March 7 was Wellness Day at Stittsville’s Frederick Banting Alternate School. Frederick Banting is comprised of students from grades 9-12, ranging in age from 16 to 21 and offers independent learning that is student-led.
This is the third year that Wellness Day has taken place with each year being more successful than the previous. The day focused on the students during the school hours with many activities and speakers providing positive learning experiences.
The morning began with breakfast provided by the Community Bible Church. There were 14 community resource groups who set-up displays in the school’s auditorium. Some of the organizations with displays were: Western Ottawa Resource Centre, YMCA, Dave Smith Centre, Stittsville Food Bank, MADD, First Nations and Indigenous Affairs, Planned Parenthood, Rideauwood, and PLEO (Parents Lifeline of Eastern Ontario).
The keynote speaker for the day was Cody Coyote, an Ottawa hiphop/rapper and songwriter. Coyote was a hit with the students and they were totally engaged with his messages to them. He promotes positive growth in communities and healthy relationships. Coyote at the request of Jim Cuddy (of Blue Rodeo fame) performed at the Trans-Canada Trail thank you event for donors in Toronto and previously on Parliament Hill for Canada Day.
The afternoon session workshops were quite informative for the students and allowed for full participation. Mark Walter, an environmental artist from Environmental Art, brought along pine needles from a 10-year old Christmas tree he salvaged from the National Art Gallery. Using the needles, each student and teacher formed a shape of something relevant to them with the end product being a large mosaic. There was a Talking Circle where students could share their thoughts and stories. Rideauwood Addiction Treatment Centre provided the students with Naloxone training. Circuit Training gave the students a real ‘work out’.
The parents and guardians of the students were invited to an evening presentation on ‘Technology and Adolescent Mental Health’ given by keynote speaker, Dr. Michael Cheng, Child and Family Psychiatrist from CHEO. Dr. Cheng is a light-hearted speaker at events such as this, but his message is serious. He is passionate about youth and their mental health, especially with their use of technology and cell phones. Dr. Cheng is a co-founder of the eMentalHealth.ca website.
All in all it was a very long, but fantastic day for both the students and teachers.
Congratulations to all of the students and teachers who are working together to provide such an important asset in the heart of Stittsville.