Backpack Buddies in Your School?

We are so fortunate to live in an area with access to locally grown foods to maintain healthy and active lifestyles. But for some in poverty, access to nutritious food is far out of reach, meaning too many children are going hungry. With more than 20 per cent of BC children living below the poverty line, how can we expect them to concentrate in the classroom with growling bellies? Backpack Buddies looks to eradicate childhood hunger by providing a weekend worth of meals to those in need.

This charity helps the Metro Vancouver area fill the weekend hunger gap by providing stocked backpacks for children to take home and share with their families, breaking the cycle of poverty. The program works with local partners and communities to distribute the backpacks through local schools. It was started in 2012 by mother and daughter duo, Joanne Griffiths and Emily-Anne King, and today they have helped deliver more than 8,000 backpacks in the 2015/2016 school year alone. Currently there are nine schools in the Lower Mainland who are part of the program, but you can help! Donate money, food, or time and be a part of the solution to child hunger.

Play Grant for Britannia Community Services!

For some kids, the opportunity to play is limited by finances, location and safe locations. Physical literacy is vital for children to develop appropriately and learn to live healthy lifestyles as adults. Answering the call is RBC and their Learn to Play grants, which support kids and youth in sport and recreation. The grants go towards teaching children to play through jumping, swimming, skating and more, mastering movement skills and building confidence while growing physical strength.

The Britannia Community Services Centre is the latest recipient of a $9,450 grant, part of which will go to the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society’s Learn to Skate program, which will provide urban Aboriginal children, tweens, teens and youth with an opportunity to learn how to skate while also encouraging future participation in the sport. “By providing organizations with the funding and resources to teach kids basic skills, we’ve been able to empower them to feel confident and competent to move their bodies, engage in sport and create lifelong relationships with physical activity,” said Elio Antunes, President and CEO, ParticipACTION. Not only will kids benefit from the grant but so will the greater community as a whole. Congrats to the centre for their grant!

Small Change, Big Hearts with Air Transat

For 90 minutes in the skies over Canada on December 7th, hundreds of children living with severe illnesses, and their families, were treated to an unforgettable experience, when they were greeted by Santa Claus on special flights organized by The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada and Air Transat. The flights, which took off from Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, were part of Air Transat’s 12th annual Flights in Search of Santa, a joint effort in partnership with Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada. And for the second year in a row, a flight from Paris carrying some 50 sick children and their families also took off in search of Santa.

Air Transat also used the flights as an opportunity to announce a further $98 975 donation to Children’s Wish, which represents the amounts collected over the past year as part of the air carrier’s Small Change, Big Hearts program and other initiatives, and is in addition to the over $5 million raised for Children’s Wish since the inception of the partnership between the two organizations.

“There is truly nothing better than seeing a child smile in wonderment, and we in turn are delighted to bring a little magic into the lives of hundreds of children across Canada and in France,” said Jean-Francois Lemay, President, Air Transat. “The Flights in Search of Santa is at the core of our partnership with The Children’s Wish Foundation and is the Air Transat family’s favourite event of the year.”

The memorable day began at the Air Transat check-in counter at Vancouver International airport, where some 250 passengers, including children living with severe illnesses, along with members of their families, received their boarding passes for the North Pole. They then made their way to the boarding lounge, where a number of festive activities awaited. Finally, they took their seats in the aircraft for a 90-minute flight during which Santa Claus made a surprise appearance and distributed presents to the wide-eyed children.

Chris Kotsopoulos, Chief Executive Officer of The Children’s Wish Foundation enthused: “Children’s Wish Foundation is very fortunate to be able to count on the support of Air Transat, a partner since 2004. This event is truly one of the greatest moments of the year for Children’s Wish and for the participating children. We are delighted that Air Transat is here to help us make this unique day possible for these kids, for whom illness is a daily reality.”

The annual Flights in Search of Santa are made possible thanks to the generous collaboration of several partners including Montréal-Trudeau, Toronto Pearson, Vancouver International airports and Roissy Charles de Gaules airport, and the volunteer efforts of Air Transat employees.

For more information, follow the #SantaFlight hashtag on social media.

Food Guide Changes

Staying healthy is about more than visiting a doctor. It is the result of the choices we make every day. The Government of Canada is taking action to help Canadians make healthy choices for themselves and their families.

Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, announced that Health Canada has started a process to revise Canada’s Food Guide to reflect the latest scientific evidence on diet and health, and to better support Canadians, including Indigenous peoples, in making healthy food choices. The announcement was made at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress.

As part of the Food Guide revision, Health Canada today launched a consultation with Canadians, which will run to December 8, to determine how Health Canada can provide better dietary guidance that meets the needs of Canadians.

This revision is part of a multi-year Healthy Eating Strategy. As part of the Strategy, Health Canada will use every tool at its disposal—legislation, regulation, guidance and education—to create conditions to support healthy eating. In addition to revising Canada’s Food Guide, the Healthy Eating Strategy outlines how Health Canada will achieve the commitments set out in the Prime Minister’s mandate letter to the Minister of Health related to sodium, trans fat, sugars, food colours, marketing to children, and the Nutrition North Program. Health Canada will continue to engage with stakeholders and experts to further refine the strategy as it moves forward.

Quick facts

  • In Canada, four out of five Canadians risk developing conditions such as cancer, heart disease or Type 2 diabetes; six out of ten adults are overweight and one-third of youth are overweight or obese.
  • Poor diet is the primary risk factor for obesity and many chronic diseases, and places a significant burden on the health of Canadians and our health care system.
  • The annual economic burden of obesity in Canada is estimated in the billions of dollars.

Coping With Acne

By: Dr. Shannon Humphrey, Acne and Rosacea Society of Canada

Acne is something that just about everyone has experienced at one point or another in our lives. In fact 90% of teens will have to deal with this common skin condition. Many people – including parents – believe acne is a part of life and will come and go as you grow up. It’s “just pimples” or something teens will “grow out of”.

Many studies show acne can have a profound effect on teens’ lives. Acne is much more than a cosmetic issue because it is often felt far deeper. It affects appearance and happens during a time of immense change – physical, emotional and social. Acne can affect the development of self-image and assertiveness in teens – factors that are important in forming friendships and dating. Having acne has also been associated with teasing, bullying and eating disorders. In order to cope, some teens are growing their hair to cover their face, avoiding eye contact, wearing heavy makeup to hide spots, avoiding sports like swimming if they have body acne and missing school.

What can be done to help? Here are some tips and tricks.

Emotional impact of acne: Facts and stats

– Research shows acne can result in significant emotional distress ranging from bad moods and embarrassment to shame, anxiety and even depression.

– Depression is 2 to 3 times more prevalent in acne patients than in the general public.

– In one study of teens with acne, the number who felt lonely (58%) or anxious (56%) was

comparable to those with diabetes, cancer and epilepsy.

– The longer acne goes on, the greater the psychological harm to personal and social life.

– The emotional impact of acne cannot be predicted by how severe the condition is and varies from person to person.

– Some acne sufferers say the psychological effects associated with this condition, such as hurt and shame, continue to be felt many years afterwards. Experts call this ‘emotional scarring’.

5 Steps to help with acne:

# 1 Treatment. For mild acne, self-treat with over-the-counter acne products. For moderate or severe acne, seek help from your family doctor or dermatologist. Treatment improves outlook.

# 2 Support. Enlist the support of family and close friends. Let them know how acne is affecting you and how they can help.

# 3 Camouflage. Find out how to hide acne by applying cover-up.

# 4 Skincare. Follow a good skincare routine for healthy skin and to get the best results from treatment.

# 5 Activities, social life. Be active. Be social. Make an effort to visit with friends and attend events.

About the Acne and Rosacea Society of Canada:
The society, a national, not for profit organization, offers hope and help to sufferers by providing independent, reputable and current information on acne and raising awareness. For more, visit www.AcneAction.ca.

About Dr. Shannon Humphrey: Dr. Humphrey is a Vancouver dermatologist and spokesperson for the Acne and Rosacea society of Canada. She is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology and Skin Science at the University of British Columbia and director of Continuing Medical Education there. Dr. Humphrey established the first acne and rosacea subspecialty clinic at the University of British Columbia.

Feature: Sit Less, Stand More

The school months mean sitting hour upon hour each day in classrooms and then at desks while studying.  All of this sitting can be dangerous to their health, says Kathleen Hale, founder of Chair Free Project, a health movement to get people standing, walking and moving instead of sitting in chairs. Hale offers these 10 tips for students to avoid hours of sitting that can lead to a various health problems including Dormant Butt Syndrome.

1. Sit and Stand – Don’t stay sitting for too long. Prolonged sitting can have serious negative consequences on your health, regardless of your age or how much you exercise. In particular, college students can be at risk for developing life-threatening blood clots after hours of sitting and cramming for a test. To help remember to get out of your chair, clear a space on your dresser where you can place your laptop or textbooks. Stand up study at least every 45 minutes so you can get the blood flowing again.
2. There’s an App for That – If you need a reminder to get on your feet, there’s an app for that. Several actually. Check out Stand Up! or  Stand App. These apps will remind you when you’ve been inactive for too long and some even reward you when you move!
3. Walk and Study – Flashcards have been shown to be one of the best ways to retain information. They’re also a great way to study while walking. Make some flashcards for a class where you need to do a lot of memorization. Then set out for a walk where you test yourself on the flashcards or invite a friend from class to quiz each other.
4. Look Up – Staring down at your computer screen can be a literal pain the neck. Neck pain can lead to headaches and interfere with your productivity. One of the best ways to avoid neck strain is to make sure you are not craning your neck downward while looking at the computer screen. If you have a monitor, place it at eye level. If you use a laptop, get a riser for it or even a couple reams of paper to raise it up to eye level.
5. Shoulders Back – Look around the computer lab on campus and you’ll see most people sitting with shoulders slouched inward. Not only can this position lead to hunched posture, it also can physically drain your energy. To avoid it, roll your shoulders back and then shrug them both up to your ears. Drop your shoulders down and release your breath.
6. Mix Up Your Environment Research shows that you changing your physical surroundings can help you better remember what you are studying in those different environments. Use this evidence as an excuse to get up and move. Sit in the library to study at first. Then take a walk with a friend in class and quiz each other before an upcoming test. Find a tall counter in the dining room to do some reading.
7. Deep Breathing – Studying can be stressful and stress can make you sick. To help calm yourself when facing a big test, learn some deep breathing practices to help relax the body.
8. Move it, Move it – Sometimes your body needs a serious wake up call. When you have been sitting in one place studying for a long time, you often need some spark to get going. Stand up, turn on some music and get moving. Jumping jacks, dancing, or just jumping around can help to re-energize you.
9. Get Down – Outfit your dorm room or apartment with a comfy rug or big pillows. Spend some study time sitting on the floor. Floor sitting can help you open your hips, reduce back pain, and give you a chance to stretch your muscles.
10. Stand in Class – If you’re in an auditorium size classroom you might have the ability to stand quietly in the back of 300 other heads staring at the podium. It won’t draw any attention to you, and if it’s one of those 3-hour long night classes, you’ll feel much more energized and alert during the class.

Don’t Change Much With Trevor Linden

CMHF Trevor Linden, Dr. Larry Goldenberg and Simon Whitfield copyHockey legend Trevor Linden and Olympic Gold medalist Simon Whitfield are helping the new Canadian Men’s Health Foundation (CMHF) let men, especially Dads know “they don’t need to change much” to feel better and live healthier.  CMHF unveiled its national awareness campaign encouraging men to change – but not too much.

The campaign inspires men to make small, healthy lifestyle changes that will have a big impact on their lives. The brainchild of Dr. Larry Goldenberg, a urologic surgeon and an Order of Canada recipient, he has been working towards this day for five years. “In time, men’s attention to their health will become second nature, like seatbelts,” says Goldenberg.

Imagine the difference if you walked to get your groceries instead of drove? What about changing out greek yogurt to replace sour cream? These small differences can lead to significant health benefits.

For more information, visit www.dontchangemuch.ca. The website is full of information on small changes you can make that have a large impact on health. Don’t Change Much highlights the fact that small lifestyle changes can be the difference between wellness and illness and turning to a healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to mean drastic upsets in routine.

Halloween Shouldn’t be scary… for your waistline!

Halloween Shouldn’t Be Scary… for Your Waistline

 While the kids are out enjoying trick-or-treating, sitting around the candy bowl at home and avoiding temptation to snack can be difficult. To have a Halloween with less guilt, indulge in a few sweets that aren’t as “sinful” as the traditional favorites, and see if the lure of the real thing is truly worth it. TOPS Club, Inc.® (Take Off Pounds Sensibly®), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, offers guidance to a healthier Halloween that is still fun for all. Treat-sized candy can give the impression that “just a little bit won’t hurt,” but when the facts are laid out, there is nothing fun about these “fun-sized” bites. Consider this: 1 serving (1/5 of an 8-oz. package) of candy corn = 150 calories* = 42 minutes of walking,
2 Fun Size Snickers bars = 160 calories = 18 minutes of jogging
1 2-oz. package of Skittles = 250 calories = 38 minutes of cycling

Part of TOPS’ philosophy is that all foods can fit in your meal plan, in moderation. If you really want something sweet, have it – but also consider healthier options that give you the same satisfaction from regular candy. Help your health by calorie budgeting for the treats. Split a sweet with a friend, push yourself a little harder during your workout, or cut back on something else in your diet for that day. By staying mindful of choices and planning ahead, Halloween candy cravings won’t be so spooky after all.*Calorie counts and calories burned are estimated using www.calorieking.com.

Healthier Options Are Amazingly Satisfying

 Frozen banana-chocolate treats
Place peeled, medium-ripe bananas on sticks and freeze them. Once they’re frozen, drizzle with a little melted dark chocolate and serve. According to the Cleveland Clinic, dark chocolate contains flavanols that may provide antioxidant qualities and have potential influence on vascular health.

Crispy rice treats
Modify the classic recipe for a healthier version using whole grain brown rice cereal, honey, or brown rice syrup for substitutions. The brown rice syrup has a lower glycemic index than high fructose corn syrup marshmallows but will still make the treats sweet.

Honey popcorn balls
Popcorn balls are a Halloween favorite, but they’re commonly loaded with salt and high in sugar. They can be made healthier when prepared at home with just air-popped popcorn, honey, and a bit of salt. The popcorn provides fiber, and you can get creative by adding flavorful options. Ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa power, and cloves will provide delicious taste options for your popcorn balls.

Vegetable “candy corn”
Try a healthy twist on a Halloween staple. You’ll need toothpicks, orange and yellow bell peppers, and cauliflower florets. Simply cut the vegetables and layer in the colors of traditional candy corn.

TOPS Club Inc.® (Take Off Pounds Sensibly®) is the original weight-loss support and wellness education organization. Founded more than 65 years ago, TOPS is the only nonprofit, noncommercial weight-loss organization of its kind.

New Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Clinic opens

Left to right: Elaine Webb, Director of Health Promotion, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation-BC/Yukon Region, presents Cathy Adair, Vice President, Cancer Control, Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon Division; and Carolyn Gotay, Canadian Cancer Society Chair in Cancer Primary Prevention, Professor, School of Population and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, with a cheque for $342,489.00, which will fund the Breast Cancer Prevention & Risk Assessment Clinic.

An innovative new resource is now available for B.C. women looking to reduce their risk of breast cancer. The Breast Cancer Prevention & Risk Assessment Clinic opened its doors on October 20th with primary funding from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – BC/Yukon Region and is supported by BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre. Through this initiative, Vancouver will have the first breast cancer prevention and risk assessment clinic for women not at genetically increased risk of breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canadian women. Many women believe that heredity is the most important factor in developing breast cancer; however, genetic factors account for only five to ten percent of diagnoses. Conversely, nearly half of all breast cancer diagnoses are due to preventable, non-genetic factors. The Breast Cancer Prevention & Risk Assessment Clinic will provide women with concrete tools to help them improve their risk profile, particularly by focusing on weight management, increased physical activity, good nutrition and limited alcohol consumption.

The clinic offers services that include risk assessment questionnaires, consultation with a senior medical oncologist, individual lifestyle counselling, referral to community resources and follow-up assessments. Located on the BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre site, the clinic will operate one morning and one afternoon each week. To contact the clinic, call 604-558-2212.

Should Schools Be Wi-Fi-Free?

Recently, we received a press release from Citizens for Safe Technology, a not-for-profit educational and advocacy society made up of parents, grandparents, teachers, business professionals, scientists, politicians and lawyers concerned about the exponential increase in public exposure to harmful wireless technologies.

We thought we would share this release with our readers, and find out your individual thoughts on this. [Read more…]