If the hustle of life at Upper Canada College starts to feel more exhausting than exhilarating, students have a new place to get centred: the recently opened Peace and Quiet Space (PAQS).
Located within the Health Centre at the Upper School, PAQS is a non-academic drop-in space designed to reduce stress, promote mindfulness and improve wellbeing. Students are welcome to use the space before, during and after school, for rest, meditation, yoga, mindfulness practice and reflective activities such as colouring and journaling.
Latin teacher Catharine Erb helped develop programming for PAQS alongside the Parents’ Organization, which spearheaded and sponsored the initiative.
“We’re teaching meditation, breathing practices and self-compassion in very short sessions so students can learn these strategies and carry them on independently in their own lives,” Erb says. Since the launch of PAQS during October’s Open House week, Erb says the space has elicited positive engagement.
“Given the rigorous academic program and co-curricular demands, students can experience stress and anxiety,” says Jill Adolphe, Parents’ Organization co-president for 2018-2019. Adds Carita Sheehy, Adolphe's fellow co-president, "There was no designated, non-academic place for students to go other than the Health Centre. Parents felt this put undue stress on the Health Centre’s resources and recognized the need for a quiet space for the boys.”
As one of UCC’s Lang Scholars, a program for exceptional student-athletes, Juan-David Guerra, Year 12, is well-acquainted with the rigours of academic and co-curricular life — and the importance of cultivating wellbeing.
“Wellbeing to me is about maintaining a positive mental and physical state. Finding the proper balance between these aspects has brought me the most success in all areas and has left me feeling better about myself,” says Guerra. “It’s important for me to have a place like PAQS."
Says Dean of Student Life and Wellbeing Scott Cowie, "Vitality sits at the foundation of UCC's multi-dimensional framework for wellbeing. We view vitality as encompassing both physical and mental health. Our existing fitness centre provides a space for students to develop their physical health, and we're very grateful to our Parents' Organization for providing funding for the creation of PAQS, which serves as an appropriate complement where students can focus on enhancing aspects of their mental health."