News and Updates
March 30, 2017

What better way to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation than with the nation’s biggest dance celebration? One of 38 Canada 150 Signature Projects, Sharing Dance Canada 2017 ( has been launched by Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS) to celebrate this milestone year for Canada by getting Canadians healthy, active, and artistically engaged through dance.

 “Dance plays an invaluable role in Canada; Sharing Dance is all about encouraging Canadians to celebrate Canada’s strength of diversity and cultural richness through embracing the benefits and joy of dance,” says Mavis Staines, Artistic Director and CEO of NBS.

 Sharing Dance, which is free and easy to access at, includes:

  • Unique choreography reflecting Canadian values of diversity and celebrating people’s stories
  • A series of step-by-step online rehearsal videos breaking down the 4½-minute choreography to enable all Canadians—the young and young-at-heart—to learn the dance moves
  • Toolkits and Resources to empower schools and community groups—such as seniors’ centres, youth-based organizations, newcomer centres, as well as dance groups, studios and more—to create their own rehearsal schedules and grassroots events
  • Open rehearsals in communities across the country
  • Community performances across the country at Sharing Dance Day events beginning June 2nd  

For the 2017 choreography, NBS brought together four Canadian choreographers—representing distinct styles of dance, cultural backgrounds and geographic locations in Canada—to give voice and movement to a unique work that embodies and celebrates Canada’s diversity and artistic identity. Led by NBS artistic staff, with Kevin Ormsby as collaborative lead, choreographers include:

  • Kimberley Cooper (Calgary)
  • Eugene Baffoe (Winnipeg)
  • Tracee Smith (Toronto)
  • Roger Sinha (Montreal)

The choreography is set to a specially remixed piece of Canadian music by Afiara Quartet and Skratch Bastid: "Heavy Loaded (Skratch Bastid Remix)", featuring Tiffany Ayalik, a throat singer born in the Northwest Territories and of Inuit ancestry.

Sharing Dance Canada 2017 is funded in part by the Government of Canada through the Canada 150 Fund, and with Shaw Communications Inc. as a presenting partner. The program is made possible with the support of national partners including Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, Physical and Health Education Canada, the Globe and Mail, and Scotiabank, as well as community partners across Canada. 

March 30, 2017

Last month I was lucky to have the opportunity to take part in the ArtStarts Showcase 2017, representing DASH.  I spent the morning engrossed in performances by professional artists showcasing what they can bring to schools across the province.  I went from being immersed in a storytelling soundscape to laughing at the antics of a clown, to marveling at the powerful sound of taiko drums.  Sitting around me, educators from districts across BC took notes about the performances, and kept track of those they would like to invite to present to students in their schools.  Also in the audience were children from a local elementary school who watched each act, and asked the performers questions afterwards. The most popular question from the young people was “How long did it take you to learn that?!”

ArtStarts in Schools is a provincial organization promoting art and creativity among young people in BC. The annual Showcase is one way they connect BC school districts to the arts.

Through my work at DASH in the After School Sport and Arts Initiative, I have seen how offering arts in after school programs can engage diverse learners and support children and youth to express themselves in new ways.  At the ArtStarts Showcase, I was able to learn more about how arts can be integrated into the school day.  ArtStarts’ network of artists offers performances and workshops. They also work with schools on projects that engage students in a creative process and integrate different curricular areas. 

I’ve often heard the phrase “everyone is creative.”  Having the tools to spark and nurture that creativity can help us to support every learner to discover their potential.

For more information on ArtStarts in Schools and their resources on arts in education, visit their website here.

For more information on the Creative Thinking core competency in BC’s new curriculum, click here.

To see DASH’s guide for after school sport and arts programming, click here.


-Rebecca Haber, Program Manager, DASH BC

March 30, 2017

Research and Action Schools! BC users have shown us that developing and implementing an action plan is worthwhile. Action planning establishes ownership by bringing different members of the school community together to develop a shared vision and spur them to action!

In response to feedback received from Action Schools! BC program users and staff last spring, the action planning process has been revamped into a streamlined and simplified guide. To access the Action Planning Guide, click here.

The updated action planning process is strongly aligned with the Comprehensive School Health (CSH) Framework, which is internationally recognized to help support improvements in students' educational outcomes while addressing school health in a planned, integrated and holistic way. CSH extends beyond what happens in the classroom. As such, action planning promotes a holistic and whole-school approach to student health by helping a school come together to find ways to incorporate the four inter-related areas which make up a CSH approach. These four areas include: 

Schools are encouraged to complete an Action Plan to identify a relevant and meaningful healthy living goal related to physical activity and/or healthy eating, and to identify specific activities that will help them achieve that goal. A school’s Action Plan is the gateway to a broad suite of resources and supports made available through Action Schools! BC. Action Plans can be submitted anytime during the school year.

Once a school develops and submits their Action Plan, they will become a member of the Actions Schools! BC network. The Regional Development Coordinator (RDC) will connect the school with the Action Schools! BC resources that can help them achieve the goal and objective they have identified. If your school is interested in developing an Action Plan and making use of the full suite of Action Schools! BC resources, contact your Regional Development Coordinator! For a full list of RDCs and the areas they cover, click here.   

March 30, 2017

When people talk about supporting and promoting mental well-being in schools, they usually discuss the practices they use in their environment. Some people are focused on school connectedness, others on social-emotional learning, resilience, mental fitness, or another approach.

While each of these approaches has its own flavour, they are all part of the larger family of positive mental health supportive practices. Some people may see them as competing approaches, but they are not. They overlap and work side-by-side, each strengthening the impact of the others. They all lead to the same place – improved well-being for children and youth. Think of the different approaches as smoothie flavours; they have a lot in common, but some people prefer one flavour over another.

Some of the themes shared by the various approaches include:

ü  Providing students with the emotional and social skills necessary to be actively engaged in school

ü  Creating caring relationships that promote trust and open communication, and make students feel supported and nurtured

ü  Providing professional learning and support for school staff so they can meet the diverse cognitive, emotional, and social needs of students

ü  Establishing structures and processes that enable, empower and engage students, families, staff and all school community members and support student achievement

ü  Providing opportunities for families to be involved in their children’s school lives, and inviting community organizations to partner with the school

ü  Using effective teaching and learning methods and classroom management techniques to foster positive learning environments

So go ahead, pick your favourite positive mental health approach, and also consider exploring some of the other “flavours” now and then. They might bring new insights, or reinvigorate your practice. Anyone for a banana-chocolate smoothie?

To learn more about the practices and approaches that support mental well-being, see Schools as a Setting for Positive Mental Health: Better Practices and Perspectives. The school connectedness area on the Healthy Schools BC website and the JCSH Positive Mental Health Toolkit can help you take action on positive mental health at your school. Search “mental well-beingon TeachBC to find classroom resources to support this work.