Handsworth’s theme of the 2019-20 school year, is Wellness and Resiliency.
As our staff and students work towards this goal, we look back on feedback received from staff, parents, and students. In particular, results from past Employee Engagement Surveys alongside the OurSchool student surveys remind us of our school community’s needs. One of the notable findings of the student surveys is the high levels of anxiety caused directly or indirectly as a result of school. We value the social-emotional well-being of not only our students but our staff as well, and a number of initiatives spearheaded by counsellors, teachers, support staff, and students are beginning to come to fruition.
Below are small steps that highlight our work in progress:
Isla Powell, Choices teacher at Handsworth created a wellness questionnaire for high school aged students. Questions were shared with Handsworth staff who could then tailor these to the needs of their classes. This questionnaire is a tool which can be used to better understand the temperature of classrooms from the students perspective. Questions range from “when do you feel you are being listened to?” to, “when do you feel itâs OK to make a mistake, or show that you donât know something, or how to do something?” It may be a small gesture, but regular inquiry into student well-being (and small adjustments to acknowledge this) may provide them a platform for expression.
Handsworth’s Wellness Committee meets every week to discuss wellness initiatives for those involved in the school community. Most recently, they have been planning Wellness Week for the end of January. With involvement from counsellors, teachers and their classes, support staff, and Grad Council, a slate of events including presentations, workshops, introduction to Indigenous medicines, interactive exhibits, and wellness challenges will be on view.
Simone Brodie’s Social Justice 12 class is a place where students participate in project-based learning, tackling socially relevant issues that pertain to people their age. Project topics were sparked by a simple class brainstorm with the prompt, “what do students in school need?” In preparation for wellness week, students are planning dance workshops, interactive stations, art installations, and collaborative posters between Social Justice and Graphic Design classes. Some areas of focus include:
- New Masculinities in Hip Hop Dance workshop: Hip Hop artists are embracing their emotions and re-writing the script for what it means to be masculine in popular culture
- Slamming Diet Culture: Fostering body neutrality and self-expression. This workshop will help students recognize how we are affected by social media as well as the many ways that diet culture affects our daily lives. This will be displayed in the form of a dance and slam poetry performance
- The “You Are Enough” Art Installation encourages students to think of their qualities and skills beyond grades and extra-curriculars. What are some of our overlooked qualities that we have the right to be proud of?
Our students are working towards contributing to their community by building a sense of urgency – recognizing everyoneâs collective responsibility on the front of advocating for wellness.
Stay tuned for more updates!