May 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.
May Featured Healthy School:
Larkspur 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?
We identified our priority health topic as “physical activity”, and our goal was to work towards increasing the amount of time students spend being physically active during recess time. This health topic was chosen in consideration of the inactivity that was being witnessed by staff members, especially when our fields were off boundaries due to poor or unsafe conditions. In order to gather as much information about our current recess experiences as possible, staff, students and parents were asked to participate in an online survey. The collected data provided us with direction in regard to steps 2 through 4 of the certification process. To further enhance our students recess experience and increase physical activity levels, we also developed and implemented a PALS recess program.
2. How does your school team encourage students and staff to make healthy choices?
Larkspur Public School encourages students and staff to make healthy life choices by promoting physical activity, as opposed to watching television or playing video games during free time. From physical education units that promote the importance of active, healthy living, to various intramurals and team sports opportunities, to PALS on Fridays and our Walk to School Program, Larkspur students are encouraged to be active before, during and after school hours.
Select staff members also encourage fellow teachers to participate in yoga and exercise sessions that are hosted after school hours in specific classroom locations, as well as participate in Boot Camps offered during fall and spring months at a park adjacent to the school.
3. How has your school team motivated your school community to be healthy, safe and inclusive?
Our Healthy Schools Committee has worked extremely hard this school year to motivate our school community to be healthy, safe and inclusive. On Wednesday, April 13th we hosted our first annual Community Fitness Evening. This event was an opportunity for students and their families to learn about the importance and benefits of living an active, healthy lifestyle. Several community partners, such as; the Peel Region of Health, Chinguacousy Wellness Centre, Booster Juice, Brampton Beast, Soccer School of Excellence and Athletes Care all provided students and families with information about their products and/or services, as well as safety tips for participating in aquatic activities. In addition, the evening provided us the opportunity to showcase our recently implemented PALS recess program to demonstrate to parents all the wonderful outdoor physical activity games that students are participating in on Friday’s. The game choices also demonstrated how inclusiveness is a major focus at Larkspur and how we have adopted the PALS motto: “There is always room for one more.”
4. What is one thing you have learned about the value of following the Healthy Schools approach?
The most significant thing we have learned about the value of the Healthy Schools Approach is the understanding that everyone, including administration, staff, parent volunteers and students have to be consistent in working together to achieve our collective goal(s). When everyone is able to voice their opinion they feel valued and part of the “big picture”. Additionally, when members are motivated, there is a high level of effort because everyone is invested. Furthermore, coordinating bi-weekly meetings, so that the majority of committee members could attend was sometimes challenging but worthwhile - the depth and richness of all our conversations with respect to planning and implementing our action plan resulted in a comprehensive strategy that reached everyone in our school community.
5. Do you have any upcoming Healthy School events or links you would like to share?
We will be thanking all individuals involved in making our first annual Community Fitness Night a success at our school assembly on May 19th. After the acknowledgment of committee members and teacher volunteers, a short video presentation will be shown to illustrate how the evening unfolded. As well, our committee members and PALS leaders will be congratulated for all their efforts in June during the assembly where we unveil what Healthy Schools level Larkspur has achieved.
Follow Larkspur Public School’s journey:
Check back next month for our final featured Healthy Schools blog of the year!
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.
IMAGE: Submitted by Angela Kannenberg and James Brophey - Larkspur Public School – Brampton, Ontario