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Public Schools mental health program receives $30,000 funding boost

Grade five students will continue to receive mental health training in Fort McMurray Public Schools thanks to a $30,000 donation from the RBC.

The FRIENDS program helps students learn to cope with mental stress and stressful situations.

FRIENDS originated in Australia, and is now used in classrooms around the world.

Each grade five student receives a handbook which they are able to keep with them after the school year.

Students gave RBC representatives examples of some of the coping mechanisms they’ve learned to use to deal with stressful situations.

“It’s okay to tell people how you’re feeling, it has to make a difference, so it made me very proud to watch the kids interact today and share their learnings from the recent exposure to the FRIENDS program,” said Dwain Krissa, Regional Vice-President, Alberta North East for RBC.

Staff have already noticed a significant difference the behaviour of students.

“They seem to be able to handle situations a lot better, this year for example I’m working with a group of grade sixes who I worked with last year, who were grade fives who had just done the program. The change in those kids is amazing, they had some of the highest needs kids in that classroom. This year they are so relaxed,” said Canadian Mental Health Association Friends for Life Facilitator Suellen Ware.

The donation is part of RBC’s goal to fund $100,000,000 over the next five years to Canadian kids in a variety of programs like sport, arts and mental well being.

The FMPSD is the only one in Alberta which provides the program to each grade five student in the district.