Our Approach

In its early years since launching in 2015, WellAhead took a prototyping approach that experimented with a range of approaches to integrating wellbeing into K-12 education in BC and Ontario. You can read more about our past grants and initiatives below.

For the 2018–19 and 2019–20 school years, WellAhead is focusing its efforts on knowledge mobilization to school, district and provincial leaders. We want to ensure that decision-makers across the education system have the information and evidence they need to develop and implement effective and sustainable approaches to promoting wellbeing. Our priority areas are:

  • District-wide wellbeing: Supporting leaders and decision-makers to take a more systemic approach that integrates wellbeing in all aspects of a school board/district.

  • Workplace Wellbeing in K-12 Education: Catalyzing support for teacher and staff wellbeing as an integral part of a whole-school, whole system approach to prioritizing wellbeing.


Our Current Work

WellAhead is now focused on mobilizing knowledge at a national level, while supporting a small number of mission-aligned projects at the provincial level.


District-Wide Wellbeing

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  • Convening policy-makers and school health leaders from across Canada together to discuss key issues related to system-wide implementation of wellbeing at the school board/district and provincial levels

  • Mobilizing knowledge on how and why school districts are able to move towards wellbeing as a meaningful priority. This includes a series of case studies conducted by research partners Dr. Kate Storey and Dr. Lauren Sulz at University of Alberta and Dr. Sabre Cherkowski at University of British Columbia-Okanagan

  • Supporting school district leaders to learn more about how they can take a system-wide approach to wellbeing. This includes a grant to CASS (the College of Alberta School Superintendents) to hire staff to understand and respond to the learning needs of school authority leaders across Alberta


Workplace Wellbeing in K-12 Education

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  • Sharing relevant tools, resources and information with school and district leaders on the rationale behind teacher and school staff wellbeing, and ways to better address it. This includes a grant to EdCan network to develop and mobilize a range of knowledge products on workplace wellbeing in K-12 education across Canada

  • Rallying support and leadership for teacher and school staff wellbeing in Canada, as part of a whole-school approach to wellbeing. This includes a large-scale public opinion survey by Avalanche Strategy to help us understand how we can better frame the issue of workplace wellbeing in K-12 education for broader buy-in and commitment.

  • Building the evidence base on approaches that effectively support teacher and staff wellbeing. This includes a research study by the Behavioural Insights Team that will develop and test organizational approaches that mitigate the root causes of stress at the school level

  • Supporting efforts to advance the workplace wellbeing in K-12 education agenda. This includes a National Summit on Teacher and School Staff Wellbeing (held in November 2017, with another event planned for Fall 2019) as well as local workshops and strategy discussions with interested stakeholders at the province- and territory-level. These efforts are in partnership with ASEBP (the Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan)

If you are interested in teacher and staff wellbeing, you can sign up for future updates on our Contact page, You can also access some of our resources, such this infographic, research brief, and webinar.


Student Wellbeing for Systems Change Fund

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In 2017, we launched an RFP for organizations who were working on the ground to address student wellbeing, but wanted to take a more systemic approach. We are pleased to be working with ten grantees over a three-year period. Unfortunately, we are no longer accepting applications for this fund.

An Indigenous Approach to Wellbeing

  • Qalipu First Nation ($193,350) to create a system to support school health for Indigenous students in Western Newfoundland.

  • Tsuut’ina Nation ($300,000) to expand the Nation’s language and culture program within grades K-12 in order to facilitate a stronger sense of identity and pride among Tsuut’ina students.

Wellbeing Beyond the Classroom

  • The Recess Project/PHE Canada ($300,000) to impact the way elementary schools across Canada approach recess by developing a national network; influencing policy and practice; raising awareness; and training and supporting school-community leaders.

  • Cantons’active ($78,000) to optimize and enhance recess by bringing about changes in structures, practice and social norms in Quebec schools.

  • Fondation Monique Fitz-Back ($137,050) to partner with organizations in the field of education, health and research to support greater uptake and use of best practices in the area of outdoor education in Quebec.

Educator-Centred Approaches

  • EverActive Schools and University of Calgary ($288,700) to build teacher capacity to respond to student wellbeing concerns as well as support teachers’ own self-care and wellbeing by integrating comprehensive school health into pre-service teacher education programs in Alberta.

  • Langley School District ($80,000) to shift district culture in favour of wellbeing for all, including teachers, staff and administration, with the goal of influencing policy and practice to enhance wellness.

Social Innovation

  • Achieving Community Together Lab ($300,000) to deepen social emotional wellbeing for children and youth by challenging the systems of education, health, recreation and social services to work together to solve complex challenges and meaningfully engaging students as leaders and animators.


Our Past Work

Since 2015, WellAhead has supported innovative work across Canada to develop, scale and learn about effective approaches to integrating wellbeing into K-12 education. Here are some examples of our past work by jurisdiction.

British Columbia

  • Supporting six school districts in the 2015–2016 and 2016-2017 school years to co-design, prototype and scale everyday practices to support wellbeing.

  • Partnering with Healthy Schools BC on two projects: the Mental Wellbeing Coaching Initiative, which offers coaching support to BC school districts, and a user-centred design process that engaged teachers in informing physical and health education resources to support BC's new curriculum.

  • Helping convene K-12 education sector leaders, including ministries, leading non-profits and leaders of the professional associations to help discuss ways to advance the integration of wellbeing in schools, and participating in various provincial networks and collaboratives.

Ontario

Pan-Canadian

  • Hosting national gatherings that bring together key thought leaders and influencers to discuss a vision for wellbeing in schools.

  • Mobilizing transferable knowledge from one province/territory to another.