Central Kings Wellness Day a ‘door-opener for living a healthy lifestyle’

Kathryn Brewster
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Instead of hitting the books April 30, students at Central Kings Rural High School could choose from 24 different sessions put on as part of the school’s first Wellness Day.

Both students and teachers were able to pick and choose the four, hour-long workshops they attended. While the physical workshops showcased activities like Zumba, hip hop, yoga, and self-defence, the sit-down sessions covered topics like racism, homophobia, drugs and alcohol.  

“We sent out a survey to a sample population of our school, and we identified some of the student needs,” says Chris Bigelow, a teacher at CK and one of the staff organizers of Wellness Day. “We identified that many of the students had anxiety and issues with mental health. A lot of students wanted to improve their physical fitness. We tried to find presenters and workshops that represented those themes.”

School guidance counsellor Nova Keddy also recognizes the need for students to connect with the sessions.

“Kids are always looking for relevant learning in the classroom,” she says, “and this is relevant to what’s going on in their lives. What I’m seeing is that the kids are really engaged, and we’ve got some amazing presenters that have come.”

She pointed to sessions surrounding mental health and stress.

“This is a great opportunity; (a student) doesn’t necessarily have to come to a counselling session, but they can get lots of self-help skills just from some of these workshops.”

The students seemed to genuinely enjoy what they were doing, whether it was discussing the affects of sleep – and lack thereof – or playing ultimate Frisbee.

“I think it’s really good for students to experience new things, and (Wellness Day)’s a good door-opener for living a healthy lifestyle,” says Grade 12 student Jacob Shepherd. His sessions included both yoga and self-defence. “It’s a neat experience, and I took a lot of things from it.”

Courtney Foster, a Grade 11 student, was drawn to the more physical side of things, such as Zumba, yoga and self-defence.

“I think it’s really great to get out and get active, to learn new things,” she says.

Students didn’t just learn by attending sessions. Grade 9 student Lindsey Lowthers chose to take on a more administrative role than some of her peers.

“I signed people in, showed them to their rooms and made sure they were comfortable,” she explains.

Lowthers doesn’t regret her choice not to attend the sessions themselves, though. “I feel like I’m experiencing more of a leadership role,” she says, which she thinks will help her take on leadership roles in later years.

“I was going around to take pictures, so I got to experience little bits of each workshop. I learned little things as I went along.”

The day was funded in part by a Re/Max grant obtained by student Jill Lamb, which Keddy says covered about half of the costs.

Despite the wide range of talks and activities offered, Bigelow says he would have liked to add at least one more: nutrition.

“These days it’s really important, especially with energy drinks floating around in lockers,” he said.

Planning began back in January, and relied heavily on the support of the community. Although it was organized by school staff, Keddy says that if they do it again, she would like to see more student involvement in the planning – the benefits of having some sort of student committee, she says, outweigh any extra work such a process might entail. 

“I hope eventually we’ll create a culture in the school where a day like this is celebrated and looked forward to,” says Bigelow. “Hopefully folks in other schools will grab hold of it, and hopefully help make a difference in (the students’) lives.”

See a slideshow of photos from the Wellness Day at KingsCountyNews.ca

Organizations: Central Kings Rural High School

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