A local counselling agency will run two week-long summer programs for children anxious about starting high school or junior high. 

Children in Carizon's Leader in Me programs will participate in activities to boost their confidence and their ability to make new friends.

"I don't want to spoil it," said children's counsellor and program facilitator Elysia Tiegs about the activities planned for the week, "but one will be ultimate frisbee."

Tiegs said the program is open to any child in the region who needs some extra help getting ready for a new school experience.

High anxiety and stress

"What I've noticed is that there's been a lot of referrals over the summer months of students who are just, I think, feeling really anxious and really stressed about the new perceived work load that might be coming their way, being in a new environment, worried about having to meet or make new friends," she said. 

"Because I only have so many hours in a day to see people individually, I thought that maybe seeing people in a group setting would be better. Then they can get that hands on approach, and meet other students, too."

school bus

Boosting a child's self-esteem is essential for a successful transition from one school level to another. (CBC)

Children who struggle with anxiety and who have low self-esteem can have a hard time focusing on or participating in activities at school.

"Really being comfortable and okay in your skin and accepting who you are--I think really mastering that at a young age prepares students and children for a successful future," Tiegs said.

The first Leader in Me program is for children entering Grade 7 in the fall, and begins on Aug. 8. The second program is for children entering Grade 9, and begins on Aug. 15.

Tiegs said registration is open until the start of each program, and that Carizon has not put a cap on the number of children who will be accepted.