By Claudia Wong, January 10 2017 —
The Werklund School of Education will soon introduce a mandatory course in comprehensive school health for education students at the University of Calgary.
The course will be mandatory for second-year students in the Bachelor of Education program starting in 2018. As a three-credit course in the Fall semester, the class will focus on the physical, social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, environmental and occupational aspects of wellness.
Werklund’s new course will be the first mandatory comprehensive wellness program of its kind for Canadian teacher education programs. While other Canadian institutions offer similar training, this will be the first time there has been a mandatory program in the field of comprehensive school health.
“Pockets of people are taking steps towards comprehensive school health in various ways, but Werklund is the first to make this a mandatory part of the curriculum,” Werklund School of Education associate professor Shelley Russell-Mayhew said.
Russell-Mayhew said the faculty believes in the value of having all education students be knowledgeable and trained in many areas of wellness, specifically mental health. The committee behind the program spoke with comprehensive school health experts, government representatives and other organizations for help and advice to craft the course.
“Health and wellness ideas were marginalized to health teachers, but it’s valuable for all teachers to understand wellness as a whole,” Russell-Mayhew said.
The program started from a professional development course in 2009 for physical education students. It grew to become a voluntary health conference for students.
Students’ Union education representative Carson Reveen said the conference and its training were needed. He said he’s excited about the mandatory course in wellness.
“The conference and this sort of training was in natural demand, so a full course is an incredible opportunity. This is a phenomenal idea,” Reveen said.
For Russell-Mayhew, the course’s main objective is to help teachers be able to create a school community that is a positive social environment.
“One story stuck out — a grade four boy said that ‘you can’t do math if you’re dead’,” Russell-Mayhew said.