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Educating for Resilience in Canada

By: Louisa Jewell, MAPP


The Canadian Positive Psychology Association (CPPA) is a registered national non-profit organization that has a mission to improve the psychological health of all Canadians. Newly incorporated in 2012, the CPPA has recognized the need to share the rich research and applications in positive psychology with educators and teachers across Canada. Mental health programs and services within schools in Canada traditionally focused on addressing concerns related to mental illness, which is important; but educators are recognizing that schools need to move beyond a problem-focused approach to embrace a more positive and proactive view of mental health – a move towards psychological fitness.

In November of 2013, the CPPA held its first Educating for Resilience Conference, bringing together educators, teachers, counsellors and all those interested in improving the psychological health and resilience of our youth in Canada, together with some of the top international experts in this field. Canadian educators came from across Canada (and many who joined virtually through an online portal) to learn practical tools for the classroom and strategies for creating a positive school culture that promotes well-being.

Our line-up of experts included:

Jane Gillham, co-author of the Penn Resiliency Program

Tayyab Rashid who runs the Flourish program at the University of Toronto

Afroze Anjum who shared best practices for implementing the Strengths Based Resilience program at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB)

Sherri Fisher, co-author of Smarts Strengths

Greg Wells, Scientist, Exercise Physiologist and author of Superbodies

Following the Educating for Resilience Conference the CPPA continued to dialogue with educators across Canada and engage in discussions with the Ministry of Education to act as a bridge between the science and practical application. In June 2014, the CPPA, in conjunction with University of Toronto Schools a high school in downtown Toronto, began its first pilot of the Strengths-Based Resilience program authored by Dr. Tayyab Rashid, Dr. Afroze Anjum and Dr. Jane Gillham. The pilot engages the entire grade 7 class in lessons in positive psychology to increase well-being and personal resilience. Once the pilot is complete, the intention is to roll the program out to the entire school. The desire for this kind of shift in education has become visceral with more and more schools reaching out to the CPPA to begin implementing the Strengths-Based Resilience program in their schools.

Finding there was a need for more dialogue and collaboration amongst educators, the CPPA has established a Resilience Mastermind Group that meets regularly to discuss the implementation of positive psychology-based interventions in their schools. It is through this open dialogue that educators learn what works in implementing programs in a Canadian school setting. In this video, the CPPA captures how one school implemented the Three Good Things Exercise with wonderful results. The CPPA has also partnered with the Ontario School Counsellors Association (OSCA) to deliver a series of webinars on related topics in positive psychology. Representatives at the CPPA have also been asked to speak at conferences and schools across Canada so that educators everywhere can learn more about how to promote psychological strength in their schools.

Stay tuned for the CPPA’s next Educating for Resilience Conference taking place in November of 2015 in Toronto, Canada. To learn more go to www.positivepsychologycanada.com and join the mailing list for all the updates.


Louisa Jewell, MAPP, is the President of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association and can be reached at louisa@positivepsychologycanada.com.