Prairie Rose School Division (PRSD) applied for and received funding in the amount of $86,050.00 from the Manitoba Teachers Idea Fund (MTIF) to finance the "Sources of Strength" program, a Mental Health Initiative to be rolled out in the division over the next four years. 

According to the government website, "the MTIF is a five-year, $25 million investment in the ideas and innovations of front-line teachers, staff, and school leaders from across our province."  

While last year's funds went towards literacy, diversity and inclusion and programs like robotics and outdoor classrooms, this year's focus in on mental health and well-being. 

PRSD Guidance Counsellor at St Pauls Collegiate and Ecole St Eustache Shamain Hartman spokesperson for the team who applied for the funding issued a statement explaining how the money will be used. 

"The goal of our initiative is to improve student and staff mental wellness by implementing consistent programming division-wide. We are using the funding to implement and sustain a long-term plan to implement The Sources of Strength program in all our schools in the school division. Sources of Strength provides evidence-based curriculums for kindergarten to grade 12. We believe this mental health program in our Kindergarten through Grade 12 classrooms will benefit our students. The program employs eight 'Strengths', or protective factors, to boost resilience in the lives of young people, with the evidence base to show the further we move upstream to build protection and health in people's lives, the better equipped they will be to navigate the natural ups and downs of life." 

She gave some details about what this means as it is delivered to different ages at different stages of development.  

"The Early years' program focus on classroom instruction which transitions to adult advisor/peer mentorship in the middle and senior years.  The program provides the highest quality evidence-based prevention for suicide, violence, bullying, and substance abuse by training, supporting, and empowering both peer leaders and caring adults to impact their world through the power of connection, hope, help, and strength." 

She explained how the money will be used to implement the program over the next four years. 

"The funding will allow us to train all our K - 6 teachers, guidance counsellors, and social workers to be coaches to facilitate the program in classrooms. For Grades 7-12, we will train Peer Leaders and Adult Advisors. Additionally, we will train Trainers to facilitate ongoing training within the division. We will provide regulation corners through the purchase of fidget tools for elementary classrooms and fund projects initiated by Peer Leaders to support students in high school." 

Shamain said the topic of suicide isn't discussed with elementary students, but the idea did come from an alarming trend in the division. 

"Suicide is such a sensitive topic and we find more and more we are finding students with suicidal ideations and mental health that is really feeling weak. So, this money is really going to help us put students in the position to support each other and have adults do the same as well, because adults are trained as well."