Chatham-Kent’s own École Saint-Francis Catholic Elementary School in Tilbury was one of 274 schools across Ontario that participated in, and completed, the Ontario Physical and Health Education Association (OPHEA) 6-step Healthy Schools process. Of those 274 schools, they were one of just 148 across the province who successfully achieved enough points to be certified as Gold.
OPHEA’s Healthy Schools Certification recognizes and celebrates school communities for promoting and enhancing the health and wellbeing of students, school staff and the broader community. École Saint-Francis, who partnered with CK Public Health Nurse, Lisa Tetrault, to develop an internal school wellness committee, chose Mental Health as their Priority Health Topic. Together the students, staff, parents and administration involved, named themselves the “Super Dolphins” and began to identify both the unique strengths and needs of their school. They then created an action plan, and worked together to carry it out throughout the past school year. Last Thursday, the school celebrated this success in front of a packed gymnasium.
Unlike many Wellness Committees developed within elementary and secondary schools, meeting monthly, bi-monthly or even quarterly, “The Super Dolphins” held meetings on a bi-weekly basis.
“It was very important for us to meet as regularly as possible” explained École Saint-Francis’ Special Education Technician, Jean Martin Doyon, who was key to the success of the committee and its efforts, “We didn’t want to lose any of the great momentum we had going.” That decision paid off in Gold, one might say, landing them with OPHEA’s highest level of achievement.
The accomplishment is an inspiring one, given the schools modest student population of just 140. In addition, they are also unique in that as a full Francophone school, they represent just over 5% of the total number of schools certified across Ontario this year. “We are hoping that other local schools across Chatham-Kent hear of École Saint-Francis’ great success and are encouraged to go after their own certification, regardless of their school size, the language they speak, or otherwise” said Tetrault. “CK Public Health was very happy to be able to play a supportive role in École Saint Francis’ efforts in becoming certified and we are very excited for them to continue on the path to health and wellbeing.”