May Feature Healthy School: St. Marguerite d'Youville School
We are excited to be sharing the experiences of select registered Healthy Schools who have been active on Twitter using #HSCertES; bringing you their success stories, challenges, and ideas to support you in making your school a healthier school. St. Marguerite d'Youville School is our May Feature Healthy School. We caught up with Lucy Hunt and her team to learn about their experiences with Healthy Schools Certification. Check out our Q&A!
1.Who is on your school’s Healthy Schools team (e.g.: students, public health professionals, teachers, admin, and/or community partners)? What do these different members bring to the team?
We have two Student Health Action Team (HAT) reps from each grade 1-8 class plus Eco Reps. Our HAT and Eco Teams work together as many of the projects we work on during the year overlap. Our weekly meetings involve over 100 student reps. We also have many staff, the principal and many community partners who work with us on projects. This year we had 11 McMaster University Student nurses, in addition to many community groups such as Green Venture, BARC, and Hamilton Water. For our next initiative, we will be working again with Dr. Corr on the Clean Air for Kids project collecting air samples around the neighbourhood like we did five years ago. We are curious to see if our focus on increasing student active transportation using a school travel plan over the last few years was effective in improving air quality around the school neighbourhood.
2.What is your Healthy Schools priority health topic? What lead you to choose this topic?
Our Healthy Schools priority health topic is mental health. We chose this topic after the majority of students completed initial surveys at the beginning of the year indicating an interest in this area which also includes topics of anxiety, building confidence, positive image, social media, healthy eating, the New Canadian Food Guide, active transportation, active lifestyle, Yellow Days (Walking and biking to school), drinking water, staying healthy, mindfulness, inclusiveness, and being creative.
3.How does your school team encourage students and staff to make healthy choices? Share an example.
Our HAT Team encourages students and staff to make healthy choices in a variety of ways. We hold weekly meetings where we learn about issues related to our health topic and then organize special days and activities throughout the month. For example, we worked on the New Canadian Food Guide by researching information about the 3 food groups and changes made from the previous food guide. The students created PowerPoint presentations, an interactive black board, and made presentations about the new information. Then they made up games and interactive activities that they practised during our meetings. During our Healthy Eco Fair on April 26, students displayed their interactive New Canadian Food Guide board, information, visuals and games to help students and attendees learn about the new changes. The booth was prepared and run by students who showcased their PowerPoint presentations on laptops, played games, and explained posters and their display board. Our Positive Post-It Campaigns around the school was also a very successful well-being related project with all grades. These examples are some of many activities that we worked on, covering a variety of health topics connected to body and mental health.
4.Tell us about a success, no matter how big or small, that your Healthy Schools team has had this year. Who was involved? What changed in your school?
Our school’s healthy initiatives and environmental sustainability projects are deeply embedded in all we do as an eco friendly and health conscious community. In 2015, our school was recognized as the Greenest School in Canada and we continue to strive to keep that commitment. Our work in connecting the health and environmental benefits in many projects we work on with community partners has garnered our school recognition and support from many stakeholders. For example, working with Green Venture on Clean Air for Kids connected to our School Travel Plan which included holding many Walk and Roll to School Days with Smart Commute. These projects have a positive impact on our own health and the environment. This is especially seen on our Yellow Days, when we encourage walking and cycling to school which means there are less vehicles on the road and cleaner air. We’ve shared our Yellow Day photos with many community groups and leaders as they promote our message and activities, and continue to remind us to make positive choices about our health and the earth.
5.How have students been engaged as leaders within your school community as a result of Healthy Schools Certification?
Our students have been asked to speak at the Mohawk Youth Eco Summit, Catholic Women’s League, City Hall, Smart Commute Meetings on School Travel Plans and Design Workshops, and at assemblies about our work on building a healthy school. At school, students have persuaded their peers and families to drink water after running a Sugar Shocker Campaign. Some students made a visual board displaying popular drinks and the amount of sugar found in each drink in baggies. This display board has been part of our presentations in the community and also at “Welcome to Kindergarten” night to show parents and community members how much sugar is found in drinks.
6.Does your Healthy Schools team have any upcoming events or activities that they’re excited about?
On April 26 we had our 7th annual Healthy Eco School Fair that was attended by over 850 attendees, members of community groups, other school teams, leaders, and families in our community. We celebrated working to achieve Ophea’s Healthy Schools Certification and being an Ontario Eco School. The Fair helped us connect and network with others who share our healthy eco friendly philosophy. Mental well-being, healthy eating, active lifestyle, and eco friendly practices have all become a focus in everything that we do. We are excited to continue participating in more activities and events as we prepare for our Healthy Eco Fair next year.
Lucy Hunt (HAT Rep)
Jenny Frappa (Principal)
Anthony Tittarelli (Social Media on HAT)