Wholehearted Leaders Alternative Education Program

Aims to help children and youth develop the skill sets to become the self-empowered, compassionate leaders of the future.

Our programming integrates hands-on project-based learning with emotional literacy content to assist students in uncovering their natural talents while developing self-awareness, problem solving skills, and trauma-resiliency. 

Community project-based learning enhances engagement and provides endless opportunities to develop interpersonal skills and self-management tools. It encourages a sense of belonging and purpose within one’s community, assisting in creating a safe and strong foundation from which students can feel safer taking risks, employing divergent thinking,

and reaching their full potential.

We believe

well-rounded education, provides children and youth with the opportunities to explore and develop their entrepreneurial spirit.



are the inventors and innovators of the future, stimulating the economy, and solving complex problems.

Wholehearted LEADERS sets the foundation for entrepreneurial spirit to emerge, and confidence to develop by teaching students the value of goal setting, project planning and execution, data collection, marketing, sales, team building, conflict resolution, and empathy. 

The cultivation of these skills will serve to nurture resilient, adaptable, and self-empowered individuals who are able to affect positive change in the world.






I’m Kris Garner, founder of The Emotional Literacy Movement.

My team & I are on a mission to create holistic programming that combines neuroscience with mindfulness, art, movement, and nature-based practices, providing students with research-based tools and techniques to live a happier and more balanced life. 

2022/2023 Programming at Hawthorne Valley Farm!

Located just 25 minutes north of Winnipeg in East Selkirk, MB. Hawthorne Valley Farm sits on 10 acres of land currently being developed by community using permaculture principles. 

What makes great

Wholehearted L.E.A.D.E.R.S?

Land Stewardship

Developing a relationship to the land and taking measures to care for our environment helps to nurture responsible citizens who consider their impact on all living creatures and habitats. Our programming employs Forest School and permaculture practices, providing students with endless opportunities to learn from their natural environment. 

Emotional Literacy

Emotional Literacy is the stepping stone to Emotional Intelligence. By becoming familiar with our emotional anatomy and the ways we close down and open up, we are better able to make decisions in alignment with our desires, resolve conflict, process emotions and traumatic experiences, and articulate our needs and boundaries.

Artistic Expression

 Engaging in the arts can have beneficial impacts on our emotions and overall health.  Art Therapy, Music Therapy, and Theatre can be used to assist individuals in processing and expressing difficult emotions. A leader who values and engages in the arts helps to promote wellbeing within their community.

Developing Communication Skills

High level communicators are aware of the subtleties of their facial expression, posture, and body language, and the impact of these non-verbal methods of communicating with others. We teach students how to own their experience while being curious about the experience of others, to notice when they (or others) are closed down, and to set safe containers for challenging conversations that support emotional connection and resolution.

Embodiment Practices

Being embodied means being in tune with ourselves on the deepest level. By cultivating body awareness we are better able to self-regulate, developing an acute awareness of the needs of our body at any given moment, and minimizing the risk of adverse physical and mental health conditions and emotional dysregulation.


Whether we are speaking of our relationship to the Earth, relationship to self, relationships to others, or relationships between any other living organisms, we can confidently say that healthy relationships are fundamental to our wellbeing and development. We aim to assist students in recognizing this interconnectedness both within and outside of themselves and nurture the development of healthy relationships.


Working with sustainability in mind helps us to be accountable for our actions. In order to have healthy, vibrant communities, we need to create resilient, sustainable systems that pave the way for the work of future generations.

What families & educators are saying about our programming

  • Emotional Literacy Movement

    I was fortunate to have worked alongside Kris Garner while she piloted her Whole-Hearted Leaders program at Beaver Creek Academy. As her co-teacher, I found myself quickly becoming a learner alongside our students as she took us on a journey to explore and develop emotional literacy. Fostering a sense of curiosity, our students became comfortable and fluent when exploring and communicating their emotions, specifically communicating with the intention of understanding others. Perhaps this seems like a rather mundane skill, but too often have I heard from adults and parents of our learners “I wish was I taught this when I was young”.

    As I reflect on my year as both Kris’s co-teacher and as a student in her teaching, the only word that comes to mind is “transformative”. Kris has modeled and helped me gain confidence in myself and my abilities as an educator. She has given words and language to help navigate the complex, beautiful but at times a bit messy world of emotions.

    So I ask you to take a moment to imagine having the courage to share your vulnerability with others, to imagine the strength of being able to receive and hold space for others when they feel most vulnerable, to imagine the empowering feeling of being seen and heard…. now imagine those skills for yourself and for your learner. This is the journey and the gift that Kris has imparted to me.

    This is my love letter to Education, to a future filled with emotionally literate communities and to change in the ways we connect with ourselves and others. Thank you Kris for being a mentor to me.


  • Emotional Literacy Movement

    When our son was in Grade 4 in public school, the school psychologist told us that the next 4 years of his life in middle school will likely be the hardest due to his academic challenges. Fast forward almost a year, we can honestly say that this has been his most successful and joyful year at school to-date. He is valued and is appreciated for exactly who he is. Relationships built on trust is the foundation of his experience in the program. When we ask our son what he loves about his school, his response is: "I love playing fun games outside with my friends. I love our Mindful Mornings where I do yoga, partner yoga and dance." As his parents, we have noticed increased confidence in his friendships, decision making, life skills, as well as in listening to his body. Kris Garner has shared that our son is taking more initiative in his learning and shows a boost in his confidence. It is evident that Kris has focused her energy on building relationships with respect and awareness of boundaries, attunement to feelings and how our bodies react to the world around us. With this knowledge and these skills, we are certain that our son will be an active citizen of the land we share and will embrace life's challenges and joys.

    With much gratitude and love,


  • Emotional Literacy Movement

    It has been such an incredible honour to watch my children blossom this past year. The Wholehearted Leaders program they’ve been participating in has been a true gift to each of them and their unique learning styles - through project based learning they are encouraged to explore those things that truly interest them while being fully supported in digging deeper into these subjects and following where their interests and inquiries lead them. However, the most notable transformations that have occurred for my children have little to do with curriculum or book learning but much more to do with the deep innate knowing and awareness that exists within all of us when we are truly able to regulate our nervous systems and connect with our true selves. The ability to check in with themselves and one another, to figure out what each individual needs in any given moment and how to find their balance when they feel destabilized… These are skills most of us as adults have never had the opportunity to learn - the fact that my children and their peers are able to do this kind of head-heart work is nothing short of groundbreaking. Kris has lead these learners with sensitivity, patience, insight, inspiration and pure heart, and it shows in each one of these kids. We are truly blessed and grateful to have been a part of this absolutely incredible program!


The Emotional Literacy Movement operates throughout Manitoba and is located on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, Dene and Métis people. Our headquarters are located on Treaty 1 territory, the homeland of the Métis Nation.

We dedicate ourselves to move forward with indigenous communities in a spirit of reconciliation and collaboration to make Manitoba an inclusive and accessible place for everyone who lives here. Land acknowledgment is only one small part of supporting Indigenous communities.