Imagine a school without bullying and judgment where students laugh and smile all day in a safe and accepting learning environment. Trillium Lakelands District School Board’s Safe and Caring Schools Committee discussed the meaning of recess for all students and shared ways they can ensure every student feels safe and accepted while at school. The committee discovered traditional “recess” activities like playing sports and games with winners and losers can be scary and even detrimental at times for some students. It was clear that attention needed to be brought to alternate recess activities.

Student/Attendance Counsellor, Michelle Rosenberg, and Vice Principal at Leslie Frost Public School, Cheryl Medhurst, approached the Fleming College Recreation and Leisure program to brainstorm ways the school board and college could work together to implement an alternate recess program. Recess is beneficial when it is used as an opportunity to improve social skills, teach cooperation, and engage students in activities that provide them with conflict resolution ideas (like rock, paper, scissors). The goal of an alternative recess is to ensure students feel safe and accepted at school, build self-confidence, improve social belonging, and develop team cohesion.

After months of research and planning, TLDSB and Fleming College hosted a Leadership Training Day for junior/intermediate students (grades 6 to 8) at Scott Young PS and Leslie Frost ES on October 18, 2013. Students from Bobcaygeon PS, Dr. George Hall PS, Dunsford District ES, Langton PS, Leslie Frost PS, Mariposa ES, and Scott Young PS participated in the Leadership Training Day. A “Train-the-Trainer” model was used to help teach students how to run co-operative leadership games and embrace the opportunity to be “Alternative Recess” leaders within their school.