Grade 8 students poured their enthusiasm into the ‘Get Real’ program by participating a variety of group activities held at École Fox Run School earlier this week. Activities and discussions taught students how to be more accepting towards others and to avoid judging people based on their appearance.
“The program seeks to break down barriers,” said Family School Wellness Worker Megan LeBlanc. “This is done through assisting the students to see that there is commonality among people, whether there’s differences in race, gender or socio-economic status.”
The program is now in its sixth year, and about 177 students, along with 14 teachers, participated in this year’s activities. LeBlanc said she’s had plenty of positive feedback from parents about the program, which gives older students the opportunity to act as role models to younger students.
“Students feel like they have a sense of belonging in the community and that they are not alone,” she said. “It’s the hope that once they feel included in this program that they have more empathy for other students, and then hopefully that will decrease bullying.”
A favourite activity of many students is ‘Cross the Line’ — a game set up to show students how much they may have in common with each other. In it, students each cross a line if they have experienced being in a particular situation.
“They find that it’s impactful and a nice visual to see that everyone has common things on their shoulders and that they carry baggage with them,” LeBlanc said. “They learn that everyone has baggage with them and that we shouldn’t judge them based on certain things.”
LeBlanc said students are empowered through the program as they learn social and communication skills, which in turn help them in times of powerlessness.
“It helps to build those inner strengths and coping skills that everyone has … that’s done through trust building exercises and one-on-one group discussions,” LeBlanc said. “It helps to increase self-awareness and awareness of others, and it helps to increases self-esteem, which in turn impacts how they feel empowered about themselves and how they manage situations.”
Even as students get a break from their typical classes to participate in the program, they still receive a social and emotional education by learning how to cope with their emotional well-being and through learning proper social interactions, LeBlanc said.