The fledgling Wellness Centre at New Westminster Secondary School is already off to a strong start delivering services for students, families and the community.
School District 40 trustees heard that message at their March 8 board meeting, when associate superintendent Maryam Naser joined the district’s manager of community projects, Rick Bloudell, for an update on the centre.
Naser said the centre is now operational and the district is just waiting for a few finishing touches, including some furniture that’s expected to arrive by mid-April.
The community partners it has lined up to offer programs and services in the centre are now on site, including Child and Youth Mental Health, Cameray Child and Family Services, and the Lumara Society, which offers grief and bereavement care. The school district also has its own staff, including youth care workers and a clinical counsellor, available for students.
It’s also working on a plan with Fraser Health to bring a nurse practitioner into the space.
Naser said the goal is for the Wellness Centre to become a wellness “hub” for the school, the school district and the broader community. It’s offering services in three main areas:
- targeted supports, such as one-to-one counselling and group counselling provided by its own counsellors and partners, including some programs for students and families on evenings and weekends;
- health promotion, such as mindfulness, book clubs, board games, art sessions and other initiatives for youth; and
- community education, such as parent information events on topics including exploring the teenage brain, and body image and eating disorders.
Bloudell said the district is using club and classroom presentations and student surveys to help determine what the students would like to see offered.
“We’re really striving right now to connect with the students at the school,” he said. “This is their wellness centre, and their feedback will be one of the main driving forces behind what services are offered in the space.”
The services are aimed at both secondary school students and those from the city’s middle schools – with programs such as a Books and Breakfast offering on Saturdays that centres on stories about queer youth, and a Taming the Worry Dragons course for pre-teens.
Naser noted many of the programs provided so far have been virtual because of COVID-19, but the district is looking forward to offering more in-person options as public health restrictions are lifted.
The New Westminster school district posts a monthly calendar at its website listing all the programs being offered at the centre. You can find it at the district’s website.