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Weekly Challenge for #EnviroEd # 77 Connect with Nature for #MentalHealth

October 15, 2016

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Monday, October 10th was World Mental Health Day. More and more mental health is becoming less stigmatized. I think my own school board has done a tremendous job in recognizing this through continuous campaigns such as Stand Up.

This year’s theme is Connect with Nature for good mental health and well-being. People are being encouraged to explore and find a connection to the outdoors that they have either not found enough time for, have forgotten or perhaps never considered int he first place. Folks are sharing – and the potential for inspiration is real.

The outdoors and nature have always been super for relieving stress and anxiety. Everyone has (or should have!) their favourite spot that they wish they were at when things get though. Perhaps it is the deck, a cottage, a favourite campsite or a boardwalk.

Perhaps you look forward to a walk on your favourite municipal trail at the end of a day after supper or just can’t wait to see the lights of the city from the balcony after twilight over the lake. It’s a shame, but in some cases with busy schedules, family dynamics, etc the only way kids may find their own stress relieving sense of place is when out on a walk in your community with your class.

Explore those local green spaces – bring your students out and witness the metamorphosis  in some.

For a long time our field centres staff have been requested to work with classes for team building initiatives. We have our Bag of Tricks program and low ropes initiatives that focus on team work, fair play, planning for success and time management.

Our high ropes course focusses on self actualization, in other words what you as an individual can achieve more than the rest of the team.

A number of schools in the last few years have been requesting our staff to come into the schools through our community based environmental education or even focus our field trip opportunities on mental health strategies as well. Restorative justice can be easier when staring into the flames of a campfire to debrief. Along the same lines powerful conversations can happen when fishing with students or walking side by side down a path with them.

Imagine if we had the ability or time to take students we would usually send to the “Responsibility Room” for a short walk down to the retention pond or around the block for  a discussion?

So this week, and of course beyond, I challenge everyone to consider their own mental health and that of their charges when we step outside … Share what you can and I’d love your thoughts on this.

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