Story by: Kayla Kreutzberg
Photo by: Chris Holden
October is here and that means the Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) will be rolling out their newest initiative to support mental health and well-being, The Umbrella Project.
The Umbrella Project was founded by Dr. Jen Forristal and it’s comprised of monthly themes, activities, and curriculum links to support both students and staff to continue the important focus of wellness.
Jenny Marino, lead for Mental Health and Addictions at UGDSB, said the word umbrella is a symbol that’s used to represent the many skills we have that help us weather the storm.
“The idea is that we are going to build on these skills and be able to manage particularly right now in the current climate with COVID-19 and all the changes, and all the unknowns, and uncertainties that we are living with, it’s so important for all of us to really bring that focus back to wellness,” Marino said.
Marino said there’s probably been an increase in everyone’s general level of stress and anxiety.
“It’s really too early for us to know how kids are impacted, but what I do know and I feel strongly about is that when the rest of us are calm and we create the ingredients for safe, inclusive, welcoming environments, we know that’s going to help kids and that’s what this focus is really all about,” she said.
Marino said the goal of the project for the students would be to continue to build these important skills with them.
“To help them manage in ways that are meaningful for them, their lives, so to manage the unknowns, to manage change, to manage and be able to feel safe and able to learn in the best way they can at school […]” she said.
The monthly themes will be posted to the UGDSB website and information will also be shared externally through social media. Follow #UGUmbrella for the latest updates about the project.