Primed to Succeed

by Deirdre Kelly

photography by mike ford

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) has invited a York grad who studied performing arts student academic transition to share her doctoral research with them in the hopes of using her findings to help the general population.

Specifically, Jennifer Bolt (MA ’01, PhD ’16), an adjunct professor in York University’s Department of Dance and Faculty of Education, has been asked to contribute to the MHCC’s new two-year Post-Secondary Mental Health & Safety Standards project, an outgrowth of the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health & Safety in the Workplace launched in 2013.

Focused on dance majors in the process of leaving high school to attend university at three of Canada’s largest dance degree-granting programs, Bolt’s academic work aligns with the youth-focused initiative’s goals. 

“I identified key transferable skills that helped to make their transitions successful: persistence, resilience, internal motivation and excellence defined,” she says. “These values are at the core of Primed for Life Pedagogy, what MHCC has identified as a promising emerging practice.”

Bolt workshopped an educational model of Primed at the second Well-being Summit at York University this past January after sharing it with faculty and students at Randolph College for the Performing Arts, Canada’s National Ballet School’s Teacher Training Program and Peggy Baker’s Dance Educators’ Seminar, among others.

Presently, she is looking at how to expand its broader application to support transition, health and well-being with organizations associated with homeless youth, Toronto’s elementary and secondary school system, and Indigenous and veteran groups. 

“I am overwhelmed – in a good way – about how well my educational model is being received,” says Bolt, a two-time nominee for a York University Excellence in Teaching Award. 

“While its birth place lies in dancer transition research, it is resonating outside the dance studio to help even more people than I thought possible. It’s a happy surprise.”  ■

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