St. David Catholic Secondary School in Waterloo has been named one of just 10 Ontario schools to receive the prestigious Premier’s Award for Accepting Schools. The award is presented annually to recognize schools that have demonstrated exceptional initiative, creativity and leadership in promoting a safe, inclusive and accepting school climate.
St. David’s efforts to encourage staff and student participation and engagement in healthy schools activities have succeeded in building a safe and accepting school environment, with initiatives such as:
Student well-being clubs: The school has numerous student-led groups to promote all aspects of health. Clubs include Girls Rock, Dove Beauty campaign, Run Club, and Female Equality Club, where the focus is on mental health, self-acceptance, healthy eating and decision-making. There is also a “Together Table” which is a lunch initiative that encourages students to disconnect from their devices and connect with each other. Students sit together at a long table, play board games and socialize.
Spin Your Stress Away: This program offers 20-minute spinning sessions throughout the day for the week before exams. Students and staff learned a new activity and relieved exam-related stress. Participants were surveyed after each session for continuous program improvement. More than 95 per cent of students surveyed said they understood how exercise can be used to relieve stress.
Wellness Studio: An unused space in the school was transformed into a Wellness Studio to promote overall health and well-being. The studio is available throughout the day for use as a learning environment for mental health and well-being. Sessions are run by staff and community members and include yoga, Pilates, mindfulness and Tai Chi. A second stage of the Wellness Studio is in development and will offer a larger space for the program.
The growing number of students returning each week to activities promoting positive mental health indicates the strong level of student participation and the success of these efforts. One of the most successful clubs has been the “Together Table,” which has grown from 40 students to more than 160 after only two months.
The Waterloo Catholic District School Board, representing more than 96,000 Catholic school supporters, operates 49 schools and five adult education facilities serving more than 40,000 elementary, secondary and continuing education students in Waterloo Region – continuing a 182-year tradition of quality, inclusive, faith-based education. Follow us on Twitter: @WCDSBNewswire – #WCDSBAwesome.
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