Blog Posts Tagged: DASH

A Year in Review for DASH

Reflections from Kathy Cassels, Executive Director

We can achieve more together than we can on our own.

It has been another incredible year! We have made so much progress in the last 9 months and have continued to mature as a leader in promoting healthy schools. We want to thank everyone who played a role in contributing to our growth, as we cannot do this alone.

At DASH, we believe “it takes a village to raise a child”; and the village is only the beginning.  As we continue to move forward to create healthier schools, we realize it is important to sustain this effort in a meaningful way by working together to achieve our vision of each student realizing their full potential.

Much of our Partnerships are an integral part of DASH’s work in healthy schools.  At DASH we commit ourselves to making a positive contribution to the health and learning of BC students and feel that we made great strides at this year’s Healthy Schools Leadership Symposium. Over 200 individuals joined us to learn about and to help shape a common agenda for creating healthier schools and healthier students in the province.

The symposium warmed my heart and confirmed my understanding that developing healthy learners supports children to step into a successful future.  More and more research confirms that students do better at school when they are emotionally and physically healthy.

DASH positions itself as leading partner for action at schools.  We believe that by working together, we can achieve more than we can alone.  At the symposium we observed our colleagues commitment and passion for taking up the journey alongside us.  Thank you all for your collective efforts.

Increasing participation in the Healthy Schools Leadership Symposium was only one of the accomplishments DASH saw this year.

Other highlights and accomplishments for DASH this year include:

  • In the Healthy Schools Network (HSN), 158 healthy living grants were awarded to schools; reaching over 5000 students participating in healthy living projects in a variety of leadership roles.
  • As a key component of Healthy Schools BC, 13 Healthy Living Youth Council members took actions to create healthy schools in their school communities through healthy school initiatives.
  • 14 school districts, serving 30 communities, received funding for the After Schools Sport and Arts Initiative through our work with the Ministry of Community Sport and Cultural Development.   This work represents over 10,000 program spaces for students to participate in physical literacy and creative art expression activities who wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity.
  • 191 schools and 65,111 students took part in the annual International Walk to School event to experience the many benefits of walking and active transportation.
  • As a key component of Healthy Schools BC, DASH-led Learning Sessions within various health authorities have shown great success in supporting front line health professionals to increase their capacity to engage with their education sector partners.
  • Over 100 school communities responded to a call to share their stories of exemplar practice in school connectedness in order to help others learn from their efforts.
  • Health authority personnel were inspired to create new conversations with schools as a result of our new Comprehensive School Health Resource Guide for Health Professionals
  • Over 130 inspiring stories of healthy schools in action have been shared on the Healthy Schools BC Stories Map and more continue to be posted daily!

We renewed and added new partnerships by participating in and or collaborating with:

  • Ministries of Health and Education’s Healthy Schools BC initiative
  • Regional Health Authorities
  • Action Schools! BC
  • BC School Centred Mental Health Coalition
  • International Congress on School Effectiveness and Improvement in Yogyajarta, Indonesia
  • Networks of Innovation and Inquiry
  • BC Physical Activity Leadership Table
  • Education Partners Healthy Schools Committee

As we quickly approach the close of another school year, I am reflecting on the demands students will have in the future. These demands will require a new approach for educating BC’s children.  Our challenge at DASH is to continue to provide leadership and opportunities for schools to ensure BC students learn, play and thrive in healthy schools communities and that each learner is healthy, safe, engaged, challenged and supported.  We will continue our work with educators, health authority staff, community members and provincial partners to ensure each child in each school succeeds.

In closing, I have a question: Can you see a future where we open ourselves up to different ways of seeing and doing, so that we might work together in powerful ways to support each child to realize their full potential at school?  I can!

Stay tuned, we have more opportunities for you to get involved with healthy schools in the coming school year.  Have a great summer!

iWalk 2013 at St. John’s School

by Alicia Yip

You may have noticed a decrease in early morning traffic on your way to work from October 7th to 11th.  That’s most likely due to International Walk to School Week (iWalk), which had 191 schools and over 60,000 students skip their morning car rides for a nice walk instead.

As the coordinator for the iWalk school visits, I was able to see schools in action during their iWalk week. It was amazing to see what each of the schools had planned and how excited all the students were so early in the morning.

Although all the schools were amazing, there was one particular experience that really embodied all of DASH’s values; fun, learning, balance, collaboration, and contribution. As we were saying our goodbyes at Trafalgar Elementary, we noted that it was great to see so many children walking to school so enthusiastically. One PAC member then mentioned that it’s not easy getting them to walk, especially at her son’s school, St. John’s School. She told us of the difficulties her son faced trying to cycle to school with all the traffic and idling cars and about the staff’s efforts in encouraging students to walk to school.

We visited St. John’s the very next day and discovered that they were not registered for iWalk; I was immensely impressed with the staff’s initiative to get students walking. Because St. John’s is an independent school, their students come from all over the lower mainland, making walking a nearly impossible option. However, nothing is impossible, so St. John’s set up a tent a few blocks away from the school that would provide a safe drop-off site for parents that have to drive. The tent had older students ready and waiting to walk the younger students to school. I think my heart actually melted watching the big tall seniors and the tiny little elementary students walking to school hand-in-hand. St. John’s saw an increase in students walking and decrease in traffic as the week went on and will encourage their students to continue.

I learned that there are many schools out there doing amazing things and how important it is to make connections for without the Trafalgar parent’s contribution, we would not have known about St. John’s School’s efforts. It really is incredible to see such community and school connectedness, watching the students and teachers collaborating at the walking tent was great. Of course, getting to go out and visit the schools was a lot of fun and helped to create balance between work, play, and learning in my day.

Did your school participate in iWalk? Do you have a story to share? DASH would love to learn from you too! Submit your story on the Healthy Schools BC Stories Map.

Meet DASH’s newest team member: Alicia

This September, I was faced with a dilemma that haunts so many recent post-secondary school graduates; what now? Where do I go from here? How do I make an impact? Will I even get to do what I want to do?

Having a degree in nutritional sciences, health has always been on my mind. Through internships and summer jobs, I’ve learned that it is not just about healthy eating, but also about a healthy lifestyle. In all of these past experiences, I have worked closely with children, but found that, although fulfilling, a fully hands-on approach with children all the time was not exactly what I was looking for. So I found myself asking, how could I impact the lives of children and create better futures for them, but in a more behind the scenes way?

So that’s how I ended up at DASH, which provides me with the perfect balance. It’s working for to promote healthy schools at a higher level, but still being able to fully see the impact you make. For example, iWalk has been in the works for the past couple of months and now that it’s here, we are able to go visit the schools and participate in the festivities! Being able to see your plans in action always brings an overwhelming amount of joy and fulfillment and schools tend to give me a happy and nostalgic feeling that I cannot seem get anywhere else.

The past few weeks have been wonderful. I really didn’t know what to expect when stepping into this role as Project Assistant. My favourite aspect so far is being able to have a part in all the amazing projects and programs happening around the office, such as iWalk and the After School Sport and Arts Initiative. The ever changing projects keeps me on my toes, I don’t think I will ever be bored! The culture at DASH is also great, everyone seems to work hard and work passionately, but still find time for the small things like taking a meeting outside on a nice day or reading everyone’s horoscope on a Friday. DASH is definitely unique and I’m very glad that my first out-of-university experience begins here. I’ve found my place and now the only question is; where will DASH take me?

Bidding Adieu to DASH

by Tazeem Weljie

Over the last two and half years I have had the pleasure of working at DASH BC. It’s been a time of growth and development and I feel very privileged to have had this opportunity. As I wrap up, I have been reflecting on this journey, the experience I have gained and the many lessons I have learned.

As I move on to new a chapter, my greatest realization is how important it is to be surrounded with people who share similar values and beliefs. Here at DASH, our values are Balance, Fun, Learning, Contribution, and Collaboration.

I feel fortunate to have worked with a team who not only practice these on daily basis, but encourage others to as well. Personally, balance is something I strive for regularly, but tends to be the first thing to slip when work and life get busy. However at DASH, we believe that a balanced lifestyle leads to a happy, healthy, and hardworking team. Some ways in which we achieve this is by:

  • Spontaneous walks/lunch time yoga with the team
  • Opportunities to build and maintain positive working relationships with partners and community
  • impromptu breaks that encourage laughter and silliness
  • Brainstorming, working together, and supporting one another
  • Going into the community first-hand to see our impact
  • providing ways for staff to continually learn and blossom

As we move into the new school year, I encourage you to remember the importance of working hard, playing hard and surrounding yourself by people who are going to push you to be awesome, challenge you, and help you to get out of your comfort zone. Ask yourself this question…who’s on my team?

I want to say a big thank you to all of you on “Team Taz” – the internal DASH team, external partners, mentors, and friends who have been along on this journey with me. It’s been a wild ride!

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Meet Rebecca, DASH’s new Community Engagement Liaison!

It’s June and in 16 communities around BC, elementary schools are wrapping up their after school programming as part of the After School Sport and Arts Initiative.  The initiative, funded by the BC Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, provides free programming for kids who haven’t had the chance to participate in after school activities in the past.  As DASH’s new Community Engagement Liaison for this Initiative, I have had the privilege over the past few weeks of learning about all of the amazing activities kids have taken part in this year in communities all over BC, from New Hazelton to Grand Forks to Victoria.  Programs have included soccer, mural painting, snowshoeing, gymnastics, Bollywood dance, Aikido, basket weaving, wheelchair basketball, and more.  The activities follow the interest of the kids and represent the variety in geography and culture of the communities involved.

I was also lucky to attend the Surrey Jumpstart Academy’s end-of-year celebration, where students from 25 elementary schools came together for a fun event.  Gathered at the field at North Surrey Secondary School, the kids rotated through activity stations with relay races, soccer, karate, and creation of a mixed-media mural.

I am thrilled to join this initiative and support programming going forward into the 2013-2014 school year.  My job will involve: supporting communities in the planning and implementation of their programs, facilitating partnerships with community-based and provincial sport clubs and organizations, and exploring the outcomes of the program.  Beyond the benefits of increased physical activity, physical literacy, and creative expression for the kids, there are other impacts we are seeing as part of this initiative.  Kids are excited about the program, gaining confidence in their abilities, and feeling more connected to their schools.