Teachers Are The Real Heroes! How One Educator Is Helping Boost Students' Mental Health
When she found out some of her students were struggling during the pandemic lockdown, she made sure they had the resources they needed to get outdoors.
When teacher Janice Lowe reached out to her students during the Covid-19 pandemic, she wanted to make sure they were doing okay – not just academically, but mentally.
When she heard that one of her students was having some trouble, she suggested he go outside for a bike ride to get some fresh air. When he responded that he didn't own a bike, she got an idea.
Lowe founded the GLE Movement, which stand for "Grow, Lead and Excel" – all characteristics Lowe hopes to establish in her students at Ascension of Our Lord Christian secondary school in Ontario, Canada.
As part of the movement, Lowe started collecting bikes and helmets from people in the community.
"I started using my network, started asking people for bikes," Lowe told CBC Toronto. "So far we've given out 36."
Since some of the bikes were older and needed repairs, Lowe worked to get sponsorships from local organizations so that the bikes are safe for the students to ride and look as good as new.
Lowe makes sure the bikes are repaired and safe to ride after they've been donated. @theglemovement
"Obviously, when we give a bike to a youth, a teen or a young adult, we want to make sure that human dignity is upheld and we're giving them a beautiful bike that's rideable and that they would be proud to ride in their community," Lowe said.
Lowe has been driving around and dropping off the bikes for her students, and she's been capturing their joyful reactions and posting them on the GLE Movement's Instagram page.
"It's amazing what a bike can do and how it can just make people happy," Lowe said. "Especially during this time with the social distancing and having space, you're able to ride a bike, enjoy yourself and still be with your friends."
Lowe's bond with the students has only grown stronger since the schools closed its doors in March to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Along with giving out bikes, she's organized teddy bear drops for students in need of hugs and has arranged for professional portraits for graduating seniors.
"To me, they're my extended family," Lowe said about her students. "Students come to this school, sometimes broken. There's other obstacles that are happening in their lives, right? So, if you're able to meet some of those needs, build a rapport with your students in a different atmosphere, you create a bond with them – and you can help them in a better way."
Judging by the love, hugs and smiles that Lowe receives from her students every day, it looks like that strong bond isn't going anywhere.
So far Lowe has handed out around 50 bikes to kids in her community. @theglemovement