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Are you able to have some fun in your day, laughing and playing with people you like?

Are you getting enough sleep so you feel refreshed and energized?

Do you congratulate yourself when you do a good job?

These are just a few of the questions that are prompting larger conversations about mental wellness within Grand Erie’s elementary schools. It’s the focus of the updated Be Well campaign, a reboot of last year’s initiative which focused on input provided by secondary students.

In the same way curriculum is developed to provide age-appropriate learning, Be Well benefited from the same approach, and sought the thoughts and reflections of elementary school students to build a campaign that uses language and themes relevant in the primary and junior grades. The result is a Be Well kit that includes conversation starters and resources providing clear pathways to care for younger learners.

Those kits are making their way across Grand Erie during the week of March 20th. They were built around simplified themes that capture the complexity of mental health: Don’t Wait, Connect, Reach Out, and Recharge.

These are now familiar themes in Grand Erie, centred on identifying when others are in need of support, assessing individual needs, and building relationships and networks of support. This time, however, the themes were geared toward the unique needs of younger students.

“‘Well-Being’ is a key component of Grand Erie’s Multi-Year Plan, and aims to create environments that recognize the wellness of mind, body, emotion, and spirit,” said Liana Thompson, Superintendent of Education. “A key difference in the conversations we’re having with younger students around wellness is the focus on recognizing when help is needed, and then empowering students to confide in a trusted adult for support.”

By organizing focus groups, the student voice was incorporated into all aspects of developing the current Be Well initiative. With the assistance of staff and students at Agnes G. Hodge Public School, Bloomsburg Public School, and River Heights School, an elementary spin was put on the original Be Well campaign, which sought the same input from secondary students. Through reviewing Be Well graphics and materials, students discussed the content, described what they’d like to see and what spoke to them, and even got creative by drawing their thoughts.

From there, slight changes were made in word choice and tone, and in overall strategies around mental wellness. Where the secondary voice for Don’t Wait, for example, spoke to secondary students by saying, “Confidential help is available. Learn more in Guidance,” the elementary focus of the campaign empowers students to, “Act now. Talk to an adult. If someone isn’t safe, get help right away.”

The new Be Well kits acknowledge that talking about well-being is the first step to creating a mentally healthier school, and all the components to start these important conversations are contained therein. With posters, conversation prompts, resources including local crisis lines, and strategies for taking action within individual school communities, the kits are one tactic for creating healthy environments that help ensure success for every student.

Join the conversation online, and share your wellness journey. On social media, you can use the hashtag #GEBeWell, or tweet @GEBeWell. You can also take the Wellness Pledge, for a chance to win a great, wellness-inspired prize.

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