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Wellness day more than a walk in Springwater Provincial Park

By Ian McInroy, Barrie Examiner

Barrie North Collegiate teacher Andrew Clark watches student Will Barry tackle the slack line during the school's wellness day at Springwater Provincial Park on Wednesday, held in conjunction with Education Week and Mental Health Week. Beausoleil First Nations, which operates the park in partnership with Ontario Parks, also had representatives offering various sessions.

Barrie North Collegiate teacher Andrew Clark watches student Will Barry tackle the slack line during the school's wellness day at Springwater Provincial Park on Wednesday, held in conjunction with Education Week and Mental Health Week. Beausoleil First Nations, which operates the park in partnership with Ontario Parks, also had representatives offering various sessions.

SPRINGWATER TWP. - Springwater Provincial Park was transformed into a wellness retreat for Barrie North Collegiate students on Wednesday as part of Education Week and Mental Health Week.

Students experienced a variety of events that can contribute to positive overall wellness.

Barrie North staff led sessions on activities such as guitar playing and song-writing, Tai Chi, hiking, food and mood, among other things.

“We are also fortunate to have Beausoleil First Nations staff leading a medicine walk, drum circle and other sessions,” said Barrie North vice-principal Peter Bowman, who is part of the wellness team at the Grove Street school.

Beausoleil First Nations operates the park in partnership with Ontario Parks.

Bowman said having First Nations representatives take part was important.

“We are here in this part of the world and they were here a long time ago and had a whole bunch of things figured out,” he said. “I think we can learn from that and they are looking at doing some great things here at Springwater (park).”

Being a teenager is stressful in general, he said.

“But this is an especially stressful time of year for students,” he said. “We’ve got prom coming up on Friday; we’ve got kids who are anxious about acceptances to college and universities, exams and kids graduating not sure what the heck they’re going to do next.

“Adults get stressed out and we have things we can do to help us cope,” Bowman said. “Today is about exploring some things that will maybe de-stress them and help them manage some of the ups and downs.”

Barrie North student Sam Sampson watched Beausoleil First Nations member Steve Beedie lead a fire-bow demonstration.

“Having First Nations here today is amazing,” she said, after watching fellow student Bree-Anne Bessey coaxing some smoke from the fire bow. “They were here before us. This is their land and we get to learn about their culture.

“(The wellness retreat) is important because mental health is a really big thing in this day and age," Sampson added. "It’s really nice to be here and it’s good for us to get outside and experience the outdoors.”

Beausoleil First Nations member Eugene Montague said the wellness retreat was a way to pass on ideas to the students.

“I feel like we’re doing something really good here, sharing the knowledge that was taken away from us,” he said. “It’s sharing what we used to know and practise, and how we lived.”

Barrie North teacher Jay Rothenburg led some students in a drum circle.

“The kids are spending the day forgetting all their troubles and their stresses and coming out and enjoying multiple events. It’s definitely a stress-reliever for them,” he said, adding a lot of the students tucked away their cellphones.

“Today is about connecting with people face-to-face and not be social networking all the time through an electronic device,” Rothenburg said. “That’s what’s great about the drumming. We’re all sitting in a circle looking at each other and communicating with drums and doing it old school.”

Student Sarah Killam said she was happy to be traipsing around the park.

“High school can be extremely stressful with all the work loads and everyday life and social media as well,” she said. “Getting outside lets you connect to the earth and just calm down.

“I haven’t even touched my cellphone today.”

imcinroy@postmedia.com



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