A grade 4/5 class at Landmark Elementary has been randomly selected by the True North Foundation to participate in the 'Project 11' pilot program.
Author and Coordinator Heidi Fingas explains the program was inspired and created in honor of former Winnipeg Jet and Manitoba Moose #11 Ryan Rypien who struggled with depresson but loved to help kids and teach them the game of hockey.
Teacher Kailey Penner explains she was told about the program by Principal Val Ginter and was very interested, so she submitted an application for her class to participate. Penner says she was very excited when they found out they were chosen because she knew the program was focusing on positive mental health.
The program is 15-weeks long and is geared towards grade five and six students. For grade five they focus on friendship, communication and self-reflection. For grade six they focus on stress, communication and self-reflection. There are also 60 activities which coincide with the lessons to help support students and teachers on mental health wellness and bringing positive coping skills into their lives. The activities include: yoga, laughing yoga, aboriginal dancing, music and rhythm, fun with food and relaxation techniques.
Penner feels these are themes and lessons everyone can benefit from learning and likes the hockey focus of the project.
"They really enjoy writing in their score keeper which is a little Hilroy notebook they were given. Lesson number one has gone really well and we're half way through lesson number two. There are 60 body checks throughout the 15-weeks, so there are 15 lesson plans and one lesson is to be done each week. In one lesson there is a warm-up, game-on and a post-game. In each one of those sections there are activities that the students do."
The first lesson focused on friendship, Penner explains the students were given a list of friendship traits and they had to pick out which traits they saw as important for their friends. She says they created a wordle where students first listed positive friendship traits and then negative ones. These two wordles were put on a poster so the students can see it everyday.
"We focused on how we would like to be treated as a friend and what some of the characteristics and actions are that we would like to have people treat us with. Also how we are as a friend. So they had time to reflect how they treat others and maybe there was some reflecting on areas they could improve on but they had some time to think about some really great areas they were focusing on."
Penner hopes the students take even a few things out of the lessons to help them in their everyday lives. She also loves the hockey focus of the project because her class watches the Winnipeg Jet highlights after every win and they have a lot of fun with that.
After these couple lessons Penner and her students are really enjoying the project and she wishes every grade five and six teacher had an opportunity to take part because of the amazing activities and videos. She adds there is a large focus on physical health these days, which is important, but feels mental health is equally as important.