Community Stories:

Wainwright - I AM Project

The IAM Project© is alive and well at Wainwright Elementary School in Wainwright, Alberta.

When building a mental wellness foundation in youth, resiliency to change is essential. The IAM Project offers tools to build resiliency in young children. The motto is simple: “IAM special/important to my family, school and world.”

Alberta Health Services provided grant money to this program for the three years. They also offered expert personnel to support the program with activities such as Mindfulness Minutes, Opioid awareness for kids; by kids using their core "learn to say no” to things that don’t feel or look right.

The Plan

This program follows all students in Grade 1, 2, and 3 over a three year term. For 8 weeks, grade groups of students are gathered together for one hour of core building through IAM developed drama, sharing circles, journaling, crafts and music activities.

The IAM Project offers something for all stakeholders in the school system.

  • Staff members are given space and time to build their own core building through IAM journaling and sharing with their colleagues.
  • Upwards of 25 secondary students help facilitate the program. These students participate in their own sharing circle each week before the younger students arrive. We had hoped to build their resiliency but could not have predicted the actual scope of impact on their self-esteem and leadership skills as well
  • All students are present at the same time and take part in the same role plays, the same journaling, the same craft, etc. This is important for the connections on the playground and throughout the school. The IAM Project positively affects play at recess, work in the classroom, relationships with staff and a certain manifestation in places like the hockey arena.

The Outcomes

After a successful first year, some adjustments were made to strengthen the program. A second lead educator was brought on and the 9 week model was altered to an 8 week module.

An IAM Reunion was held in February this year, which gave the students an opportunity to showcase the various activities in IAM. The community was invited and the reunion was very well received.

In year three, a parent companion journal will be developed for use during the 8 week module. This will support the children in having deliberate connections with parents/caregivers to show how important they are to their family, school and community.

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