“Now I know what they were talking about!”

Tools for Life is part of our Mental Health and Well-Being Strategy at Wellington Catholic District School Board, in Guelph Ontario.  In 2014, our Mental Health Leadership Team identified self-regulation and social problem-solving as an area of need among our young learners, and committed to systematically implementing social emotional learning for all elementary students.

We selected Tools for Life as our Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program because it is evidence-informed, teaches the specific skills known to enhance emotional awareness, self-regulation, and social skill, and it had already been piloted in a couple of our schools with very positive results. 

From 2015-2019 we provided Tools for Life training to all teachers, two grades at a time, from Kindergarten to Grade 6. Each spring we collected feedback from teachers, administrators, and support staff so we could monitor the accessibility and uptake of the program, and troubleshoot any implementation issues. Overall, feedback was very positive in terms of ease of use and effectiveness of the skills presented. 

In the spring of 2019, we added student voice to our implementation, adding questions about Tools for Life® in the elementary version of our bi-annual school climate, mental health, and well-being survey. Of the 1,650 students who responded, 80% reported that they found Tools for Life concepts and skills “very helpful”.

And, there is additional anecdotal evidence:  During a recent community meeting, I was describing our SEL programming when a young woman from a partner agency said, “Well now I get it!  Last weekend I was driving my young nieces and nephews home from swimming when they started to argue in the backseat. It was getting heated and I was about to intervene when I heard one of them say, ‘Let’s use our Tools for Life!’  I don’t exactly know what happened next, but there was some focused problem-solving going on and peace was restored to the back seat. Now I know what they were talking about!”

Dr. Brenda L. Kenyon
Mental Health Lead
Wellington Catholic District School Board,
Guelph ON 

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