Healthy Living in the North

Choose your path and volunteer for the Canada Winter Games

Members of the Games' medical staff

Members of the Games’ medical staff (from left to right): Hedy Conwright, Venue Medical Lead; Joanne Archer, Chief Nurse; Janet Ames, Chief Medical Officer; Brian Farrance, Chief Therapist; Carolyn Bouchard, Polyclinic Lead

“Choose your path, leave your tracks and journey with us.” This motto for the 2015 Canada Winter Games calls all northerners to share their skills and passion in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to host the nation. At the Canada Games House in Prince George we are acutely aware of the countdown clock, which reminds us that we are just 12 months away from the largest multi-sport and cultural festival ever held in northern British Columbia!

What I was surprised to learn when I started working for the 2015 Games is that this Canada Games is volunteer led. From sport to transportation and everything in between, volunteers are working hard in each department of the 2015 Games.

Medical volunteers have the opportunity to help plan medical services, as well as deliver medical services to athletes at sport venues and the athlete medical clinic, the Polyclinic, at 2015 Games time. Physicians, therapists, and nurses from across the north are needed to provide these important services. Offering bilingual services is part of our mandate so there are also opportunities for bilingual medical volunteers to get involved in the 2015 Games.

Dr. Janet Ames, Chief Medical Officer with the Games, explains some of the worries she comes across when recruiting medical volunteers: “Medical professionals are often concerned about volunteering for events such as the Canada Winter Games. They express concern about not having the experience to handle sport medicine problems and may lack in field experience. Many of the problems at major games are ones they see in their own practices every day, especially the problems assessed at the Polyclinic.”

Volunteering at the 2015 Games offers medical volunteers an incredible opportunity to develop event coverage skills and to learn from the best. Dr. Ames, who has worked at past Canada Games and Olympics explains: “In terms of event coverage, if medical personnel want to gain experience we will place them in the field with more experienced first responders. There are physicians and therapists coming to the Games from all over Canada who have a great deal of experience on the field. Canada Games has always been a great place to learn new skills from those with more experience.”

Not only does working as a medical volunteer offer the opportunity to be a part of the 2015 Games, but the skills learned will create a legacy for medical event coverage in our region. The Canada Games medical committee recognizes these amazing opportunities and encourages northern doctors, therapists and nurses to join them now for 2015.

We hope you will choose your path, leave your tracks and join us in this journey as we host the nation from February 13 to March 1, 2015.

For more information on volunteering for medical and non-medical opportunities, visit the 2015 Canada Winter Games volunteer sign-up page.

Julia Stephenson

About Julia Stephenson

Julia is a master’s of public health graduate working with the 2015 Canada Winter Games. She is passionate about upstream health and creating environments that support well-being. Julia grew up in Ontario, but feels at home in B.C., and is embracing the move north with all the opportunities for outdoor activity. She enjoys hiking, camping, canoeing, swimming, and being outside exploring new places.

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A season for giving: volunteering

volunteering; Salvation Army; fundraising

Finding friends while volunteering

Every year in the holiday season, I am motivated to volunteer in some way. With all the holiday busyness around us, I like to take the time to stop and look around to see where and how I can give back. (The other 11 months of the year, it just hangs over my head that I should be doing more of this.)

In December, there are always calls for volunteers in my community and I can only imagine that this is the same in most places. From food drives, to sponsoring families, to being Santa for the local pet fundraiser, there is no shortage of ways to get involved.

In previous years, I have volunteered with The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign. I was that person loitering outside of where you shopped jingling the bells. Outside of the obvious reasons why I enjoyed volunteering this way, I found it was a great way to catch up with friends. I would invite a friend to join me and it was a great way to sip a coffee and get caught up – something that is always hard to squeeze in this season.

This year, I wanted to try something different, so I signed me and my husband up with Operation Red Nose. Operation Red Nose is a community-based program that supports drivers and their vehicles to get home safely during the holidays. In BC, ICBC is a proud partner of Operation Red Nose. In 2012, over 4,500 volunteers in 25 communities in BC drove over 200,000kms and gave rides to over 8,000 people and their vehicles. These are some impressive statistics and go a long way to keeping all drivers safer on the winter roads during the holiday season. This is my first time volunteering with Operation Red Nose and seeing as how I am not much of a night owl, I am curious to see how it goes.

For me, volunteering makes me feel good and it helps others. Very few opportunities are truly this “win-win.” It can be a little overwhelming to think about where you might volunteer, how you will fit it into your schedule, or all the other things on your “to-do” list.

Ironically, I find that volunteering is the least stressful part of my week because I get to just stop what I am doing and focus on something else for a short while.

I’m not going to tell you it will change your life or that it will be the best thing since sliced bread, but I wonder if you try it if you might like it? What’s at risk for trying it? A few hours of your time to put your life on hold and help your community.

Do you volunteer? Are you more inclined to volunteer more in one season than another? Why do you think that is?

Thank you to ICBC for the background information on Operation Red Nose (http://www.icbc.com/road-safety/safer-drivers/impaired-driving/rednose)

Chelan Zirul

About Chelan Zirul

Chelan Zirul is the Regional Manager for Health Promotions and Community Engagement for Northern Health. As a graduate from UNBC, she did her Master's of Arts in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies. She explored regional development decision-making and is an advocate for policy that is appropriate for the needs of northerners. This, combined with her personal interest in health and wellness, drew her to work in health communications. Born in northern B.C., she takes advantage of the access to outdoor living. She enjoys hunting and exploring the backcountry with her dog and husband and enjoys finding ways to use local foods.

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Bringing together a 2015 Canada Winter Games medical team

The 2015 Canada Winter Games Medical Team.

The 2015 Canada Winter Games Medical Team.

Over the last couple months I’ve had the pleasure of working with Janet Ames, Chief Medical Officer, Brian Farrance, Chief Therapist and Joanne Archer, Chief Nurse as they plan for the medical coverage of the 2015 Canada Winter Games.

Between them, these three have volunteered medical services at over 30 games from the Vancouver Olympics to the Pan American Games in Cuba; from the Commonwealth Games in Victoria to the Nagano Olympics as well as a myriad of Canada Games including Halifax, Grand Prairie, PEI and Saskatoon! Suffice to say, there are some impressive and lengthy resumes for this medical team!

Janet, Brian and Joanne are eager to share with you what they love about volunteering at sports events in the hopes that health care professionals across the north will be inspired to join them in providing medical coverage for the 2015 Games.

As Brian recalls his long list of medical involvement in sports events he notes what a special opportunity the Canada Games are:

“This will be my seventh Canada Games and I consider these games the most fun of all with a great opportunity to learn from more experienced therapists, those with different experiences and to pass on my knowledge to those just starting out.”

Providing medical support at a Game’s event provides a unique and exciting work opportunity for physicians, therapists and nurses. Joanne speaks very highly of her experience providing medical support for Track and Field events at the Commonwealth Games:

“During the actual competition week it was really exciting to be watching and cheering on the various athletes I had come to know and become fond of. Sometimes I’m not sure who was more nervous or excited – them or me. There were a few injuries, especially in the hurdles and I got in the habit of just assuming I would have to run out and help someone from the track, so when they were in the “starting position” I was as well.”

The 2015 Canada Winter Games will offer opportunities to learn and teach, prepare and respond, as well as to witness athletic performances of young Canadians rising to the top of their sport. As Janet notes,

“Along the way I have been privileged to be present at some of the most amazing athletic performances and a number of heartbreaks.  The job of the physician at these events is to be present and resourceful no matter what the issue.”

Whether you have a great deal of experience in sports medicine or are new to sports event coverage, Janet, Brian and Joanne welcome health care professionals across the north to join them on the Medical Team for the 2015 Canada Winter Games .

“We hope you decide to join the team, and for some, start your love of event coverage.”Brian, Janet & Joanne

If you are interested in volunteering and want to stay up-to-date with information please contact:

Physicians: Janet Ames, Chief Medical Officer at 2015ChiefMedicalOfficer@gmail.com

Nurses: Joanne Archer, Chief Nurse at 2015HeadNurse@gmail.com

Physio and athletic therapists: Brian Farrance, Chief Therapist at 2015ChiefTherapist@gmail.com

Julia Stephenson

About Julia Stephenson

Julia is a master’s of public health graduate working with the 2015 Canada Winter Games. She is passionate about upstream health and creating environments that support well-being. Julia grew up in Ontario, but feels at home in B.C., and is embracing the move north with all the opportunities for outdoor activity. She enjoys hiking, camping, canoeing, swimming, and being outside exploring new places.

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