Challenge Question:

How can we achieve sustained integration of wellbeing as a key role for school communities?

About WellAhead

The initiative focuses on one of a diverse range of complementary approaches to addressing the needs of schools and students: the integration of wellbeing into school culture, practices and environments. Over the next five years, in collaboration with partners and stakeholders, WellAhead will work with communities and provinces across Canada to advance how schools can make wellbeing part of their DNA. (From:

How it Worked in Year 1

WellAhead employed a social innovation lab framework to lead six school districts through a community-led, participatory change process. The three key components - co-design, prototyping and scaling - created the ‘space’ or opportunity for educators, parents, students and partners to collaboratively brainstorm and select everyday wellbeing practices that could be easily integrated in the school setting. The framework was developed with MaRS Solutions Lab, who also provided ongoing support and advice for the WellAhead team and its partners.
Well Ahead graph


Co-Design: Brought stakeholders together to surface the wide array of knowledge, lived experiences, and creativity in their communities. This included the development of a design brief to frame the community context, ideation and idea refinement sessions to brainstorm and select promising ideas, and a virtual ‘ideas platform’ as a method to collect broader public input at the community, provincial and national level.

Prototyping: Participants “learned by doing” as they tested early-stage ideas in real-world settings to learn with people on the ground about what works and what doesn't. As prototypes were tested, critical questions were raised, as well as about the potential impact they may have at the school level. What was key was that educators were not given strict instructions on how to implement a practice (e.g. circle check-ins) – instead, they were given the freedom to try things their own way and improve it over time.

Scaling: In the 2016/2017 school year, participants worked on scaling out different practices and approaches across their school districts, as well as scaling up to influence district priorities and directions. WellAhead is also working with the education change leaders and networks to advance the integration of wellbeing in schools at the provincial level. At the same time, WellAhead is sharing its tools and learnings (including things that didn’t work) online through its website and other virtual channels.