Wellness Room at Charlottetown school keeping kids healthy

P.E.I. high school students says a wellness room is extremely well used and making a difference for student health, mental and physical.

'It's so busy, which is fantastic.'

Jonathan MacKenzie said the wellness centre is "a great place to be." (Laura Meader)

A new wellness room at a Charlottetown high school is proving to be a good fit.

The new room opened at the start of the school year. Now, many students are using it every day. The large space has a weight room, cardio machines, and daily fitness classes.

Charla Currie, a physical education teacher, said the room is being used to its full capacity. 

"I dreamt that it would be this good," said Currie. "It's so busy, which is fantastic … our numbers have grown exponentially." 

As many as 50 students attend some of the "Gray Fit" circuit class. (Laura Meader)

The school used to have a small, dark crowded weight room, but a renovation helped to double the size and bring in some much needed natural light with floor to ceiling windows. 

Athletic Director Laura Lindsay said the benefits of physical activity for student mental health are already visible. (Laura Meader)

"Now it's so much bigger, so much nicer," said Jonathan MacKenzie, a grade 11 student.

MacKenzie said people come at breaks and after school. 

"They just want a break, so they come here," said MacKenzie. "It just gets their mind out of school." 

"It's just a really nice space to be in," said Laura Lindsay, Athletic Director for the high school. "We have a very large student population and the need was definitely there."   

 Private sponsorship funded the room

D.P Murphy Incorporated — well known for many businesses including Tim Hortons — funded the project. The expansion cost about $250,000. Founder Danny Murphy went to the high school and said he started running when he was there.

"Exercise is such an important part of mental health," said Murphy. "Not everyone makes a team."  

"We were very fortunate to have this donation," said Currie. 

The Colonel Gray foundation is also constantly looking for grants and funding to help bring in new equipment. 

Madison Lockman said the space is very supportive and so much better than exercising by herself.

A space for everyone

The athletics director said the space is more than a gym. Lindsay explained there are moments where it's a quiet space for students on a free period too. 

"It's helping our staff and our students be well as a whole," said Lindsay. 

Currie said it's also not just a spot for student athletes. They are getting a wide range of students using the room.

"We have every ability coming in working out too, everybody is so positive, encouraging," said Currie. "I think it's a really positive atmosphere and a safe place for people to come and exercise." 

"You feel like you have support," said Madison Lockman, a grade ten student. 

Lockman said she was not the type of person to go to a gym, but said she comes every day.

"It's amazing." 

About the Author

Laura Meader is a video journalist for CBC P.E.I.