January 3, 2020

Robert H. Lagerquist mental health initiative receives PHE Canada grant

Robert H. Lagerquist Sr. Public School​ is one of five schools selected by Physical and Health Education Canada (PHE Canada) to receive the 2019 Share2Care grant​.​​

Physical and Health Education Canada (PHE Canada) received 316 applications for mental health support from across the country. The grant of $5,000 will help the school further advance its mental health initiative, Teacher Advisory and Guidance (TAG)​.

School receiving cheque for $5000

The TAG program is a means to deliver mental health lessons. Staff at Robert H. Lagerquist created the program as they noticed that many students struggled with communication or conflict resolution, and could benefit from greater guidance in these areas.

“Mental health literacy is crucial for students to thrive academically,” says Kerry Caton, grade 8 teacher at Robert H. Lagerquist. “It is so important to provide students with the skills to communicate with each other and to understand that their differences are strengths, not weaknesses.”

TAG is structured in a way that students receive two periods a week to work on focused mental health topics. Students have the opportunity to meditate, write in journals and have a class community circle. During class community circles, students will often write problems or questions anonymously on a piece of paper and the entire class will respond to the note. Through this process, students develop greater empathy and understanding of one another.

“TAG class is a class where we learn how to be the best versions of ourselves and to express ourselves.” – Robert H. Lagerquist Student

Teachers asked students to write their thoughts about TAG, and the responses speak to the positive impact the program is already making.

One student reflected on how the program has improved their emotional literacy as they wrote, “TAG class is a class where we learn how to be the best versions of ourselves and to express ourselves”

Collage of student submissions

Ryan Fahey, special projects & campaigns lead for PHE Canada, and Jessie Mann, financial advisor for The Co-operators, presented the grant to the school during a celebratory assembly on Dec. 18.

During the assembly, students shared their experiences in the program. “TAG has really helped me to be more open and not to judge,” said one student. “It has helped me to calm my anger and to not lose my temper so easily.”

Caton emphasizes the change she is seeing in her students. “It has been incredible to watch the students open up to their peers in this safe space and have that vulnerability met with respect and kindness,” says Caton. “I am excited to see how much further we can take this program with this incredible gift.”

As part of the PHE Canada Teach Resiliency program wi​​th support from The Co-operators, Share2Care aims to recognize and share promising school mental health initiatives that are making positive impacts on students, school staff and the school community.

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