First Be Well Day held at Holy Cross Secondary School

students performing yoga in library

By Jason Bain

Peterborough Examiner

The mind, body and spirit were the focus of a Monday morning event organized by Holy Cross Secondary School Grade 11 and 12 students who are supporting Grade 9 students as they continue their transition into high school.

Organizers of Be Well Day – which included a range of wellness activities that took on the key aspects of social, academic and mental health – hope these activities become a regular fixture, said Emma Montgomery, an organizer with the LINK program.

Activities such as yoga and movement in the library, a meditation and self-regulation session in guidance and physical activity, including floor hockey with pool noodle sticks in the gymnasium, centred students on the mind, body and spirit.

“We’re trying to focus on all of those aspects today,” Montgomery said, explaining how the student leaders have built a rapport with the younger pupils, one that for many, began during high school orientation activities.

“They know they can come to us if they need anything,” she said, adding how the older students are learning, too – particularly about what it takes to co-ordinate an event for 200 students. “It’s a lot of organization.”

Holy Cross principal James Brake said the LINK program helps all of the students taking part, developing both the leaders of today and the leaders of tomorrow.

Many Grade 9s are not fully aware of the programs and activities that are available to them, so the event helps them experience more of what is around them, he said.

Brake hoped participants would try something new Monday and take with them strategies to employ when they face challenging times in the future. “That’s what we want in our kids.”

Peterborough Public Health health promoter Anne Gallant pointed out how the level of student engagement and leadership are all positive.

“We know that when the message comes from peers, it resonates a lot more with youth. So it’s really great for the LINK students to take on this role in school,” she said as students laughed and smiled as they played floor hockey with pool noodle sticks.

Gallant appreciated how the variant on the game created a more-level playing field, allowing everyone to have an equally fun time, no matter their skill level.

As a whole, Be Well Day offered a great mixture of activities that promotes well-being, she said, pointing out how the mind, body and spirit each reinforces each other.

The school’s library offered a similarly cheerful scene as students tried yoga, many for the first time, with help from teacher Elke Johnson of Peterborough’s Joha Yoga.

Some students even fell over laughing as they tried a series of positions from the Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, which is widely practised for health and relaxation.

The participants also had conversations about stress as organizers aim to enhance discussion about promoting well-being and understanding mental health in the school community.

PHOTO CREDIT: JASON BAIN, Peterborough Examiner