If you’re lucky, you’ve experienced what it feels like when unexpected sparks of inspiration hit you like little lightning bolts. Luckier still are those who were able to attend the 10th anniversary of Shaping the Future, where inspiration came down like a good rain shower…or an epic snow-mageddon, as was the case this year. Regardless, we all put on an extra layer, played in the snow and were inspired all over the place. Here are a few of my lightning bolt highlights for you!
First off, if you’ve never had the opportunity to attend this annual conference, it’s organized by Ever Active Schools and is a time for like-minded individuals to come together to learn, share and collaborate for the betterment of healthy school communities. Shaping the Future is one of our favourite events and, this year, we were fortunate to partner with three school jurisdiction representatives to host a workshop focusing on ways to promote employee and workplace wellness. Workshop attendees heard from these school jurisdictions about their unique experiences and engaged in discussion and activities to ensure they had new tools and ideas to take back to their workplaces.
Launch from a Place of Support
Tiffany, a human resources administrative assistant and wellness champion with Pembina Hills Public Schools, shared her inspiring journey—she reminded us that everyone and anyone can be a champion of health. Recognising that workplaces can be at different levels of readiness, she talked about using the Idea Readiness Tool to assess where her group was at so that she could continue to create wellness strategies that work for her workplace. A big take-away from Tiffany’s chat was to remember that you’re never alone in the workplace wellness world. She reminded us to reach out and collaborate with provincial partners—like some of our Sandbox partners—in order to develop strategies that resonate with your group. After all, comprehensive school health means that we’re all in this together.
Build a Supportive, Socially Connected Culture
Teresa, a wellness champion wearing many hats at Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools (staff and student wellness, School Community Health Education Partnership coordinator and dual credit coordinator, to be precise), spoke about how important it is to build a supportive, socially connected culture to ensure everyone feels safe and secure in the workplace. She emphasized that everyone, no matter their role, can be intentional about relating to someone else—demonstrating our genuine care and concern for the people we work with. Teresa mentioned that it’s important we all use a growth mindset within the workplace so that we can model great behaviour, taking ownership for our own personal well-being as we share and work towards organizational well-being. She also stressed the importance of building resiliency in order for staff to create a positive school plan, using the example of Adverse Life Experience training that many of her staff have taken, and incorporating psychological safety in the workplace.
Put a Ridiculous Idea into Action
Ray (associate superintendent of People Services) and Aaryn (staff health and wellness) at Chinook’s Edge School Division shared how they leveraged partnerships with organizations like Alberta Health Services and ASEBP to gain support for big wellness strategies, like their district-wide survey. They also shared how they put a big idea—Weekdays ‘Till 6—into action, which shifted their workplace culture towards greater work-life balance. They talked about the importance of translating the students’ social and emotional framework for staff and emphasized how the survey really ignited the big idea that they’re working with today. Their main message? Building a culture around what’s most important at a divisional level really helps you to walk the talk.
It’s the superheroes of the world—in our case, wellness champions—that really inspire wellness in the workplace. Seeing the creative and unique ideas for wellness promotion and how these superheroes brought them to life in their workplaces was really inspiring. No matter where you are in the province (or beyond) and no matter your role, you too can put simple ideas into motion. Find out what others are saying about kick-starting wellness from Shaping the Future in this forum and, whether you attended the sessions or not, take some time to share your superpower. Wellness champions, take flight!
Don’t forget to register for next year’s Shaping the Future or visit the events page on The Sandbox and find even more conferences, webinars and workshops that can help you in your workplace wellness journey.