Egbert School Community Wellness Space and Care Closet

The Cause

The Dr. Gladys McKelvie Egbert Middle School “Community Wellness Space and Care Closet” is an initiative intended to alleviate some of the stressors that can be barriers to students meaningfully engaging in learning. As a school working with communities that have been historically underserved, we have seen firsthand the struggles many of our families go through and the fundamental challenges that our students face before they are even able to learn. Many of our students come from families who struggle financially and cannot always afford to supply basic necessities for their children. For example, a large portion of our students access our free breakfast and lunch program and families often seek support from the school in the form of grocery gift cards, however free personal care items are rarely available for students.

As a school, we have an unrelenting dedication to serve our community in the best way we can, and have set a wellness goal to increase the percentage of students who demonstrate empathy and kindness. We are currently using a spare storage room to engage students in restorative circles, host social-emotional student groups and meetings with families, but this space does not currently reflect the care we have for our community or the values that underpin our work with students.

With this in mind, we would like to reimagine the space into a safe, inclusive and welcoming community room that will help to meet our students' emotional and physical needs and empower them to fulfill the potential we believe each and every student has.

With the support of the Field Law Community Fund Program we would be able work towards a more equitable school community by transforming this space into a warm, welcoming environment that will ensure students, families and other community members feel cared for by our school community. One of the most important elements of the Community Wellness Room will be a “Care Closet” that will be stocked with essential items our students often have to do without, such as personal hygiene products, food, school supplies and grocery gift cards.

Who Will it Benefit?

Dr. GM Egbert School is located in the neighbourhood of Marlborough Park in northeast Calgary and serves a population of 471 students and their families. Marlborough Park is a culturally diverse area with a large population of immigrants, refugees, Indigenous people and low-income families. While not all students will make use of the Care Closet, the space will be designed to welcome all students and their families into the space to do Restorative Justice work, participate in social-emotional groups and provide a safe and discreet space to connect outside agencies and services with families.

The Care Closet itself will provide students with whatever goods they request with absolutely no questions asked - helping students and their families in times of need. Currently we have many students accessing free or reduced school fees waivers, which provides us with a sense of the need and reach of the program.