Healthy Living in the North

Gear up for winter

Winter forest

Where do you most like to gear up for the winter? Tell us on our Facebook Page for yuor chance to win a ski/winter sport helmet!

Have you set any goals for the New Year yet? How about starting the year off with making a commitment to wearing a helmet while engaging in your favourite winter sports and activities?

According to Parachute Canada, everyone should be gearing up; using the right gear for the sport. It’s estimated that approximately 35 per cent of all skiing and snowboarding head injuries could be prevented by simply wearing a helmet! Especially at risk are youth aged 10-19. This age group has the highest number of preventable injuries related to skiing and snowboarding.

Living in northern B.C., we have ample opportunity to ski, snowboard, ice skate, toboggan and snowmobile right in our own backyards. We are so fortunate to know the joy and exhilaration of playing in a winter wonderland. To stay in the game and on the slope, we need to do our part to keep active and prevent serious winter sport injuries!

So, where can you start? Get motivated and involved – commit to wearing the gear. Tell us where you’ll be wearing your gear this winter and you could win!

From January 14th to the 28th, we’re running a Facebook contest where you can post your favourite winter activity spots in northern B.C. (photos welcome!) for a chance to win a ski/winter sport helmet! The deadline is 2 p.m. on January 28th, full contest details available on our Facebook Page.

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be sharing all sorts of winter sport safety tips and information. Stay up to date by checking out the Northern Health Facebook & Twitter page.

Watch our awesome Gear Up For Winter video to get yourself ready for some safe winter fun.

Want more convincing facts about helmet safety? Check out Parachute Canada’s video below!

Alandra Kirschner

About Alandra Kirschner

Originally from Abbotsford, Alandra moved to northern B.C. in 2012 to pursue schooling to become a Registered Nurse. A 4th year UNBC student (BS, Nursing), Alandra is passionate about her field, especially acute care and mental health/addictions. In her free time, you’ll find her practicing yoga, watching movies, camping, and travelling.


Do you want to build a snowman?

Two snowmen

With all of the rolling, lifting, and moving around in the snow that is required, building a snowman is a great way to stay active! How will you keeping moving this winter?

If you have children or have watched television in the past year, chances are you have heard this song. The song from Disney’s hit movie Frozen has been very popular with both children and adults and is quite a catchy tune. Listening to it recently made me think of how fortunate we are to have an abundance of activities at our doorstep to enjoy during the winter months.

Choosing to be more physically active and decreasing our sedentary behaviours is definitely beneficial for our bodies, as an active lifestyle can help to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. Being active also enhances our mental health and well-being, which can be really helpful during this season when days are shorter and darker. Aim to choose activities that you enjoy – if you like it, you’re more likely to do it!

Some examples of winter activities to experience in northern B.C.:

  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Walking
  • Tobogganing
  • Snowboarding
  • Ice fishing
  • Alpine skiing
  • Skating
  • Building a snowman

Whatever winter activities you choose to take part in, ensure that you stay safe to prevent injury. Wear a helmet when skating or skiing, wear ice-grippers when walking, and wear reflective clothing if you are outside in the morning or after dark. Choose activities that are fun and that you enjoy. Don’t forget to bring along your family and friends to join you on a road to better health!

This article was originally published in A Healthier You magazine. The newest issue of our healthy living magazine is now available online!


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.


The long-term toll of concussions

Andrea downhill skiing

Andrea Cochrane competes in downhill skiing – an activity that would result in several concussions and long-term health effects.

After learning about the Falls Across The Ages contest and concussion prevention week, I couldn’t help but think of my friend Laurie Cochrane, a fellow nurse, audiology technician, and retired Northern Health employee after 38 years of service.

Last year, Laurie shared with me her powerful and tragic story of how she lost her beautiful and athletic daughter, Andrea Cochrane. In her teens, Andrea was a downhill ski racer who suffered three concussions in eight months and two more as an adult during her working year as a geophysicist. Although a diagnosis of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) could not be confirmed due to the poor integrity of the brain tissue received for research, Laurie had no doubt that her daughter’s concussions had altered her brain over time and led to symptoms resulting in the very sad and untimely death of her daughter in 2011.

Laurie’s story had a profound impact on me and I’ve learned a lot from her about the importance of taking sports falls and concussions very seriously. Laurie is a remarkable and passionate woman and I thank her for finding the strength to share her story and knowledge with me. Laurie was kind enough to answer some questions regarding concussion awareness.

What message do you have for people dealing with concussion injuries or for parents of children with concussion injuries?

The single most important thing I would like to convey about concussion injuries to parents, the person suffering the concussion, coaches, medical caregivers – everyone – is that concussions MUST be taken seriously. We know so much more now than we did even five years ago and it is vital that we inform ourselves and others about the potential for long-term effects of concussions. It is important to know that the term “concussion” does not mean what it used to mean to us years ago, when it was thought the effects were short-term and returning to the activity soon after was not a problem.  This is simply no longer the case and returning too soon creates the very real probability of another head injury. I wish with all my heart that we knew then (when my daughter suffered her concussions ski racing) what we know now. She may still be alive today.

What does “just a bump on the head” mean to you today?

 The statement “just a bump on the head” has such a different meaning to me now than it did even only a few years ago.  The knowledge that has been gained by dedicated research around the area of concussion tells us that you don’t even have to show signs of concussion to have suffered one! That is really something we need to pay attention to and use it as a huge red flag in our growing awareness around head injuries.

Is there anything else you would like to share with people about concussion prevention awareness?

Like most things, the more you inform yourself, the better you can protect and take care of yourself. If you are an athlete, be smart about concussions. As a parent or a coach, learn about the implications of concussions and the potential seriousness. Concussions affect the brain inside our skull – you can’t see the injury so obviously! Pay attention to head injuries as it could allow you to be active for many years to come, and indeed, even save your life.

To learn more about Andrea, please visit the Sports Legacy Institute.

For more information on concussion awareness and prevention, visit Northern Health’s concussion awareness and prevention page.


Sarah Brown

About Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown was born in Zambia, Africa and has lived and worked in many small rural communities across Canada. Prince George has been home for the past 20 years with her husband, two children, cat and dog. Sarah is a graduate of UNBC and a Public Health Nurse Practice Development Leader. She has many interests in the field of preventive public health. Sarah love’s being outdoors (even in the snow!) and is often out hiking, appreciating the beautiful trees, birds and blue skies of the north. Sarah is passionate about learning, reading, gardening & watercolor painting!