Written by Margaux McWatt, Communications Coordinator, Ever Active Schools

Our minds are persuasive tools: we have the power to create our reality simply from the way we think, how we see ourselves and how we perceive the world around us. Because our thoughts are so influential, they have the ability to hold us back or spring us forward in ways we might not realize. We all have the potential to learn new things, to grow in every dimension of wellness and to develop our intelligence in a tangible and impactful way. These are traits of a growth mindset, which sets the stage for us to grow and thrive, acknowledging our weaknesses while confronting conflict, and striving to better ourselves.

As a part of the education sector, we especially have the opportunity to influence and steer students towards a mindset that isn’t limited and stagnant. It truly is amazing how a shift in the way we think can equip us with the tools to face tough situations.

“A growth mindset thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence, but as a heartening springboard for growth and for strengthening our existing abilities.” (1)

Ever Active Schools has five events remaining in the provincial tour supporting healthy school communities through student leadership: Healthy Active Schools Symposia (HASS). This year’s theme, The Leader Within: Illustrating Growth, encourages all students to find their inner leader through the arts, creative expression and a growth mindset. Each symposium includes an art-based opening activity, school team reflections, sharing, and action planning.

What can we do everyday to shift a student’s mindset towards growth? Collaborate, practice, encourage, embrace challenges and welcome criticism (1). The education sector can actively work towards a positive shift by utilizing these elements,  especially collaboration: Ever Active Schools along with provincial partners, Alberta Health Services, The Be Fit for Life Network, and the Healthy School Communities Wellness fund, as well as  local HASS committees, are facilitating and hosting this catalyst for positive change in school communities. The day’s events focus on the key areas of Comprehensive School Health – Active Living, Healthy Eating and Mental Well-being – and include: yoga & mindfulness, school nutrition, active design for school wellness, recess activities, healthy relationships, inclusive school communities, the arts and much more! These sessions encourage all students to be active towards positive change in their school, along with the art-based opening activity, prompting students to wrap colourful yarn around pegs to identify the health initiatives already going in their schools, while reflecting on gaps. The result is an artful and bright reflection of a shared health journey, which doesn’t end when the event is over or even when school’s out.

The arts play an important role in developing and establishing a mindset that embraces positive shifts in the way we think, increasing our capacity for change and improvisation. One article written by Lisa Phillips with the Artistic Edge, presents how the arts supports students in succeeding in life by helping them to develop:

  1. Creativity
  2. Confidence
  3. Problem Solving
  4. Perseverance
  5. Focus
  6. Non-verbal Communication
  7. Receiving Constructive Feedback
  8. Collaboration
  9. Dedication
  10. Accountability

Each HASS event connects creative expression with growth by highlighting an art element and activities that are challenging and perhaps new, creating a platform for students to analyze strengths and weaknesses, along with overcoming obstacles and moving toward a growth mindset. You can learn more and register for an upcoming HASS event here: www.everactive.org/hass
To learn more about how the arts support learning, and a growth mindset in an arts classroom, check out the references and take your reading further!


1) Lomex, Kari. Growth Mindset: In the Art Classroom. https://www.slideshare.net/KariLomax/growth-mindset-in-art-61670177 .October 26th 2017.

2) Phillips, Lisa, The Artistic Edge. 10 skills children learn from the arts that help them succeed in life. 2012.

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