Local students are hoping to improve physical and mental health in their schools.

The Ontario Physical and Health Education Association hosted a Healthy School Leadership day at Beaver Brae yesterday, as students brainstormed ideas to improve health in their schools.

Jennifer Muir, Bilingual Projects coordinator at OPHEA, spoke about the goal of the event.

“The goal of the day is to build the capacity of student leaders and educators to identify and address a priority health topic in their school, and also to celebrate and recognize what’s already happening in their schools. This is their time to sit down and think about what’s happening in their schools, and what they hope to happen in their schools. We focus on student engagement and student voice,” she said.

Sara Christie, Bilingual Projects leader at OPHEA, spoke about the student’s response.

“They have really good ideas. This is a huge geographical zone. Students here were from Dryden, Kenora, Red Lake, Ignace. It’s really interesting because all of their needs and assets are so different. We’ve seen some really cool initiatives already happening, and students are really getting into it and putting out some great ideas. It’s really interesting to get their input and hearing from them,” she said.

Lorna Tremonti, Recreation and Wellness lead for the Kenora-Patricia District School Board, noted that the event was a great thing for students.

“I’m really pleased with the turnout. I’m really pleased because this is part of the process to say that we’re a healthy school. Up in the north, sometimes we get forgotten about for some provincial initiatives, so it’s really great that we’re one of the few schools across Ontario to host the event. My biggest takeaway, is just how well these students know their school’s needs and what their schools have been doing,” she said.

Grade 12 Dryden High School student, and KPDSB Student Trustee Payton Zilkalns, spoke about the event.

“It’s really cool so far. It’s cool to see how we can improve our schools. It’s something that was really interesting and we all really enjoyed it. We spoke about things that we all really enjoy in our schools, and we spoke about school spirit, bullying prevention, drug prevention and just a way for students to make sure that their voice is heard. I think more schools need that,” she said.

Students from 13 schools across northwestern Ontario participated in the events, both in-person and online.

Beaver Brae was one of four schools across Ontario to host the workshop.