When I worked in the area of addictions (former role) I was tasked with creating an initiative for seniors that both connected them with health information and decreased social isolation within a smaller rural community - with NO budget! After doing a quick assessment of other groups that I thought might share a vested interest in this target population, I reached out to some familiar partner organizations (non profit service agencies) and some unfamiliar ones (a local pharmacy, adult learning council etc.). I explained my goal, why I thought it might interest them, and ultimately we each were able to bring resources in-kind (people time, ideas, relationships, some limited resources like coffee supplies for events etc.) to the table. We ended up hosting a year long series of community events - and through some early, small but visible successes, recruited new partners and applied (and received) some small funding. We showed there was a will - and a way - and new relationships (and $) came for the next great idea!
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Beyond the Budget
Budget is a term that comes up often when planning a wellness program. Can you share an example of a successful wellness progam that you inititated with no budget?
How about a simple "Random Acts of Kindness" Campaign. Clean the snow off of someone else's vehicle at the end of the day, offer a high five to five colleagues first thing in the morning, notice when others do something kind and comment on it.
A number of years ago, 2 girls at a school in Red Deer decided that they were going to smile at everyone. Within the week they noticed that others were smiling back and that the moor in the entire school had already started to shift... sometimes a "free wellness program" is offering a smile to each person you see.
Earlier this month a teacher from my son's school came running towards me while my family was out shopping. She stopped to thank us for the messages we had written on the sidewalk in front of the school at the end of August. I was surprised that she knew it was us (I thought we were sneaky). She mentioned that the messages were greatly appreciated by the staff at the school. Again... a very inexpensive way to let people know they are appreciated... apparently it goes a long way!
Many Alberta Teachers Conventions this year will have a session called, "Health Champion on a Dime". Anyone from a school community interested in finding out about how to implement cost-effective (and zero cost) wellness programs and school health initiatives should check out this session. :)
Ian Wilson here.
I'd like to know more about the session for I can't recall that one at Central.
Our program at a k-6 school was funded by a grant initially. Now, parent council funds our program. In my experience parents never say "no" to wellness!
I started a Student Wellness Action Team with 3 separate teams:
1. Recess Team- at recess, students in grades 4-7 (who are trained), lead games for any younger students looking to make new friends, learn new games, etc.
2. Announcement Team- 3 days a week students read healthy morning announcements (Movement Monday, Wellness Wednesday, Friday Funnies)
3. Poster Team- design posters to go around the school focusing on a healthy initiative each month
I also started a Mindful Monday- a classroom where students can come in at lunch and read, do yoga, colour, meditate, nap, or any other activity where they are relaxing (no electronics allowed). We'll play relaxation music in the background, as well.
It is possible to put on a Healthy Living Fair with little no budget. The presenters can be from AHS, ASEBP, local helath care professionals willing to donate their time (yoga instructors, boot camp, nutritioninsts, dance studio older students, older students in Leadership Club, chiropracters, parents...and the list goes on). It's really amazing how you could offer a dozen sessions, all for FREE!
If you's like to discuss this conept further, just let me know.
Coordinator of Wellness
Wolf Creek School Division