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New Happiness-at-School Project Playbooks

Playbook
The Happiness-at-School Project© is a joyful literacy, learning experience that uses stand-up comedy to teach kids about mental health and well-being. There are two new Playbooks to help teachers and comedians start a project of their own.

The Facilitator Playbook is an outline of the activities and a new suggested sequence to use with students, along with extra resources.

The Student Playbook is designed for students to use as they experience the activities in the project.

These Playbooks (Facilitator Playbook (16 pages) and Student Playbook (24 pages)) are available for the special price of $19.99!. You can purchase a digital copy at www.suestephenson.ca.  Alternatively, you can order a copy of the Playbooks by sending Sue a message through the Contact form on the website. Once you have purchased these documents, they are yours to copy and use with your class or family. Contact Sue for a school or board license for these Playbooks.

In addition to these books, follow Sue’s BLOG to find even more hints and resources to use!

Mental Health Through The Students’ Eyes

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“It’s amazing to learn and be able to say, “I did stand-up comedy when I was 12 years old.”

You can see in this weighted word cloud above the most commonly mentioned, positive adjectives from the students’ eyes to describe the Happiness-at-School Project.  Here are some comments from the final blogs of 7/8G and the Post-Survey three classes students completed to give you the students’ perspective. Yes, there were students who had doubts and reservations about the value of the project —and we valued and listened to them — knowing how sensitive and critical kids can be. But, overall we were impressed by their positive comments.  Their suggestions have led to future improvements and changes but the core concept remains the same.

CBC TV covered the Project again this year. Take a look at this link to hear the performers in the final Stand-Up Comedy Showcase, the teachers and comedians, and myself.  I am always amazed at how hours of filming can be cut down to a 2 minute story — on national Television!  Thanks CBC and Debbie Lightle Quan for capturing our story.

 

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Here are all the performers at the rehearsal — with Marc and Kyle the comedians who got us there.

Back row: Shazane, Daniel, Karan, Abby, Richard. Front row: Harleen, Marc, Yash, Loshika, Murcelle, Tanesh, Edwin, Rizi, Uroosa, Harit, Micheal, Kyle and Kenson.

 

These were the parts rated “most valuable to you personally” from the Post Survey: (in ranked order)

  • The Stand-Up Comedy Showcase
  • Coaching from Kyle and Marc (our comedian coaches)
  • The Inside-Out movie and emotions
  • mindfulness and meditation class
  • writing and performing my One Minute Joke
  • writing and performing my Two Minute Story
  • Pharrell Williams’ HAPPY song, although some students want a more current song

“Some kids are sad and scared to come to school. It will give them a reason to come to school and to smile.”

 Here is a sample of student comments from the Post-Survey:

  • I learned that you don’t have to make fun of someone to make them laugh. —Tanesh
  • It helped me get all my issues off my mind and really helped me laugh. —Sonia
  • It helped people talk about themselves. —Gandrav
  • Every bad or good thing can be turned into something funny.—Daniel
  • I learned a lot about handling stress, taking moments to be mindful and also staying happy —Ishani
  • It brought a lot of positive vibes to our school and was a big stress reliever. —Karan
  • I learned that being sad, angry, afraid, etc. is part of being happy. —Hailie
  • It was fun and teaches us a lot about mental health and how to find emotions without finding it in a negative form. —Victoria
  • I learned different ways to be happy. —Terrance
  • I learned that is OK to feel sad and that happiness can come from anything. —Yash
  • I learned that there are many ways to relieve stress and be happy and making the best of what I’ve got and being at peace with it. —Harleen

 Here is what they said they learned about mental health and emotions:

  • You can’t be happy without all 5 emotions
  • A lot about handling stress, taking moments to be mindful
  • how to be happy, It’s OK to have a little laughter in your life
  • positive mental health can remove stress and stress-related issues
  • if you have problems, you need to talk with someone

And two final comments from Karth and Kashish

The Happiness Project is a splendid project on its own. Although there may be hesitance at firs, the cycle will endure, the mind will clear and it will seem enjoyable…When new classmen encounter the program next year, squelch their anxiousness and attempt to calm them. Tell them to jump in, head first. – Karth

This project really takes a large step in raising awareness for mental health in NK. We learned how to write jokes, laugh at ourselves, and make sure we don’t put anyone down while writing comedy because this project is about happiness and fun! (I also loved to meditation session that we had, it really calmed me down. – Kashish

 

Our Third Year of Ha-Ha-Ha-Happiness

The Happiness@School Project© is a joyful learning experience that uses stand-up comedy skills to promote well-being through mental health literacy, positive psychology, and laughter. It is a Canadian first using strategies to encourage skills that aren’t traditionally taught — but have serious curriculum connections!

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Take a look at this link to The Toronto Star coverage , a fantastic article, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To School written by Louise Brown and captured perfectly in photos and video by Todd Korol.

As the creator of the project, I worked (it was more like playing) with two professional comedian-coaches, Kyle Woolven and Marc Hallworth, and we ran a series of workshops with students in three grade 7 classes at North Kipling Junior Middle School in the Toronto District School Board. Sincere thanks go to Principal Alex Tracey and the three grade 7 teachers: Doug Cornell, Shannon Patterson and John Morrone for their pioneering spirit with this innovative project. As an Accepted Partner with the Toronto District School Board in their Mental Health and Well-Being Strategy, we had these outcomes in mind:

  • to develop high-level language skills (oral and written)
  • to build resiliency through mental health and well-being
  • to develop character strengths, including creativity, gratitude, humour and play
  • to develop comic writing and performance skills
  • to experience the value of stand up comedy skills to turn problems into punchlines
  • to learn the difference between humour from a helpful class clown and a hurtful bully
  • to lighten up with laughter exercises, mindful meditation and breathing techniques

The Stand-Up Comedy Showcase was the culmination of 3 months of playful work where sixteen budding stand-up student comedians in grade 7 performed acts they have written themselves — about themselves. This is not a contest and is intended to feature a variety of diverse student personalities.  To laugh at comedy on TV or in movies is one thing, but to write and perform stand-up comedy about yourself in front of others is a totally unique experience. We learned that writing for performing is a unique set of literacy skills. The media coverage we received just blew us away!  I will share as much of it as I can in these blogs.

Although this was a grade 7 project, we believe it would be successful in high school as well. We are currently developing plans to take this to more schools in Ontario and even across the country.

The plan with my plans for this weekly Blog this spring is to take you through the process with video clips and resources you can adapt or use directly with your classes. Next week, I will feature  comments from the students from their blogs and final survey.

In a few weeks I will be posting a Project Guidebook that contains a Teacher Guide and a Student Book.  Stay tuned to this space for a lot more fun and information. I welcome your comments and questions.

 

Staying Connected: successful transitions to grade 9- For PARENTS

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I will be sharing the following message with parents of students starting grade nine at T.A. Blakelock HS in the Halton DSB.  Please feel free to use and adapt this for your school.  I have attached the actual postcard and the Powerpoint slides I will be using. Have a look!  It’s based on my book Kidding Around: connecting kids to happiness, laughter and humour.

TAB Parents Card Sept 2014    TAB Parents Card Sept 2014.pages

TAB Sept 2014 Staying Connected ppt

The school organized this one hour session for parents in the morning when the grade nines come for their first day in grade nine! Parents will be sharing their own feelings with each other. 

Change is inevitable. It’s the actual weeks of transition to something new that is harder. Life is full of change and transitions —  endings, a neutral zone, and new beginnings. It’s the neutral zone, in between, that varies from person to person. Everyone travels through the neutral zone in different ways. Our hour together will focus on these Seven Keys To Successful Transitions.

1. Stay involved with high school. You’re not done yet.
2. Be trustworthy. Be there to listen & talk about anything.
3. Have a backbone & boundaries. Stay connected.
4. Make some time to do fun stuff & nurture their sense of humour.
5. Let them learn from mistakes & be resilient to bounce back.
6. Focus on and help them use their signature strengths to be happy.
7. Watch for mental health warning signs & get help early if needed. Think of feelings & moods as pleasant & unpleasant vs good & bad.

I welcome your feedback! Have a great school year – no matter what year you are starting! Learning never ends!