CHEO — Steps to Success

LocationSt. Luke – Ottawa

Treatment partner — CHEO

Grade/Age — Grades K-8 (4.5 - 13 years)

Capacity — Five classrooms with 12 spaces for Kindergarten, 36 spaces for grades 1-6, and 12 spaces for grades 7-8

Duration — The average length of stay in this program is one school year.

Program Referral — Referrals to this program are made by the student’s community school and program admission is decided upon by the Coordinated Referral Committee through Coordinated Access.

Steps to Success is a Day Treatment program based in a community school. M.F. McHugh Education Centre is responsible for providing curriculum opportunities for students based on the Ontario Curriculum. Our therapeutic treatment partner is CHEO.

This program is designed to meet the mental health and educational needs of children with complex mental health challenges. Each classroom is staffed with a trauma informed McHugh Teacher, an Educational Assistant and a CHEO Child and Youth Worker. Classroom staff work collaboratively with additional professionals in Psychiatry, Psychology, Social Work, Speech and Language and Occupational Therapy (please note that these services are determined based on need and availability).

While in treatment, students in our program work towards meeting the overall expectations identified in the Ontario Curriculum. All students have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) which is created by the classroom teacher in collaboration with the educational assistant and the child’s parent/guardian. In order to focus on Social and Emotional Learning, all students in our program have a modified Science and Social Studies program and complete a reduced number of grade-level curriculum expectations. Students also work toward achieving individual Learning Skills goals.

We believe that the educational use of technology enhances a child’s learning experience. Students at Steps to Success have access to a variety of rich digital learning resources such as Chromebooks and iPads which enable them to use voice-to-text software, demonstrate their learning by making a video, or collaborate with a peer using GoogleDocs. Each of our classrooms is equipped with a SmartBoard; an interactive whiteboard that is touch-sensitive and uses a projector to display an image via a computer screen. Using digital tools to support learning empowers our students with skills necessary for their future.

In addition to their regular academic programming, students are given opportunities throughout the year to work with a McHugh Itinerant Technology Teacher on a variety of projects to develop hands-on skill, and to create meaningful learning opportunities.

At the completion of their time with McHugh, students and staff are provided additional support from a McHugh Transitions Teacher, to ensure a safe and successful transition for those involved.

Special Programming

Breakfast Program – Successful students need to start their day with the proper nutrition, and our Breakfast Club ensures that all of our students have this critical opportunity. Breakfast Club is available to all students Monday to Friday. We focus on offering a brain-enriching menu supported by research that is high in protein and fat with options including cheese, eggs, milk and greek yogurt. We also have whole grain options, fresh fruits and weekly home-made features such as banana bread, oatmeal, or french toast.

Lunch Program — On Tuesdays and Thursdays each week, Steps students are provided with a nutritious lunch from Kettleman’s Bagels (Tuesday) and Soup Sisters (Thursday). Both days offer a variety of fresh fruits and vegetable including either a freshly made bagel sandwich or a delicious bowl of home-made soup. This lunch program is fully funded by donors to this CHEO program. A daily milk program is also available for a small additional charge.

Noontime clubs — During the winter months a variety of lunchtime clubs are offered — a different one on each weekday. Examples include Games, Art, Dance, Music, and Lego. Clubs are hosted by McHugh Staff and CHEO volunteers.

Snoezelen Room (CHEO) – The Snoezelen Room is a multi-sensory environment where students can relax. Depending on the individual, the Snoezelen Room can help to reduce agitation and anxiety or engage and encourage communication. In the Steps to Success Snoezelen room, we have different projectors, fibre optics, and a controllable bubble tube. Our students enjoy relaxing and/or reading in the Snoezelen room.

The Swing Room (CHEO) – The swing room is a safe space in which CHEO staff provides an opportunity for students to re-regulate emotionally. Here they can swing and listen to music, engage in movement activities and use an exercise ball, rest on a mat with a weighted blanket, or take privacy in a quiet space.

The Body Break Room – Each of the three floors of our school has a body break room — a quiet space where students may rest in a low stim environment or choose to participate in a series of stations. Students cycle through structured stations involving physical activity (e.g. 10 jumps on a trampoline, slide through the steamroller) and finish by engaging in a quiet activity for 5 minutes (e.g. puzzle, building with LEGO).

Roots of Empathy (CHEO) – Roots of Empathy is a school-based program which raises social/emotional competence while increasing empathy. Students are visited by a parent and their infant every three weeks throughout the school year. The students are coached to observe the baby’s development and to label the baby’s feelings. “Emotional Literacy” skills are strengthened by having students identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others.

Pet Therapy (CHEO) – Students are visited by a trained therapy dog here at school. Dogs are such great listeners, and their presence gives students a chance to express their emotions and experience their supportive nature. Many students look forward to petting, talking, or reading to the dog during their visits.

Yoga (CHEO) – Yoga can be very beneficial to assist with students’ emotional, social, and physical challenges or conflicts. Participating in yoga strengthens the mind-body connection and helps to enhance self-regulation, motor control, concentration, and reduce anxiety and stress. Many of our students practice yoga each morning.

Instructional Time Activities Could Include: a combination of Project Based Learning and programs to specifically target student’s learning gaps, Social Skills Groups, Transition Groups, OT/ SLP support, Roots of Empathy, Girls Group / Cool Kids (Anxiety Group), Yoga, Pet Therapy, Mindfulness Activities, Learning Skills Development.