While there’s still a lot of work to be done, the past few years have seen slow and steady progress across the country when it comes to understanding and supporting mental health. To help further promote best practices for Canadian children and youth, PHE Canada partnered with the Co-Operators to launch Share2Care, part of the Teach Resiliency program.
Its goal? To recognize and share unique, innovative, and promising mental health practices that are having a positive impact on students, school staff, or both.
To reach that goal, Share2Care awarded five schools – chosen from 224 entries -- $2,000 each. Those funds will help the chosen schools continue building on the promising practices they’ve established to help support the mental health of teachers and students.
The five Share2Care campaign recipients are:
- Centre for Alternative Learning - Prince George, BC
- Churchill Community High School - La Ronge, SK
- Knollwood Park Public School - London, On
- Don Mills Middle School - Toronto, ON
- New Germany Rural High School - New Germany, NS
"A young person's environment, including family, school, and society can affect their educational outcomes," stated Melanie Davis, CEO of PHE Canada. "With 224 applications received from coast to coast to coast during the 2018 campaign, the responsiveness to supporting mental health in Canadian schools has been outstanding. It also reflects the urgent need for schools and school boards to recognize and prioritize well-being in the classroom. Thanks to the partnership with The Co-operators, we are able to support and invest in Canadian schools and fortify their current mental health focused initiatives."
“Schools play a critical role in our communities, and we’re proud to support projects that improve the mental health of teachers, students, and their families as well,” said Jayne Russell, Manager, Public Relations at The Co-operators. “Through Share2Care, we wanted to shine a light on the importance of promoting and supporting the mental well-being, especially among young people. We see this as an important part of our commitment to building healthier, more sustainable Canadian communities.”
The winning schools' stories
Centre for Learning Alternatives, Prince George, British Columbia
The Centre for Learning Alternatives is a Tier 3 alternative high school. They are a trauma-informed school and all their work is informed from this perspective. The population they are serving are considered to be "at risk" youth and approximately 65% are First Nation ancestry. Many live in extreme poverty. In order to attend their school, students must have exhausted all the mainstream school supports, be in danger of dropping out, and be in need of extensive supports including targeted mental health initiatives. Over half of the students have a clinical mental health diagnosis and many more students remain undiagnosed.
Churchill Community School, La Ronge, Saskatchewan
Churchill Community School is a grade 7 - 12 school with a population of 550 students, 90% of whom are First Nations/Metis located in La Ronge, Saskatchewan. During the last 4 years, they have had three suicides within the community. The school had one social worker to serve the population but were granted another position after the suicides. Two high school students approached the school’s teacher advisor to start a peer support group to add extra support to the students. Ten students were trained as peer support volunteers in January 2018 and six more students will be taking trainings this winter.
Don Mills Middle School, Toronto
Don Mills Middle School (DMMS) is located within the Don Mills community of Toronto, ON. The school population is 409 students from grade 6-8. The school shares the same campus as Don Mills Collegiate Institute and has a diverse population of students of different cultures that speak a variety of languages from around the world. The school has a high population of students with learning needs, 26% of the students have an IEP (105 IEPs). The majority of students come from nine feeder schools and some students travel far distances to attend their Cyber Arts program.
Knollwood Park Public School, London, Ontario
The Knollwood Park Public School has a historical significance in East London as one of the oldest running schools which opened in 1920 as a two-room ‘Red Cross Hut.’ The school now has 260 students from Kindergarten to Grade 8. The board maintains a comparative view of schools relative ranking on demographic variables. In the majority of these factors, Knollwood Park ranks in the top 25th percentile of highest risk. For example, it ranks in the 92nd percentile of average household income (low income), in the 97th percentile of lone parent families, 85th percentile of unemployment rate and 91st percentile of recent immigrants.
New Germany Rural High School (in partnership with the New Germany Elementary School), New Germany, Nova Scotia
New Germany Rural High School is a small school housing 330 students in grades 7-12. One in five students in the county lives in poverty and comes to school without proper nourishment or clothing. The impact of this on children's education is immeasurable and it further disadvantages families creating a cycle of health, mental health, and financial hardships in the community.
For more on the Share2Care program, please visit Share2Care