January Healthy School Feature
In September 2015 Ophea’s Healthy Schools Certification was launched. We are thrilled to have 182 schools across Ontario committed to making their school community a healthier place. From January – June, we’ll be sharing the experiences of select registered Healthy Schools across Ontario, bringing you success stories, challenges and ideas to support you in making your school a healthier school.
January Featured Healthy School:
Richmond Rose Public School
1. What has your school team identified as your priority health topic for this school year? What inspired you to choose this topic?
This year was harder than most due to the ongoing labour disputes, but having been a part of Ophea’s Healthy Schools Certification pilot project last year, we were excited to revisit and join the project for the 2015/2016 school year. Physical Activity has always been a top priority at Richmond Rose Public School. We are inspired to help students to succeed not only academically but also in their daily physically activity. Additionally, a number of Richmond Rose students are new Canadians, and our friends at CAAWS (Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport) have informed us that stats show new Canadians are less active; at Richmond Rose we are motivated to change that.
2. How does your school team encourage students and staff to make healthy choices?
While our priority topic is “Physical Activity” it doesn’t mean we neglect other priority health topics. One of our most successful programs for engaging students in healthy decision making has been our snack program. Students are provided with healthy snacks daily, and we have been fortunate enough to apply and receive funding to support the cost of some snacks. The snack program helps students see, touch, feel, smell and of course taste a variety of healthy snacks. Since the implementation of this program, teachers have reported that snacks from home have started to reflect the healthy snacks students receive at school – overall a great start! Moreover, the program is led by one of our Special Education Classes and provides leadership opportunities that are of great benefit to our students. Can you say, “win, win”?
3. How has your school team motivated your school community to be healthy, safe and inclusive?
Part 1: How we’re getting healthy! In addition to our snack program, this year we are working towards implementing a “Playground Ambassador Program” that takes place during recess. This program existed a few years ago and it was very successful! The program helps teach older students playground games and give them access to playground equipment. The older students’ roles are then to teach the playground games to younger students and distribute the equipment. The expectation is that by the end of the school year older students have helped build friendships, taught safety and have shared ideas and equipment in the process.
Part 2: How we’re getting safe! The Playground Ambassador Program also helps make the schoolyard a safer place. We found that children who are more actively engaged are less likely to get into altercations.
Part 3: How we’re getting inclusive! Richmond Rose PS has always strived to be as inclusive as possible (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F163DfG3yUw ). The Playground Ambassador Program supports to build an inclusive environment for both older and younger students of all backgrounds and abilities, and we encourage and speak to students in a non-threatening manner that establishes friendship and trust (extending well beyond the program and school walls). This has shown to reduce bullying incidences at schools and students, in particular younger students, feel safe when they are approached by an older student.
4. What is one thing you have learned about the value of following the Healthy Schools approach?
DO AN INVENTORY OF EVERYTHING YOU ARE ALREADY DOING AT YOUR SCHOOL!
Even before using the Identification of Assets tool in Step 2 of HSC Guide our list of school programs and initiatives wound up being pages long and we couldn’t believe how many different things we do to support healthy, active living with our community and students. You will be amazed at how many things that you already do that you can use or build on for HS Certification. Schools and educators need to reflect and adjust the healthy processes and steps they are taking. This helps to establish an explicit Healthy Schools approach, and celebrates the wonderful things the schools does. You may find that using your existing school committees structure (i.e. PC4L - Positive Climates for Learning) and Public Health Programs (i.e. York Region Public Health), and the District School Board & Workplaces Framework) can also benefit in the learning and development process.
5. Do you have any upcoming Healthy School events or links you would like to share?
We always have lots on the go at Richmond Rose and we love to take advantage of Community Partners to bring forth new activities. Things are about to get pretty busy over the next month in support of HS Certification.
January Nabil Tadros from UofT Kinesiology dropped in to give a workshop to our grade 7 and 8 school teams.
February Golf Canada will be here sharing insight on their programs golfinschools.golfcanada.ca (BTW – NC).
February FitSpirit starts for the year. A great fitness and self esteem program for intermediate girls, culminating with a 5K run in May fitspirit.ca - $10 for multiple sessions and involves an Olympic Athlete, a nutritionals, a fitness leader. Over 100 girls participated last year.
February Curling Canada brings its fabulous Rocks n’ Rings program to our primary students, rocksandrings.com - approx. $1.35 / student.
Check back next month for the next featured Healthy Schools blog!
Not registered but interested in supporting your school in being a healthy school? Access Ophea’s Healthy Schools Certification Guidebook to follow the step-by-step process and learn more about this approach.