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Chimo Elementary School Student Wellness Initiative Gains Momentum in Schools and National Attention
Chimo Elementary School Student Wellness Initiative Gains Momentum in Schools and National Attention
Posted on 03/07/2021
Chimo Elementary School Student Initiative

March 7, 2021 - When the Grade 7 students from Chimo Elementary School in Smiths Falls first decided to take on and later create a wellness challenge in January, they had no idea it would garner attention from a best-selling author and inspire the entire school board.

Under the leadership of their teacher, Jennifer Peters, as well as UCDSB Learning Partners Kristin Labelle and Chris Cook, the students created a 28-day wellness calendar that lists daily activities that challengers can complete – all of which focus on mental and physical health.  Their intention behind the creation was to share it with other UCDSB schools who could take part in a challenge.

Students crafted a letter explaining the wellness calendar and outlining their goal of getting schools across the district to take part and recently sent both the letter and the calendar to every principal across the Upper Canada District School Board. Two schools have already jumped on board and others have shown interest – an outcome the students have been thrilled to witness as a result of their leadership.

How it All Started

This initiative stared in January 2021 when the students returned to in-person learning. Peters connected with Labelle and Cook to discuss ways to integrate social and emotional learning opportunities while also goal setting. Labelle and Cook then visited the Grade 7 class, asking the students where they wanted to focus on with their goals.

Most of the feedback centered on wellness, so they built from there. The students were excited to create a 10-day challenge that was personal to them. They really thought about genuine things that would help them improve their physical or mental well-being.

“We asked them what wellness meant to them, and the students came up with 31 relevant, timely, specific wellness pieces that they offered forward. They knocked our socks off,” said Cook.

Turning their ideas into motion, the students completed a daily task focused on either a physical or mental health goal.

With participation from both in-person and remote learners, the students experienced increased personal awareness.

“I had some recognize that their sleep schedules were out of whack and by improving and changing it day by day, they started to feel better and more productive,” said Peters. “They really jumped on board when they were challenged to extend the wellness calendar to other schools.”

Following their 10-day trial, the students wanted to do more. That’s when they created and distributed the 28-day challenge for all the school board to access and use.

“The students said that they wanted other people to feel this way, too,” explained Labelle. “We were there to facilitate and guide the conversation, but they’re the ones who decided where to go. They’re the ones who are taking the lead on this initiative.”

Widespread Positive Feedback

In addition to the schools who have already shown interest and jumped on board, renowned psychologist Dr. Jody Carrington – best known for her Canadian best-selling book, Kids These Days – heard of this initiative, and sent the class a personalized video, commending them for their efforts.

“Do you know that you’re changing the world?” Carrington said in her video to the class. “You can’t tell people how to be amazing, you have to show them. I am so proud of you, and I hope in some small way you know how amazing you are, changing the world. Grade 7, you are showing people how to be amazing.”

“I am extremely proud of their determination to promote wellness in students around the school board. We are challenging ourselves to continue to be leaders inside and outside of the classroom and to promote kindness and positive mindsets to others for the rest of the school year,” Peters says.

“They all learned something, and it was a relevant and meaningful learning experience for them, and you can’t get much better than that,” says UCDSB Teaching and Learning Principal Amanda Nieman. “The power of student voice to make a movement within our UCDSB community is just incredible.”

The 28-day challenge video can be seen on the Chimo Elementary School Facebook Page.

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