The Surrey school district is the first in Canada to pilot Stigma-Free Society’s new online COVID-19 toolkit.
The resource is aimed at students in grades 4 to 12, as well as parents and educators, to address youth wellness during the pandemic.
According to the district, it was developed with mental health experts, professors and psychologists.
“The stigma-free toolkit is more to enable a resiliency in a person,” explained district principal of education services Daniel To, “whether it be parents, educators or students to be able to give them this resiliency so that they don’t have the mental health issues. It’s almost like taking ColdFX so you don’t get a cold… as opposed to, you have these issues now go do this.
“They sort of want to see what the response is to people taking wellness approach, rather than taking an emergency procedure approach.”
This initiative is part of the district’s two-year collaboration with the society, To said.
“When COVID-19 hit, they developed this pandemic resource in a thoughtful and comprehensive way and consulted with me, as a parent and educator, on whether the resources met the needs of our community and how best to lay out the resource on the website,” he said.
Stigma-Free Society co-founder Andrea Paquette said the toolkit was created in two weeks.
“We not only want to remain relevant but we want to adapt for our young people to ensure that they’re getting the mental health education that they need when we’re not coming into the schools,” said Paquette, adding that the society reaches roughly 10,000 students per year with its presentations, “mainly in Surrey.”
With the toolkit, students can access “video libraries, inspirational stories and downloadable resources that address concerns around COVID-19 and provide coping methods to improve mental health,” the district says.
“Teachers can also use the toolkit to start conversations with students about health and wellbeing, explain COVID-19 to students in various ways, and provide ideas for parents on activities their kids can do to keep busy.”
Paquette said the goal is to give some people hope.
“Yes, we’re going through tough times right now, but please keep your head up, try to stay optimistic during this time, it will not last for ever, and of course, we’re here for people, we’re here for young people, educators and parents.”
To check out the toolkit, visit stigmafreetoolkit.com.