Creating a caring community is a cornerstone of Branksome’s culture, with the well-being of our students, employees and entire community a top priority. Our Compassionate Community Week, held in conjunction with Ontario’s Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week, provided students with many activities to put these ideas into action.
We thought that instead of focusing on just bullying prevention, we would create a happier, more inclusive environment,” said Emma, co-head of Peer Promoters in Grade 12.
Peer Promoters, Peer Supporters, Social Workers and Guidance Counsellors worked together to set up a week of engaging activities and conversations in the Senior and Middle School during assemblies, Grade Level Collaboration, Advisor and Fit Friday.
It’s important to Branksome to create a kind, positive and welcoming school climate where each student feels connected to their community. The aim—supported by our research study—is that bullying will then be less likely to happen.
“That’s really what this week has been about, encouraging people who may feel like they’re not part of the community to step forward and tell us, and to hopefully try to prevent that in the future and promote a positive space,” said Samantha, a Grade 11 Peer Promoter.
Discussions included how to better support each other, ideas on what it means to be compassionate and ways that social media impacts friendships. Students participated in activities such as building a “compassion tree,” where they cut out a handprint and listed their unique traits on each finger. They then wrote a sentence about how they care for their community on the palm. The tree is now on display on the main floor of the Middle School as a constant reminder to be kind.
On Fit Friday, students joined various community-focused activities, including a community art crawl and partner yoga. They also played cooperative games and connected through dance and movement. Many students came out in pink attire, in support of bully prevention.
Grade 11 students came up with their own initiative, where they posted hundreds of affirmations on the windows of the AWC dining hall. "You’re valuable" and "you're so kind and caring" were just some of the words of support posted. Students were then encouraged to "Take What You Need" and Junior School girls were seen reading and peeling off messages that resonated with them.
The Junior School also ran their own Stand Up for Kindness Week with conversations and activities on what constitutes rude, mean and bullying behaviour. Students shared poetry, played “kindness bingo,” discussed books and created kindness postcards.
After all, “everyday kindness is so important,” said Samantha.