Friday, Oct. 6, 2023
Sundridge Centennial Public School event brings community together
It was more than just an open house at Sundridge Centennial Public School (SCPS) last week. Billed as a “Welcome Back BBQ and Community Safety Event,” the gathering was attended by about 112 families who enjoyed a barbecue prepared by SCPS parent council and met with a variety of community partners to receive valuable information.
SCPS principal Jill Cooper said that Sundridge Centennial works hand in hand with the Village of Sundridge and Strong Township to support families. Together they realized they could combine the school’s traditional open house with community partnerships to amplify important safety messaging in a fun and engaging way that is convenient and informative for parents and entertaining to students.
In addition to the 350 guests, representatives from the fire department, OPP, Wilson Bus Lines, District of Parry Sound Social Services Administration Board (DPSSAB) and physical literacy researchers from Nipissing University were all on hand to share important information with families.
“Guests were encouraged to engage in our community partners’ presentations by circulating with a “Sundridge Centennial Safety Passport.” Each community partner had a meaningful topic to present and discuss including take away packages of pamphlets, flyers, or items,” Cooper said. “Once parents and students had visited a presentation, they were given a sticker to add to their passport. After gaining six out of a possible eight stickers families could put their passport into a draw for our door prize, a donated new bicycle from Nipissing University’s Physical Literacy Research Department and North Bay Cycle Works.”
OPP officer Melissa Thomas engaged with students as they explored her cruiser and discussed cyber safety and bullying prevention. Officer Thomas also reviewed online safety tips with parents and reminded them to monitor children’s online activities.
The Sundridge Strong Fire Department brought their pumper truck to the event for children to explore and discussed fire safety including the importance of having working carbon monoxide detectors and how to create effective fire evacuation plans.
One of the highlights of the evening was a presentation by Nipissing University researcher Dr. Brenda Bruner, in which she shared the results of a collaborative research study conducted with SCPS over the course of the past few years. The study focused on how to improve physical literacy knowledge with families and staff and ultimately support student’s in developing healthy balanced lifestyles.
The presentation included the sharing of data from the self-reported habits of students’ screen time, physical activity, and sleep schedules.
SCPS parent Lisa Rogers said, “I think it’s great to have that research about our own area and our kids. We know that movement and sleep is absolutely a key ingredient in their being successful learners. This information is so powerful, we can look at it and figure out what to do next to do their very best every day.”
Anita Skilliter, whose children also attend SCPS said, “I think the data makes sense. For younger kids, movement is so important but so is sleep. As they get older, we kind of forget about that, and that not only affects them physically but mentally and that starts to affect sleep and other aspects of life as well.
“We try to avoid screens as much as we can. As much as they love it, it slowly starts to affect every aspect of their lives. Then they may not live up to their potential,” Skilliter said.
Fellow parent Susan Kotkowski said the data wasn’t necessarily surprising. “You kind of anticipate the effect of social media and electronic devices but seeing the concrete numbers come out of it is intriguing. I’m interested to see how they apply the information to school activities,” said Kotkowski.
Cooper highlighted how events like this embodies Near North District School Board’s multi-year strategic plan’s goals of excellence in communication and excellence in relationships both with families and community partners.
“Our school community works collaboratively to support each other and the healthy development of our children,” Cooper said. “By providing larger scale events in collaboration with these important services, families have the opportunity to connect with various providers, become informed of current information and research and engage with each other in making connections and building constructive relationships.”