By Laura Lennie
Stoney Creek News (May 27, 2015)
St. Francis Xavier Catholic Elementary School is doing its part to bring awareness to mental health and well-being.
The school held its first ME/WE Fair on May 21. Grade 1 to 8 students got a chance to find out more about mental wellness and rotate through 13 interactive stations featuring different coping strategies on how to deal with stress as part of the event.
Station themes included arts and crafts, Christian meditation, healthy eating, music, reading, yoga and Zumba. The stations were run by board, school and community members who volunteered their services for the day.
“We know mental health is a huge component that comes into the schools and we have to deal with that proactively,” principal Olga Scheer said. “We know children experience home stresses, school stresses and peer stresses, and while we can’t change all of these stresses, what we can do maybe is help kids manage those stresses and show them ways on how to do that.”
St. Francis Xavier’s Health Action Team, comprised of 10 Grade 7 and 8 students, school nurse Carol Fedoryshyn and staff advisors Lindsay Pinner and Loretta Piro-Cinelli, organized the ME/WE Fair after conducting a student survey in January.
Students identified mental health and well-being as a top priority.
The team then drilled deeper and learned that students were stressed and worried about a number of things in their lives.
Members began brainstorming ideas around how to help the students and came up with a plan for a mental wellness fair.
The school then applied for a grant through the Suicide Prevention Community Council of Hamilton and received $900 for the event.
The team started organizing the ME/WE Fair, putting together 13 interactive stations featuring various coping strategies on how to deal with stress.
Piro-Cinelli said the event is essentially “student voice brought into action.”
“The students’ feedback really drove this initiative,” she said. “When we received the grant, we were able to plan something on a bit more of a larger scale, which was fantastic.”
Scheer said youth mental health is an important issue.
“We’re looking to build on this event,” she said. “I think it’s something we need do from this level.”