ANTIGONISH, N.S. - School starts up in about three weeks and it will be interesting for Saint Andrew Junior School (SAJS) students, at that time, to talk about the ‘wellness boxes’ they took home with them last spring.
The wellness box initiative was an idea generated by SAJS counsellor Marie Kennedy as a way to help students understand the importance of wellness and to take the focus off illness. It was designed as a mental health initiative to support students and provide them with ways to cope on difficult days or ‘bumps in the road’ – coping strategies, essentially.
A group of highly motivated SAJS students took the wellness box idea and made it a reality.
An application was made to Bonvie-MacDonald Rinks to Links – the annual golf and auction event which raises money for various causes in the area – for financial support which was approved.
This gave the group the inspiration to pursue the project further and, in no time, many other partners came on board, including; the Minister of Health and Wellness Randy Delorey, the Antigonish 5 ¢ to $1 Store, Nova Scotia Teacher’s Union, the Department of Health and Wellness, Mental Health and Addictions and the SREC Healthy Promoting Schools initiative. Soon, the group had enough funding to fill the boxes.
Each box contained a stress ball, a Kids Help Phone card, a smooth stone, a phone resource card for local supports and services, a calming jar, a deck of cards, mandalas to color, a highlighter and pencil, Play Dough and a special cinch bag with a great message.
Students created the boxes after school hours; putting a great deal of time into the project. They also created a project video for the Rinks to Links auction gala.
The hope is to make wellness boxes a yearly mental health initiative at SAJS.