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Making outdoor health and wellness a daily priority for students at Canmore’s École Notre-Dame des Monts

A quick look at the school’s Facebook page reveals dozens of photos of students from Canmore’s École Notre-Dame des Monts (ENDM) exploring, playing and having fun outdoors. Not surprising. Daily physical activity is a high priority at the K-12 school and teachers and students are always outside taking advantage of what the Bow Valley has to offer.

But getting students outdoors for the last couple of years hasn’t been easy. Restrictions reduced the school’s ability to access activities and economic uncertainty has impacted many families in the Bow Valley. As any parent can tell you, sports equipment can be expensive and kids grow out of it quickly.

But after two years of restrictions, ENDM is now able to relaunch and expand their outdoor and recreational programs.

“Students at the school are thrilled to be participating in field trips again. These are the first outings since the pandemic began and everyone is excited to explore the great outdoors,” said Philippe Bresee, assistant principal and high school teacher.

École Notre-Dame des Monts
École Notre-Dame des Monts
École Notre-Dame des Monts
A $15,000 donation from the Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation will help ensure all students at ENDM have access to outdoor learning opportunities that promote fitness, an active lifestyle and mental wellness.

“Our donation is intended to enhance student learning at Canmore’s Ecole Notre-Dame des Monts through sport and wellness initiatives, while helping eliminate financial barriers for families in the Bow Valley. We are proud to make this financial commitment that provides affordable opportunities for students to engage in healthy learning initiatives,” said Cathy Geisler, Executive Director for the Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation.

Funding will also help ENDM expand their wellness programs. The school is hiring a dedicated yoga instructor to increase opportunities for students to access programs that support both physical and mental health. For many students, adding yoga and courses focused on mindfulness are a welcome addition to the curriculum.


École Notre-Dame des Monts
École Notre-Dame des Monts
École Notre-Dame des Monts
Bresee says that this funding “substantially increases participation” by eliminating financial barriers. Financial support from the Foundation is key to ensuring that the school’s outdoor activities and wellness programs remain accessible for everyone.

“Students that don’t own cross-country equipment, downhill skis or mountain bikes are provided with them at no cost.  This facilitates access and creates a more equitable situation between the students,” Bresee said.

“We are thrilled the Pauw Foundation has partnered with us this year.  We hope to enhance our Sports and Recreation Programming and build our Wellness program in the years to come.  We look forward to continuing to facilitate access to these various activities.”

As field trips, sports, and group events resume, ENDM and other schools look forward to getting back to normal and provide students an exceptional learning environment based on an engaging educational experience that includes academics, athletics and fun.

“We look forward to seeing the impact of continued excellence within our school community, supporting amazing ‘made-in-the-mountains’ learning experiences for students,” says Geisler. “Outdoor activity and wellness programs support the physical and mental health of students, something that everyone in the Bow Valley values.”


Learn more about how the Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation continues to support a more active, vibrant, and happy community.

Wim & Nancy Pauw Foundation