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!


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