Healthy Living in the North

A picture-perfect partnership: Prince George photographer donates photographs to reconnect long-term care residents with their community

Two female Gateway Lodge residents in motorized wheelchairs are in a hallway. They are admiring a picture hanging on the wall. The picture has a rusted bridge in the foreground and a river, trees, and sky in the background.

Gateway Lodge residents Ilse and Diana can admire photographs of places they know thanks to a partnership with local photographer Anna Michele McCue. Photo courtesy of Anna Michele McCue.

They say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Lynn AuCoin hopes the pictures hanging in Gateway Lodge bring more than words – even a thousand of them. She hopes each image helps residents reconnect with their community.

“We’ve been trying to make our facilities more home-like,” says Lynn, the Recreation Therapist Supervisor for Gateway Lodge’s complex care and Rainbow Lodge in Prince George. “Our residents enter a new stage in their lives. Suddenly, they’re getting regular care and help in a new place. We want to see our hallways filled with things that residents can relate to and talk about. Whether that’s milking the cow, riding the tractor, or enjoying the sunset or local places.”

In a beige hallway, a picture of a long haired, black and brown dachshund in a wagon hangs above a chair.

This image of a dog in a wagon is a favourite among Gateway Lodge residents. Photo courtesy of Anna Michele McCue.

Lynn is a member of a Prince George Facebook group that shares good news and local photography. In February 2019, she was scrolling through it and several stunning photos caught her eye. Lynn noticed they were all by a photographer named Anna Michele McCue, who goes by Michele. Lynn reached out to Michele right away.

“We didn’t have a big budget for this, so I was hoping we could work something out,” says Lynn. “Michele got back to me right away. She loved the idea of connecting residents with their communities. She offered her pictures at no cost!”

Thanks to Michele’s generosity, nine pictures are now hanging throughout Gateway Lodge.

A picture of a Prince George street in the fall hangs on a wall. The street is centred and continues for several blocks. It is covered in yellow leaves. On either side of the street there are tall trees with yellow leaves that have yet to fall, and houses.

Another example of a picture by Anna Michele McCue that is hanging in Gateway Lodge. Photo courtesy of Anna Michele McCue.

“I’m so pleased that my photography is bringing joy to people,” says Michele. “Seniors, who have contributed so much, are an important part of our community. It means the world to help remind them of how they lived, what they accomplished, and what they enjoyed.”

Michele isn’t the only one who’s pleased. These trips down memory lane are getting rave reviews from Gateway residents as well.

“They add beauty and colour to our empty walls,” says Margaret, a resident of Gateway Lodge. “We all enjoy finding out the location of where a photo was taken.”

Lynn notes that other Northern Health long-term care facilities may see local photography on their walls in the future.

Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Communications Specialist, Content Development and Engagement at Northern Health, and has been with the organization since 2013. He grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, sports, reading, movies, and generally nerding out. He loves the slower pace of life and lack of traffic in the North.

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Growing our own: From high school to health care in the South Peace

A woman and two young males sit behind a table at the Northern Health booth at the South Peace Secondary School career fair. A C.P.R.-simulation dummy is on the table along with Northern Health pens and star-shaped stress balls.

Grade 10 students Scott Cournoyer and Ben Powell learn about health care careers from Emaly Klomp, Dawson Creek & District Hospital Emergency Room Manager, at the annual South Peace Secondary School Career Fair.

In Dawson Creek, Northern Health (NH) staff are partnering with South Peace Senior Secondary (SPSS) to make sure young people, who are planning for the next phase in their lives, are considering careers in health care.

“We want high school-age kids to know that a career with Northern Health can be an easy answer to the difficult question: what will I be when I grow up?” says Kendra Kiss, South Peace Health Services Administrator. “Health care offers well-paying jobs, excellent benefits, and the opportunity to make an impact at the personal and community level – all in a person’s home community.”

For the last two years, Dawson Creek & District Hospital (DCDH) has given SPSS’s students the chance to gain work experience hours. Up to eight grade 11 and 12 students have rotated through different departments of the hospital, getting a taste of different roles. After high school, the NH-SPSS partnership continues to impact former students and the health care system.

“At least three students from the program have gone into medical programs and are coming back to work as employed students over the summer,” says Kendra. “Seeing students who were wide-eyed high schoolers, trying to find their way in the world come back with purpose is inspiring. As a hospital, we see great benefits, as do the students who gain real-world experience and grow professionally and personally.”

Along with bringing students to the hospital, staff are engaging SPSS students at their school. On March 14, Kendra and Emaly Klomp, DCDH’s Emergency Department Manager, joined other local employers at the school’s annual career fair. Students from Dawson Creek, Chetwynd, and Tumbler Ridge had the opportunity to ask questions about health care careers. NH’s booth (pictured) featured the “CPR for 2 Minutes” contest. Only one student was able to make a full minute, but everyone had a great time trying.

If you have questions about working at Northern Health, including about local partnerships like the one above, please contact NH’s Recruitment department:

Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Communications Specialist, Content Development and Engagement at Northern Health, and has been with the organization since 2013. He grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, sports, reading, movies, and generally nerding out. He loves the slower pace of life and lack of traffic in the North.

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Celebrating our values in action: Northern Health’s staff-award winners

Northern Health (NH) strives to make its values – empathy, respect, collaboration, and innovation – the core of our way of being at work, and the basis for every interaction with our patients, residents, clients, and their families, as well as with each other. On April 3, 2019, NH celebrated individuals and teams that live these values every day, with the 3rd Annual Dr. Charles Jago Awards. Named after NH’s last Board Chair, “the Jagos” award one staff member, physician, or team for each value, and recognize many nominations along the way.

“Every year, I’m honoured to present these awards and inspired by the stories of staff living our values,” says Cathy Ulrich, NH’s President and CEO. “Health care environments are often challenging. The Jago Award nominees and winners demonstrate how to bring your best self to work despite these challenges. To see Jago Award nominations from across all levels and regions of the organization speaks to the dedication and commitment of Northern Health’s staff and physicians. I hope NH staff, physicians, and community members will join me in congratulating the 2019 winners.”

The 2019 Jago Award winners are:

Empathy: Jennifer Haas – Manager, Specialized Mental Health & Addiction Services (Terrace)

A plaque award presentation.

Cathy Ulrich, NH President and CEO (left) and Colleen Nyce, NH Board Chair (right) present the Jago Award for Empathy to Jennifer Haas.

“The clients we work with at the Intensive Case Management Team are individuals who face complex challenges, such as: housing, poverty, barriers to accessing health and social services, and have problematic or chronic substance use. These people are some of the most marginalized in our community, yet Jen has consistently shown that people with an addiction are human beings who, with the right support, can make a contribution to society. For example, when Jen begins work in the morning, it is not uncommon to see people sleeping on our ramp or in the backyard with a tent set up. Rather than tell them to ‘move along,’ she provides them with a welcoming space inside the building and invites them in for a cup of tea. With each interaction, she is able to authentically listen and relate.” – Jessica Gaus, Social Program Officer/Support Worker, Intensive Case Management Team

Respect: Theresa Healy – Lead, Capacity Development & Education, Indigenous Health (retired) (Prince George)

A plaque presentation.

Cathy Ulrich, NH President and CEO (left) and Colleen Nyce, NH Board Chair (right) present the Jago Award for Respect to Theresa Healy.

“Theresa has been a dedicated and thoughtful employee of Northern Health for ten years. Broadly speaking, Theresa’s work has been with communities to address social determinants of health and improve the well-being of residents in the North. For the past year and a half, Theresa has worked with the Indigenous Health team developing a training curriculum aimed at fostering cultural safety within Northern Health, and the health system at large. Through this work, Theresa consistently demonstrates and lives Northern Health’s value of respect.” – Victoria Carter, Lead, Engagement and Integration, Indigenous Health

Collaboration: Dr. Anthon Meyer (Stuart Lake & Fort St. James)

A plaque award presentation.

Cathy Ulrich, NH President and CEO (left) and Colleen Nyce, NH Board Chair (right) present the Jago Award for Collaboration to Dr. Anthon Myer.

“Since he began work in the community of Fort St. James, Dr. Meyer has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to improving health care in the rural and remote communities we serve. Every day, his passion, vision, and expertise draw excitement and guide processes that build partnerships and improve the health outcomes to a level the community has never experienced. The foundation of his leadership is built on strong values that encompass empathy, respect, collaboration, and innovation. As the Medical Director, he leads by example and fosters these values in the group of physicians, inter-professional teams, and administrative staff that he works with. He has built partnerships with First Nations leaders that are based on honesty and respect and, as a result, the care model honours cultural diversity and focuses on improving health care inequities for our First Nations people. Dr. Meyer has dedicated his career to working in Northern, rural, and under-served communities, and, through partnerships, has drastically changed health outcomes for these communities.” – Kathy Marchal, Physician Connectivity, Private Physician Office

Innovation: Gene Saldana, Nuclear Medicine Technologist (Fort St. John)

A plaque award presentation.

Cathy Ulrich, NH President and CEO (left) and Colleen Nyce, NH Board Chair (right) present the Jago Award for Innovation to Gene Saldana.

“Gene began working at Northern Health in September 2018. Within the first few weeks, he quickly recognized opportunities for improvement in processes, which would ultimately lead to an increase in patients he could see in a given day, while, at the same time, decreasing the amount of supplies the organization utilizes for these services. Gene’s ability to embrace the Northern Health values comes naturally, and he continues to be a value-added member of the team.” – Allison Smook, Business Analyst, Business Support

Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees!

Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Communications Specialist, Content Development and Engagement at Northern Health, and has been with the organization since 2013. He grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, sports, reading, movies, and generally nerding out. He loves the slower pace of life and lack of traffic in the North.

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Our People: Shelley Bondy

“I feel like I have a purpose here.” Find out what makes Prince Rupert so special for Shelley Bondy (Manager, Perioperative Services and Registered Nurse).

Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Communications Specialist, Content Development and Engagement at Northern Health, and has been with the organization since 2013. He grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, sports, reading, movies, and generally nerding out. He loves the slower pace of life and lack of traffic in the North.

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IMAGINE grant: CHAAPS Summer Camps

Two horses with riders in riding arena.

The Cariboo Hoofbeats Assisted Activity Program Society (CHAAPS) gives people living with mental and physical disabilities the chance to interact with horses, providing participants with all sorts of health benefits!

If the bond between rider and horse is understood anywhere in northern B.C., Quesnel is certainly a top candidate. Host of the Quesnel Rodeo – one of the largest annual rodeos in Western Canada – the town is also home to events by the Cariboo Hoofbeats Assisted Activity Program Society (CHAAPS), a group that highlights the same relationship you’d see at the rodeo, but with slightly less fanfare and a very different purpose. CHAAPS gives people living with mental and physical disabilities the chance to interact with horses, providing participants with:

  • Physical and mental exercise and stimulation in a safe and secure environment
  • Education and hands-on experience handling an animal
  • Emotional well-being

It also offers the bond mentioned above. “The companionship of animals decreases loneliness and stimulates conversation,” said Angela Mezzatesta, program director with CHAAPS, “By encouraging touch and giving program participants a responsive animal to work with, interaction with them motivates physical reactions that are very necessary and important in humans. Many times, animals give attention to a person who otherwise might not receive as much. They stimulate exercise, encourage laughter, and facilitate social contact. These benefits add up to an improved sense of well-being.”

Two girls grooming a horse with support from adult.

CHAAPS is making a difference in the community! What types of initiatives support healthy communities where you live?

A recipient of a 2014 IMAGINE grant, CHAAPS operates on a shoestring budget, providing a series of summer camps as well as daily riding sessions to its participants. Regardless of budget, the program is clearly making a difference in the community, one person at a time. “The program helped an 8 year old girl develop patience, build empathy and awareness, and care for others,” said Angela, “Her mother says she’s seen her daughter grow from coming to CHAAPS, telling us:

She sits – this is hard for her – on this horse and is in control of this big thing. It’s living so she can feel it breathing. She has to concentrate her attention – which is very short – and she does this when she is riding. We haven’t been able to get her to do this in other settings. This improves her focusing ability, which is one of our goals. By coming here, she’s learned to be gentle and take care of animals, not scare them. Attending the program has helped her to settle down and be more mindful of living creatures and this is now transferring to others who are around her.

Woman in wheelchair petting a horse.

CHAAPS has been making a difference through therapeutic riding programs in Quesnel since 2008.

Helping people in Quesnel since 2008, CHAAPS is a certified member of the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association (CanTRA), a registered charity that promotes challenge, achievement, and empowerment for children and adults with disabilities through the use of horses. CanTRA also provides education and instructor certification and offers accreditation to therapeutic riding centres. Additionally, CHAAPS is a member of the BC Therapeutic Riding Association (BCTRA) and the Horse Council of BC (HCBC).


About the IMAGINE Grants

Northern Health’s IMAGINE Grants fund health promotion projects by community partners, including northern groups/organizations and schools or districts, to support the health and wellness of northerners where they live, work, learn, and play. Ideas for projects are inspired and guided by Northern Health’s Position Statements. We’re happy to introduce an ongoing series of blog posts that will highlight past recipients of IMAGINE Grants and share their great work with you!

Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Communications Specialist, Content Development and Engagement at Northern Health, and has been with the organization since 2013. He grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, sports, reading, movies, and generally nerding out. He loves the slower pace of life and lack of traffic in the North.

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Eating 9 to 5 Challenge: And the winner is…

Ross, who won a Vitamix Blender with the Eating 9 to 5 Challenge is pictured.

Congrats to Ross, who won a Vitamix Blender with the Eating 9 to 5 Challenge!

This March was National Nutrition Month and its theme was Eating 9 to 5, which focused on people’s eating habits at the office/work site and their time-strapped schedules around the work day. In support of National Nutrition Month, Northern Health held the Eating 9 to 5 Challenge, which brought four weeks of challenges to northerners who completed tasks for entries into weekly team draws, as well as an individual draw for a Vitamix blender! We truly believe that everyone who took part and experienced a positive change to their eating habits as a result of the Challenge is a winner! Based on the amazing entries that were submitted, a lot of people received a ton of great tips for eating healthier before, during, and after work, and put those tips into action! Before we announce who won prizes, we want to thank everyone who took part and wish everyone good, healthy eats (and drinks) during your 9 to 5, and beyond!

After a brief delay, we’re happy to announce that the grand prize winner of the Eating 9 to 5 Challenge is Ross Knudson! Ross took part in the challenge on his own, literally naming his team “Ross Solo” … which is close to the moniker he uses when fighting the Empire. Ross won a Vitamix blender. Congrats, Ross!

We’d also like to congratulate The Northern Healthy Eaters, who took home our Week 1 prize of four Dietitians of Canada cookbooks; Anita, who entered as an individual, winning the Week 2 draw for four Thermos lunch bags; The District Divas, winners of Week 3’s four travel mugs; and, lastly, team We Love Our Pharmacy, who won two fruit/veggie trays for their next meeting!

Throughout all four weeks, we received fantastic entries that showed how serious people were about eating healthy in the workplace, but it was the Creative Challenges that put the biggest smiles on our faces! Here are a few random highlights:

The text "Make Lunch Fun"  surrounds a pencil crayon drawing of several pieces of fruit.

The Crazy Cantaloupes sent in this lovely piece of artwork, which, ironically, does not feature a cantaloupe.

A cupcake and a doughnut say "Eat us! We are so delicious!" to which team The Steamed Veggies respond, "No thanks, meeting snacks! I will just have my apple! I'm good!"

We know cupcakes and doughnuts are unhealthy, but, according to The Steamed Veggies, they’re actually evil! Stick to those apples!

And, without a doubt, the most adorable creative entry goes to The OR Health Freaks who put one of their kids to the test with this food quiz:

Thanks again to everyone who entered the Eating 9 to 5 Challenge! Feel free to let us know if any of the tips or challenges helped you make positive changes to your eating habits in the comments below.

Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Communications Specialist, Content Development and Engagement at Northern Health, and has been with the organization since 2013. He grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, sports, reading, movies, and generally nerding out. He loves the slower pace of life and lack of traffic in the North.

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Eating 9 to 5: Highlights, Week 1 winners, and taking on lunch during Week 2!

We had some great entries into Week 1 of the Eating 9 to 5 Challenge! In total, 29 team and individual entries made it into the first draw, with the Northern Healthy Eaters taking home the first week’s prize of 4 Dietitians of Canada cookbooks! We’ll get to some Week 1 highlights in just a sec, but first, if you haven’t downloaded the Week 2: Lunch Challenge Sheet, get on it! We want to hear about your leftovers, your soups and sandwiches, and whatever else you and/or your team bring to the office every day as a midday meal, as well as how you make that meal healthy! To enter the draw for the Week 2 prize of 4 Thermos lunch bags, you need to have your sheet submitted by March 15, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. Remember, you can still enter to win the individual grand prize draw for the Vitamix blender by completing all four Challenge Sheets.

So, how did Week 1 go (SPOILER ALERT: the answer is awesome!)? Check out some of the highlights below!

From our Breakfast Recipe Challenge:

A banana is cut to look like a dolphin.

This might not be the quickest meal for during the week, but it’ll definitely entertain the kids!

If you’ve ever wondered how to turn a banana into a dolphin (and who hasn’t?!?), then here’s how you make this masterpiece:

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup granola
  • ½ cup vanilla yogurt

Instructions

“Cut 2 inches off the stem end of the banana, leaving the skin and stem on, cutting at an angle so that the end you have cut off sits on the plate like a dolphin’s head coming out of the water. Cut the very end of the stem off leaving the rest for the dolphin’s nose, and cut it from the end towards the base of the stem to make the dolphin’s mouth. Insert a large blueberry into the cut opening. Peel the rest of the banana and slice off just a bit of the outside of the curve so that the banana will sit firmly on the plate, and then cut a angled groove along the length of the banana to make a channel for the yogurt to be added. Add enough yogurt to overfill the groove. Add blueberries on top of the yogurt running the length of the groove. Pile the remaining yogurt on the side of the plate and sprinkle the rest of the blueberries around the plate and on the pile of remaining yogurt. Then sprinkle ½ of the granola over the blueberries and yogurt. Sprinkle the remaining granola around the plate for garnish! The kids will love this delicious and nutritious breakfast, and so will the kid in you!!!” Thanks to team As Healthy As Reasonably Achievable (AHARA) for that!

The tips from our Did You Know… Challenge about saving time in the mornings were pretty unanimous: get your breakfast, lunch, and even clothing choices ready the night before to make for a smooth morning!

In the Creative Challenge, we got a ton of great poems, drawings, and more. Here are a couple examples:

Poems:

An Ode to Muffins

Muffins muffins muffins,

Who doesn’t love muffins

Whole grain’er, no brainer!

Flax, fill to the max!

Pumpkin chai, oh my!

Berries and Seeds, yes please!!

 

Breakfast For a Good Day

Wholewheat bread and farm-fresh eggs,

Oranges and apples too.

Oatmeal, yogurt and bananas,

Are all good for you.

Don’t eat too much,

Don’t eat too late.

Control your portions,

With a smaller plate.

A protein portion in your food,

Will help to fuel a cheery mood.

A nutritious breakfast is the way,

To lift your spirits for the day!

Drawings

A drawing of an orange titled "Le Orange."

“Le Orange”

A great drawing of a dragon fruit!

A great drawing of a dragon fruit!

Another stellar drawing of dragon fruit.

Another stellar drawing of dragon fruit.

...and yet another dynamite dragon fruit!

…and yet another dynamite dragon fruit!

And more…

Breakfast: OJ (like the juice), X (as in eggs), and toast (with a glass) - get it? So clever!

Breakfast: OJ (like the juice), X (as in eggs), and toast (with a glass) – get it? So clever!

Four women have smeared peanut butter under their eyes like war paint.

The Peanut Butter Warriors are ready for battle (yes, that’s peanut butter under their eyes)!

Thanks to all the teams who took part in Week 1! We can’t wait to see what you do for Week 2!

Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Communications Specialist, Content Development and Engagement at Northern Health, and has been with the organization since 2013. He grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, sports, reading, movies, and generally nerding out. He loves the slower pace of life and lack of traffic in the North.

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Leaving a legacy: the Nordic Ski Initiative

Cross-country skiers going down a hill.

The IMAGINE: Legacy Grants are one of many ways that Northern Health worked to create a healthy legacy for the 2015 Canada Winter Games in northern B.C. New skis for the Nordic Ski Initiative in Dawson Creek means healthier, more active kids in the school district!

When the 2015 Canada Winter Games came to Prince George, they brought a symphony of action to the city – the cheers from fans watching hockey in Kin 1, the hustle and bustle of added traffic on Highway 97, athletes and their parents from across the nation wandering the streets of downtown, and, of course, the celebration of competition in Canada. But what will happen as this two week chorus fades with the Games’ closing ceremony on March 1? How will the Games be remembered and what will their legacy be – not only in Prince George, but throughout all of northern B.C.?

To ensure that the legacy is a healthy one that embodies the spirit of physical activity that the Games represent, Northern Health created the IMAGINE: Legacy Grants stream in 2014, which funded 89 projects for a total of nearly $280,000. Northern Health’s IMAGINE Grants have a long tradition of funding health promotion projects led by community partners including northern groups, organizations, schools, and districts, that support the health and wellness of northerners where they live, work, learn, and play. Ideas for projects are inspired and guided by Northern Health’s position statements addressing modifiable risk factors.

One such community partner is School District 59’s Brad Booker. Brad lives in Dawson Creek and has one of the world’s coolest jobs. He’s the vice principal – outdoor and experiential education, which means he gets paid to ensure children are engaged in outdoor activity and physical activity. In other words, Brad makes being healthy fun! Brad, who began cross-country skiing as a hobby five years ago, started the Nordic Ski Initiative – a program that allows teachers to sign out cross-country ski equipment for use by their class for one week intervals – to combat inactivity in youth. When speaking with Brad, his passion for cross-country skiing, the outdoors, and his work becomes clear; however, his enthusiasm is tempered when discussing the current state of children’s health. “It’s not looking good for young people,” said Brad. “If we can pull kids away from screens for just a little while every day, we’re helping.”

Brad said that he started the Nordic Ski Initiative to help fill the demand in the community: “Cross-country skiing is part of the culture in the southeast Peace. We have a great nordic ski club with lots of families and lots of groomed tracks around town. A lot of them are in public parks that are attached to schools, so it’s easy for kids to ski during school time.” With School District 59 owning its own track setter, there is an abundance of cross-country tracks near or on school grounds where teachers can take their classes.

Cross-country skiers in an open field with a blue sky.

It’s easy to see how “nature comes alive for kids” when they’re skiing! With the support of the IMAGINE: Legacy Grants program, the Nordic Ski Initiative will keep promoting sport and physical activity long after the 2015 Canada Winter Games have gone!

Despite cross-country skiing’s place in the community, the cost of quality equipment means that it is not readily available to everyone. Recalling why he did not take up the sport at an earlier age, Brad blames the equipment, “I tried it as a kid, but my equipment was no good and I didn’t enjoy it.” Through the IMAGINE: Legacy Grants, Northern Health has helped fund Brad’s “ski library,” providing $3,000 towards the Nordic Ski Initiative’s purchase of new equipment. “Ski equipment doesn’t become dated quickly,” said Brad of the legacy that this program and funding provide, “The equipment lasts a generation. A single pair of skis might see 30-plus kids, helping them find a new passion and a new sport. The great thing about cross-country skiing is that you can do it at any age – kids to 70- and 80-year-olds. It can be a lifelong sport.”

Greeted with enthusiasm by students, teachers, and the community, the program’s biggest hurdle is people’s attitudes towards winter. “I think a lot of people prefer to not go out in the winter time,” said Brad. “Getting kids excited at an early age is critical [in overcoming this perception]. Instilling in kids that winter is not a cold, desolate time is important. It’s also when nature comes alive for kids,” he continued, building his case. “Looking at tracks, appreciating nature – you are connected with what’s around you; it’s something peaceful.” Brad walks the pro-winter walk, too. His involvement with the program goes beyond managing its inventory as he accompanies students during their first lesson to teach them the skills they’ll need to stay safe while still having fun on the track.

Along with the physical activity that kids are getting through the Nordic Ski Initiative, Brad and his colleagues at School District 59 have noticed a change their behaviour. “The big impact that I see, and that I hear about from teachers, is that kids have gotten rid of energy. But more than that, they’ve calmed down. That’s having a positive impact on their schooling.”

Improved health, better grades, and a new, active hobby for life – these are the types of positive changes that defined the purpose of the IMAGINE: Legacy Grants when Northern Health first planned them. Seeing the impact of this project, and the others like it, ensures that the Canada Winter Games will reach beyond their time and space in Prince George, leaving a healthy legacy that the north can be proud of for generations to come.


This article was first published in A Healthier You, a joint publication of Northern Health and the Prince George Citizen.

Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Communications Specialist, Content Development and Engagement at Northern Health, and has been with the organization since 2013. He grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, sports, reading, movies, and generally nerding out. He loves the slower pace of life and lack of traffic in the North.

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Super Bowl Sunday: If you bring it, they will eat

Cupcakes topped with chocolate footballs

The Super Bowl tends to be all about excess so this Sunday, try something new! Instead of football-themed cupcakes and chicken wings, try a football-themed fruit tray and chicken skewers! And remember to plan ahead for a safe ride home!

I have to admit that when it comes to the Super Bowl, I can’t help but watch with mixed emotions. The thing is that as someone who listens to off-season podcasts and follows the draft; someone who reads pre-season reports and monitors every game, every Sunday; and someone who is as serious about his fantasy team as Jerry Jones is about his Cowboys, I can’t help but have respect for the Super Bowl’s history within the game while, at the same time, hating the spectacle that revolves around the big game.

Unlike a regular season game, or even a pre-Super Bowl playoff game, Super Bowl Sunday is an exaggeration of the NFL experience – it is to a regular game what Vegas is to a regular city. There are more viewers – last year’s Broncos/Seahawks matchup garnered 111.5 million viewers in 185 countries in 30 different languages; there’s more media coverage – basically two weeks leading up to the game; and, of course, there’s the star-studded halftime show (this year featuring Katy Perry… roar). Unfortunately, the theme of exaggeration isn’t limited to the game itself, extending to our food and alcohol consumption.

In fact, viewers who watched last year’s Super Bowl consumed more calories during the Super Bowl weekend than they did during “any other time of the year, including Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.” Let’s stop to think about that for a sec. Consider what you ate this holiday season – the treats that started pouring into your office in early December, the baking at friends’ houses when you were out visiting, the mountain of food you called your turkey dinner. Now pack that into one weekend! Ron Burgundy might say he “isn’t even mad, that’s amazing”, but your arteries are definitely singing a different tune! If you’re thinking that can’t add up, chew on this: it’s estimated that Americans ate 1.23 billion wings, 11.2 million pounds of potato chips, and ordered over four million pizzas from Dominos, Pizza Hut, and Papa John’s during the 2013 game!

Because the Super Bowl is a social event, there’s also a party aspect to it and that comes with increased alcohol consumption for many viewers. In America, 51.7 million cases of beer will be consumed this Sunday, which means even more calories and an increase in drunk drivers on the road. Make sure you aren’t one of them and plan for safe ride if you are having some drinks.

Yes, most of these stats are based on American viewers and they’d be significantly lower for Canadians, but the point remains: if you are going to a Super Bowl party, you’re probably eating poorly and your chances of drinking are higher, resulting in a ton of calories over the course of one football game. So, what can you do to make Super Bowl Sunday a healthier one? All you have to do is replace one thing that you love with a different thing that you love that happens to be healthier. For instance, instead of chicken wings, make chicken skewers; instead of nachos and cheese, make taco chips and hummus; and instead of bringing a meat and cheese tray to your friend’s place, bring a veggie tray.

If you’re worried about being that person who doesn’t bring something delicious, consider the Field of Dreams theory of food thought: if you bring it, they will eat it! Plus, making something is almost always cheaper, healthier, and far more appreciated. With all of that in mind, I’ll leave you with two predictions for the game:

  1. You’ll have a healthier Super Bowl if you try to, and
  2. The Seahawks repeat with a 24-20 victory over the stinkin’ Patriots.

Have a healthy game-day recipe you want to share? What about your own scoreboard prediction? Let me know in the comments below!

Have a safe and healthy Super Bowl!

Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Communications Specialist, Content Development and Engagement at Northern Health, and has been with the organization since 2013. He grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, sports, reading, movies, and generally nerding out. He loves the slower pace of life and lack of traffic in the North.

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Spirit the Caribou: training montage

Yesterday, we introduced the newest member of the Northern Health family – Spirit! Today, you can see the rigorous training he’s gone through to prepare to bring health messaging to northern B.C.’s youth:

Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Communications Specialist, Content Development and Engagement at Northern Health, and has been with the organization since 2013. He grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, sports, reading, movies, and generally nerding out. He loves the slower pace of life and lack of traffic in the North.

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