Teaching and Wellness Ninjas

Once upon a time there was a teacher named Profvocate Mel who had an idea to incorporate volunteering into an assignment. She gave the students choice, with one non-volunteering option as it did not feel right to force them into it, especially as it would likely become “volun-told-ing.”

Profvocate Mel worried about the students who chose to volunteer and whether there would be enough opportunities for them across the city. Would they have time to get a criminal record check? Would they procrastinate and not be able to get their required hours before the due date?

Little did Profvocate Mel know that she would soon meet the leader of a group who would come to her rescue – the Wellness Ninjas.

Catherine Poulton, Lead Ninja, or, Cambrian’s Wellness Coordinator, as she is more formally known, agreed to a partnership. She taught Profvocate Mel’s class about opportunities for ninjas to spread wellness cheer across campus.

And from that day forward, the four hours required for the assignment doubled, tripled and quadrupled. The assignment was far from being “volun-told” with these statistics: 4 students completed 10+ hours, 4 students completed 15+ hours, and 3 students completed 20+ hours.

Ninjas, in their yellow t-shirts, multiplied across campus, participating in wellness initiatives ranging from a high five campaign to the Human Library where people became books who shared their own tales.

But there was still a problem. While a couple of students chose paths of their own (such as one who arranged to volunteer at the Senior Summit), one of Profvocate Mel’s fears came true: some students did in fact procrastinate which meant there was no longer room for them to join the ninjas. After all, the lead Lead Ninja was mentoring 70+ of them and her wellness was important too.

There also were no opportunities for out-of-town students to partake in the wellness cheer and while they were exploring options, the clock was ticking.

Luckily, the solution walked through Mel’s door.

Meet Terry: an enthusiastic and creative member of Cambrian’s Academic Upgrading program with a vision. His department could benefit from learning about community resources to help students in need. Profvocate Mel’s students were studying to do just that. Another partnership was born.

The resource inventory builder bees scoured the inter-web and began to bring the resource inventory to life. Wellness was still being spread but in a different way. A pollinated kind of way.

The hours were now complete, the resource inventory was built but the experience was not quite complete. The ninjas, worker bees and trailblazers reflected on their unique experiences to consolidate their learning.

But wait, there was one last thing.

In lieu of a class near the end of the semester, Profvocate Mel arranged one-on-one pitches where ninjas, bees and trailblazers met one-on-one to share how their experience informed their placement preference or capstone project for semester three. Profvocate Mel hoped the students would appreciate one less class during the bustle of the semester coming to a close.

Profvocate Mel knew she would appreciate the opportunity to meet with students individually to learn more about their interests, provide guidance and get a jump-start on semester 2. After all, January was around the corner and the hustle and bustle of placing students would soon begin.

Profvocate Mel was pleased with the results of the three-pronged assignment, with one of her favourite tales being the one of the resource-inventory bees who noticed a lack of Indigenous-specific supports throughout her research. Identifying this gap inspired what she envisions as her semester three project: a provincial-wide inventory of Indigenous-related supports. And all because Terry walked through Profvocate Mel’s doorway.

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