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Resolving to Reflect This New Year

by Genevieve Montemurro University of Alberta SIRCLE Lab | January 16 2020

For many people, New Year’s resolutions are an annual tradition. After holiday celebrations and some much-needed down time, many of us turn to the new year as an opening for growth and self-improvement. Usually, we know the areas where change is needed, but sometimes asking hard questions helps us identify those areas we just can’t see. And while we all know that setting goals for personal wellness is important—it’s often a focus in the new year—what about the health of our school communities?

Taking the Time to Look Back—Together

When it comes to wellness, we know it takes a whole community and a diversity of voices to see the full picture. A new year can be a catalyst for taking an in-depth look at what’s working and what needs attention in order to create healthy school communities. Taking stock of successes and opportunities at different milestones to embed wellness in our school communities can help us celebrate small wins, track growth, acknowledge things beyond our control and better prepare us to set realistic goals for the future. It’s also a great time to start conversations with members of your organizational community who may not always be ‘at the table.’ Bringing people together to reflect on your existing wellness efforts can help generate new insights and spark creative ways to move forward together.

What’s Essential for Future Success?

Sometimes it’s hard to reflect without a structured approach. Often, we need a roadmap to make sure we note all the possible destinations and recognize the kilometres we’ve already ‘logged.’

In response to this need, our team at the University of Alberta’s SIRCLE Lab (Settings-based Intervention Research through Changes in Lifestyles & Environments) has developed a tool to help individuals and groups working in and with school communities to reflect, plan and celebrate how wellness is integrated into their school culture. At it’s heart, it’s evidence-informed action planning for wellness success—and it’s based on lots of research in Alberta and across Canada from the past 10+ years, with hundreds of people all working towards building healthy school communities. Through this research, we identified core conditions that are essential for creating healthy school communities—conditions that offer insights for all levels in your workplace, from leadership to wellness champions. Check out our infographic to see what these conditions are all about.

We’re inviting individuals who work with schools and school authorities—and who are interested in understanding and bolstering their wellness efforts—to participate in an online wellness survey. This online tool is part of an ongoing research study (#Pro000963) within the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health and, by participating, you’ll be helping us to test and improve this tool for school communities across Canada.

To participate, simply click here to access the online tool. The survey only takes about 15 minutes to complete. Your participation is voluntary and can be ended at any time. After submitting, you can also download a summary of your results. If you have any questions, please contact me at or 780-248-1863.

By taking the time to reflect on how wellness is being integrated into your school community, you may discover new opportunities for growth and direction to bolster your wellness efforts for the coming year. Using a structured approach, this tool can help you acknowledge and celebrate successes and plan for future action to foster healthy school communities.

One last thing: if you’re planning to be at the upcoming 2020 Shaping the Future conference in Lake Louise, be sure to come find me in person at the Essential Conditions Exhibitor Booth at the event to chat about all things wellness. I’d love to hear from you!

Genevieve Montemurro

Genevieve—or “Genny” as she’s also known—is a research coordinator for the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta, where she’s surrounded by a network of health promotion innovators and creative geniuses. While she might not be able to do a cartwheel (being tall isn’t always a plus, apparently), she’s a veritable fountain of information when it comes to public health research, evaluation and knowledge translation.