My mom’s birthday is September 3rd, and I remember how excited she would always get at this time of year. It was back to school, back to routine and schedules. As a child I never shared her optimism for summer’s end; but as the years go on I find myself with the same enjoyment of September.
This year, I am excited to share big news.
Ever Active Schools is changing from a special project within the Alberta Teachers’ Association to a standalone national charity. We will keep the name Ever Active Schools and continue to support the health and well-being of Alberta school communities. Being a national charity will allow us to pursue additional areas of growth, capacity, and impact, and alongside partners can expand our borders.
Ever Active Schools began in 2001, stemming from the leadership of the Health and Physical Education Council (HPEC), to provide professional learning opportunities for health and physical education teachers throughout Alberta. There are too many people to thank; Ever Active Schools is a result of committed leadership, dedicated employees and thousands of hours of volunteerism from HPEC. With a great deal of time and expertise, this work has expanded, and our vision is to ensure all students belong to healthy school communities that enable optimal health and learning. We believe in the health and wellness of everyone.
As we reflect on where we have been, the environment in which we work has changed. It seems like right now change is expected and constant. We have seen the importance of wellness within our school communities and the societal push for wellness as a foundation of our educational systems. If a child is not healthy, mentally and physically, and does not have a sense of belonging, they will not be in an optimal environment to learn. Over the past 20 years we have seen collective agreement that health promotion should live in schools. Schools are a major influence in both individual and societal wellness.
I would describe the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) as the quiet yet immensely supportive parent of Ever Active Schools. For 20 years the ATA has helped us with payroll, human resources and steady guidance. Most recently, through this year of transition, Ever Active Schools is grateful to Brian Andrais and Dennis Theobald for their support. Previous support came from Dr. Mark Yurick, who I feel I need to mention for his selfless commitment to the people and work of Ever Active Schools. Also, much gratitude to Nancy Luyckfassel, who has guided our work around professional learning and inspired us with her resilience and positivity. We are excited to maintain a strong partnership with the ATA and continue to work collaboratively on teachers’ conventions, staff well-being and other initiatives.
Growth is the fun part. With a committed board of directors providing governance and direction, the shift to becoming a charity allows for enhanced impact and a greater range of possibilities. We are developing new mentoring opportunities for teachers and school communities to build capacity for wellness through a comprehensive school health framework. We can provide expertise to build around workplace safety and staff well-being; positive mental well-being for all; active living and physical literacy for all; inclusive physical activity; risky play through loose parts play; unique activities in winter and ice environments; recess; supporting resilient schools and Indigenous students; and other health priorities.
Ever Active Schools will also continue to grow in areas of emerging need. COVID-19 has showed us that we don’t always know the next challenge. We will provide ongoing and deeper support for wellness so that communities are healthier and more resilient.
Growth and the future will also continue to be a collaborative approach. Working alongside like-minded organizations, we can address issues as a collective group, understanding that we are all very much “in this together”.
Lastly, the Ever Active Schools board or directors has decided what the foundation and values of the charity will be. We will operate with the values of Relationships, Innovation, Diversity, Contributing and Well-being. The way we engage partners, work with schools, and support communities will lead with those values.
YOU GOT THIS
When COVID-19 shut down our lives as we knew it, we reached out to our friends, partners and internal team in an effort to say that we were thinking of and care for them. We sent out a very simple message that they were strong, awesome and the most capable of navigating through our current times. We hold optimism that school communities and the work we build post-COVID will be better, and we are excited for Ever Active Schools becoming a charity and playing a role.
Personally, I am grateful for the people and schools I get to work with every day, and I am excited for the chapters to come. Mom was right: September is awesome.
– Brian Torrance, Director, Ever Active Schools
A special thank you to our board of directors, who have supported the transition and future of Ever Active Schools:
- Dr. Doug Gleddie
- Dr. Lauren Sulz
- Ms. Nancy Luyckfassel
- Dr. Richard Lewanczuk
- Ms. Maureen Parker
- Mayor Bob Young
- Dr. Mark Yurick
- Ms. Elisha O’Lain