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Wellness fair to kick off new year
School seeks to ring in 2016 with better health and wellness

Sarah Ladik
Northern News Services
Thursday, January 7, 2016

Teachers and staff at East Three Secondary School are hoping to usher in the new year with a reinvigorated effort to promote wellness.

NNSL photo/graphic

Co-organizers Sharla Greenland, left, and Denise Ritias host a meeting for presenters at the upcoming wellness fair, where students will learn how to tackle some of their toughest challenges. - Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo

While there have always been health fairs organized through the health authority and various other organizations, this will be the first that takes over the school for a whole day.

Instead of going to classes, students will rotate through a variety of centres and workshops, interspersed with speakers.

"In the past, it was a career fair in the gym," said Sharla Greenland, one of the organizers of the wellness fair.

"We found the students were not really engaging with it, it was more of a way for them to get out of class for 40 minutes."

Instead, she, Denise Ritias and Paula Guy formulated a plan to host something more substantial. The fair is scheduled to take place Jan. 8, in the first week the students and staff head back to classes.

The event will cover a variety of areas of wellness, including fitness, relaxation, sexual health and nutrition, as well as how technology affects overall well-being.

Students will be broken up into groups by grade and will take in interactive presentations by representatives from public health, community counselling, the RCMP and their own regular teachers.

"We want the presentations to engage them and get the kids involved," said Greenland, adding there would also be space for booths in the hallways if organizations want to get their message out that way as well. "The whole point is to have more of a community approach, so the students know who is there for them."

Co-organizer and school counsellor Guy agreed, adding it's important for students to be able to put names to faces and perhaps make them more comfortable seeking out help if they need it.

"Everyone understands how important student wellness is," she told the Drum. "It's the first thing you need."

Students are far from immune to negative influences, which can make it difficult to focus on school.

"A lot of students I work with are dealing with addictions issues, mental health issues," said Greenland.

"The alcohol and drugs are big issues with our students, and that leads to sexual health and healthy relationships."

To combat these influences, organizers are pulling out all the stops to try to reach students of all high-school ages and help them build skills to make better choices.

"The goal is to teach them strategies to build their wellness toolboxes," said Greenland.

"We want to help them learn the skills to help themselves."

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