Healthy Living in the North

The relationship between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and lifelong health: a physician’s perspective

You never know how you’ll come across your next great idea. It could be something seen in passing, an article, or words exchanged between friends. In Dr. Christine Brenckmann’s case, the idea to use the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACEs) questionnaire in her own practice came in the form of a social media post by someone attending the ACEs summit in Vancouver last November.

I had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with Dr. Brenckmann in her office to discuss ACEs and her work as a physician.

What made you first interested in family medicine?

My career actually started in public health; I was keen to look at the broader social determinants of health. During my work in the field, I often found myself wondering where I could make a difference the most. That’s how I became interested in family medicine and eventually decided to pursue it. I think of health as a bank account. You have no choice where, or into what circumstances you are born. Some people are born with more in their bank account than others and I think the health care system can help to even out those bank accounts.

What are Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and why do they matter?

ACEs is a term given to describe all types of abuse, neglect, and other traumatic experiences that occur to individuals under the age of 18. A study was conducted that showed the number of ACEs suffered by a person in childhood and teen years is powerfully correlated with negative lifelong health outcomes. It’s also highly correlated with social, educational, and employment outcomes.

mom and kids sitting on mountain So how does the ACEs questionnaire work?

It’s a simple questionnaire consisting of 10 questions. Patients tell their doctor their score and it is recorded similarly to measurements like blood pressure.

Is conducting an ACEs questionnaire helpful?

At first I was skeptical of using the ACEs questionnaire in clinical practice. I was worried that we would re-traumatize patients and not have much to offer them. Fortunately, the opposite has been true. Patients appreciate me asking, as it helps me to understand them better. Sometimes when people talk about their ACEs, they often say, “It’s in the past and doesn’t affect me anymore,” or, “I can’t believe this is still affecting me today.” People sometimes aren’t aware that their early experiences have had such a profound and lasting impact on their lives. Some people are not aware that what happened to them was wrong, undeserved, or not “the norm.” Having a questionnaire also helps patients share information about their past without having to talk about it. Trauma-informed care shifts the thinking from “what’s the matter with you?” to “what happened to you?”

There are now more and more tools being developed to help people with a history of trauma, or who have experienced adverse events in their childhood. In short, the questionnaire is a simple way to gather information about the root causes of a problem. (Note: Dr. Brenckmann pointed out that the ACEs questionnaire is not comprehensive as it does not address war, residential school, or refugees.)

Does a history of adversity impact one’s health?

A traumatic past affects how our brain and body develop. It also affects the habits that we develop and how we cope with stresses in our lives. Studies show that as the ACEs score increases, so does the risk for negative health outcomes. A person with more than seven ACEs is likely to die twenty years earlier than a person with no ACEs, which is quite shocking. Fortunately, with support, there are things we can do to change these habits and change our future.

What can be done for those who have experienced ACEs?

People need to know that the things that happened to them are not their fault. We need to be compassionate rather than judgmental, understanding the “why” rather than just the “what.” We discuss what the person’s goals are moving forward and what support they would like from us or from other community resources.

ACEs are often caused by unhealthy relationships. What does a healthy relationship mean to you?

To me, a healthy relationship means three things: mutual respect, compassion, and safety. If you have these things, the rest will follow. Healthy relationships help protect ACEs from happening, and can help us heal from past traumas.

What’s one message you’d like to share with Healthier You readers?

I’d like to share a saying from one of my community health professors, Dr. Don Langille, which has stuck with me. He once said that it all boils down to how we treat each other. Not a single thing is unaffected by relationships. How do we treat those who are alone and traumatized, or who have experienced unhealthy relationships, or ACEs? It all goes back to respect, compassion, and safety.

More info about ACEs and resources to get help

Nadine Burke Harris: How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime (TEDMED 2014 video)

ComplexTrauma.ca/aces-complex-trauma/ 

AlbertaFamilyWellness.org/what-we-know/aces

Haylee Seiter

About Haylee Seiter

A Northerner since childhood, Haylee has grown up in Prince George and recently completed her Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Northern British Columbia. During university Haylee found her passion for health promotion while volunteering heavily with the Canadian Cancer Society and was also involved with the UNBC JDC West team, bringing home gold as part of the Marketing team in 2016. Joining the communications team as an advisor for population and public health has been a dream come true for her. When she is not dreaming up marketing and communications strategies, she can be found cycling with the Wheelin Warriors or enjoying a glass of wine with friends. (NH Blog Admin)

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IMAGINE Grant: Teeing off on Toboggan Hill

Formed in early 2016, the Fort St. John Disc Sports Club set out with the goal of bringing the game of disc golf to Fort St. John. With the support of City Council, the club was able to install a temporary 9-hole disc golf course on Toboggan Hill in July 2016; temporary to ensure that the community was on board and that the location for the course was the right one.

Since the installation of the temporary course, the club has seen a rapid increase in interest in disc golf. Over the past year, volunteer club members have donated instruction time and equipment to local schools and organizations to introduce community youth to the sport.

What is disc golf? It’s much like regular golf but uses a disc (Frisbee) instead of a golf ball and clubs. Players throw the disc from the tee area towards the target, which is a basket. Each throw begins at the spot where your last disc throw landed. The goal of the game is to get your disc to the target in the least amount of throws, just like regular golf!

There’s a major difference between disc golf and regular golf, however: cost. Access to the disc golf course in Fort St. John is free and equipment costs are very affordable compared to other sports. Club members note that with the economic downturn of the region, offering a low cost activity where people and families are able to get outside and enjoy nature while being physically active is a benefit for everyone. The Disc Sports Club does offer yearly memberships for $20 that are directed towards club events and activities and to support course maintenance. Membership privileges also include a custom-made bag tag, BC Disc Sports insurance, and voting rights for the club meetings.

Another difference between the two sports is accessibility. Disc golf is a low-impact sport that can be played by people of all ages and abilities. One of the club members is able to enjoy the activity from her motorized scooter!

man throwing disc at bucket

Disc golf is a perfect recreational summer sport!

With seed funding support from a Northern Health IMAGINE Community Grant in the fall of 2016, the FSJ Disc Club was able to purchase permanent baskets for the course. Club president Clint Warkentin shared a funny story about the day they installed the permanent baskets this May:

On the day of our basket installation, we were informed that there was a bear in the same park as us! The bear hung around all day, following us from hole to hole as we installed the baskets. Police were always near us, making sure we were safe. We never had any close encounters, but it was always on our mind. True northerners, risking our lives for the sake of the community!”

The City of Fort St. John has been very supportive of the project and will be partnering with the club to complete the course to include tee pads, tee signs, and course signs. Community members are also pleased to see positive activity taking place at Toboggan Hill, an area that neighborhood residents had felt needed some improvements.

Neighbouring communities are also taking part in the excitement that disc golf is creating for the region.

Having a permanent course is really good for the whole Peace Region,” said Warkentin. “There are now courses in Fort St. John, Dawson Creek and Grande Prairie. The partnership between Dawson Creek Disc Golf Club and our club has really been strengthened and we are continuing to work together as partners (and rivals!).”

IMAGINE Community Grants provide funding to community organizations, service agencies, First Nations bands and organizations, schools, municipalities, regional districts, not-for-profits, and other partners with projects that make northern communities healthier. We look for applicants that will support our efforts to prevent chronic disease and injury, and improve overall well-being in our communities. 

Mandy Levesque

About Mandy Levesque

Mandy Levesque is Northern Health’s Lead, Healthy Community Development, Integrated Community Granting. Born and raised in northern Manitoba, Mandy and her family moved to Prince George in 2013. Mandy has a background in public health and health promotion and is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan. She is passionate about innovation and quality, empowering northern populations, and promoting health and wellness across communities. In her spare time, Mandy enjoys spending time with her family and stays active by taking in the exciting activities, trails, and events northern B.C. has to offer.

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The community that plays together, stays together

When I sat down to talk with Jennel Harder, recreation director for the Village of Fraser Lake, the vast number and type of recreation activities available in her community became instantly clear.

As we sat on the shores of Fraser Lake – the beautiful blue sky and lakeside benches making an outdoor meeting simply too tempting – all I had to do was turn my head to see a handful of healthy activities. Outdoor exercise equipment, a new playground, a shed for community canoes, a bandstand, and walkers and runners on a trail along the water’s edge. And then I saw Jennel’s list.

Earlier in the week, I had asked what types of activities exist for children, youth, families, and seniors in her community. And there, in her hand, was a sheet of paper covered front and back with a list of activities unlike any I had ever seen for a community of just under 1,000 residents.

“We have the skateboard park, junior golf team, Men’s Shed, downhill biking, music, ball hockey,” started Harder, as I scrambled to write notes – missing what I’m sure were dozens of other recreation opportunities. “Over the summer we offer four major weeklong camps for kids: Xplore Sports, Xplore Arts, Xplore Science, and Xplore Adventure. We have great Family Day events, a provincially competitive carpet bowling team, hiking trails, a Christmas charity hockey game. And our bluegrass festival, the Festival of the Arts, and the show and shine are all popular events.”

parade with brown mouse and grey cat mascot

This is a community that easily becomes home.

Then came Harder’s confession: “As I started to write these down,” she shared, “I didn’t realize how much we have. No one can say we have an inactive town!”

There’s a simple but powerful statement that Harder constantly thinks about when she and the Village of Fraser Lake support these different recreation opportunities: “The community that plays together, stays together.” With this in mind, Harder supports programs that not only appeal to a wide variety of community members but also looks for activities that families can do together, like the Pumpkin Walk, groomed cross-country ski trails, and craft days for children and their parents. “I want to challenge the compartmentalizing of activities: Susie’s soccer and Jimmy’s pottery and dad’s hockey night. I’m always looking for things that families and community members can do together.”

“Fraser Lake is such a great playground,” shared Harder. “And we like to create and support programs that celebrate that outdoor playground! We have 170 lakes within a 50 km radius of our town. I want to challenge the trend towards screens. Sitting in front of screens takes its toll. More and more, people seem to be pulling straight into their garages and then hiding out in their homes. Having avenues to reach out and connect is what makes communities like Fraser Lake last.”

According to Harder, the Village of Fraser Lake has a dual role here: they both create recreation opportunities and they serve as a hub to let people know what is happening in town.

When exploring new opportunities, Harder is open to trying anything once! “Our programs respond to local needs,” said Harder. “We keep it simple but that lets me be responsive. We had some local seniors ask about adding pickleball lines to our facilities, for example. I looked into the sport, looked at opportunities to partner with community members to offer it, and now we have pickleball nets and lines being set up soon!”

When it comes to being a hub, Harder’s role is to connect with local organizations and make sure that others know about their recreation opportunities. In these cases, the Village of Fraser Lake might advertise the program or event, work with local service providers, provide space, support grant applications, and more. “Anything that helps the program be successful is the Village’s responsibility,” shared Harder. A few examples of this support include karate offered locally by a private instructor, the Fraser Lake Saddle Club and its local gymkhanas, Autumn Services (a seniors’ drop-in centre), and the Fraser Lake indoor playground – a new activity held at the local arena thanks to funding from Northern Health.

As Harder continued to list programs during our conversation – the Outdoor Adventure Klub (OAK), crib night, mud bogs, the splash park, the daffodil tea – she paused for a moment. “The best part of town,” she said, “is the people. These programs wouldn’t exist without the people.” Whether it’s the families who take part in craft days or the local fusion glass artists who volunteer their time to teach a course, Fraser Lake comes together around recreation.

“For me,” said Harder, “a healthy Fraser Lake is a community that is active, involved, and engaged. This can take work, but it’s happening here. I think that we’ve able to achieve this because we keep it simple and have gone back to basics – just getting people together and offering a range of activities. We keep things affordable and accessible here, and that brings neighbours together.”

“This is a community that easily becomes home,” said Harder. “Remember: the community that plays together, stays together.”

Vince Terstappen

About Vince Terstappen

Vince Terstappen is a Project Assistant with the health promotions team at Northern Health. He has an undergraduate and graduate degree in the area of community health and is passionate about upstream population health issues. Born and raised in Calgary, Vince lived, studied, and worked in Saskatoon, Victoria, and Vancouver before moving to Vanderhoof in 2012. When not cooking or baking, he enjoys speedskating, gardening, playing soccer, attending local community events, and Skyping with his old community health classmates who are scattered across the world. Vince works with Northern Health program areas to share healthy living stories and tips through the blog and moderates all comments for the Northern Health Matters blog. (Vince no longer works with Northern Health, we wish him all the best.)

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Presence: the most prized gift of all

December can be a wonderful time of the year. Getting together with family, friends, and coworkers; celebrating with music, food, decorations, and traditions. It seems as though we look forward to it all year.

Standing beside a huge snowbank.

I’m not sure if I could have shoveled all of this on my own!

About nine years ago, in the middle of December, my husband and I first arrived in northern BC. It was an exciting time (-35 degree temperatures aside): moving across the country and starting a new journey, but also one of the more lonely times in my life. I had left behind all family, friends, and familiarity, at quite possibly the worst time of year to do so. What I remember most about those first couple of months is the people who reached out to us, welcomed us into their homes and celebrations, shared meals and laughs with us, and helped us shovel our driveway when the snow was too deep to drive through. I did not yet know that those people would become some of our cherished friends – our chosen family.

However joyful and pleasant the holidays are, they can also be exhausting, stressful, lonely, and financially draining. Strained relationships, distant family, and absent support systems are even more impactful at this time of year.

No matter our perspective, we all have opportunity to be mindful and respectful of our own (and others’) thoughts and feelings about the holidays, and to honour what truly brings us peace and joy.

It’s too easy to get caught up in the fast pace and expectations of the season, when what should matter most is spending time with each other and recognizing those who make our days brighter.

The best memories are not of physical gifts received, but of time spent together with others. Instead of presents, this year give PRESENCE. Here are some ideas:

  • Reach out to that new face in town or at work and introduce yourself.

    Snowman standing beside woman

    Unplugging and heading outside can have some amazing results!

  • Take the time to reconnect with family/friends – call, write a letter, or make plans to meet and take a walk.
  • Volunteer your time – there are endless opportunities in every community to give back with your time, share your skills and your wisdom with an organization and help brighten someone’s day.
  • Unplug: spend quality time with your children/spouse/friends away from screens. Read a book, play board games, visit the library, play outside, or plan an evening walk to look at the festive lights on display.
  • Take time for self-care. Spend quality time doing things you enjoy, things that make you feel good, and tending to your own mental health.
  • Make and share a meal with someone.

What are some ways that you’ve given presence over presents during the holidays? Need some more ideas? Check out this Kindness

Calendar from actionforhappiness.org.

Holly Christian

About Holly Christian

Holly Christian is a Regional Lead for Population Health. She has a passion for healthy living and health promotion and is a foodie at heart. Originally from Ontario, she has fully embraced northern living, but enjoys the warmth of the sun and the sound of the ocean. She swims, bikes and runs, and just completed her first marathon.

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IMAGINE grant: Masset Rollergirls

When you picture Masset, BC, you might imagine a small, seaside community located in some of BC’s most untamed and beautiful coastline. Can you feel the sun peeking through the clouds, and the wind whipping up that salty ocean air? Well, that may be most people’s vision, but thanks to Laura Bishop and her team, there’s a wild, wheelin’ world below the surface of the Haida Gwaii village!

Instructor and students roller skating

Vancouver instructor Chris Neima teaching the fundamentals!

Masset is home to the Masset Rollergirls (MRG), who applied for and were awarded one of Northern Health’s IMAGINE grant funding packages this past year. With the funding, the MRG hosted an Open Skate Program, bringing in Vancouver instructor Chris Neima to teach the fundamentals of rollerdance in two parts; Introduction to Roller Dance and Park Skating. The program paired active living with her team’s passion for rollerdance.

In addition to the four roller dance sessions held in Masset, the MRG amplified their reach by including two sessions in Skidegate and Queen Charlotte, expanding the sport on Haida Gwaii and opening up this fitness opportunity to over 30 youth and adult participants.

To truly appreciate the gravity of this program, one has to understand the challenges that Masset faces. The climate doesn’t allow for an outdoor ice rink, which means the opportunity to ice skate is limited to indoor facilities, which are both costly and require more maintenance. Masset’s remoteness also limits its access to qualified instructors, which is why bringing instructor Chris out was even more special!

Children rollerskating outside

Roller dance gives all kinds of people a chance to grow and improve together!

Roller skating has awesome health benefits. It utilizes multiple large and small muscle groups, reinforces balance and coordination, and can be pursued as either an individual or group fitness activity. Plus, and maybe most importantly, it gives all kinds of people a chance to grow and improve together. People of all shapes, sizes, and abilities participated in this weekend full of inclusion, fun, recreation, physical activity, and learning in a non-competitive setting.

Jam Skating Workshops poster

Lace up and get dancing!

This project didn’t only bring skaters together, the Open Skate gave many community partners a chance to put their heads together as well. The Village of Masset provided the rink space free of charge in the interest of employing the township’s pre-existing infrastructure and giving new life to its community buildings. Other project contributors included George M. Dawson High School, Haida Gwaii Society for Community Peace, Haida Gwaii Regional Recreation Commission, the Village of Queen Charlotte, and the Skidegate Volunteer Fire Department.

With all this forward momentum, it’s very exciting to think about what plans the Masset Rollergirls have for the future. There’s no doubt with the partnerships and people involved, Masset rollerdance will continue to produce more skaters and dancers. Now that’s something to roll with!

IMAGINE Community Grants provide funding to community organizations, service agencies, First Nations bands and organizations, schools, municipalities, regional districts, not-for-profits, and other partners with projects that make northern communities healthier. We look for applicants that will support our efforts to prevent chronic disease and injury, and improve overall well-being in our communities. 

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Holiday donations: how can you best support your local food bank?

On Friday, December 1st, CBC BC is hosting Food Bank Day. As a dietitian, this has me thinking about food charity and what it means for our communities. If you’re donating non-perishable food items this year, Loraina’s helpful blog on healthy food hampers reminds us to consider healthy food options.

In speaking with various food bank employees, I have come to notice a theme: donating money to your local food bank is the most effective way to be sure that nutritious foods are available for families. Here’s why:

  • Food bank staff know exactly which foods are in need.
  • They purchase in bulk and can buy 3-4x more food with each dollar.
  • Food banks are costly to run, so monetary donations also help with operational costs (e.g. building costs such as rent, hydro and heat).
  • Both perishable and non-perishable items can be purchased by staff, which helps to ensure that food bank users have consistent access to a variety of nutritious foods.

Monetary donations help us to buy foods when needed, so that we can have a consistent supply of food throughout the year. Purchasing food ourselves allows us to provide both perishable items (such as eggs, meat and cheese) and non-perishables. That said, we can use, and are happy to receive, any form of donation, whether it be food, money or physical (volunteering).”

(Salvation Army staff member)

How can you help your local food bank?

  • Food Bank BC has an online donation system:
    • Donations above $20 are eligible for a tax receipt.
    • They help food banks across BC, including those in rural and northern communities.
  • If you know your local food bank, you can drop by with a monetary donation.
  • You can visit Food Bank BC to find a food bank near you.

Why are food banks in need?

Northern BC has the highest cost of food in the province, as well as the highest rates of food insecurity:

 Food insecurity exists when an individual or family lacks the financial means to obtain food that is safe, nutritious, and personally acceptable, via socially acceptable means.”

(Provincial Health Services Authority, 2016)

Statistics on food insecurity

  • In northern BC approximately 16% of households (1 in 6) experience some level of food insecurity.
  • Those most deeply affected are single parent households with children, those on social assistance, and many people in the work force.
donations, food drive, charity

Donating money to your local food bank is the most effective way to be sure that nutritious foods are available for families.

How can food banks help?

In Canada, household food insecurity is primarily due to a lack of adequate income to buy food.  While food banks are not a solution to food insecurity, they can help provide short term, immediate access to nutritious food.

This holiday season, if you are thinking about donating to the food bank, consider a monetary donation. This will help support food bank staff in purchasing high quality, nutritious foods to lend immediate support to families during the holidays, and beyond.

On Friday, December 1st, tune in to CBC Food Bank Day and listen to live programs and guest performers, and learn about the issue of food insecurity in our province.

 

Laurel Burton

About Laurel Burton

Laurel works with Northern Health as a population health dietitian, with a focus on food security. She is a big proponent of taking a multi-dimensional approach to health and she is interested in the social determinants of health and how they affect overall well-being, both at the individual and population level. Laurel is a recent graduate of the UBC dietetics program, where she completed her internship with Northern Health. She has experience working with groups across the lifecycle within BC and internationally to support evidence-informed nutrition practice for the aim of optimizing health. When she is not working, Laurel enjoys cooking, hiking and travelling. She is looking forward to exploring more of the North!

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Foodie Friday: Discovering BC Apples

This September, my partner and I visited an apple orchard in the Okanagan. From Honeycrips to Ambrosia, Granny Smith to Gala, we had so much fun sampling, comparing, and discovering all the different local apple varieties!

Fast forward two months, and winter is just arriving in northern BC. It’s the perfect time to enjoy fresh, crisp BC-grown apples from this year’s harvest, which wrapped up not too long ago!

apples BC apples explore BC

So many awesome kinds of apples to try!

Maybe you are searching for that perfectly sweet, crisp apple, or simply looking for a fun activity to do with the kids. Either way, have you considered doing your own apple taste test from the comforts of your own home?  All you need to do is pick out a few different varieties of apples from your local grocery store, and let your taste buds guide you. If you plan on trying this with kids, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Ask kids to describe how the apple looks, feels, smells, sounds, and taste. What colour is the apple? Is it sweet or sour? Soft or crunchy?
  • Encourage them to explore further. Where do apples grow? What are your favourite ways to eat them?
  • Invite kids to taste each apple, if they like, without any pressure. Remember, seeing, touching, exploring, and sharing a snack together are all good learning – even if kids don’t eat a particular food!
  • Consider serving some slices with a peanut butter or yogurt based dip (or try Marianne’s maple peanut butter fruit dip) to amp up the nutrition. Bonus: kids will love dunking their fruit in a yummy dip!

If you’d like to try an apple taste test as part of a classroom-based activity, be sure to check out this “Taste the Difference” lesson plan.

Whether fresh or baked, there are so many delicious ways to enjoy apples this season. I love this cheddar-apple quesadilla recipe because it’s simple enough to make on a busy weeknight, yet fancy enough to impress guests. Kids can help too, by washing apples, grating cheese, and assembling the quesadillas.

Ingredients

  • 1 apple of your choice, thinly sliced
  • 4 whole-wheat flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, or other cheese of your choice
  • 1/2 tsp of dried thyme

    apple quesadilla

    These quesadillas are sure to impress.

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).

  1. Sprinkle half the cheese over one half of tortilla.
  2. Place several apple slices on top of cheese, and sprinkle remaining cheese and dried thyme.
  3. Fold tortilla in half and bake for about 10 minutes or until the cheese melts.

Looking for more recipes featuring apples? Here are two of my favourites from the Northern Health Matters blog:

“As Easy as Pie” Fruit Crisp

Lindsay`s Morning Glory Muffins 

Do you have a favourite apple recipe? Share in the comments below!

Emilia Moulechkova

About Emilia Moulechkova

Originally from the Lower Mainland, Emilia started her career with Northern Health as a dietetic intern in 2013. Since then, she has worked in a variety of roles as a Registered Dietitian with the population health team. In her current role, she supports schools across the north in their efforts to promote healthy eating. Emilia is passionate about food’s role in bringing people and communities together, and all the ways it can support physical, mental, and social health. Her overall philosophy on healthy eating can be summarized by this Ellyn Satter quote: “When the joy goes out of eating, nutrition suffers.” In her spare time, she loves exploring the beautiful northern outdoors by foot, skis, bike, or canoe!

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IMAGINE Community Grants: An opportunity to connect with your community

With the launch of the final cycle of 2017 IMAGINE Community Grants, this time of year has me waiting in anticipation to see what exciting ideas will be submitted, and reflecting on some of my favorites from past cycles.

Don’t get me wrong- all projects selected for grant support are excellent ideas, and we love the work the groups and organizations do to promote healthier communities. The things they can accomplish with just a bit of seed money is truly amazing! However, there are a few that just stick with you because they’re a bit different from the rest.

One such project that comes to my mind when thinking about IMAGINE came to us from Kispiox last fall. In this application, a local youth basketball team asked for supplies to provide weekly visits to Elders in their own homes throughout the winter, where they would chop and stack wood, and shovel their driveways and walkways for them. The youth and their chaperones engaged in physical activity to support the Elders, but the main focus of the project was creating those inter-generational linkages that promote and support social connectedness and positive mental wellness. A true benefit for everyone in the community!

IMAGINE grants believing in our project gave us the confidence to start connecting with our community. It gave our children self-esteem and filled their hearts with how good it feels to give back to the community without expecting anything in return. The feedback and support we received from our community members was unreal. It was the perfect time to share with a boys under 12 basketball team, (it’s) such an important and tender age to have such an experience.” – Serita Pottinger, IMAGINE Grant Applicant

elders, imagine granting

The Elders were very appreciative.

The original application request was to purchase gloves, axes, and snow shovels for the project. To incorporate an injury prevention lens, we proposed that they also purchase safety glasses to protect the youth and the group agreed with the recommendation. Now that they have the supplies, the group plans to continue this work for years to come.

imagine granting, helping elders

These kids sure know how to help!

For me, this project is a great example of prevention in action, and shows how a small amount of grant funding can improve and impact the health of an entire community. The IMAGINE Community Grants is just one of many ways that Northern Health demonstrates how we care for communities and can support others with the same goal.

IMAGINE Community Grants provide funding to community organizations, service agencies, First Nations bands and organizations, schools, municipalities, regional districts, not-for-profits, and other partners with projects that make northern communities healthier. We are looking for applications that will support our efforts to prevent chronic disease and injury, and improve overall well-being in our communities. The deadline for the next cycle of IMAGINE Community Grants is November 30, 2017.

 

Mandy Levesque

About Mandy Levesque

Mandy Levesque is Northern Health’s Lead, Healthy Community Development, Integrated Community Granting. Born and raised in northern Manitoba, Mandy and her family moved to Prince George in 2013. Mandy has a background in public health and health promotion and is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan. She is passionate about innovation and quality, empowering northern populations, and promoting health and wellness across communities. In her spare time, Mandy enjoys spending time with her family and stays active by taking in the exciting activities, trails, and events northern B.C. has to offer.

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Falling is not a “right of passage”; Falls Prevention Awareness Week

I’m approaching my 40th birthday. From where I stand now it seems impossible to me, that as kids we celebrated my parents 40th birthdays with black balloons, a cane, candy jellybean “pill” bottles, and a larger than life sign signifying “Over the Hill”.

Like these 40th birthday traditions, our culture embraces some aspects of aging that don’t make any sense. Take senior’s falls as an example, somehow as a society we accept that the majority of people experience a fall at some point as they age. Did you know that, for all age ranges, falling is a lead cause for injuries requiring hospitalization? No matter what age, we must all remember, falls are preventable!

November 6-12, 2017, marks the Finding Balance BC Falls Prevention Awareness Week. Falling, tripping, or slipping happens now and then to all of us, but falling with risk of serious injury does not have to be a normal part of aging.

seniors, falls prevention

Keeping active now helps prevent future falls.

What can you do?

  • Get up and go.
    • Keep your body moving and active. Focus on strong muscles and good balance. Strength and balance exercises are key to reducing the risk of falling.
  • Have your eyes checked.
    • Visiting an optometrist once a year can reduce your risk of falling.
  • Review your medications.
    • Bring everything you take (both prescription and non-prescription) to your pharmacy or doctor for a review.
  • Make small changes to your home.
    • Simple hazards are sometimes overlooked and often, easily fixed.
    • Install handrails and guardrails where needed.
    • Add lighting in hallways and nightlights in bathrooms and bedrooms.
    • Secure or remove area rugs so they don’t become tripping hazard in your home.
    • Salt and sand walkways in winter months.

With November and my birthday approaching, let’s challenge the social norms -I refuse to blow up a single black balloon! Falling is not a “right of passage”, and making small changes to our lifestyle and surroundings is a smart investment to our health and well-being, no matter what age.

Join Northern Health and participate in the BC Finding Balance Falls Prevention Week. Visit the Finding Balance BC website and talk to your doctor if you have had a slip, trip, or fall in the last year.

Amy Da Costa

About Amy Da Costa

Amy Da Costa has worked in Public Health for 12 years. She recently joined the Population Health team as a part-time Regional Nursing Lead for Injury Prevention. Amy lives in Kitimat with her husband and two children. They like to camp, swim, and cook as a family.

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A dietitian’s take on the sticky topic of Halloween candy

Whether you are carving pumpkins, dressing up in costumes, or taking the kids trick-or-treating, there is fun to be had by all this Halloween season!

As a dietitian, a question I get asked a lot this time of year is, “What do I do with all the Halloween candy my kids brings home?”

Friends, family members, and online sources offer up many strategies for parents to try. However, the emphasis is often on getting kids to eat less candy, so what is supposed to be a fun and positive experience can quickly turn into a battle.

Beth’s blog about Handling Halloween reminds us that Halloween is a great time to practice the Division of Responsibly in Feeding. You as the parent are responsible for offering a variety of foods at regular meal and snack times, while kids decide what and how much they want to eat from the foods you provided.

To build on this, registered dietitian Ellyn Satter suggests using Halloween as a learning opportunity and letting kids manage their own stash. You will need to set few ground rules first, of course!  It could look something like this:

Trick or treat!

  • On Halloween and the next day, let kids eat as much of their candy as they want.
  • Then, put the candy away until meal and snack times.
  • At meal and snack times, let them choose a few pieces of candy.
  • If they follow the rules, they get to manage their own stash. If not, you manage if for them using the same principles.

Hold on. Did a dietitian just say it’s okay to let kids eat as much candy as they want on Halloween?  Yes!  Allow me to explain:

Of course it is likely that kids eat more candy than usual on Halloween, and that’s totally normal. After that, the key is offering candy as part of regular sit-down meals and snacks, while you continue to choose the rest of the food served. This helps kids become competent eaters by helping them learn to:

  • Feel more relaxed about all kinds of foods, including candy.
  • Enjoy candy as part of a normal, healthy eating pattern.
  • Listen to their tummies when deciding how much to eat (studies show that when foods are restricted, kids may eat more of those foods when they get a chance, even when they are not hungry).

So there you have it – a dietitians take on Halloween candy. To learn about ways that you can support a more safe and inclusive Halloween for children with food allergies check out Lindsay’s blog, Foodie Friday: Halloween celebrations – more than just food.

Have a happy and safe Halloween everyone!

Emilia Moulechkova

About Emilia Moulechkova

Originally from the Lower Mainland, Emilia started her career with Northern Health as a dietetic intern in 2013. Since then, she has worked in a variety of roles as a Registered Dietitian with the population health team. In her current role, she supports schools across the north in their efforts to promote healthy eating. Emilia is passionate about food’s role in bringing people and communities together, and all the ways it can support physical, mental, and social health. Her overall philosophy on healthy eating can be summarized by this Ellyn Satter quote: “When the joy goes out of eating, nutrition suffers.” In her spare time, she loves exploring the beautiful northern outdoors by foot, skis, bike, or canoe!

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