Summer 2019 Edition
Note from Craig & Marc
“Omwana ni wa bhone” is a saying in the Mara Region of Tanzania that means the whole of a community is responsible for its children. Put another way: It takes a village! Most mental health problems have their onset during childhood and adolescence. However, the demand for child and youth mental health support far exceeds the ability of current clinical, community-based and school district response systems. It’s on us to help lessen the burden of mental illness by supporting early investment in well-being promotion, mental health prevention and early identification for young people. As you know, that’s why we created the WE Well-being program. Reflecting on the past year – collaborating with leading mental health experts to develop curriculum and resources and successfully launching the WE Well-being pilot in over 150 schools – we are reminded of your pioneering support and for that, we cannot thank you enough. Your generous support of WEWell-being will allow us to bring the program to our entire network of 20,000 schools across North America. Students and families will have access to resources aimed to instill life-long skills for positive well-being, and educators will have the training and tools they need to implement social and emotional learning in the student curriculum. As we move forward in this exciting phase of WE Well-being, please know how grateful we are for your vital role in bringing this program to life. We hope you’ll enjoy reading about the impact your contribution is already making. Together, we can accomplish more than we ever could alone, and thanks to your heartfelt kindness and support, we are hopeful for the future potential of this program to change the world.
Craig Kielburger Co-Founder, WE
Marc Kielburger Co-Founder, WE
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Table of Contents
4 About WE Well-being 5
Youth and school programming
7 8 9
WE Well-being pilot Deepening our impact
Meet the WE Well-being advisors
10 Kinder. Gentler. Stronger. 12 Teachers talking to teachers 14 WE Well-being is taking education to the next level 16 Live to inspire youth summits: Sparking ideas for well-being 17 WE Speaks: Timely conversations about mental health 18 A journey to positive well-being
20 Coming soon 21 Erika’s legacy of hope
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About WE Well-being
WE Well-being empowers youth, families and communities with tools and resources to promote their own mental well- being and the well-being of others. Based on the best available evidence, we translate science into everyday actions.
An estimated 70 per cent of mental health problems manifest during childhood or adolescence—affecting one in five people in any given year. WE Well-being is focused on the promotion and prevention of mental health and well- being, and early identification resources. WE Well-being provides curricular resources, professional learning for educators, direct-to- youth workshops and supports families and caregivers to continue the learning at home.
WE will leverage our almost 25 years of experience building programs and partnerships serving approximately 20,000 K-12 schools to scale WE Well-being. It will include deep learning in schools, complemented with community resources for families, a WE Well- being playbook, podcast, WE Day events and social media to enable our community members to support themselves and each other.
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Youth and school programming
WE Well-being will equip students and educators with educational curriculum and supporting resources that foster social, emotional, physical and mental well-being inside and outside of the classroom. Moreover, the program will empower participants to build safe and caring environments, while reducing stigma and other mental health risk factors. WE Well-being aims to foster knowledge, competencies and positive human qualities through experiential service-learning to promote social, emotional, physical and mental well-being in children, youth and educators. Our primary objective is to promote well-being by increasing internal (i.e., self-regulation) and external (i.e., positive relationships) protective factors by decreasing risk factors (i.e., stigma) for mental health challenges. Educational Curriculum and Lessons Plans Teachers will receive a turn-key package of lesson plans and resources on mental well-being that they will plug into their existing course work. Teachers will use the resources throughout the year to support consistent engagement with the material. Lesson plans will focus on key mental health topics including:
• Understanding the brain and brain development • Help-seeking • Resilience
• Understanding stress response • Self-care • Reducing stigma
Lesson plans will be developed in four cohorts of grades (primary K-3, junior 4-6, intermediate 7-8 and senior 9-12).
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Youth and school programming
WE Well-being: 10 pillars of capacity- building
Professional Learning for Educators WE will offer free training sessions to educators implementingWEWell-being curriculum and lesson plans in their classrooms. The objective is to enable educators to apply key concepts and resources in the classroom and school community. In addition, we will work to increase the personal and professional resilience, competency and capacity of teachers. This will include group coaching sessions withmental health experts to provide teachers with effective teaching strategies. Teachers in these sessions will learn and share best practices and create a network of support within the teaching community. We will also offer teacher-focused events to further their learning in specialized areas of student mental health. For example, we will host a keynote speech featuring an expert on the adolescent brain where teachers can learn about helpful strategies and tools for supporting the well-being of their students. Youth Programming WEWell-being provides a variety of programs, that support youth in building skills and understanding in order to promote their own well-being and the well-being of others. These include: • A speaking tour and workshop series on mental well-being accessible to schools across North America • Youth leadership summits focused on promoting well-being and creating safe and supportive environments for self and others • University-level workshops on self-care and stress reduction
2 Self-confidence and identity
3 Healthy relationships
4 Positive human qualities
5 Self- management
6 Stress management
7 Positive motivation and growth
8 Social and environmental awareness
9 Responsible decision- making
and positive contribution
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WE Well-being pilot
The WE Well-being pilot combined experiential service learning, social and emotional skills and mental health literacy to promote well-being for students in grades 4-6.
When asked about their first year in WE Well- being... 88% of educators said their participation has benefited them professionally. 85% of educators said their experience was positive or very positive. 80% of educators said they personally used the things they learned through the program to support their own well-being.
We have successfully completed stage one of the WE Well-being pilot. The pilot was developed in collaboration with leading experts and world-renowned organizations to bring the cutting-edge science of well-being into classrooms across Canada and the United States. The WE Well-being pilot involved over 200 schools and impacted more than 7,000 students. The inaugural program was developed for students in grades 4-6. Modules focused on unpacking social and emotional learning, mental health literacy and the brain science behind mental health research. Thanks to the WE Well-being curriculum, educators identified increased empathy, self-awareness, leadership and improved self-image and confidence as the top areas of growth for their students participating in the pilot. The pilot also enabled us to collect data and feedback crucial to the ongoing development of theWEWell-being program. One key takeaway was that 88% of educators requested access to resources online, which has allowed us to leverage technology to scale professional learning.
Spotlight: Research and Monitoring & Evaluation Partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC) We are currently in the process of developing a robust research partnership with UBC. This will include a multi- site formative evaluation to gather data from educators on their overall impressions and program feasibility. We will also use interviews and post-implementation teacher/student surveys to gather qualitative evaluations of the program. Finally, we will partner with UBC to evaluate the efficacy of the program in promoting our stated outcomes, to test howWE Well-Being produces significant changes in student social and emotional well-being.
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Deepening our impact
Using the valuable lessons learned, we will build on this momentum and continue to develop and expand the pilot program to include other grade levels.
With the illuminating feedback from educators, we will continue to use interviews, surveys, focus groups and other qualitative evaluations, as well as draw on advice from top experts in education, psychology and social emotional learning, to adapt and evolve the program to deliver the greatest possible
impact to educators and youth across North America. We’ve also partnered with several renowned organizations to support our program research:
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Meet the WE Well-being advisors
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Kinder. Gentler. Stronger.
By Danielle Murphy and Karine El Chacra
How WE Well-being transformed one pilot school, as told by two educators.
The St. Maria Goretti School community is kinder thanks to WE Well-being. We are healthier. We are stronger. We are better leaders. We are more compassionate. We are more resilient. We are ever more grateful. We belong. The program changed us. It changed our students and it changed our classrooms. There’s been an uptick in recent years in the number of students struggling with mental wellness issues. WE Well-being provides teachers with a way to promote positive mental health and guide students to happy lives. Our journey at St. Maria Goretti began by embracing and reinforcing the importance of building a caring community. Our activities and lessons, guided byWE modules, supported the importance of taking care of each other and our classroom. The programhelped students to develop a better understanding of the importance of self-care and care for each other, especially during busy school days. TheWE lessons demonstrated the many ways that building empathy, compassion and gratitude can help promote well-being and mental health.
During classroom discussions and module activities, students discovered the power of simple actions. Daily activities changed mindsets. The program was embedded and intertwined in all aspects of our day. We would look at the scientific research, then put it to the test with activities such as gratitude walks, journaling and mindfulness exercises. TheWEWell-being program inspires leadership development. Bringing service learning to the classroom engages students on different levels. We watched mindsets shift from “me” to “we” as students collaborated on empathy projects— sock drives for the homeless, smile bags for shelters, fundraising for Sick Kids. Students showed pride in themselves and each other. They have become active citizens who care and contribute. If we were to give a message to other teachers, it would be to give the program a try. Thanks to WE Well-being, our hearts grew stronger and so did our minds. Now it is a part of everything we do.
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Teachers talking to teachers
The Associate Superintendent of Learning in Rocky View Schools lauds the launch of WE Well-being.
In the summer of 2019, Dave Morris, the Associate Superintendent of Learning in Rocky View Schools, sent an email inviting educators in his district to take part in the pilot of theWE Well-being program. Twenty hands went up—representing teachers in 10 of the 51 schools in the Alberta district, plus a couple in a nearby board. Early in the school year, the teachers gathered to learn about the WE initiative designed to bring social and emotional learning and mental health literacy into classrooms. The framework for the program is science based and was developed in collaboration with experts and researchers. “Teachers started talking to teachers,” Morris says of that first session of professional learning.
When the next group gathered, 40 teachers showed up. Within a month, the pilot program had doubled in size! WE Well-being promotes child and youth community service as a means to boost social- emotional competencies and develop such positive human qualities as gratitude, empathy and resilience. It’s hands-on, minds-on learning that is making an impact in classrooms and the community. One example is the work of the KINDergarten Kindness Ninjas fromWindsong Heights School in Airdrie. Abigail raised money for the food bank. “I made a list of everything that I needed,” she says in a video diary. “I hope that people felt happy. And I hope that they will eat all the food and feel happy!”
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What educators are saying:
“WEWell-being is one of the best. It is a very compelling program. AWESOME. Immediately, the teachers involved in this workshop were trying to figure out how to bring the program to their classes, to all the students in their area and even to their staff.” —Patti, educator, Ontario “We implemented WE Well-being Gratitude lessons with our Grade 2-3s. As a class, we decided to recognize people in the school community who give a lot but aren’t always told how important they are. The students made up dances, a memory book and decorated big cards of appreciation. Some recipients cried happy tears, some were surprised, and others jumped for joy. It was profound for my young students to see and helped build social emotional learning skills in a tangible way.” —Jeannette, educator, British Columbia “I feel like this is the program I’ve been holding out for; I’m so excited because I never thought I would see a program like this before I retired. I’m not planning on retiring any time soon now that I know I can implement this for the next 10 years!” —Aaron, educator, Nova Scotia
Adalynn helped the Humane Society. “I gave them towels and leashes.” Arielle shoveled a neighbor’s driveway. Jaxen made paper hearts and pipe-cleaner flowers for all of the friends in his great grandma’s retirement home. “It made me happy,” he says. “The WE Well-being lessons are universal,” Morris says. This fall, he plans to hold some general sessions for anyone in his school system who wants to integrate the curriculum into their teaching. The long-time educator says WE has inspired timely conversation that addresses classroom challenges.
“We seem to be getting more and more students who have self-regulation problems,” he says. “So we need to do two things: We need to get kids to understand other kids’ perspectives with empathy. We also need to purposely teach mindfulness in kids to develop caring classrooms.” Morris is excited by the potential and reach of the program in his district where service learning is already thriving. “If you have 40 teachers and they have between 25 and 30 students, we’re impacting a lot of kids! It scaffolds out fairly quickly. A year from now, it will be more than that!”
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WE Well-being is taking education to the next level
A celebrated educator explains the importance of discovering self-worth.
Jacqueline Sanderlin, or Doctor J as she is known, is the champion of theWhy Not mindset. As in, “Why not, you?” It’s a question the veteran educator and celebrated innovator puts toWE Day audiences and school communities across the United States. “You are enough, worth it and positioned for greatness. Speak it and do it!” she tells people of all ages. “There is no one on Earth like you. No one! You are enough.” “Why not?” It’s a proposition, a dare and a measure of self-worth. “Why not starts with well-being,” she explains. “It’s the root of the flower that’s going to blossom, an essential piece that’s necessary for any human to grow in whatever they are going to do.” Dr. Sanderlin served for thirty-some years as a teacher, principal and administrator in
Ingleside and Compton Unified School Districts surrounding Los Angeles, California. During that time, she witnessed countless students fail not because they were failures, but because they were not well. “You’re not well if you’re not nurtured.” Not so long ago, school counselors were reactionary, she says—“dealing with a fight that happened, showing up in the aftermath of crises, rarely learning to reduce or stop a problem.” Educators talked in circles about bullying without truly tackling the problem—at least not until they realized that the problem had a name and a back story. “It’s not enough to have programs to reduce bullying unless you have programs to help understand why they are bullied in the first place.” So that is where we are now, she says. “Educational conferences that once focused on reading, writing and pedagogy now focus on mental health.”
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Well-being is a conversation, she says—one that WE is helping to lead. “WE Schools and WE Well-being curriculum provide resources that most of our schools don’t have.” Teachers are hungry for tools and tactics, she says. “WE Well-being is going to take us to another level.” The service learning at the heart of WE programming is inspiring traditional classrooms, she says. “Usually it’s the teacher who is all- knowing and the students who are all-receiving. Service learning has flipped that.”
Scholars—as she likes to call kids—become problem-solvers and change-makers, empowered to take on a local and global cause. “WEWell-being places students in the driver’s seat.” Students work on real-life strategies and learn to voice their opinions as they are equipped with life skills. WE Well-being inspires a strong sense of self, says Dr. J. “If you don’t have that, you’ll never ask, ‘why not?’”
With our increased attention to mental health and well-being, WE Well-being also complements WE Teachers, a new initiative to support educators. The programs support each other, to include resources for educator self-care and trauma-informed classrooms. Both programs are developed in partnership withMental Health America. More information on WE Teachers can also be found at www.we.org/weteachers/
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Live to inspire youth summits: Sparking ideas for well-being
It was our thrill and privilege to deliver WE Well-being youth programming at Youth Summits in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.
At each stop, we engaged youth participants in workshops that challenged them to think deeply about ways they support their own health and the well-being of their communities. We focused on the simple but profound concepts of resilience, empathy and self-love.
Toronto Youth Summit • At our Live to Inspire Youth Summit in Toronto, we had the great pleasure of welcoming Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, our WE Well-being ambassador and ally, to lead a Skype Q&Awith youth from around the world. • We also heard from the incredible Delicia Raveenthrarajan, who shared her journey with WE Well-being. As a special surprise, Delicia performed a song about resilience and self-love. Vancouver Youth Summit • In Vancouver, we were joined at the Cohen Centre for Social Enterprise by 60 Grade 5 and 6 students. The students and educators shared their experiences with the pilot program and discussed what it felt like to explore and expand their empathy, compassion, altruism and resilience. • In workshops, students had a chance to develop social emotional learning skills while learning from each other and learning what other schools have planned for next year.
“We are united by the ability to share our personal experiences and I am so proud to be a part of WE Well-being. I want to encourage young people to have open and honest conversations with themselves, by doing so we proactively work on ourselves and create safe and caring environments that foster resiliency.” —Sophie Grégoire Trudeau
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WE Speaks: Timely conversations about mental health
Our WE Speaks series welcomes mental health champions to the WE Global Learning Centre to share their expertise on important mental health topics. Educators, parents, coaches, community leaders and youth service providers all join us online and in person for a dynamic learning opportunity. So far, we’ve highlighted:
Dr. Michael Ungar Principal investigator for the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University. Dr. Ungar’s keynote focused on resilience and social emotional learning: “We can create environments rich in opportunities that can bring out the best in the children we are trying to help.” Dr. Jean Clinton An expert on the adolescent brain. Dr. Clinton’s keynote highlighted emerging neuroscience and what it is telling us about the brain: “The good news is that neuroscience is showing us that the brain is capable of change throughout life.” Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl An expert on social emotional learning. Dr. Schonert-Reichl’s keynote spoke about social and emotional learning and strategies for promoting empathy, kindness and compassion: “We now know that social and emotional skills are malleable—they can be taught!”
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A journey to positive well-being
Writer, musician and speaker Delicia Raveenthrarajan first hid her struggles with mental health. Now, she publicly and proudly advocates for others.
Four years ago, Delicia Raveenthrarajan could barely get out of bed. What started as inexplicable bouts of anxiety and sadness in middle school had grown progressively worse. By the age of 14, she was having panic attacks several times a day, but she told no one about them. While Delicia grappled privately, she excelled publicly. From the time she was eight years old, she had volunteered with the WE Schools program. She spoke about her passion for girls’ education in classrooms and companies across North America, and honed her skills as an accomplished musician. She sang and played the piano, violin and cello, all while getting straight As in school. But for every day that she performed brilliantly, there would be several days when she was just … not okay. “It was like two extremes and there was no middle ground,” she says.
Delicia was reluctant to share her challenges. Everyone around her seemed happy and she didn’t want to stand out. So, she threw herself into her work and tried to pretend that she was fine. At 13, Delicia had organized a WE Day-style event for her community in Scarborough, Ontario, through which she raised $10,000 to build a school in Kenya. In 2015, a year later, she took a ME to WE Trip to visit the school, to see the impact she’d made. Delicia met the students at Oleleshwa All Girls Secondary School and formed fast friendships. The girls shared stories about the challenges they’d overcome to attend school in the rural community that once lacked resources. Delicia realized none of them had done it alone. The students had found strength within themselves, but they’d also leaned on the people around them.
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“On that trip my perspective really changed, to focus on what I valued. And I knew that my well-being was one of those things.” Upon her return, Delicia opened up to her music teacher, Dr. Tony Leong. With his encouragement, she talked with her parents, school staff and her friends. While her family and friends were supportive, she never imagined that asking for help would be a new fight. After lengthy waitlists, Delicia would find herself meeting with under-resourced health care professionals who were often only looking for overt, even outdated notions of symptoms— low grades or poor social and communications skills. Since she displayed none of these things, Delicia’s concerns were usually dismissed. “In our system, you have to hit rock bottom
before receiving help, which I don’t agree with,” she says. “Why would you wait for it to get so bad?” Delicia persisted, bolstered by her experience as a young activist. “At WE, my voice has always been heard—as a young person, as a person of color, as a woman. I knew if I was worthy of being listened to here, then I was worthy of being listened to outside as well.” Delicia is nowon amore positive lifelong journey to recovery. She has a doctor whom she sees regularly and focuses more on maintaining her well-being. She is also a passionate advocate for mental health, penning articles about resilience for Teen Vogue and themighty.com. “I took my anger and turned it into passion,” she says. “I started to advocate for change.”
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The Well-being Playbook A hands-on, start-anywhere guide to well-being. By Leysa Cerswell Kielburger When it comes to mental well-being, little things make a big difference. That’s why we’re excited to share this playbook of tools, actions and tactics inspired by science that apply to your life. Advance praise for the playbook:
Save the Dates:
October 5 Live Life Unfiltered: A WE Well-being family event Please join us at the WE Global Learning Centre for a family-friendly event that celebrates mental well- being and takes action to prevent eating disorders. Join youth activists, expert psychologists and a very special guest as we celebrate body confidence and talk about digital well-being. WE GLC 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. For details, contact Leysa at Leysa@WE.org Brought to you by the WATERSTONE Foundation for Eating Disorders, along with the National Eating Disorder Information Centre, Canadian Mental Health Association, Body Confidence Canada, Sheena’s Place, School Mental Health Ontario and WE Well-being. October 20 Mindful family and friends day Please join us at the WE GLC for a special event held in co-operation with Mindfulness Toronto. Watch for details!
“A powerful, inspiring and beautiful invitation to create a better life. What impresses me so much about this amazing book is that it is cutting-edge science applied in practical, fun ways for everyday use.” —Dr. Daniel Siegel, Mindsight Institute and NY Times bestselling author “Open this guide to any page and you’ll find something to inspire and uplift.” —Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, NBA champion and all-time leading scorer The Well-being Podcast With Leysa Cerswell Kielburger & Sophie Grégoire Trudeau Coming this fall, theWEWell-being podcast will expand the way you think about mental well-being while sharing simple daily actions. We are thrilled to have Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and Leysa Cerswell Kielburger co-host, sharing personal stories and engaging leading experts. Our first season includes inspiring guests like Olympians Silken Laumann and Tessa Virtue, superstar Mitsou Gelinas and NFL sensation Esera Tuaolo. Growing WE Well-being We are grateful to the educators who participated in the pilot of WEWell-being and the valuable feedback provided throughout the year. Moving forward, updated lesson plans and resources will be deployed in 700 schools in Canada and the United States. We will also be leveraging learnings from the pilot to develop WE Well- being modules for high schools.
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Erika’s legacy of hope
A special thank you to our founding partners, The Erika Legacy Foundation and the Elkington family, for inspiring and supporting WE Well-being
Erika Elkington believed people have greatness within them and success is something we can all achieve. Passionate about travel and languages, she herself took on many challenges and was always learning. She spoke multiple languages and had seen much of the world by the age of 26. Erika had a Bachelor of Education, a Certified Human Resources Professional designation, graduated from the Sauder School of Business in family business and earned an MBA. With her love of business and entrepreneurship, combined with her passion for teaching, Erika focused on helping women in the workplace, youth and start-up businesses succeed. Erika was also a woman who wasn’t always sure of herself. Yet she was determined to push herself and find her greatness. That greatness, she believed, was found in being loving, caring and inspiring to others.
Erika, 29, died by suicide on August 6, 2015; she was one month away from celebrating her 30th birthday. To honor Erika, family and close friends created The Erika Legacy Foundation in 2016. The mission of the foundation serves to honor Erika and the person she was by: • Taking innovative approaches to prevent what happened to her from happening to other people • Investing in research into the science behind suicide and mental health • Promoting entrepreneurship and leadership The Erika Legacy Foundation strives to build safer and inspired communities by partnering with charitable organizations that capture the spirit of what Erika believed in. “She was loved by all. Those who had a chance to know her will tell you, her spirit and drive were infectious and she brought joy to everything and everyone she touched. Why Erika is no longer with us today is difficult to understand. Mental health and suicide are often like that; difficult to understand.”
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Together We Can Change the World
WE Global Learning Centre 339 Queen Street East Toronto, ON M5A 1S9
For more information please contact: E: Wellbeing@WE.org T: 1.416.925.5894
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