Blog Monthly Archives::

Action Schools! BC New and Updated Resources and Supports


We’re still busy updating Action Schools! BC. Check the Action Schools! BC website for the latest updates.  In the meantime, are you wondering what the new program will look like?  Here’s what you need to know.

Action Schools! BC supports students to be healthy. The program has been updated to reflect the changes to B.C.’s education system using a comprehensive school health approach that integrates mental well-being.

What does the program offer to schools?
Action Schools! BC is comprised of six key program components, as seen in the picture above.

The updated program offers the following free resources and supports to all interested schools:

  • Trainers offering workshops on physical activity, healthy eating, or a combination of the two.
  • An informative website with user-friendly online resources (e.g., updated physical activity and healthy eating resource guides and new instructional strategy examples).

Additional free resources and supports are offered to all schools that complete and submit an action plan: 

  • A regional development co-ordinator as a primary contact and support navigator for schools.
  • Physical literacy mentors and healthy eating mentors who deliver hands-on sessions with teachers.
  • Customized equipment for schools.

Why should schools become involved?
Active, healthy kids are better learners. Action Schools! BC provides schools and teachers with ongoing supports and resources for creating active and healthier learners, schools and communities. Action Schools! BC contributes to building health literacy as an outcome of comprehensive school health, where health literacy encompasses physical literacy and food literacy(1-3). Simply put, it is a fun and important way to help create healthy learners, schools and communities.

Learn More





(1) Health literacy is the ability to access, understand, evaluate, and communicate information as a way to promote, maintain and improve health in a variety of settings across the life-course. (Rootman & Gordon-El-Bihbety, 2008, p. 11)
(2) Physical literacy is the motivation and ability to understand, communicate, apply, and analyze different forms of movement in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person. (PHE, 2016)
(3) Food literacy is the knowledge, attitudes and skills that people have relating to food. Food literate individuals have many competencies such as the knowledge of what constitutes healthy eating, an understanding of how food is connected to health and well-being, and having a positive relationship with food. (BC Ministry of Health, 2016)

UBC Learning For Life – New Resources


UBC Faculty of Medicine’s Digital Emergency Medicine is proud to share the Learning for Life resources for educators teaching Grades 4-7. These new teaching resources include an accessible and easy-to-use teacher’s guide with lesson plans. The cross-curricular content is matched to the new K-9 core competencies, related to the social emotional learning component of the Physical and Health Education curriculum.

Learning for Life focuses on building skills in digital health literacy and building knowledge around sleep hygiene, mental health and wellness. Activities for students include in-class and take-home activities, along with an exciting online choose-your-own-adventure comic book! Click here to check it out!

Contact: For more information, please contact Elizabeth Stacy, Research Coordinator, at, or 604-822-8308.

Fostering Resiliency Through Addressing Substance Use Across The Curriculum


As an early career secondary school teacher in Castlegar, BC, Stephanie Mervyn was looking for a more promising approach to addressing substance use than the ‘facts and stats’ kinds of approach she had experienced. Stephanie heard about iMinds, and decided to try out a few learning activities with her students.

Exploring the role and meaning of drugs, not simply learning facts and statistics, is at the heart of iMinds. It is a set of cross-curriculum drug education resources, created by the Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC) at the University of Victoria. Featuring drug literacy modules designed for Grade 4-10 classrooms, the iMinds collection now also includes drug-related conversation starters and adaptable learning activities that match BC’s new curriculum competencies in a variety of areas including English Language Arts, Social Studies, and Physical and Health Education. Here’s a look at one of the activities that focuses on something that impacts us all: stress. (For the complete version of this activity, including the big ideas and competencies addressed, go to

The Ups and Downs of Stress
A PHE 8/9 activity addressing stress and substance use

Ask people, young and old alike, why they drink alcohol or use other drugs and you’re likely to get some responses that include (though are not limited to) coping with stress.

It’s important to consider the underlying reasons a person may use a drug, since it’s these factors that may  influence future patterns of use and risk of harmful consequences. For example, if it is out of curiosity or another fleeting motive, only occasional or experimental use may follow. If the motive is strong and enduring (e.g., relieving chronic stress or other mental health challenges), then more long-lasting and intense substance use may follow. Motives for intense short-term use (e.g., to fit in, have fun or alleviate temporary stress) may result in risky behaviour with high potential for serious harm.

All of us experience stress, from negative or even positive circumstances (e.g., starting a new school year, or preparing for a trip or a performance), so it is important to learn how to manage stress in a healthy way. Drinking alcohol or using other drugs may provide us with temporary relief from stress, but continuing to use substances as a coping strategy may harm our health and relationships.

While everyone copes with stress differently, regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your health and it’s also an important part of a stress-busting lifestyle. It can actually change your mood. If you are feeling sluggish, some activity can make you feel more energized and alert; at the same time, exercise can also help calm agitated, angry or anxious feelings. Exercise can even reduce levels of the stress hormones that cause the physical feeling of being stressed (like feeling tense or hyper-aroused) and also results in the release of feel-good brain chemicals.

Instructional Strategies
1. Show this short video, Managing Stress (, and then facilitate a short discussion with the class using questions like those below. Then, introduce and practice a variety of activities students can use on their own to manage stress.
a) What are some common reasons people get stressed out?
b) Do you think life is more stressful these days than in the past? Why or why not?
c) How do you cope with or manage stress? How do people in other cultures manage stress?
d) How could we reduce stress in the first place?

2. Provide students with a copy of the Ups and Downs of Stress handout and have them read it. Facilitate a short discussion with the class using questions like those below.
a) If stress can be both good and bad, how do we know the difference?
b) Physical activity is a proven stress-buster. Can it also contribute to stress? If so, how? How can we use physical activity to find our sweet spot?
c) What are other ways to manage stress?
d) What advice can we provide to the stressed student in the image?

3. Show the TED talk by health psychologist, Kelly McGonigal, in which she presents stress as a positive, Invite students to comment on the video and explore what it might mean for them. The following questions might help:
a) What are some situations when stress can be helpful? How might it help?
b) McGonigal talks about “making you better at stress”. How might that look for you?

Updated Sip Smart! BC Program

sipsmartnewlogo2016Sip Smart! BC is an educational program that helps teach students about sugary drinks and making healthy drink choices.  First released in 2009, this popular program has now been updated in 2016!  A completed package of the updated version was mailed in mid-October to BC public schools with Grades 4, 5 or 6.

Changes in the 2016 version:

  • The nutrition information has been updated – and the program still contains the same fun, well-designed activities to help students make healthy drink choices.
  • The lessons are ready to go!
    – Each lesson now includes ALL teacher and student resources (instead of being accessed from a separate section).
    – Items can be used online or downloaded individually from a new “Quick Prints” section on the Sip Smart! BC website.

Consistent with the BC curriculum model encouraging teachers to draw from various resources when creating learning experiences for their students, the activities fit well with the learning standards for the Physical and Health Education (PHE) curriculum for Grades 4, 5 and 6 (as well as other areas such as Science), but is not a prescriptive program.

Schools receive one printed package:

  • The complete set includes a colourful, ready-to-use printed set of materials (2 posters, 16 laminated cut-outs, a class set of 30 booklets for parents, and the Teacher Resource Guide).
  • The materials are designed to last for several years, and can be shared for a long time amongst Grade 4-6 teachers (family booklets can no longer be ordered for each class).

Visit the BC Pediatric Society’s webpage here for more information.

The Sip Smart! BC™ update is a partnership of the BC Pediatric Society and the BC Government and was made possible through funding from the Provincial Health Services Authority.

For further information, contact Pat Zellinsky, Project Manager, BC Pediatric Society, at

Matthew McNair Secondary School – Healthy School Story

The Healthy Schools Network (HSN) is highlighting previous year-end stories to ignite creativity and share ideas about curriculum-based approaches that are aligned with the redesigned curriculum and foster student health and learning.

These stories are shared as examples to demonstrate the innovative ways in which BC educators have been fostering student competency development, creating flexible learning environments, and focusing on student-centred approaches to health and learning, all while undergoing their own professional learning. These examples primarily align with the Physical and Health Education curriculum and also highlight cross-curricular learning opportunities that integrate health education into other subject areas. These examples focus on the core competencies.

This month we are featuring a story from Matthew McNair Secondary School in Richmond and their inquiry about a whole school approach to an edible school courtyard. Below is an example based on their story. Click here to read their story in its entirety.

Example: Matthew McNair Secondary School

Grade 8-10

Learning area: Physical and Health Education

Big ideas: Healthy choices influence our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. (Grade 9)

Curricular competencies: Create strategies for promoting the health and well-being of the school and community (Grade 9)

Curricular content: Potential short-term and long-term consequences of health decisions, including those involving nutrition (which connects to a number of other health decisions within the Grade 9 outline).

Core Competencies:


  • Collaborate to plan, carry out, and review constructions and activities: This project demonstrated this section of the communication facet thoroughly.  From the very beginning, throughout the entire project, students were required to work together, planning, developing, and carrying out the many different aspects needed for the project to be a success.

Positive Personal and Cultural Identity

  • Personal Values and Choices:  This project demonstrates this facet by providing students with the necessary information about food literacy* and how to take responsibility for their health choices. Students were then able to assess and make their own choices.

Personal Awareness and Responsibility

  • Well-being: Within this project, the concept of food literacy and how it contributes to a healthy lifestyle was continually emphasized to students and staff.

Social Responsibility

  • Contributing to the community and caring for the environment: This theme, within the facet of Social Responsibility, is clearly demonstrated throughout the report and appears to be the cornerstone for this particular project.  Students continued to strive to develop gardens of sustainability and to educate others about food literacy in connection to their environment.


*Food literacy is having the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to choose, grow, prepare and enjoy food to support one’s health, community, and the environment.

Resources to Support Mental Well-Being

Are you looking for resources to support the mental well-being curricular competency in your classroom? Here are some great places to explore:

  • The Psychology Foundation of Canada’s Kids Have Stress Too! resources are great for children of pre-school age to Grade 9, and they have parent materials too.
  • Heart Mind Online. Browse by theme to get quick access to topics you can explore with your students, such as self-regulation, kindness or resilience.
  • CARBC’s Helping Schools.  Instructional outlines that can help students develop drug and gambling literacy—the knowledge and skills they need to survive and thrive in a world where drug use and gambling opportunities are common—by focusing on meaning, not just facts. Materials for Grade 4 through high school.
  • The BC Ministry of Education’s Instructional Samples are specifically aligned to the new BC curriculum.

After School for All! Guide For Leaders

The After School Sport and Arts Initiative (ASSAI) aims to support high-quality after school programs across British Columbia. With a focus on sport/physical activity and arts programming, the ASSAI aims to ensure that all children, regardless of barriers they may face, gain valuable skills that will support them to be active and creative for life.

The newly developed After School for All! guide has been designed to be a convenient one-stop resource that highlights key features of successful after school programs. It is a unique resource because it highlights experience and case studies from diverse communities throughout BC, and is based on learnings and insights from the ASSAI.

This guide will be a useful resource for those who currently have, or are interested in having, a leadership role in developing an after school program. It provides information related to:
•    building a staff team
•    delivering engaging program content
•    providing healthy snacks
•    maintaining a safe environment
•    policies and protocols that reduce barriers to participation
•    program promotion and outreach
•    leadership and training
•    partnership development

To access the new guide, click here: After School for All! Guide.

We gratefully acknowledge financial support for the After School Sport and Arts Initiative by the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.