Whether physical, mental, social, or sexual, health can take on a wide variety of forms, most of which were on display at Lake Cowichan School last week.
On April 13, the LCS Planning 10 class hosted a health fair, with students giving interactive presentations on range of subjects from eating disorders to police training protocols to ways of improving memory.
“This is their health fair, so they get to explore any aspect of health that they might be interested in,” said Planning 10 teacher Noni Battye. “When they’re interested in something they learn more deeply and more passionately.”
Planning 10 focuses on health and careers studies. In addition to jobs and learning styles, students learn about relationships, sexual health, drugs/alcohol, stress and nutrition.
Battye said the criteria for health projects are deliberately as broad as possible.
“One of the criteria for the project is yes it has to be health-based but then it also has to have an interactive component to it,” she said.
Otherwise, the sky’s the limit.
Marissa Tauscher, who dreams of one day becoming a veterinary assistant, tapped into her lifelong love of animals when coming up with a project idea. She brought in her dog, a two-year-old bull mastiff/presa canario named Roxy, for a presentation on how animal companions can help reduce stress in humans.
“You can get more exercise than you do without an animal,” said Tauscher. “Your emotional health goes better than what it is. You’re less lonely. You’re less likely to get stressed. That’s mostly what they do.”
Tauscher said she was feeling nervous about making a presentation, but having her dog present helped her relax, which supported her project’s thesis.
“She’s supposed to be a stress-soother for me and everyone else in the school,” said Tauscher. “People just love her. I can see them spark up from what they were before.”
Miles Brooks decided to focus on the negative impacts of cellphone use. He brought in a model spinal cord to demonstrate for his discussion of how keeping one’s neck bent down, looking at a cell phone all day, can be harmful to a person’s health.
“You’re supposed to have a natural curl in the top of your spine which make it seven times stronger, which is why it’s able to hold your head,” said Brooks. “But with the use of cellphones it’s actually straightening out the spine and not [keeping it] curved over. It straightens out the top part, which makes it very weak.”
Brooks decided on this topic because he and his peers are always glued to their phones.
The class also invited community organizations to participate in the health fair. Groups like the Kaatza Health Centre, the Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society, the local library and and the Town of Lake Cowichan all participated in this year’s event.
“It’s their chance to interact with the kids. Because they don’t often have a chance to be the school easily,” said Battye. “We bring in community members … to show the kids, hey here are some of the things in the community that you might be interested in.”
Jessica Hastings, a family development therapist with Cowichan Lake Community Services, said her organization participates in the fair each year for that very reason. Community services offers a range of programs for young people including a youth drop-in, counselling and summer camps.
“We work very closely with students and youth in the town of Lake Cowichan. So it’s really good to build that connection and that relationship with them and [show] we’re not a stranger,” she said.