by Maria LeRose, award-winning television producer who has moderated panels featuring the Dalai Lama, Mikhail Gorbachev, Sir Ken Robinson and other luminaries.

Workshops: 10:00am - 5:00pm
On February 27, Gordon Neufeld presents Heart Matters: The Science of Emotions, and Gabor Maté presents Conscious Parenting: Becoming the Parents Our Children Need.

More details here.
January 21, 2014
Canadian schools with explicit anti-homophobia interventions such as gay-straight alliances (GSAs) may reduce the odds of suicidal thoughts and attempts among both sexual minority and straight students, according to a new study by University of British Columbia researchers.

LGBTQ youth and heterosexual students in schools with anti-homophobia policies and GSAs had lower odds of discrimination, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts, primarily when both strategies were enacted, or when the polices and GSAs had been in place for three years or more.

Published in the International Journal of Child, Youth, and Family Studies and funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the study drew on data from the British Columbia Adolescent Health Survey to test the link between school policies and