Become a Healthy School
A Healthy School promotes the physical, mental, social and spiritual health of the whole school community.
A Healthy Schools approach looks beyond the classroom to the entire school setting. It involves students, staff, parents, volunteers and community partners. Together, they share ideas, plan and take action to help kids lead healthy active lives.
The Ministry of Education recognizes and endorses the Healthy Schools framework in Foundations for a Healthy School.
Benefits of a Healthy School community
This approach is an evidence-based, internationally recognized framework for building healthy school communities. A Healthy School:
- Empowers students to be more involved in school life and part of the positive change
- Improves student success and well-being
- Reduces absenteeism
- Improves academic achievement
- Promotes diversity and inclusion
- Improves student interaction and promotes a sense of belonging within their school
Healthy Schools Certification
Another way to celebrate your healthy school is by enrolling in Healthy Schools Certification.
This program provides online tools to promote and enhance the health and well-being of students, school staff and the broader school community.
Healthy Schools spotlight
The Healthy Schools spotlight:
- Showcases Healthy School Committees and initiatives happening at schools in Niagara
- Shows a commitment to students' education through planning holistic ways to impact school health
- Encourages schools to make a positive impact in their school community
To learn more about Healthy Schools or to connect with a public health nurse:
- Call 905-688-8248 or 1-888-505-6074 ext. 7379
- Email Healthy Schools
Video: What does the Healthy Schools Approach really mean?
Every elementary and secondary school in Niagara is assigned a public health nurse. The nurse is available to support Healthy Schools work and can help:
- Promote the Healthy Schools framework as a best practice model throughout the school community
- Help schools create and recruit a Healthy Schools team
- Support the planning and implementation of health promotion campaigns that target school-wide involvement
- Help with the Healthy Schools Certification process
Schools are listed in order of when they were spotlighted as a Healthy School.
- Ferndale Public School
Ferndale Public School
35 Ferndale Ave., St. Catharines
The Ferndale Fitness Falcons at Ferndale Public School started planning their first active school travel initiative in November, which took place on Feb. 7. This group of grade four students, along with their teacher, worked with their school health nurse to organize a Winter Walk Day for their school.
At the beginning of the school year, about 40 per cent of students walked to school. On Winter Walk Day, nearly 90 per cent of students walked, surpassing their goal of 75 per cent! The Ferndale Fitness Falcons used posters, announcements, emails, the Falcon Newscast, a presentation and an assembly to promote their message.
They did a mapping activity to learn about their neighbourhood assets, walking radiuses and walking routes to school. In the process, the team learned the benefits and barriers of active school travel and about their school community. They learned that Ferndale does not need many school buses for student transportation, making their initiative even more impactful. The students also developed presentation, leadership and communication skills.
The Winter Walk Day was a major success! The Fitness Falcons plan to continue promoting active school travel at Ferndale by organizing monthly challenges for their school community.
- St. Catharines Collegiate
St. Catharines Collegiate
34 Catherine St., St. Catharines
Just before the holidays, St. Catharines Collegiate's Healthy School committee hosted a Winter Wellness Fair for all the students. Teacher, Ms. K. Pietz, school nurse, S. Garbutt and health promoter, K. Ohanian, supported the student-led committee. They spent weeks planning to make the event a success.
The theme of the fair was on staying healthy during the holidays. The focus was on addressing the challenges many people face during this time. The activities were both enjoyable and informative. They highlighted the importance of self-care and showcasing community resources and support. Local organizations including the RAFT, Quest, Niagara Folk Arts and Multicultural Centre and the St. Catharines Public Library participated by sharing valuable information. Students from Grades 9 through 12 attended the event. Everyone enjoyed decorating holiday cookies and sipping on hot chocolate.
The health committee worked together with other school groups. They've built relationships and developed leadership skills. The committee looks forward to continuing this success and collaborating on their next project at the school.
- Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School
Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School
460 Linwell Rd., St. Catharines
Students in Ms. Contini's Grade 12 nutrition health class at Holy Cross worked together to complete their Vending Machine Project. They researched nutritious and affordable options for the school vending machine.
The students looked at school-wide surveys, the Ontario Food and Beverage policy, Canada's Food Guide and nutrition labels. They chose nutritious snack options that are inclusive of different cultures, food / dietary preferences and allergies. Thanks to their hard work, the school vending machine now offers more healthy food and drink options at reasonable prices.
The group has big plans for the rest of the school year. They plan to visit the nearby plaza to see what food Holy Cross students are buying during their lunch hour. They want to use social media to gather information and share tips on how to boost nutrition when buying takeout meals at local restaurants. There is so much great work happening in this class at Holy Cross. Awesome job folks!
- Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School
Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School
145 Livingston Ave., Grimsby
The Blessed Trinity mentality team is up and running. They've begun planning activities and events this school year. The team organized and carried out their Trick or Treating for Mental Health event on Halloween. Students from all grades participated during their lunch hour. During the event, students went "trick or treating" to different rooms in the school, each housing a different "school helper." These rooms included the chaplain's office, guidance, child and youth worker office, school nurse office and more.
In each room, students located and collected a different mental health resource chosen by the group. The resources informed students of all the supports available to them within the school and community. Resources included Kids Help Phone, School Health Live Chat, The Foundation of Resources for Teens, Community Addiction Services of Niagara, Pathstone, and the Quash and Be SAFE apps.
The event was a success! It achieved the goal of getting mental health and wellness resources into the hands of Blessed Trinity students. The team has other exciting activities planned for the year to help improve mental wellness in the school community. Great job team!
- Niagara Catholic Virtual School
Niagara Catholic Virtual School
Miss LaFratta's Grade 7 students focused on health initiatives within their online school community throughout the year. Their projects ranged from an online cookbook with nutritious recipes to a collection of mental wellness strategies.
The students learned the importance of having a healthy mind, especially when it comes to online learning. They extended their knowledge to fellow online classrooms during Mental Health Month. The students presented a toolkit filled with many tips, tricks and fun facts.
The group started this project by learning about the major parts of the brain that influence mental health. They understood that healthy behaviours can lead to resilience. Each student chose a strategy and displayed their research in a slideshow.
The students created a toolkit made up of:
- Positive quotes
- Tips for getting quality sleep
- The benefits of regular exercise
- The brain-boosting power of social connectedness and kindness
- More healthy behaviour tips
The students designed graphics to enhance their content and showcased their final work to their peers with confidence.
The school health team takes pride in these students' ongoing efforts to create a healthier school environment. We are excited about the innovative ideas this new school year brings!
- A.N. Myer Secondary School
A.N. Myer Secondary School
6338 O'Neil St., Niagara Falls
A.N. Myer Secondary School has created their own twist on the word SMART. For the Myer community, SMART stands for "Students at Myer Achieving Resilience Together".
A powerhouse team at A.N. Myer has done exceptional work throughout the 2022-2023 school year. They helped their fellow students feel empowered to openly discuss mental health. The SMART team partnered with jack.org to earn "Be There" certificates. This helped deepen their understanding of identifying signs when someone might be struggling with mental health challenges, their role in providing support and how to connect individuals to the necessary resources for their well-being.
The team also adopted 'Be There's' five golden rules, which are:
- Say what you see - break the ice and start a conversation
- Show you care - build trust and support someone
- Hear them out - be a good listener and balance the conversation
- Know your role - set boundaries to protect your relationship and mental health
- Connect to help - access professional and community resource
With the dedicated support of passionate staff, this Healthy Schools committee successfully completed tasks and activities such as mental health-focused artwork around the school. They also promoted mental well-being by hosting art journaling sessions and connecting with peers over refreshing summer beverages.
A big round of applause and congratulations to this team! We are looking forward to the creative and fun activities to come in the new school year.
- E.L. Crossley Secondary School
E.L. Crossley Secondary School
350 Highway 20 West, Fonthill
The Wellness Club at E.L. Crossley Secondary School has led school-wide events to bring awareness to mental health. The club worked together to make their school a safer, healthier environment, all while having fun. They also had great support from their caring staff, administration, parents and fellow students.
The club held activities for an entire week to align with Mental Health Awareness Week in May. They even came up with the catchphrase "talk, walk and chalk for mental health".
- Spinning the wheel to answer questions about self-care
- Colouring with friends (shoutout to Ms. Wilkinson's art class)
- Walking outside for mental health
- Creating drawings and messages with chalk about mental health
- End of week self-reflections
The club also held an activity before exams to help students manage stress. They also reminded students of the importance of food to fuel our brains. They offered free snacks including homemade apple sauce (thank you to Ms. White's nutrition class), fresh fruit cups and snack mix.
This small and mighty club is set to soar to new heights as they head into their post-summer season. They are dedicated to further raising awareness, promoting open discussions about mental health and encouraging self-care among their peers. Well done team!
- St. Denis Elementary School
St. Denis Elementary School
175 Carlton St., St. Catharines
Congratulations to the Healthy Helpers at St. Denis Elementary School on your successful Healthy Schools work over the past year. The Healthy Helpers includes student leaders, staff, parents and community members. Their focus is "belonging and inclusion". The Healthy Helpers want to "bring awareness and promote positive mental health along with self-care" to the school community.
The students came up with a handful of creative healthy school ideas relating to their theme of belonging and inclusion. The Healthy Helpers started a food drive to give back to their community. This resulted in donations to a local organization that provides lunches to students.
The Healthy Helpers created a 'kindness wall' where the school interviewed students for a video presentation. The students gave examples of showing kindness and inclusion of others. It became a school-wide initiative to present anti-bullying skits to classes. Students created a wellness board display with positive messages and self-care ideas.
As a final school community event, the Healthy Helpers hosted a 'healthy fair'. They focused on mental health and wellness with interactive outdoor stations, including artwork created by the students. The stations at the Health Fair included:
- Spinning wheel trivia
- Learning about nutrition and healthy snacks
- Learning about physical activity and sleep
- A parachute activity
- Wellness bingo
- Mini health lessons for kids
- "Minds up" strategies with relaxation and stress-reducing activities
Congratulations Healthy Helpers on your hard work and creativity! We want to acknowledge staff champion Jennifer LaValle, Principal Victoria Wegelin and youth counsellor Katherine Perry. We also want to acknowledge the parents and staff who supported the Healthy Schools work within the school community.
James Morden Elementary School
James Morden Elementary School
7112 Dorchester Rd., Niagara Falls
June 2023 - Healthy Schools Certified
Congratulations to Ms. Tkach's grade 6/7 class at James Morden Public School on their Healthy Schools project: the JAM FAM NutriBuddies Cooking Show. The NutriBuddies received a Gold OPHEA's Healthy Schools Certification for their work. Way to go JAM FAM!
The NutriBuddies chose healthy eating and sustainability as their priority health topics. Throughout the school year, students have been learning about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. They based their project mission statement on these goals: "Our mission is to raise awareness about food waste and repurpose it. We value Good Health and Well-Being (Sustainable Development Goal 3) through the Responsible Consumption and Production (Sustainable Development Goal 11) of food. We also hope to take action globally by addressing Climate Change (Sustainable Development Goal 13)".
Students gathered data about their school through electronic and in-person surveys. The committee members became aware that many students noticed food waste at the school and that peers were interested to learn more about cooking at home.
The class wanted to spotlight other school initiatives that contribute to healthy eating and sustainability, such as their school-wide composting program, school garden, and in-house hydroponics system, showcasing how the school can sustainably grow their food.
The NutriBuddies Cooking Show demonstrates how easy and delicious home cooking can be, while also considering the environment. Each student brought skills, abilities and talents to the team from contributing to the on-camera crew, scriptwriting, recipe developing, videography and editing.
Visit the JAM FAM NutriBuddies YouTube channel to watch videos on how to make apple butter from bruised apples, banana-oat muffins from overripe bananas, and even a dairy free pizza recipe.
- Connaught Elementary School
Connaught Elementary School
28 Prince St., St. Catharines
Connaught Public School is proud of the efforts made by their Healthy Schools group, The Kind Club. Students started The Kind Club to promote kindness in their school community. The Kind Club's goal is: "To help our school community understand the value of kindness (for our school climate, health and wellbeing) and the power of its message so it can be part of our everyday lives."
The group supported a school-wide initiative to spread the message of kindness by creating a Kindness Tree. During the District School Board of Niagara's Kindness Week, The Kind Club went from class to class to share why it is important to be kind. They asked students to write down "how I can be kind to myself" and "how I can be kind to others." The Kind Club displayed these messages as leaves on the beautiful Kindness Tree. Their hope was to raise awareness of kindness at their school. Kindness is blooming and growing at Connaught!
Fantastic work Connaught Kind Club, the school health team cannot wait to see what you do next!
- Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School
Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School
101 Glen Morris Dr., St. Catharines
The school health team congratulates the Student Wellness Committee / Healthy Schools team on their third year at Sir Winston. It is also their first year pursuing a Healthy School Certification. Student council members created the committee in 2020 and are still going strong with 15 members. The committee is student-led, with support from the school youth counsellor, social worker and school health nurse.
Based on student feedback, the committee chose improving mental wellness as their focus. The committee has three teams; promotion, community outreach and event management. The promotion team is active in mental wellness awareness and social media. The community outreach team connects with organizations such as Pathstone Mental Health Foundation and Therapy Tails for events and resources. The event management team hosts activities that support the student body.
Their most successful events this far include:
- Cookies and cram: A pre-exam event for students to de-stress and study with friends
- Therapy Tails visits: a non-profit dog therapy program that helps relax and brighten the days of the school community
- Gratitude candy grams
- Project plaid: An event focused on mental health awareness that is close to the school's heart
The Healthy Schools approach adopted by the committee has helped students feel more connected with their peers, more aware of the support and encouraged conversations around mental health. The school health team is looking forward to the upcoming creative projects the team has planned. Way to go, bulldogs!
- Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School
Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School
460 Linwell Rd., St. Catharines
The Healthy Schools group at Holy Cross has done fantastic work this year. The team had help from students, teachers, the principal and the school health nurse. Their health priority topic was healthy eating. They focused on how to access reliable nutrition information.
The Healthy Schools group created a survey for the school community. This helped them see where their peers get their nutrition information from. It also helped them understand what the students already know about healthy eating. Using their survey results, the Healthy Schools group did a raiders Instagram takeover. They created fun, educational infographics to share with their school community. These infographics include nutritious recipes, food myths and healthy eating fun facts.
Keep up the great work, raiders!
- École élémentaire Nouvel Horizon
École élémentaire Nouvel Horizon
621 Quaker Rd., Welland
February 2023 - Healthy Schools Certified
In 2017, École Nouvel Horizon became a Healthy School. Parents, teachers, principal, school health nurse, social worker and students are all involved. The Healthy Schools committee members are enthusiastic about their three priority health topics:
- Physical activity
- Mental health
- Healthy eating
The committee brainstormed ideas for their action plan with no limit on creativity. Impactful teamwork included a Monday morning walk as a school community. The team set up an active hallway that students can access when they need a wellness break. This improves physical activity throughout the school day and the school community.
Families participated in an "Active Family Challenge." Students plan physical activities to do with their families on evenings and weekends. Families share photos with the school community through social media, bulletin board and email.
Students created posters, videos and self-regulation idea boxes. They placed them around the school to help the committee address mental health concerns and stress management. A reporting system encourages students to inform school staff of observed bullying incidents. A 'kindness tree' fosters acts of kindness, promotes respect and reduces bullying.
A sub-group within the committee works on a 'celebrity' fruit and vegetable campaign. Students will promote the 'celebrity' food item by sharing exciting facts through posters, announcements, guided tastings and sharing recipes. The group plans to create a video to encourage cooking together as a family at home.
The creative ideas from this ambitious team keep coming. Keep up the impactful work les dragons. Congratulations!
- Lockview Public School
Lockview Public School
505 Bunting Rd., St. Catharines
May 2022 - Healthy Schools Certified
The motivated and enthusiastic Healthy Schools Student Champions at Lockview Public School have created a "Spring into Action" school-wide health initiative, supported by the Principal, staff, youth counsellor and community members.
Lockview student leaders began their healthy schools initiative with a survey distributed to the school community to determine what the school community considered their most important health issues. The chosen theme was mental health and wellness. During Mental Health Week, student leaders and staff champions will provide interactive presentations to students. The students have incorporated inclusion, physical activity, and healthy eating as part of the school-wide activities for their well-being.
Each month the team will create a themed bulletin board with posters, pictures and ideas to encourage all students to contribute. The themes include; "What brings you joy?" and "What is your favourite healthy snack?". There will be opportunities to share kind messages and supportive shout-outs. Morning announcements will promote wellness and social activities for the student body.
Additionally, students plan to use track and field day by using stations they have set up to promote healthy activities. During the event, they will use the "health trivia" they created and a spinning wheel for giveaways for items like t-shirts. Finally, in June the students have designed a "Positive Messages Chalk-Walk" activity.
Student Champions have worked hard to create many exciting activities this spring. We look forward to working with the amazing Lockview Healthy School Student Champions again this fall!
- Woodland Public School
Woodland Public School
511 Seventh St. Louth, St. Catharines
The Healthy Schools Club may be a new club at Woodland Public School, but they are doing some amazing work! The Woodland Wellness Wolves have been working hard to make their school a healthier place.
The Wolves began the school year by asking students what health topic they should focus on. Over half of the students wants more programs to encourage physical activity. As a result, the Wolves created a series of Wellness Walks to educate staff and students about the importance of physical activity. Students were encouraged to skip, hop and dance their way through a series of checkpoints and answer questions about health and wellbeing along the way.
Last month, the Wolves explored why children may not get enough physical activity. One of the biggest factors was the overuse of screens. The team then focused their efforts on educating their peers about the impact too much screen time can have on their health.
Thanks to the huge support from staff and the Wellness Wolves, Woodland Public School held their very first Screen Smart Week from March 9-13. Students participated in a poster contest and another Wellness Walk to talk about what they will do over March Break instead of using screens.
The team will continue to meet throughout the year to plan fun activities to make Woodland Public School a healthier place to learn and grow. Great work Wellness Wolves!
- St. Elizabeth Catholic Elementary School
St. Elizabeth Catholic Elementary School
31950 Sugarloaf St., Wainfleet
The Healthy Schools Squad at St. Elizabeth Catholic Elementary School has done some great work. Their exceptional staff and educational supports, principals, parents and students all wanted to make their school a safer and more positive environment. Their team, along with the entire school, decided to focus on mental wellbeing. They understood that mental wellbeing plays a part in our overall health.
The team recently held their first school-wide activity - a stress balls workshop. The students promoted the workshop by talking to their peers and by putting up posters. To start the workshop, the student leaders demonstrated mindfulness through the Take 5 Breathing exercise. The team then introduced stress balls as a tool to help manage stress and to feel more relaxed and calm. They emphasized how stress can affect someone's focus, concentration and motivation in school. The fun truly began when the student leaders led their peers in making their own stress balls out of balloons and flour. Students were encouraged to get creative and pick colours that made them feel happy.
For the rest of the school year, the team plans to continue increasing awareness about mental wellbeing and mindfulness. They plan to start student-led movement and stretching lunches in the next few weeks. They will keep the school informed of their work by putting up a mental wellbeing bulletin board.
St. Elizabeth's Healthy Schools Squad is motivated to make their school even healthier and happier. The team wants everyone to remember to be kind to themselves and to be kind to others. St. Elizabeth's Healthy Schools Squad - you are truly inspiring. Wonderful work!
- Orchard Park Public School
Orchard Park Public School
3691 Dorchester Rd., Niagara Falls
The Health and Wellness Rangers at Orchard Park Public School are off to another great start. Last school year, the team picked healthy eating as their focus. This year, the team will continue focusing on healthy eating through three separate projects, each with a unique twist.
Their first project called "How Food Affects Your Mood" looked at how healthy eating impacts our emotions and mental health. In December 2019, the team developed announcements with fun facts, informative posters, and a presentation for the school's weekly assembly. Their message focused on how different foods make us feel after we eat them and that food affects more than just our physical health. For school-wide involvement, the team also made fun trivia questions and held a poster contest. The winning posters were displayed around the school to keep spreading awareness.
The team will continue to meet regularly throughout the school year to work on their other two projects. The next project will be about healthy eating and the environment, followed by a project on healthy eating and physical activity.
Keep up the great work Orchard Park!
- St. Kevin Catholic Elementary School
St. Kevin Catholic Elementary School
182 Aqueduct St., Welland
The School Recess Project Team at St. Kevin Catholic Elementary School has been hard at work! The team consists of school staff, community members, parents and most importantly, students.
The team has discussed changes to the school playground to allow for inclusion of every student. These changes are thanks to the generosity of a parent's time and donation.
The student leaders have been busy planning activities that they will lead outside at recess. The student champions have trained the grade 6 students to lead these activities. Students are also busy creating an activity schedule and mapping out where each activity will take place on the playground. Careful consideration is being given to the activities to meet the preferences of all students.
The team will keep meeting throughout the year to promote family and community in the school. Their goal is to encourage feelings of belonging and inclusion for everyone.
Great work St. Kevin!
Thorold Secondary School
Thorold Secondary School
50 Ormond St. N., Thorold
The Thorold Secondary School Wellness Committee is up and running, and it promises to be another busy year. There's been lots of great discussion and planning by the committee which is made up of students, school staff and community members. With two returning students and a few new faces on both the student and staff side, enthusiasm is high.
A survey revealed that the majority of students believe mental health is a top priority in the school. Mindfulness and meditation workshops ran in October, led by one of Thorold's own teachers. In November, inspirational speaker Joe Pillitteri reminded students of the importance of humour in our lives.
Continuing throughout the year are meetings and other activities to promote school and community services. Plans for next year include a therapy dog day and a smoothie lunch which was a hit last year! Students will also take part in workshops to learn how to be effective leaders.
Go Thorold Secondary School!
Twenty Valley Public School
Twenty Valley Public School
4057 Victoria Ave., Vineland
Twenty Valley Public School is located on Victoria Ave. in Lincoln where traffic, speeding and transport trucks posed a problem for the students and families' feeling of safety on their commute to school. The school community's dedication to making the trip to school safe and engagement in Active School Travel is demonstrated by significant participation and collaboration by staff, healthy school team representatives, students, parents and community partners.
As a result of Twenty Valley's participation in Active School Travel, the location in front of the school was identified for Niagara Region's Community Safety Zone pilot. Community Safety Zones are intended to modify driver behaviour including reducing speed and distracted driving, and improving safety on certain sections of the road where public safety is of special concern. Students are encouraged to take their green route to school and while doing so can now feel safer and are able to participate in a healthier lifestyle with the enforcement of the Community Safety Zones.
A more active lifestyle can have a positive effect on both physical and mental health. To celebrate the school's accomplishment and the Community Safety Zone, community members, students and families participated in October's International Walk fo School month. This is a month where families were encouraged to walk, ride or bus to school.
Great job leading the way for safe and active travel Twenty Valley!