News and Updates
June 14, 2017
Benefits of Nature


Providing children with opportunities to explore natural outdoor settings where they can play, explore and experience natural systems is a part of healthy living. When children are engaged with the outdoors, in various weather environments, they are able to learn more about the habitat they live in. These experiences lead to healthier children and have a profound positive effect on their attitudes towards the natural environment that get carried into adulthood.

The benefits of exploring nature are endless through the hands-on experience it provides. Research shows that children learn best when they are engaged and active during the learning process ; exploring natural outdoor settings through experiences with water, rain, wind, and the coming of spring allows children to develop an emotional and aesthetic engagement with their surroundings. It gives them the opportunity to exercise both their mental and physical capacities – furthering their overall development.

According to gathered evidences, nature plays a crucial role in our health and well-being. With access to parks and nature reserves, there are many ways to create positive experiences for children within our surroundings. It can be as simple as picking flowers or produce, planting trees and seeds, or taking a nature walk in the rain.

Research shows that children participate more successfully in indoor learning after time spent in nature using their minds and bodies. To read more on how schools are implementing positive interactions with nature, go to:

June 14, 2017

The First Nations Schools Association of BC (FNSA) hosted its 21st annual conference and general Meeting from April 21-22, 2017 in Vancouver. This brought together school staff, students, educators, and other professionals to explore effective practices in classroom instruction, school administration and professional development.

Keynote speeches, workshops, and performances addressed issues and strategies central to the work of First Nations schools in BC and the FNSA.

DASH was fortunate to attend this conference to connect with educators and other school staff to share resources and supports available to them. DASH engaged with conference attendees to raise awareness of Healthy Schools BC (HSBC) resources(namely the HSBC Regional Grants), aimed at supporting collaborative action between the education and health sectors in the area of mental well-being. This was a great opportunity to build on DASH’s existing relationships with First Nations Schools and forge new ones. Many educators and school staff had previously been aware of, or involved with, Healthy Schools BC and were happy to hear of the new and updated supports available to them.

To learn more about the resources and supports that your school can make use of, visit the Healthy Schools BC website!

June 14, 2017
Join the wave!

More than four thousand people have connected with Action Schools! BC through our website. There you will find over 100 free resources related to Healthy Eating and Physical Activity.

All resources are free and available for download. Click here to access the Action Schools! BC website.

We are out there!

In May, two successful and well-attended Action Schools! BC workshops were held. Educators at Shortreed Community School learned about healthy eating activities and how to incorporate them into their classrooms. Educators in the Surrey school district had the opportunity to attend a healthy eating/physical activity combination workshop held at the Surrey Teachers’ Association Convention on May 5th.

Interested in a workshop for your school? Send us an email and we will make the necessary arrangements for you. Workshops are free and available to all BC K-7 schools – click here to connect with us!

There is more to it!

Resources and workshops are only the tip of the iceberg. Action Schools! BC also offers tailored mentorship for teachers on food literacy and physical literacy, as part of a broader school action plan, which we can support you to develop.

In the past two months, more than fifty mentoring sessions were held directly with teachers to build their confidence and capacities to incorporate healthy living in their classrooms.

Do you want to start a sustainable school garden? Or to offer your students more outdoor play opportunities? Mentoring sessions are available to support you with these goals and other activities identified as part of your action plan. There are a number of resources and supports available to your school and we at DASH are available to walk you through them. Click here to start your action planning and access mentorship.

June 14, 2017

Hello: while the word may conjure up thoughts of Adele’s powerful song, it may also make you think of a time when someone’s friendly “hello” put a smile on your face, reassured you during a challenging time, or made you feel welcomed in a new environment – like when you started at a new school, whether as a student, a teacher or an administrator!

Studies tell us that students who are well connected to teachers and peers within their learning environment are more likely to prosper. Many of us know this intuitively. It makes sense that young people who feel cared for and liked by others tend to experience better mental health, have reduced involvement in health risk behaviours (including but not limited to substance use), and are more motivated to learn and achieve higher academic performance.

The good news for school professionals and other adults is that supporting the academic and social development of young people doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, most schools’ informal curricula emphasize the school as community and presents abundant opportunities for fostering the connections kids need to thrive in today’s world. Here is a peek at a couple of connection-based efforts that have demonstrated benefits in individuals and in school communities in BC.

Cariboo-Chilcotin SD 27 – This district focuses on developing a sense of belonging as the foundation of everything they do with students, involving teachers as well as support staff, bus drivers, maintenance workers and parents. Their attitude that “belonging is the key” has changed the way that work is done in the District. Want to know more? Click here for this and other districts’ school connectedness efforts.

Inclusion clubs for LGBTQ and all – Creating gay-straight alliances in the school setting is one way to help all students feel safe, respected and valued as an important part of a community. According to a UBC study co-led by Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc, “Schools with anti-homophobia policies and clubs are safer schools, and safer schools mean students are less likely to abuse alcohol, regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Looking for ideas and resources?

Here are some excellent resources:
SOGI 1 2 3: provides evidence-based information on three types of resources to support SOGI-inclusive schools and educators.
LGBTQ resource from the BCTF
• Healthy Schools BC (including its section on school connectedness) offers everything from the research base on school connectedness to a wide array of practice-focused tips and approaches.
• The Centre for Addictions Research of BC at the University of Victoria has developed resources to support peer mentor programs. These include a short summary of the evidence for such programs, as well as practical resources to use in supporting peer mentors’ efforts to support their peers on substance use matters.

Don’t forget, while a kind “hello” is not enough on its own, it does have the potential to help us all – young and old alike – feel cared about, and it establishes an important foundation on which to build.