The Roseau Valley School (RVS) in Dominion City has received $97,978 from the province's Teachers' Idea Fund. In total, $3.2 million is being divided up between 38 new projects under the fund this year.
Launched in March 2021, Manitoba's Teachers' Idea Fund has approved 162 projects in 29 school divisions, for total funding of $11 million, to date.
"In this grant is everything that I would possibly wish for to carry out mental health work in our community," says RVS vice principal Jennifer Collette.
She sees the amount of the grant as proof that people recognize the value of mental wellness.
"The focus of the grant proposal was around student transitioning from school to school, because we do get a lot of students from Emerson and Ginew. The other focus was student transition from school to community. So, after grade 12 preparing for being within a community, whether you're going to university, college or just working in the community. And then the other piece was focused on building healthy living, community enrichment and culture and land based wellness. I think the belief really for me is that when our community is strong, our students are strong and we can be resilient."
The funds will help expand an existing program that revolves around healthy eating and wellness for students and staff.
"We're going to be offering a free lunch program once every two weeks, and it's going to be a salad bar. To kind of piggyback on that, we're doing a program this year called Families in the Kitchen [where] we invite families to sign up - kind of like a Hello Fresh Kit but an RVS kit -- and they come in. They can sign up in person and do cooking in our kitchen. Three families come in each time. We run it once a month, and then we have 10 kits that go home so people join us virtually to learn how to cook."
Another aspect of the grant is providing all students with a wellness package containing an RVS sweater as well as self-care products like shampoo, toothpaste and a toothbrush.
One of the projects that excites Collette the most is a series of workshops to prepare Grade 12 students for life after high school.
"One is about finding your passion, one is about choosing your path, another is about living in a community - what are your resources? What if you needed to get in touch with someone? Maybe a counselor or maybe a doctor? Some of the other things that are in those workshops will be around cooking healthy meals."
Other workshops will deal with personal finances and transportation.
"A lot of students will say, 'when I move away from home, I've never lived anywhere but in the country. I don't know how to ride transit to get around.' We want kids to be prepared in a well-rounded way, not just academically."
The school will augment those workshops with another series aimed at helping parents and caregivers in their efforts to support their children.
As a community school, Collette sees part of their work is to bring down barriers.
"When the community are doing well, families are doing well, students are doing well," explains Collette. "I really do believe when we take care of people, learning can follow, meaningful conversations can follow, relationships follow. The most important thing we can do is taking care of people. Everything else will come into place if you do that."