June Healthy School Feature
In September 2015 Ophea’s Healthy Schools Certification was launched. 113 schools across Ontario completed the 6-Step Healthy Schools Process, making their school community a healthier place. Of those schools, 107 achieved enough points for gold, silver, or bronze certification. This is our last blog featuring a Healthy School for the 2015/16 school year. Since January we have been 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.
June Featured Healthy School
Mitchell District High School
1. What has your school team identified as your priority health topic for this school year? What inspired you to choose this topic?
The Mitchell District High School (MDHS) Healthy Schools team chose to focus on mental health. The team made this decision after running focus groups with students from all classes and interviewing the school health nurse, teachers, community members, and administration. Students identified that if mental health was selected as their priority health topic, they could touch on all other topics through their activities (e.g. the connections between physical activity/healthy eating and good mental health).
2. How does your school team encourage students and staff to make healthy choices?
One of the ways our Healthy Schools team encourages healthy choices is by making mental health a topic of conversation at MDHS. Through the school year, two members of the Healthy Schools team presented to grade 7 and 8 classes each week. The presentations focused on a mental health issue in order to break down stigmas attached to mental health. Some of the issues addressed were eating disorders, social media’s impact on well‐being, and the importance of being active. They supported their presentations with activities to reinforce their key messages and got students talking and thinking.
Through these presentations the Healthy Schools team wanted to help students and staff identify the signs and symptoms of mental health issues, and to remind peers that help and support are always available. Each of the presentations wrapped up with the team members providing specific information on where to seek help and support if they or someone they knew was facing mental health issues or challenges.
3. How has your school team motivated your school community to be healthy, safe and inclusive?
The team organized an afternoon activity for all the grade 7 and 8 students to reinforce the messages they’d been delivering. They planned for all the students to walk together down the Nature Trail to the park. At the park, students had unstructured time playing games, using the equipment, and spending time with their peers. This event put into action all the messages the team had been presenting.
Spending time outside with supportive peers and teachers, being physically active, and being away from screens got everyone motivated!
4. What is one thing you have learned about the value of following the Healthy Schools approach?
The Healthy Schools approach creates leadership opportunities for students. They connect with the needs of the school when they chose their focus topic and they worked together to decide how to address the topic. Moreover, the team felt pride as they worked to improve the health and wellbeing of their school community!
5. Do you have any Healthy School events or links you would like to share?
Check out this feature article from MitchellAdvocate.com:
MDHS Healthy Schools team secures silver certification
Interested in supporting your school in being a healthy school? Visit Ophea’s Healthy Schools Certification website to learn more about the 6-Step Healthy Schools Process. Registration for the 2016/17 school year opens September 6, 2016.
Image: Members of the Healthy Schools Team at MDHS.