Juniper School in Thompson has received a $5,000 grant from Share2Care, a mental health action initiative, funded by The Co-operators through the Physical and Health Education Canada Teach Resiliency program, which gathers “favourable practices from across Canada to share and inspire school communities.”
The Physical and Health Education Canada Teach Resiliency program website states that “2019 marked the second consecutive year of the Share2Care campaign, and saw school champions from across the country share 316 mental health initiatives supporting teacher and student mental health – 92 more than the previous year.”
Five schools were selected as the 2019 Share2Care recipients, including Juniper, F.H. Collins Secondary School in Whitehorse, Yukon, Robert H. Lagerquist Sr. Public School in Brampton, Ont., Mount Stewart Consolidated School in Mount Stewart, P.E.I, and Shambhala School in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
“We were one of the lucky recipients of the grant across Canada, to be able to pursue our land-based education,” said Juniper principal Lucy Mayor. “One of our teachers, Mrs. [Alysa] Ferguson, applied for and received the grant, and so they are here to present it today.”
Mayor said the funds will be used to continue land-based education programming at Juniper.
“Primarily with a group of three teachers who have been co-ordinating the program for three years,” she said. “The land-based program incorporates various learning and teachings from Indigenous perspectives. They are working hard to build positive relationships with each other, and learning to incorporate more of the past, and heritages they’ve been learning about.”
Mayor explained that land-based education is being used at different levels of the school.
“They incorporate teachings of the medicine wheel,” she said. “As well as the seven teachings, truth and reconciliation calls for justice, Orange Shirt Day and Spirit Bear.”
A large part of land-based education is camp days at Juniper School, which allow children the opportunity to learn and experience traditional outdoor skills. A significant amount of the Share2Care funds, which are additional to the school’s core budget, will be allocated to the continuation of camp days – specifically food requirements, as well as paying and recognizing participating experts.
“We do camps right on our playground,” explained Mayor. “The kids are learning outdoor education right here.”
Mayor explained that the main intention of Share2Care’s grant is promoting student mental health.
“We want to address some of the special needs that kids might have,” she said. “Caring and empathy are a big part, in terms of respecting one another, and the elders. The other part is building patience, coping strategies and resilience. Just being more appreciative and having self-worth.”
Grant McManes, board representative for Manitoba and Nunavut with Physical and Health Education Canada, presented the cheque to Juniper staff.
“We want to recognize and support schools across Canada that are working in lots of different ways to support mental health initiatives,” he said. “So, schools submitted applications to us, and Juniper was recognized as one of the top five schools, receiving a $5,000 award from The Co-operators to help continue the land-based education program.”