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By Cassie MacDonell

Local Journalism Initiative

Lennoxville Elementary School announced on Monday morning that it has become the newest member of Le Programme Santé globale. The program provides resources to help its member schools build an environment that supports the intellectual, physical, emotional, and social dimensions of all students through physical activity. Students will learn the importance of healthy lifestyle habits through the regular practice of exercising, primarily outdoors. Lennoxville Elementary is the 43rd school to join the program, and the second from the Eastern Townships School Board.

The official announcement was made at a school-wide outdoor assembly, with attendance from students, staff, and guests such as Lennoxville Borough President Claude Charron and Borough Councillor (Fairview) Guillaume Lirette-Gélinas.

Tracy Bingham, Lennoxville Elementary teacher, began the assembly with an explanation of the Energy Cubes Challenge, a healthy living challenge for elementary students that asks participants to engage in as much physical activity at home and in school as possible.

The annual Québec-wide health event was created by the Grand défi Pierre Lavoie, a non-profit organization, to promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to elementary aged children. From May 2 to May 23, Lennoxville Elementary students and their families can collect an Energy Cube each time they engage in 15 minutes of physical activity. Each Energy Cube is added towards the school’s total, which gives Lennoxville Elementary entries into a draw to win running shoes for all its students and teachers.

Only moments before the assembly, students were seen exercising as part of the challenge, no doubt made even more enjoyable by the sunny 18-degree weather. After the morning’s physical activities, students each received two Energy Cubes for their efforts.

“We are going to challenge ourselves to put (game consoles) down and move our bodies more. I want you to try to notice how you feel,” Bingham asked of the students.

Isabelle Desbiens, Lennoxville Elementary teacher, then gave the big announcement. “We really want to focus on health and global health. Not just moving, not just eating well, not just sleeping well, but all of it together. We want to do this together as a big family,” Desbiens explained to the students. “We thought in order to do this, we can join other people who are already doing this… schools all over Québec… a program called Santé globale.”

A sign that identifies Lennoxville Elementary as a Santé globale school was then unveiled, which will later be displayed at the front of the school.

Both Bingham and Desbiens are part of Lennoxville Elementary’s Healthy School Committee, a group that has been integral to the creation of these healthy living initiatives.

So, what does the status of a Santé globale school mean for Lennoxville Elementary?

Students will partake in an extra hour of French-instructed outdoor physical activity each week by participating in school-led activities such as hiking, skiing, and skating. In the classroom, students will learn about healthy eating, sleep patterns, stress management, first-aid, and how to balance a healthy lifestyle.

As part of the program, which values an hour of physical activity daily, Desbiens announced that physical activity classes at Lennoxville Elementary will increase from a 45-minute period to a one-hour period, which drew a resounding cheer from the students.

Teacher Sigal Gandey said she believes the program will create more of a community, especially needed after covid. When asked about the benefits of the program, Gandey mentioned the Santé globale school identification means that Lennoxville Elementary will have access to the program’s equipment borrowing system.

Gandey also expressed the school’s intentions to have an outdoor activity trip in the spring and fall for each class. In the long term, Lennoxville Elementary hopes it can have overnight trips for its Grade 5 and 6 students.

In line with its dedication to outdoor education, Lennoxville Elementary will be host to a Forest and Nature School Practitioners Course with the Child & Nature Alliance of Canada (CNAC). The in-person portion of the course will run from June 26 to 30.

The program teaches hard skills, such as fire building, in addition to practical tips and recommendations for the day-to-day operations of a Forest/Nature program. The course has 23 participants, the majority being teachers and other school board members, but has a few spots left open for the community at a cost of $1,750 per participant. If interested, please contact Isabelle Desbiens via email at desbiensi@edu.etsb.qc.ca for more information.

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