At Branksome Hall, we strive to create a community where the fundamental dignity of each person is respected and everyone feels included.
For this year’s Compassionate Community Week (CCW), it was important for us to select a theme that embodied these ideals as well as reflected our school values. With these things in mind, the theme of “inclusiveness” presented itself as a natural choice.
CCW, which took place from November 12-15 this year, supports Ontario’s Bullying Prevention Week. It is also an opportunity to highlight and strengthen our community’s relational skills through awareness-raising, information sharing, activities and discussion.
Throughout the week, the theme of inclusiveness was palpable throughout the school. From Peer Supporters encouraging fellow students to write positive messages to post throughout the campus, to using Advisor groups as a place to discuss how to be more inclusive in school-based and social scenarios, students were finding ways to build on the compassionate community spirit that exists here at Branksome.
A particularly poignant moment in the week was our Compassionate Community Assembly, where student speakers shared their personal struggles with inclusion and mental health. Grade 10 student, Izza shared how she struggles to talk about her mental health due to the stigma that can surround the topic. “Sometimes my sense of humour is a great coping technique. But a lot of the time, the truth is I’m just not that good [at] talking about my mental health and I’m nervous about how I think others will respond,” Izza shared. Her vulnerable speech was warmly received by her peers and helped to create a welcoming and safe environment in Assembly. “If we are going to be a truly inclusive community, then it is really important that we can talk openly about mental health and help each other with compassion,” Izza emphasized.
Other students at Assembly shared advice on how to include compassion and self-care in their day-to-day lives. Grade 11 Peer Promoter, Jennifer, shared how the simple act of being invited to join a group of girls for lunch when she was new at the school had a huge impact on her sense of inclusion.
Through listening to student experiences, it is clear that even the smallest act of inclusion can have a profound impact. This week, and every week, we work to create an inspiring, dynamic and caring environment that includes every single person in our community.