Delburne students take lead in Healthy Active Schools projects

Students at Delburne Centralized School took part in the Healthy Active Schools Symposium last fall and have hit the ground running with new ideas ever since.

Healthy Active Schools is a broad approach to comprehensive school health, bringing together students and experts to strengthen school communities, empower educators, share successes, foster resiliency and create a positive healthy culture in schools. For the students at Delburne, it is just plain fun.

“We have always had a strong student leadership group, but it mostly involved our high school students,” said Jeff Anderson, lead teacher behind the initiative. “Last fall we took reps from Grades 6-12 to the Symposium in Red Deer, and they came back from that experience keen to focus on wellness and being active all day long. Their enthusiasm has been bolstered and you can see it in every hallway in our school.”

One of their first initiatives was a popular ‘Don’t walk in the hallway’ program. It ensures students and staff remain active between classes by following the prompts delivered up by four shapes that have been drawn onto the floor. For students in the elementary hallway, this might mean everyone has to stop and touch their toes when they walk on a triangle. At middle school, they might breakdance on the triangle, while high school students might make a kind gesture towards someone nearby – to ensure mental health is also part of the culture.

“The activity changes every month and the different grades made up the actions they want,” said Finn Weddell, Grade 3. “It’s really fun and I like working with others to decide on the actions. It lets off steam and makes it easier to sit and pay attention in the next classroom.”

“One of the things we did for our project was to develop the Snack Shack, which is a rolling cart that we take vegetables, fruit and popcorn around the hallways,” said Briet Byrtus, Grade 6. “Besides being healthy, we are also doing this as a class fundraiser for our year-end swimming trip because we sell the items for $1. It’s also part of our CTF option (Career and Technology Foundations) because we are researching nutrition and pricing, proper food handling, kitchen skills  and entrepreneurship. All of these activities has put a new focus on health and wellness.”

“For our part, our leadership team is talking about positivity and being kind,” said Grade 11 student Kacey Jackson, who has been involved with leadership activities at the school since Grade 4.  “We recently stayed after school to put a positive note on every single locker, so that everyone started off the next day seeing that message. Positivity grows and we’re seeing really caring interactions between students.

“I think by bringing students’ ideas forward and representing what they think school should be like and what we can do to help our community, we now have lots of students involved in leadership across the grades. It makes me feel like I’m helping and being listened to by the teachers and staff here. It’s empowering because people respect our ideas, and it’s rewarding to contribute to a project and have it be successful. We are role models for younger students and they seem to get more confidence by being involved in this program,” said Kacey.

Each of the activities is enhancing connections between all grades at the K-12 school, and is engaging community neighbours and partners who are becoming involved. Schools throughout Chinook’s Edge employ the philosophies behind Healthy Active Schools to ensure all students can contribute to their school culture.