Welcome. The project started from a placement at university. Looking at the situation of school gardens in Thunder Bay, Ontario. There are many pieces of the puzzle and eco-justice, social justice, food security and education all find a home at my Blog.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

more grant possibilities

Here's another grant possibility I found. Its deadline is now passed for the 2011 season, but check it out for the fall season for gardening.


Free online seed planner

Gardener's Supply Kitchen Garden Planner Garden Designer

excellent design planner for use in gardening. Its even better because its free!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

community gardening benefits

Benefits of Community Gardens:

  • Improves the quality of life for people in the garden
  • Provides a catalyst for neighborhood and community development
  • Stimulates Social Interaction
  • Encourages Self-Reliance
  • Beautifies Neighborhoods
  • Produces Nutritious Food
  • Reduces Family Food Budgets
  • Conserves Resources
  • Creates opportunity for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education
  • Reduces Crime
  • Preserves Green Space
  • Creates income opportunities and economic development
  • Reduces city heat from streets and parking lots
  • Provides opportunities for intergenerational and cross-cultural connections

Friday, March 25, 2011

Should Public Schools Open Their Playgrounds to the Public? - Education - GOOD

Should Public Schools Open Their Playgrounds to the Public? - Education - GOOD

Interesting article. Maybe they should consider opening their yards to community gardening too. Mostly school yards appear to be wasted space. In the growing school gardens movement, community gardens that share space may be the answer to many of todays health issues?

Community and empowering children to be food secure.

In many of my blog postings I have written about how to increase parental involvement in schools and the community importance of school gardens. I don't think I've ever looked at what community actually is. This concept has fascinated me for quite a while. The idea of what is community and where belonging comes on that spectrum.

So, What is community? Community is a term that can mean different things to different people. Community can be a term for a place, a group of people, individuals with similar interests, people with the same profession, people with common ownership. There are probably plenty more examples.

In terms of community and school gardening. Gardening has the power to empower neighbourhood, raising awareness of environmental issues and food security issues. The idea of empowerment as a social process is to make neighbourhoods stronger, giving the people a voice of strength and independence. Gardening gives a community a sense of self-reliance.

There are many examples of how gardening can increase capacity of a community. Many people work in this area of helping people in neighbourhoods to help themselves in learning how to grow their own food. The idea  of growing a garden and feeding oneself is such a powerful concept to me. I have never known a year where I haven't been able to grow my own vegetables. A wonderful documentary was made at a school in northern Manitoba on their gardening project and how it has impacted the community. You can see a trailer for this movie on you tube at http://www.youtube.com/user/meljohnsonschool The children at this school use their own homes as their garden and their teacher visits them to teach them about growing the foods. I've already written a short blog about the project at this school. It constantly amazes me how communities in the north can empower themselves and this is a perfect example.

The idea of gardening as a tool to empower a community is important. The purpose of empowerment is to increase the power, wealth and capacity of a community. To grow food for themselves, a community is doing all three and becoming food secure and food aware. Teaching children about food through the school curriculum gives the children an amazing opportunity. There is a sense of wonder that should be nurtured in the garden. Children should be given the tools to learn how to grow their food, to know where it comes from and how it is grown.

There seems so much in the news right now, particularly with Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign with their garden at the White House. Schools seem at the forefront of the new empowerment process on obesity and health.

The idea of food security and empowering children to have the knowledge of how to grow their own food makes me realize the possibilities we, as adults, can make real for students. The environmental crisis is real, as are the issues that we have around obesity and health.

How can we make school  gardens a reality? The more I read, the more I realize just how advocacy in this area can help. Perhaps it will take schools doing research to bring to their school boards, or maybe it might take a few schools who have gardens to get together to enable workshops. I like the idea of Pay It Forward, whereby children who have gardens at schools become mentors to those who wish to learn how to garden. They can get their whole families involved in this way. Children are so smart and can be so passionate about gardening that they become, in themselves mentors to others.

I've thought long and hard about sustainability of gardening and maybe by having children as ambassadors for their own gardens, adults might finally catch on and agree to start a project in a new school.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The science of compost

The science of compost | MNN - Mother Nature Network

excellent information about composting! For those in the Thunder Bay area, see the blog posting on vermicomposting in Thunder Bay

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Environmental film network

Film network festival in Thunder Bay 1st - 2nd April

Please see their website for a list of films showing during the weekend. http://tbefilmf.wordpress.com/about/
There is a showing of ,"This is my garden", a documentary about a school garden project in Northern Manitoba and many more.

Three Sisters Story

I found several different versions of this story. An interesting tale for those wishing to plant a school garden. 

The Three Sisters

A long time ago there were three sisters who lived together in a field.
These sisters were quite different from one another in their size and way of dressing. The little sister was so young that she could only crawl at first, and she was dressed in green.
The second sister wore a bright yellow dress, and she had a way of running off by herself when the sun shone and the soft wind blew in her face.
The third was the eldest sister, standing always very straight and tall above the other sisters and trying to protect them. She wore a pale green shawl, and she had long, yellow hair that tossed about her head in the breeze.
There was one way the sisters were all alike, though. They loved each other dearly, and they always stayed together. This made them very strong.
One day a stranger came to the field of the Three Sisters - a Mohawk boy. He talked to the birds and other animals - this caught the attention of the three sisters.
Late that summer, the youngest and smallest sister disappeared. Her sisters were sad.
Again the Mohawk boy came to the field to gather reeds at the water's edge. The two sisters who were left watched his moccasin trail, and that night the second sister - the one in the yellow dress - disappeared as well.
Now the Elder Sister was the only one left.
She continued to stand tall in her field. When the Mohawk boy saw that she missed her sisters, he brought them all back together and they became stronger together, again. - http://www.birdclan.org/threesisters.htm

Here's another version;
The Three Sisters Story - Modern day agriculturists know it as the genius of the Indians, who interplanted pole beans and squash with corn, using the strength of the sturdy corn stalks to support the twining beans and the shade of the spreading squash vines to trap moisture for the growing crop. Research has further revealed the additional benefits of this "companion plant- ing.'' The bacterial colonies on the bean roots capture nitrogen from the air, some of which is released into the soil to nourish the high nitrogen needs of the corn. To Native Americans, however, the meaning of the Three Sisters runs deep into the physical and spiritual well-being of their people. Known as the "sustainers of life," the Iroquois consider corn, beans and squash to be special gifts from the Creator. The well-being of each crop is believed to be protected by one of the Three Sister Spirits. Many an Indian legend has been woven around the "Three Sisters" -sisters who would never be apart from one another- sisters who should be planted together, eaten together and celebrated together. - 

Every Child Matters

Every Child matters.
Community cohesion promotes the education of children and youth to live and work in diverse communities, in terms of religion, culture and social backgrounds of people. It is concerned with the health and well-being of the whole child. With obesity rates rising and the fact that today’s children may not live as long as previous generations, something needs to be done. Schools can go a long way to promoting health through gardening. Children, who are taught to appreciate fresh and local foods at a young age, will go a long way to providing them with the opportunities to make lifelong decisions over food and choice. Healthy connections with local communities and agencies can go a long way to promote these important healthy goals of gardening.

Teachers report children being proud of their school environment. That they can’t wait to get into the garden and learn. It helps foster community spirit and involvement. Think of how proud a child might be of going to school where there are plants, flowers and trees in the schoolyard. There is growing evidence that children eat what they grow. Children who eat together are more likely to try new fruits and vegetables. Children are enthralled that tiny seeds can produce 6 foot sunflowers and that they can see tiny bugs and learn the importance of bugs in a garden. Learning to nurture seeds and plants in a garden can help children learn to nurture themselves in their own environment.

School Vegetable Garden ideas

Schools | Annie's Root 4 Kids

what a fantastic website... full of ideas, case studies and foodie stuff for all those wanting to start school vegetable gardens

Monday, March 21, 2011

Gardening Workshop

Saturday, March 26 Saturday, March 26   
1  1 1  1 ---- 4 p.m. 4 p.m. 4 p.m.   
Our Saviours Lutheran Church Our Saviours Lutheran Church   
10 Farrand Street (at River Street) 10 Farrand Street (at River Street)   
Need a place to garden? Need a place to garden?   
Find out how we can get a plot at a community  Find out how we can get a plot at a community    
garden in your neighbourhood. garden in your neighbourhood.   
We’ll also be offering a variety of  We’ll also be offering a variety of    
garden workshops and kid’s activities. garden workshops and kid’s activities.   
Call 625 Call 625----5956 for more information

Chefs move to schools


As part of the Let's move Campaign in the US, this program has chef's moving to schools to teach children about food and nutrition.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

- Higher Food Prices...


I think this is even more reason to "go local" and embrace local foods. Grow a garden, join a CSA or support a community garden and school garden in your neighbourhood.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Communal Gardening

Reading through an article on school gardens and food security, I was led to some tips for communal gardening. It got me thinking about how schools and their neighbourhood could get together for the benefit of the whole community to raise awareness of food as a health issue as well as food as a means for community security.School gardens have the ability therefore to increase the relevance and quality of education for rural and urban children through active learning and through introduction of agriculture and nutrition.

In order for children to grow up and become healthy citizens with secure livelihoods, one of the urgent needs is to enable children to stay in school and to acquire knowledge and skills which are relevant to their lives and environment. Learning how to prepare a garden to produce vegetables, fruits and other foods; conserving
water and other natural resources; planting, processing and preparing foods for optimal nutritional value

Nutrition education is essential for ensuring effective linkages between garden food availability and consumption. Schools can provide workshops for the local community on gardening and nutritional education for the local neighbourhood. This could be incorporated into the local PRO grants, where the Ministry of Education provides grants for increasing parental capacity in schools.

The article mentions several things relevant to school and community gardening. Some of them I have talked about in other blogs. The author writes about working with people who have some gardening knowledge and also with elders who maybe able to pass on indigenous knowledge of the land and how and what might grow. This may also encourage diversity in what to grow. This is an important point I think, the respect of knowledge is important in maintaining gardens and growing food. Involvement of the local people and their knowledge is of vital importance. The whole community should be encouraged to participate for knowledge to grow. Children need to know where their food comes from. They need to know how it grows, where it grows and why it grows. School communities have such a vital role to play in this. School should not be just about academia. Every child is different and labeling a child who excels in the outdoor classroom, but isn't able to sit behind a desk to learn is wrong.

Many schools have huge yards that are,in the words of one fourth grader, just plain boring. They appear prisonlike, with huge wire fences to prevent escapes. I heard one principal tell me that the 6ft fence they had built is the best thing ever as it improves safety. I just see some sad kids with nothing to do during recess.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

CBC News article on the benefits of learning outdoors

CBC.ca Player

This article says everything about the benefits of children learning outdoors. Standards in education have pushed children to the point of high anxiety of testing and exam scores. Learning outside has been proven time and time again to benefit children in more than one way. Outdoor education is not a new idea, but it is growing in popularity throughout the world. An outdoor classroom can also include a garden to teach children about healthy nutrition and lifestyles. Children spend the majority of their day in school. Schools have a huge potential to advocate for healthy lifestyles and nutrition and help reduce the growing world epidemic of obesity and its related illnesses. Have outside time as a time for learning in schools. Schools can design and implement outdoor classrooms as part of their school grounds. Ideas on how to implement a school grounds greening can be found on this blog, along with ideas on step by step process of starting a project from committee forming to its conclusion. Funding is available from many sources in Canada. You can also check out my blog for more funding ideas.

I was watching some kids play at a local Montessori preschool last Summer. The children were so creative in their games, running through trees and climbing over logs. Outdoor time is essential in the Montessori method. Maria Montessori recognized decades ago that children use every moment learning about their environment. At this preschool there is also a vegetable garden, where the children are encouraged to plant and take care of the vegetables and fruits. They are encouraged to water them in the Summer and the vegetables are used in the kitchen. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Food for thought

Students from LU and the Food Security Research Network met with Thunder Bay city council this evening to discuss items relating to food sustainability in Northern Ontario. A good read for those interested in food security

tips for first time gardeners.


I have been gardening for most of my life. It began as a child in my grandmothers garden. She gave my brother and I peas to plant. We chose one of the secret parts of her huge garden and got to work. I've helped in gardens ever since.
When I got my first house we had a little garden and were only able to plant potatoes and onions. It was a great start and we learnt lots in those first years. As the article says, we need to start small. Experiment with soil and know your zone.
When we moved to northern Ontario from Ireland, this type of gardening was quite a shock to us, where flowers were growing in March (snowdrops in January) When we can't see leaves on trees until May/June, gardening is a challenge and I am amazed by what farmers can achieve. I was also told by many friends not to plant anything outside until the magic date of the 21st May. I often plant potatoes before then and still have wonderful crops. Other vegetables like the cooler weather and we plant lettuce and spinach at this time too.
My children love planting potatoes and peas. They are often found around the raspberry canes in the late Summer. They also love planting marigolds and sunflowers for the birds.
Now we have successfully planted potatoes, beans, peas, onions, carrots, parsnips, lettuce, radishes, onions and garlic. It is amazing how successful we have been with heirloom varieties of seeds.

More tips on vegetable gardening at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wv1KLDPf8YY&feature=player_embedded

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My healthy school


a wonderful website that promotes the amazing benefits of school gardening from nutrition to outdoor classroom benefits.. Also includes links to curriculum.

Master Gardener program

Here's the website for the master gardener program in Ontario. Master Gardeners can help in the design and planning of school gardens


Michelle Obama's Let's Move Campaign


Check out Michelle Obama's Let's Move Campaign website. School gardens are part of her school initiatives

Friday, March 11, 2011

YouTube - Starting a School Garden

YouTube - Starting a School Garden

excellent video for starting the school gardens with advise from an expert

A Crack in the Pavement: Growing Dreams by Gwynne Basen & Jane Churchill - NFB

A Crack in the Pavement: Growing Dreams by Gwynne Basen & Jane Churchill - NFB

what a fantastic video of how school grounds greening projects and gardens can impact students. Shows how children can help in the planning of a garden.

more funding ideas...


grant possibilities from the Canadian wildlife federation.

Long term sustainability of school gardens.

Building support for school gardens can be tough. It can be difficult to put a case across to a principal, who may or may not like gardening and understand its benefits. School councils may or may not agree with supporting a school garden and without teacher support, the project will more than likely fail.

Perhaps the key to long term sustainability of a school garden project is to elicit political commitment.Creating national policies that support school gardens is instrumental to improving education is necessary for their long term survival. National policies will filter down to board policy implementation and support.

By using an institutional framework, long term support is guaranteed and participation of key stakeholders is supported. Who are the stakeholders? They are the school administration, teachers, parents and students, along with community representatives who support the garden with their time and expertise. Institutional support also means that teachers gain in training and schools gain in the provision of funding.

With the purpose of improving overall education for students, possibilities are almost endless for curriculum. Gardens support school curriculum and help to improve health of students involved by introducing healthy nutrition and lifestyles. Children are familiarized with methods of sustainable food production and school gardens can be used in hot lunch preparation for the students.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

School Gardens, Thunder Bay: Mary Ann Esposito: The Ten Easiest Vegetables To P...

School Gardens, Thunder Bay: Mary Ann Esposito: The Ten Easiest Vegetables To P...: "Mary Ann Esposito: The Ten Easiest Vegetables To Plant in Your Garden excellent ideas of what to plant!"

Take The TMO Challenge | Take Me Outside

Take The TMO Challenge | Take Me Outside

This fantastic project is now well underway and Colin and Sarah are making their way across the maritime provinces. If you can host an event, please contact them and take the Take Me Outside challenge as listed on their website

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Home Depot Canada Foundation - garden grants

Home Depot Canada Foundation

more on school garden grants

School garden support

What does a national School Garden programme need?

I've been wondering how to get more support for gardening initiatives in Canadian schools. There appears to be little support from the ministry for gardening at the moment and the movement relies on inspirational teachers and parents.

The question is, how can this change? The schools in my neighbourhood seem to rely on parental and teacher support. Slow Foods Superior are involved in some schools and are to produce a manual on school gardening in the near future. Will this be enough to show the school boards the importance of gardening curriculum in schools? Other schools in the area are teaming up with the university to produce research on gardens in schools. Perhaps going the extra mile to prove to the school boards the importance of teaching children in outdoor classrooms. Will the importance of an environmental education ever be fully understood by the politicians of our country?

The official integration of school gardening into the national school curriculum and a firm political commitment are usually needed to ensure the sustainable implementation of School Gardens. Grass roots support, teacher commitment and administrative backing all help to bring the outdoor classroom to schools near you and teach children about their place in the environment

The Benefits of Outdoor Adventure « RSA Comment

The Benefits of Outdoor Adventure « RSA Comment

outdoor adventure and play for children

Food and Community

Food shapes our communities in so many ways. In my community, different organizations and groups are striving to create a more sustainable environment. Local produce is one such way that we can create a community.

As any person what they like to eat and they will almost definitely answer. Food creates conversations that shape our community. Conversations are about community. Food is a linking force between all people, no matter what their interest. Food is an elemental force.

I spent time last Summer reading Barbara Kingsolvers book, "Animal Vegetable Mineral" This book stakes the hundred mile diet one step further. It is a fantastic book about how her family moved back to a family farm and began to farm and be apart of the local community. The family ate everything that they grew, including chickens and turkeys. Perhaps its an extreme example of learning about food and the conversation that goes with food, but it raises an important point about knowing where our food comes from and how it is grown. http://www.animalvegetablemiracle.com/

I have been growing vegetables ever since I was a child in my grandmother's garden. She gave me peas to plant with my brother and it was our summer job to plant and maintain the peas. I remember how excited we were to eat the peas we grew and this love of gardening has been with me ever since. My own children love gardening now too and are very excited to see the vegetables growing in the garden in the Summer. To pass this on further to schools and to teach children how to grow their own food in school is an exciting idea that is growing in strength across north america. 

We have a very active farmers market in my city. Every week many many people come to meet, pass time and hang out. People come to talk with those who produce our food. Please take a moment to watch this amazing video on farming in Northern Ontario http://www.foodsecurityresearch.ca/index.php?pid=175
The Farmers market is about meeting friends and learning about where our food comes from, a subject that is really not that well understood by many people in today's society.

Learning about our food and our place in community can help increase a sense of belonging to place. To regain a sense of connectedness that has been lost. Richard Louv's talks about this disconnect in his book, "Last Child in the woods" where we are no suffering from nature deficit disorder, a disconnect with nature. 

We are also lucky in our city to have a growing Food Coop. This is located on Bay Street and sells locally produced products at discounted prices for members. 

So, next time you strike up a conversation with a stranger, maybe you should ask them what they like to eat. You never know, you may share a common interest in locally produced food?

Outdoor Classrooms

Here's a website that gives wonderful stories and case studies about learning outside.


the why's of experiential learning in an outdoor classroom

Sustain Ontario


brilliant website of resources to encourage healthy nutrition for children

Monday, March 7, 2011

school gardening wizzard

Help with presenting school garden project to school administration, to design and planting and student involvement.


Healthy Neighborhoods, Healthy Kids | Sustainable Schools Project

Healthy Neighborhoods, Healthy Kids | Sustainable Schools Project

website about community projects

School garden information from British Columbia

I came across this wonderful and resourceful website this evening. There is plenty of information on school gardens in the question and answer page

'National dialogue' to tackle childhood obesity - Politics - CBC News

'National dialogue' to tackle childhood obesity - Politics - CBC News

I envision a healthy school community as one that has recess as an important part of the day. A school that has an outdoor classroom, where children learn about healthy lifestyles, nutrition and have a sense of belonging in knowing and understanding their part in the world. Children need to know where their food comes from and how to grow it. Spending time gardening is an excellent way to keep fit. Physical Education classes should be incorporated into gardening projects

Metro Green apple grant

the deadline for grant submission is March 31st

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What is the purpose of a school garden

What is the purpose of a school garden?

Children spend most of their waking hours in the school environment. With heavy emphasis on standardized testing and curriculum, recess is now cut down to perhaps an hour to hour and half every day. 
With the rise of obesity and type 2 diabetes, schools have a key role to play in trying to address this issue. A garden can help in this cause. Schools can help in teaching children about healthy nutrition and healthy lifestyles. A link with an outdoor classroom is an important step.

Outdoor classrooms can be linked to the curriculum of a school. There is nothing a child cannot learn from gardening. Outdoor classrooms have the potential to teach children in an experiential way. This is a hands-on way to teach children in real time about issues that affect them and their lifestyles. It teaches children about their place in nature. Children can learn science, math, geography, history, nutrition, literacy and creative arts. A school garden can teach the students to have respect for healthy food, respect for nature, respect for themselves and for others.There are many curriculum links online and books on curriculum that can be purchased. One such book is by a local teacher called Shirley Niemi.

The benefits of school gardens can last a lifetime. Students can be taught about healthy lifestyles and what they eat. They can learn about the origins of food, plant life, community values, work, and how to prepare and eat the food they grow. They can learn about composting and bringing their food waste to the garden, learning about lifecycles and eating in season. 

There is evidence that students spending time in school gardens and green schoolyards attain higher grades on standardized tests and students also behave better when back in the traditional classroom.
Linking the garden to the school curriculum gives all students and teachers the opportunities to work outside. This can help the garden be part of the school and raise awareness and pride within the school.  The local school can be the focus of the community. Perhaps community groups can also use the outdoor space and have a garden to tend. This could also help with Summer care for the school garden.

School gardens have the opportunity to delight and motivate students. To build a strong school community and neighbourhood, that reaches out to adults and children alike to build up a sense of place and belonging.

Friday, March 4, 2011


For those people in Thunder Bay area, there is a place where you can get red wigglers for your worm composting at school. You can pick up a vermicomposter at the local True North Coop on Bay Street

Here is their website for more information

School gardening websites...

Here's some websites that can be used as resources for starting school gardens

#TED launches exciting new educational initiative! Educators, students, & creatives, learn more here: http://bit.ly/ggUKNN @TED_ED

#TED launches exciting new educational initiative! Educators, students, & creatives, learn more here: http://bit.ly/ggUKNN @TED_ED

Please watch the short clip about a new TED initiative on education and join the revolution

PRO Grants


The above link is for information concerning the PRO grant application process in Ontario. This grant is specifically for increasing parental involvement in the schools in our communities.

A quick summary of what school councils and parental involvement committees have used this money for;

  • handbooks for families including community resources with the idea to make families feel more welcome at school
  • Family literacy nights
  • workshops including topics on bullying, healthy nutrition, parent skills workshops, math nights
  • family resource library within a school
  • family welcome room

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Go Local!

FSRN video on food security and farming in Northwestern Ontario. This video documents farming in the Thunder Bay district.

Food Security Research Network Documentary

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Ten Ideas for accessing healthy food.

Ten ideas for accessing healthy food in Ontario from the Metcalf foundation (http://www.metcalffoundation.com/)
  • Set up a school food program and include food literacy in the curriculum
  • Support community food centres, where meals and supplies are offered, and teach healthy eating habits
  • Boost urban agriculture by making space available for growing and processing on city-owned or institutional land
  • Help local producers through means such as tax reforms or setting a floor price
  • Expand purchasing by schools, hospitals and other public institutions of local, sustainably produced food
  • Create regional food clusters, linking producers with small- and medium-sized food processors
  • Build the case for linking good food with good health.
  • Develop ways to help farmers who grow organic produce or do on-farm processing sell their goods
  • Implement a province-wide program to link farming with ecological efforts
  • Plan for the future of farming and food, by dealing with zoning and taxation issues

Ontario Schools Healthy Food and Beverage Policy, parental involvement

The new healthy food and beverage policy will be enacted in September of 2011 and is already causing some anxiety in schools in Ontario. This policy restricts foods that are available for sale in all schools in Ontario. This includes lunch programs, bake sales and sports events. It doesn't apply to food brought from home.

In order to make the transition to healthy foods and drinks in Ontario schools, boards have been encouraged to develop a policy based on the provincial guidelines. The Lakehead District school board has just enacted such a process and I am excited to see this new policy when it is written. The Thunder Bay Catholic school board has taken a slightly different stance on this policy and has been invited to undertake a healthy schools, healthy communities initiative with OPHEA. This new project is to bring on board different community groups to make the catholic schools in this area healthier. Partners in this project include the city and health unit, as well as university.The project undertakes to make policy relating to the Ministry of Education foundations of a healthy school. These are;
  • High Quality Instruction and Programs
  • A healthy physical environment
  • A supportive social environment
  • community partnerships.
Schools are encouraged to put these foundations to use by participating in the Healthy schools recognition program.

The Ministry of Education also has a Healthy Schools Recognition program, which is in its 5th year. Here are some ideas that could be incorporated into the program; to plant a garden, establish walking clubs, start composting and inviting health professionals to schools. In order to promote healthy behaviors and practices, schools can make a pledge to take on healthy activity in their schools. Application can be found on the ministry website.

In order to make the new policy be understandable to all families, schools may need to look again as to how they involve parents in schools. There are some school wellness tools available on the Ministry of Education website to look at how to do this. Here are some other ideas to increase parental involvement in schools;
  • Staff training to increase the positivism during conferences and parental interaction. Staff also need to be respectful of parental involvement in schools, their ideas and background.
  • Information  to increase parental awareness of volunteer possibilities in schools.
  • Schools need to be flexible to allow for busy schedules
  • Childcare could be provided when parent-teacher conferences are taking place.
  • A parent room or resource room could be offered as a safe place for parents to feel welcome to the school setting.
  • Workshops and training for parents. This is important and could work well for understanding of the new policy.
To help involve parents in schools, the ministry has several grants that can be used to get parents into schools. Details of these can be found at http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/parents/schools.html The website lists details of the grants and what they can be used for in schools.
Parents need to feel a positive school climate in order to feel welcome and involved.

for further information, please see blog from Feb 24th