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P11 expands to bring the mental wellness conversation to early years students

June 20, 2018 10:03 am by TNYF Staff Dynamic Featured Image

Project 11 will expand to include Grades K-4 curriculum for the 2018-19 school year, in addition to the Grades 5-8 curriculum, which has been available to Manitoba teachers since 2014.

Teachers and students have recognized the positive impacts of Project 11’s mental wellness lessons in their Grades 5-8 classrooms and early years teachers have been excited to hear about the upcoming expansion. Teacher Casandra Nagribianko is looking forward to being able to participate in the program. “I think it’s very important to talk with kids about mental wellness and coping strategies from an early age. I’ve seen Project 11 in action in the middle years and I’m excited to be able to use the program to help open up these conversations with my early years students as well.”

Project 11’s early years curriculum is inspired by the Vancouver Canucks’ Fin’s Friends Program. The two organizations have collaborated to exchange early and middle years curriculum to effectively expand programming in each region. Project 11’s K-4 lessons have been tailored to meet Manitoba’s curriculum standards as well as to introduce the theme of Jets and Moose hockey. Mick E. Moose plays a prominent role in the lesson plans and activities of the early years curriculum, which focuses on character building, problem-solving, and healthy friendships. Through age-appropriate lessons and activities, students gain skills and strategies that will allow them to cope more effectively with challenges and stress throughout their school, personal, and future work life.

Feedback on the existing Grades 5-8 program has been overwhelmingly positive from both teachers and students. Teachers have observed that students are more connected with their peers, more motivated to excel in all academic areas, and that there is an increased sense of community within the classroom. Students credit the program for helping them to better manage their emotions, be more open with friends and family, and for teaching them about the importance of balance in life.

Project 11 student Herlinda Dalayoan, who is now in high school, is thankful that her middle years teachers chose to incorporate Project 11 into the health curriculum. “Mental health is something to take note on when talking about health as a whole”, she explains. “It often goes unrecognized with people due to the lack of educational attention towards the subject.” Herlinda sees a need for a more holistic approach to teaching about health and wellbeing. “The first thing that comes to mind when someone thinks of health is the physical side. The majority of people often think of health as exercising and healthy foods because that’s all they have learned.” Herlinda explains that the skills learned through Project 11 have helped to carry her through daily challenges even as a high school student. “I’ve learned different coping strategies that come in handy when things become stressful. Being a Project 11 student for three years brought a lot more awareness to my mental health. I have noticed changes within myself. I accept who I am and am proud for what I stand for. My outlook on life has changed so drastically, now letting me fully express myself without needing to put on a mask. I have learned to love my own skin.”

Participation in Project 11 is free and accessible to all Manitoba educators. If you are a teacher or know a teacher who would be interested in incorporating the mental wellness lessons of Project 11 into their classroom, direct them to projecteleven.ca or to register at projecteleven.ca/registration.

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