Halifax’s Family Magazine ourchildrenmagazine.ca Fall 2022
For the fun of it The importance of fostering a safe and enjoyable environment for competitive sports
Gus the tortoise turns 100
The right foods for active kids
Music for all students
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12 PHOTO: STEVE SMITH/VISIONFIRE
For the fun of it
DEPARTMENTS Editor’s note 7 Sports for all
The importance of fostering a safe and enjoyable environment for competitive sports
8 What to see and do in and around Halifax
Feature 10 And then there’s Gus
Family 15 Advice for young athletes and parents
Nutrition 17 The right foods for young athletes
A Different Rooute 20 How the outdoors and recreation saved our columnist’s life 22 Is your child prepared for the fall routine?
Parenting 24 Making money make sense
Book Reviews 30 I’m Not Very Good At It, Muinji’j Asks Why, I Am Quiet, and Wildflower
PHOTO: BRUCE MURRAY/VISIONFIRE
Health & Wellness
Music for all students Programs join forces to increase accessibility and offer more opportunities
our Halifax’s exclusive parenting magazine
On our cover Nova Scotia provincial under-14 football team players CJ Cain, Blake Phillips and Eli Martin. Photo by Steve Smith/VisionFire Publisher
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This fall, linger longer in West Hants. It's the place to see the best fall colours. The sunflowers are all in bloom at the Dakeyne Sunflower Maze, Mount Denson, and there's kite flying too!
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The Honey Harvest Festival, September 10, is a fun and educational day at the Avon Spirit Ship Yard, Newport Landing. It's also a great place to see the tidal bore!
Account Executives Susan Giffin, Pam Hancock Stephanie Balcom, Connie Cogan
The Trecothic Creek and Windsor Railway, offers miniature train rides, September 11, 25 and October 9. The 257th Hants County Exhibition, Windsor, offers two exciting weekends, September 16-18 and 23-25. North America's oldest Agricultural Fair is inspiring!
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The 8th annual Garlic Fest, moves to Windsor on September 17. You can even try some garlic ice cream!
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On October 1, celebrate all things pumpkin, at the Howard Dill Classic and giant pumpkin weigh-off in Windsor. The fields are a sea of orange and a great time to pick your perfect Halloween pumpkin.
A fall map will be available September 1, at the Visitor Welcome Centre, 312 Gerrish Street, Windsor or on-line. The map will showcase our region’s popular farm markets, u-picks, culinary treats and best fall foliage viewing spots.
Lindsey Bunin, Karen Kerr, Fawn Logan-Young, Melanie Moser, Bruce Murray, Steve Smith, Ameeta Vohra
Oh My Gourd, It's Fall in West Hants!
Check out our farm markets and u-picks throughout the region and don't forget to take home a pumpkin pie.
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Sports for all PHOTO: STUDIO UMLAH
Even kids who are not athletically inclined can benefit
Lori McKay, Editor
Our Children Magazine www
With fall activities starting up again for a new season, now is the perfect time for parents to do what they can to wwwmake sure most sport www
memories are good ones.
f my parents had high hopes for me as an athlete, they were sorely disappointed. I never had a hint of interest in team sports when I was young and probably didn’t even own a pair of sneakers until I was in my teens. But I do remember my first time on skis. I was about seven. I recall the terrifying ride up the T-bar, and then halfway down the hill I became so frustrated from falling that I took off my skis, threw them in the woods and walked the rest of the way down. After a few hot chocolates to calm me, I tried again. This time, I started to catch on. Skiing soon became a regular part of my life. Our family would get season passes every winter and my friends and I would be on the hill every day and night that our schedules, and the weather, would allow. I loved the fresh air, the starry nights. And as it turned out, I had decent coordination for the sport (as in, I no longer fell all the time). As a teenager, a few of my friends played on the high-school soccer team, so I tried out. I was terrible, but because they didn’t have a lot of players, they let me join. At first, the coach was always moving me around the field, saying she hadn’t found the right spot for me just yet. She eventually settled on left forward. I wasn’t fast enough for defence or a centre, but perhaps I had a not-too-bad left kick? I remember after a big spring tournament, where we played on particularly muddy fields, my teammates picked me up after the game and dropped me good-naturedly into a puddle. I had been the only person on the team not covered head-to-toe in mud. My skills never really improved but I always showed up for practice and games, and made some great friends. I have fond memories of those years. When it comes to sports and recreation, it’s all about trying different things and seeing what sticks. When my two kids were small, we put them in a variety of sports. They tried swimming,
martial arts, gymnastics, paddling, basketball, soccer, and everything in between. For my son, hockey was the sport he stayed with, and he played rec league right through to Grade 11. My daughter fell in love with dance and was a member of a competitive team until her Grade 11 year as well. (COVID-19 caused them both to stop a little early.) Sports offered the obvious health benefits, but it also became a big part of their social lives. They made different groups of friends and had opportunities for tournaments and competitions that took them out of town for fun weekends away. As parents, my husband and I met new people as well. The local sports community is a close-knit one. They are the people you run into at nearby restaurants and grocery stores, and who you might need to call on to help with drives. In this issue of Our Children, we take a closer look at the pressures of competitive sports and what parents can do to help keep it enjoyable for kids. Check out Ameeta Vohra’s article “For the fun of it” on page 12. On this same theme, Janet Whitman caught up with sprint kayaker Alexa Irvin to get some advice for parents of competitive athletes (“Advice for young athletes, and parents,” page 15). Also, our nutrition columnist Karen Kerr offers up some great food ideas (“The right food for active kids,” page 17). Fostering a fun and safe environment for kids at all levels of sport is important. With fall activities starting up again for a new season, now is the perfect time for parents to do what they can to make sure most sport memories are good ones. Enjoy!
Lori McKay, Editor
Time to celebrate local art The 2022 Nocturne: Art at Night festival will be held Oct. 13 to 15. The 15th annual event will bring art to life on the streets of Halifax as it showcases the visual arts scene in Mi’kma’ki/ Nova Scotia. Many exhibits are family friendly. The event is free and held at various locations. nocturnehalifax.ca
The Wiggles are coming The Wiggles Big Show Tour will be in Halifax this fall. Anthony, Simon, Tsehay, Lachy and friends will be singing, dancing, playing music and performing one of their biggest concerts yet. Perfect for youngsters of all ages. Check them out at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium on Oct. 3. thewiggles.com/canada2022
Autumn is corn maze season! Visiting a corn maze is a fun way to enjoy the outdoors in the fall, so gather your family or a group of friends and head out to one of the province’s local mazes. Two great options near the city include Noggins Corner Farm Market in Wolfville and Riverbreeze Farm in Truro. Many local destinations also have other fun family-friendly activities, such as pumpkin and apple picking, or haunted houses. nogginsfarm.ca riverbreeze.info
PHOTO: JOSH OULTON
Also coming up this fall…
Our Children | Fall 2022
Noggins Corn Maze
CALLING ALL LOCAL HEROES! Those read in rain or sun heroes, Those proud of where I’m from heroes. Know a young person who fits the bill? Empower them to become a
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Our Children | Fall 2022
And then there’s gus
Halifax’s best-known tortoise turns 100 By Melanie Mosher Photography by Bruce Murray/VisionFire
he parties are over, but it’s not too late to celebrate Gus. Gus is a 100-year-old Gopher Tortoise that lives at the Museum of Natural History. He celebrated his birthday with no less than six parties over three days this past August. Children of all ages took part in the festivities. Parents who saw Gus when they were kids returned with their own children, bridging the gap between generations of explorers. You can meet the iconic reptile at the museum, where he’s been for 70 years. Alex Baker, one of the museum’s staff, is a naturalist interpreter. Readily available to answer questions, Baker also keeps busy hosting daily activities, including animal feedings and solar system tours. “My favourite part of the museum, aside from having the opportunity to work with Gus, is probably the Science on a Sphere gallery,” says Baker. “It’s a remarkable educational tool that we are fortunate to have. It has given me the opportunity to improve my public speaking skills considerably, while also giving me opportunities to learn about subjects I might not have otherwise.” With both permanent and visiting exhibits, there is always something new to discover. The collections include archeology, ethnology, mammals and marine life.
Alex Baker, a naturalist interpreter at the Museum of Natural History, and Gus.
About Gus Gus arrived from Florida in 1942. He was purchased for $5 by Don Crowdis, who was the director of the museum at that time. Back then, it was common practice to purchase artifacts and exhibits for patrons to view. Gus excites new visitors and starts conversations — about animals, conservation, nature and our role as humans amongst it all. Some people come specifically to see the hard-shelled vegan. For others, it’s a lucky coincidence. Gus brings a smile to all who meet him. “I love when we do a ‘full clean’ of his enclosure,” says Baker. “We regularly scoop his terrarium just like you would a cat’s litter box, but we also, occasionally, completely replace all the substrate and add new sand. Afterward, when he is returned to his house, Gus patrols all around it and sniffs the sand so he can become familiar with the scent of his new home. It’s very cute.”
Gus leaves his enclosure for an afternoon walk most days. He happily strolls in the yard, or checks out the galleries when it’s raining.
Daily activities at the museum mean there is never a dull moment. The Science on a Sphere display provides a unique way to view the solar system, airplane traffic and earthquakes. Other displays depict the life of bees and their importance to the food
Generations of family members have visited Gus over the years.
chain. Marine life artifacts and Sable Island exhibits allow you to travel across oceans without ever stepping off land. The Age of the Mastodon display shows giants that once walked the lands of our province are not forgotten and have lessons to teach. The museum offers families a chance to explore the natural wonders of Nova Scotia and beyond. You can hear sounds of the forest, see amazing Mi’kmaq artifacts, watch live demonstrations, let your imagination soar through space, or meander at a leisurely pace, all while learning about our natural and cultural history.
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More about Gus Most days, Gus leaves his enclosure for an afternoon walk, happily strolling in the yard on summer days, or checking out the galleries when it’s raining. “I love watching him dig in the museum’s garden,” says Baker. “He regularly digs in the soft soil for recreation, and he sometimes kicks the dirt back several feet! He is a very efficient digger.” In 2022, the thought of purchasing a wild animal and removing it from its natural habitat is questionable. For Gus, that day in 1942 changed his future, and extended it. He is the oldest known gopher tortoise and the staff are grateful for him. “I am part of a legacy here at the museum,” says Baker. “Lots of people have looked after Gus over the years, and it is truly humbling to meet folks who were walking and looking after Gus long before I was alive!” For Nova Scotians, celebrating Gus’s 100th birthday was a way of honouring him and his great service as an ambassador for learning and caring for wildlife. Happy birthday, Gus. And thank you to him and the Museum of Natural History.
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Our Children | Fall 2022
PHOTO: STEVE SMITH/VISIONFIRE
For the fun of it The importance of fostering a safe and enjoyable environment for competitive sports By Ameeta Vohra
hether it’s on turf, a field, a baseball diamond or in a pool, sport plays an important role in the lives of many children. And although the competition can sometimes be tough, it should ultimately be all about having fun. According to Bryce Fisher, provincial under-14 head football coach, this
sport provides a great avenue to teach skills and intangibles. “Like any sport, football can provide life lessons and skills kids need growing up,” he says. “It fosters an environment of good play and sportsmanship, which can translate into life. It gives them that ability to build
relationships and a good foundation, whether they continue to play or not.” Fisher says a lot has changed since he was a kid playing football, especially from a coaching standpoint and with regards to safety. “There are different techniques now on how to make contact and where
13 your head should be … Concussions are serious, and we teach different techniques than in the past.” Advancements in equipment have also made the sport safer, including significantly improved helmets. He notes that the football officials are there to foster a safe environment for children. If they see something that’s incorrect, their job is to address it. This leads players to improve and fine-tune their skills, either on the sidelines or at practice.
they’re there for,” he says. “Kids need coping mechanisms to get over things, especially at younger and professional levels. Things are going to go wrong. Your ability to bounce back is huge. You can’t let it get to you.”
Sport enhances physical capabilities with basic movements and skills, plus kids who play sports get out more, run around and have a more active lifestyle. They also gain psychological and emotional benefits through the relationships they make. “I’ve seen it firsthand where kids can come in shy, then gradually get more comfortable within that environment and continue to grow,” says Fisher. As a coach, Fisher’s ultimate goal is to make the sport a fun environment for children. He doesn’t like them to feel the weight or pressure of winning. “We want to make sure kids are out there having fun. That’s what
PHOTO: STEVE SMITH/VISIONFIRE
Kids gain psychological and emotional benefits from the relationships they make through sports.
Children who play sports learn about fair play, how to be a part of a team and leadership skills.
says MacPherson. “But also, on the flip side, how to be respectful when they win, because you can’t win all the time. There’s a courteous way to win. It teaches children they need to work hard to accomplish things in life and push themselves and do the best they can, and it’s good to celebrate.”
PHOTO: UNSPLASH/BRIAN MATANGELO
The added benefits of sport
Sport Nova Scotia encourages children to participate in sports because of the health benefits and the long-term skills and qualities they gain. “Sport is a great way for children to be active and burn off energy,” says Janessa MacPherson, manager of regional sport development. “We know that children who participate in sport learn a lot about fair play, how to be a part of a team, leadership skills and how to work with others. “It also builds confidence in their physical abilities, and we know that skills from sports help children later in their professional life. They work hard to be part of a team to win, but they also learn what it’s like to lose and work hard.” Physically, children get aerobic fitness, muscular strength, endurance and flexibility when they compete in sports. All this helps to lower disease risks later in life. “Sport helps kids learn how to deal with the disappointment of losing,”
PHOTO: UNSPLASH/BAYLEE GRAMLING
For the health of it
Our Children | Fall 2022
RESOURCES Open communication between parents and children is essential for sports. Here are a few websites to check out for information and advice. 1. Sport Nova Scotia’s website is a resource to find information about sports, opportunities and news. sportnovascotia.ca 2. Active For Life helps parents raise physically literate children. activeforlife.com 3. The national organization Sport for Life has created a pathway for long-term development in sport and physical activity. sportforlife.ca
PHOTO: STEVE SMITH/VISIONFIRE
Physically, children get aerobic fitness, muscular strength, endurance and flexibility when they compete in sports. All this helps to lower disease risks later in life.
If parents see signs that the pressure of competitive sport is bothering their child, MacPherson encourages them to seek help. “Health care professionals are a safe space to talk about what they’re feeling,” she says. Ultimately, MacPherson believes parents are key to fostering a fun environment. “A child may not always win a medal, but have they broken their record? Have they done something they’ve never done before? Have they built a skill they didn’t have? It’s about celebrating the improvements in skill development and kids finding their strengths. The winning is great, but it’s the hard work we should be celebrating.”
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advice for young athletes, and parents Sprint kayaker Alexa Irvin says if you make sports enjoyable, kids will stay involved By Janet Whitman Photography by Bruce Murray/VisionFire
lexa Irvin was just as nervous at the start line for her very first kayak race at age 12 as she was lining up for the Tokyo Olympic trials. She was no stranger to competition as a kid. She started track when she was seven, swimming at eight and kayaking the summer she turned 12. “I think it’s important for kids to know that. It’s always the same,” the now-30-year-old competitive kayaker says of her race jitters. “Sometimes when you’re an athlete that young, you end up putting a little more pressure on yourself early on that you wouldn’t necessarily have otherwise.” Parents, guardians and coaches can help, she says. “Yes, kids care about the results, but, ultimately, if you make it about having fun, that’s the best way to keep them involved.” In that first kayak race, her main goal was just not to tip and stay straight in the skinny sprint boat so she could cross the finish line. Her parents, both avid paddlers who grew up in Halifax and Dartmouth, got Irvin and her younger sister into kayaking. The nearest paddling club to their home in Kentville was Pisiquid Canoe Club in Windsor. “It was a pretty typical canoe club,” says Irvin. “You’d get dropped off in the morning, do your different workouts … from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day for the whole summer,” she says. “I was working hard but also having a ton of fun. I remember the paddling, but I also remember the dock wars and the swimming and all of that. It was a really fun way to spend my summers.” The summer she turned 15, she was ready to shift to highperformance paddling and compete at a national level. “I had very supportive coaches who encouraged me to join a bigger club in the city,” she says. “My aunt and uncle live very close to Maskwa Aquatic Club in Halifax on Kearney Lake. I was able to spend summers with them.” The camaraderie at the club helped Irvin get over the sadness of giving up swimming to focus on paddling.
Alexa Irvin says the most important thing for children when choosing a sport is to find the one that makes them happiest.
“It was a tough couple of years to pick between the sports, but the club atmosphere, and being so welcomed at Maskwa right away — I had a similar experience when I started in Windsor — helped,” she says. “It’s a club and a family first and a competition environment second.” She narrowly missed out on a chance to join Team Canada at last year’s Tokyo Summer Olympics. “It was
COVER STORY winner-take-all and my crew was second, so unfortunately, I did not make the Olympic team,” Irvin says. The experience motivated her to go back to her paddling roots. “I knew I didn’t want to finish my paddling career on not making the team, so I decided to train with my squad at Maskwa again and help the younger kids come up through the sport,” she says. “That’s probably been my favourite part of paddling over the past five years.” Irvin says it’s important to set small goals each day. “I remember the first year I was paddling, there was this one racing boat with gold sparkles,” she says. “I made this goal of getting to race in it. When I first got in, I didn’t get off the dock, I just tipped right away. By end of the first week, I could take about 10 strokes, by the end of the second week I could get up the lake. By the end of the summer, I’m pretty sure I raced in that boat.” Irvin, who’s completing a masters in epidemiology at Dalhousie University and plans to do a PhD, says she always puts the most pressure on herself. “Over the years, my parents were very good at taking a step back and letting my coaches coach,” she says. “I remember years where I’d be so nervous, I would miss strokes in the middle of a race just because I was overthinking things.”
Our Children | Fall 2022
Those are times when it’s good to have the support of a club. “No matter what, good race or bad race, if you go back to the tent at a regatta and everyone is smiling and telling you, ‘Good race,’ even if you didn’t think it was that good, it’s probably going to turn it around for you,” says Irvin. “Having that really positive environment helps and is really important for keeping kids motivated.” As far as figuring out what sport is a good fit, Irvin tried almost everything. “When I was in Grade 6, I made it my goal to try out for every single sports team,” she says. “Maybe that’s a bit unrealistic. I definitely did not make most of them. I had never played basketball, but I tried out.” The most important thing for children choosing a sport is to find the one that makes them happiest, she says. “Even if you’re really, really naturally talented at a sport, if you don’t like doing it, what’s the point?”
Quick Facts: Alexa Irvin • Made the Canadian canoe-kayak national team for the first time in 2009 • Represented Team Nova Scotia at the 2009 Canada Summer Games, winning two gold medals • Won two gold medals in the K4 500m at the Pan American Games in 2011 and 2019 • Competed at the Junior World Championships in 2009 and the U23 world championships in 2013, 2014 and 2015 • Won silver in the K2 1000m and K4 1000m at the 2018 Pan American Games
Alexa Irvin on teaching “To help teach kids how to kayak, I make sure to start with the basics, such as how to safely tip and swim to a dock, which helps build their confidence in and around the water. I make sure to keep the focus on individual development, and not make it too competitive too quickly! Of course, racing is part of the sport, but I think it’s important for kids to want to race because it’s fun, not necessarily because they need to win.”
Alexa Irvin trains at Maskwa Aquatic Club on Kearney Lake in Halifax.
Our Children | Fall 2022
The right foods for active kids Kids and sports go together like peanut butter and jam
By Karen Kerr, registered holistic nutritional consultant
SOME PRACTICAL TIPS FOR GAME DAY: 1. Hydrate, and unless kids are competing in a vigorous cardio sport like soccer, water is the best option. Sugarladen sports drinks aren’t necessary. 2. For sustained energy, give kids a nutrient-dense meal two hours before the game, with healthy protein, fats and fibre. 3. After playing, offer snacks that are light and easy to digest. I like veggies and hummus as a quick post game snack.
ost children love active play, and sports of any kind are a fantastic tool for growth and development. They learn so many life skills while challenging their little bodies to perform. Plus, it’s the perfect opportunity for parents to teach them about nutrition. I’m not talking about a regimented way of eating; more of a time to encourage open curiosity and connection to their own bodies. I spoke with local photographer and coach Lyndsay Doyle, who wrote Strong and Free (a book about Canadian women in sport) in 2020, and currently has two boys in sports. She reiterates that it’s “important for us to teach our kids to listen to their bodies.” I love how she acknowledges that it’s a tough balance being part of a team and looking after yourself. Teaching kids to honour themselves is key to long term success and happiness. Ask them questions like, “How did you feel when you played your game?” or “Did you have enough energy?” Gentle nudges
allow them to connect the dots of what they ate right before or after to how they feel. That gives them the knowledge and confidence to choose wisely for themselves in the future. It should always be the goal in parenting to create a safe space for learning and gaining skills children will need long after they leave home. So, it’s important that as they get older they gain more responsibility and ownership around food. Obviously, younger children need us to offer the healthy options, but as your child grows get them more involved in meal planning and game-day preparation. Get them to pack the snacks and fill their own water bottle. Kids can place a lot of pressure on themselves to perform. Healthy competition is great, but watch to see if your child is becoming obsessed over food. Unfortunately, there is a strong link between sports and disorder-eating behaviours such as anorexia and bulimia, with higher rates in “judged” sports as opposed to “refereed” ones. It’s something to look out for. Having a positive body image should be the goal. Kids’ growing bodies need nutrient-dense foods for proper development. Restrictive eating can have long term effects and set them down a lifelong battle of yo-yo dieting. I see it all the time. That’s why having a relaxed and intuitive way of eating is best. It’s not eating for how you look, it’s for how you feel.
Our Children | Fall 2022
Easy recipes your family will love Grab-and-go snacks for young athletes and busy kids
ere are two easy make-ahead recipes that kids can grab and go. I use mason jars for the portability, and you can customize the toppings to the kids’ preferences. Both are great sources of protein and full of fibre. Make a big batch on
Sunday night and you can have snacks for the week. I use almond milk, but any milk or milk substitute will do. If you choose skim, add some healthy fat with yogurt for a creamy result.
Overnight Chia Pudding PHOTO: BIGSTOCK/YULIADESIGN
Morning Oats INGREDIENTS Old-fashioned oats (not steel cut or quick) Milk (almond milk or milk substitute will also work) Greek yogurt (plain) Various toppings
INGREDIENTS Chia seeds Milk (almond milk or milk substitute will also work) Honey or maple syrup Your choice of flavours INSTRUCTIONS The base recipe uses 1 tbsp of chia seeds to ¼ cup of milk. It’s important to stir well and then let it set for a few minutes, then stir again to avoid lumps. Add either honey or maple syrup to sweeten and refrigerate overnight. FLAVOUR OPTIONS Blueberry crumble: Add fresh or frozen blueberries with granola. Strawberry cheesecake: Add 1 tbsp of cream cheese to base recipe and stir well. Add fresh or frozen strawberries and layer with crushed graham crackers.
INSTRUCTIONS The base recipe uses 1-part oats to 1-part milk and ¼ cup Greek yogurt. Stir all ingredients in a bowl, then choose your flavour and refrigerate overnight. FLAVOUR OPTIONS Apple pie: Layer chopped apples, pecans, maple syrup and cinnamon with the base oats recipe. PB&J: Layer your favourite jam and peanut butter (or nut alternative if taking to a school event) with the base oats recipe. Chocolate banana: Add 1 tbsp of cocoa per 1 cup of basic recipe with 1 tbsp of maple syrup or honey. Layer with chopped bananas.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 1 Halifax Central Library Readings for Kids! 9:30am Lawrence Hill (ages 9–13) 9:30am Briana Corr Scott (infants–3) 10:15am Lauren Soloy (ages 4–8) Workshop for Young Writers 10:30am–noon with Chad Lucas (ages 10–14) YA Graphic Novels Panel 1pm–2:15pm featuring Lynette Richards and Patrick Allaby, hosted by Mollie Cronin
DIMANCHE 2 OCTOBRE Bibliothèque centrale de Halifax Présentations pour les jeunes!
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A DIFFERENT ROOUTE
Our Children | Fall 2022
How the outdoors and recreation saved my life Columnist recalls nature and sports helping her through difficult times
By Fawn Logan-Young Illustrations by Briana Corr Scott
hat headline might be a little dramatic, but it’s true. The outdoors, in combination with recreation and sports, truly saved me time after time. Let’s go back to some of my first memories, when I was around five. I was living in downtown Toronto but had my own piece of paradise in my backyard. I called it Kid Zone. My father used the front half of the yard for his garden, while the back half was — to my young mind — like a jungle. Looking back now, it was just a jumble of blackberries and overgrown bushes. I would spend hours digging, finding interesting items like animal bones and old spoons in the dirt. I would try and mimic my father’s garden with dandelions and anything else lush I could get my muddy hands on. I would climb my favourite tree because it had perfect step-like branches. I collected pieces of wood from around the neighbourhood and installed it onto the branches so I could get higher and higher. I would spend hours up there eating blackberries. My mother would get mad at me because she would find trailing berry shoe prints from the back door straight to the culprit: me.
When I got a bit older, our family dynamic changed. My parents divorced and my father experienced addiction. This led to my mom, brother and I moving to her home province of Nova Scotia when I was 11. Before the move, during the family conflict that was happening around me, I spent all my time in Kid Zone. When everything was unfolding inside the house, I was outside. I was creating a new world. I turned Kid Zone into my imaginative “dream home.” In warm weather, I had a sink made from a plastic-wrapped hole in the ground. I would have the house special, blackberries, for a snack and do my homework. In the winter, I had a similar set-up, but with snow and wearing a lot more layers. If it wasn’t for being able to escape the madness by going to Kid Zone, I don’t know who I’d have become. Fast forward to junior high and high school in rural Nova Scotia. I tried almost every recreational activity I possibly could. I played flute in the band. I joined planning committees. I tried table tennis, track and field, soccer and volleyball. Basketball appealed to me the most.
21 It was during my basketball years that my community came into play. It truly does take a village to raise a child. The amount of financial and attentive support I received from coaches and parents blows my mind when I reflect on it as an adult. I don’t know if I would have graduated high school if it wasn’t for basketball. It motivated me to get out of bed and to keep my grades up so I could keep playing. In high school, we had tournaments almost every weekend. This meant hotels, dinners and travel. During this time, I was working two jobs and my mother could only pitch in so much. Anything basketball-related, like shoes and fees, I was paying on my own. Even then, I could not afford the weekend tournaments. Although I’ve never confirmed it, I’m pretty sure my basketball coach used to pay for my hotel fees out of his own pocket. I remember him sliding me a $20 once, right before we sat down to have a team dinner at a nicer restaurant, versus our usual fast-food runs. I cannot explain the relief I felt, knowing full well I had $15 in my account to get me through the weekend. In high school I had a runaway spot, which offered me the same solace as Kid Zone. It was the Gibraltar Rock Loop, a beautiful 3-km hiking loop, with a 1-km steep incline near Meaghers Grant. I would sit at the top peak and read, write, take photos and sometimes, just cry. Not only was this my spot as a youth, but I still go there today. I’ve hiked this loop hundreds of times. One fall, after moving home from Montreal, and recovering from a breakup, I vowed I would run or hike the loop every day to get over my blues. I did, and it helped. This trail is the place I go to ground myself. It’s where I reflect on who I was and who I have become. Considering the instability in my early life, this is the place I truly call home. Recreation and taking time outside will always remain on my agenda. There is always time to smell the flowers or slip in a 10-minute run (or whatever gets your blood flowing). Although I appreciate the benefit to my physical health, it’s the mental health benefits that have kept me going.
PARENTING HEALTH & WELLNESS
Our Children | Fall 2022
Is your child prepared for the fall routine? Dealing with back-to-school anxiety By Ameeta Vohra
he end of summer marks a new beginning for children, but it can also cause anxiety, as many kids struggle with a change in their daily schedule. “Even when everything’s very positive with school, we expect there will be some level of anxiety,” says Dr. Alexa Bagnell, chief of psychiatry at the IWK Health Centre. “Often, it’s structure, school expectations, schoolwork and the social, peer dynamics and involvement that happens with school.” Parents can see signs in several ways, including a child asking more questions than normal. In this case, a child will be seeking
reassurance by expressing worrying thoughts about what might happen when they go back to school or start at a new school. They often wonder and worry if they will make friends. “Headaches and stomach aches may also indicate they’re worrying more,” says Bagnell. “As well as changes in sleep pattern. It’s hard in the summer because everyone’s sleeping is a little off, but it’s something to watch for. And take note if they are not eating as well or are more irritable or emotional than usual.” There are several ways parents can help ease their child’s worries. Bagnell suggests parents acknowledge and validate their
“Even planning the first day of school to go with a friend will make a difference for anxious kids.” – Dr. Alexa Bagnell
emotions. Tell their children it’s normal to feel this way and work with them to see what will make them feel comfortable returning to school. “Don’t ignore it, but also don’t build it up,” she says. “There are ways parents can help and it’s important to tell children that this is something everyone goes through to varying degrees.” Another way parents can make a difference is by getting their kids ready for the change in routine a few weeks before the school term starts. That means getting sleep patterns back on track. “That way they’re not starting the first day of school tired,” she says. “Being tired leads to anxiety, and they won’t cope as well.” If anxiety is from starting at a new school and not knowing what to expect, Bagnell suggests parents contact the school and see if a visit can be arranged before classes start. This is especially beneficial for children moving from elementary to junior high.
Here are a few online resources to help with back-to-school concerns: • Anxiety Canada is a great, free online resource and includes an article on coping with back-toschool anxiety. anxietycanada.com • Kids Help Phone also has some online resources geared toward back to school, including a checklist of how to get ready for back-to-school. kidshelpphone.ca
“Some schools will do a tour so students will know what to expect when they go to the new school, so it’s not a total surprise what it looks like,” she says, noting it helps for them to know where the classrooms are and the bus route, if that applies. It’s also a good idea to walk and practise the travel route. Staying in contact and connecting with classmates and friends over the summer can make the back-to-school transition more manageable. It enables children to maintain their friendships and builds enthusiasm that there are connections to look forward to in the fall. “Even planning the first day of school to go with a friend will make a difference for anxious kids,” she says. “It’s also good for schools to have a heads up from parents if a child is nervous and brand new to the school and student body.” Since those first few weeks are a big transition, parents should watch their child’s anxiety levels. If they refuse to attend school, are avoiding friends, and won’t get out of bed, it might be signs that parents should seek help. “Talk to your family doctor and reach out for mental health support to make sure things get on the right track. Some basic strategies can make a big difference.” Ultimately, Bagnell says parents and children should look to the positive and joyful aspects of returning to school, such as seeing their friends and their favourite school activities.
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Our Children | Fall 2022
Making dollars make sense Why money matters for your kids By Lindsey Bunin
Times have changed
ith the price of most things on the rise, money is top of mind for many Nova Scotian families. While it can be a sensitive subject, opening the money conversation in your home can be beneficial for every member of the household. According to Brenda Kenney of JA Nova Scotia (an organization offering financial literacy, workplace readiness and entrepreneurship programming in local schools and online) some families don’t address finances the way they should. “Many parents don’t talk to their kids about the financial situation the family’s in,” says Kenney. “They either don’t want to or don’t have the knowledge to pass on that kind of information. It’s getting harder to not live paycheque to paycheque with the cost of fuel and groceries, and obviously housing is a huge factor as well.” The JA Nova Scotia courses cover topics suitable for grades 3 to 12, and in the past year has had 11,506 students participate in school-based programs and 54 students independently complete the program through an online portal. The Dollars with Sense program, for example, makes learning fun for high school students by using games and multimedia. Students learn about budgeting, money management, credit management, saving, investing and financial goal setting. “I think it’s critical for our kids to be prepared,” says Kenney, who has been with the organization 30 years. “Our society wants instant gratification, so wanting to save for the future while also enjoying today is an important skill to learn.”
PHOTO: BIGSTOCK/ BLACK SALMON
Allison Findlay is a mom with two adult children. When her kids were young, she tried to instill the value of a dollar, much like her own parents had done with her. “As a child, my first lessons were more about making do with what we had,” she says of her experience growing up in the 1970s and ’80s. “You would borrow things from friends versus buying something, you would stretch your food as far as you could, and you bought things only when on sale.” As her kids grew, they earned an allowance for age-appropriate chores and got part-time jobs as soon as they were able. In addition to earning, saving was just as paramount in the Findlay household. They used the 50, 25, 15 and 10-per-cent rule. Fifty per cent was for them to use as they liked, but they had to budget for things using that money. “Like if they wanted sneakers that cost more than I was going to pay, a new video game, a trip, car insurance or gas money… things like that,” she explains. “Twenty-five per cent went to their education fund, 15 per cent was to contribute toward gifts for family and friends, and 10 per cent was for charity.” The challenge with allowance, Findlay notes, was making sure the kids understood some chores were their contribution to the family and household, while other chores were things they would get paid for, then applying that logic to real life as they got older. “We also tried to show them why a budget is important, like having them do a grocery order for $20 with a list I gave them and trying to get it all for the money they had.” While $20 certainly wouldn’t go very far at the grocery store today, a similar challenge would still teach children a valuable lesson. Findlay’s daughter, Kayla, recalls being less than thrilled with her parents’ saving rules at the time but is grateful for the knowledge now. “When I was in school, they didn’t talk about money,” she says. “All of my money knowledge came from learning at home… Now as an adult, and having a true understanding of money, I wish I’d saved more as a kid. If I knew then what I know now I would not have been annoyed about saving.”
FROM TECH SAV V Y TO MONEY SMART Digital resources to teach your kids about personal finance Unlike the days when we parents counted our pennies (remember those?) in our piggy banks, today’s kids have many tech-centric options for helping them learn about money. • Mydoh is a money management app and Smart Cash Card that helps kids make their own earning and spending decisions. mydoh.ca • JA of Canada’s digital campus allows students to lead themselves through a variety of financial literacy courses. The platform is free and open to anyone. JAcampus.org • The ChoreCheck app lets parents manage a family digital wallet, assign chores, reward desired behaviours and automatically distribute allowance. mazoola.co
Our Children | Fall 2022
o celebrate National Colouring Book Day on August 2, Our Children partnered with Nimbus Publishing to launch a Colour Me colouring contest for children ages 4 to 12. A colouring page was available on our website to download and copies were available at our office on Gottingen Street. Using #OCcolourMe or by emailing us, parents submitted their kids’ creations for a chance to win a $15 gift card for Nimbus Publishing to pick out their own book! Our new Instagram account @ourchildrenmag displayed several entries over the contest period. Follow us for contests and more!
4 to 6 gory: e t a c Age , Age 6 Cecily
Age c atego ry: 7 to 9 Harle y, Ag e8
10 to 12 Age category: Rose, Age 11
Harvest Greets the Holidays October 28-30
HALIFAX EXHIBITION CENTRE For more information, contact Lisa: email@example.com 902.464.7258 ext.1803
If you think handmade and homespun are the key ingredients for a magical holiday season, then you won't want to miss Saltscapes Expo this fall. Festive farm-to-table inspiration, crafters and artisan retailers will inspire holiday gift giving and entertaining over three jam-packed days. Keeping your money where your heart is has never been easier! Meet the makers and business owners face-to-face, all while enjoying great East Coast music, sampling delicious food and drink and more.
SPECIAL DISCOUNT COUPON
per couple or $1.50 off adult admission This coupon entitles YOU to save $1.50 off EACH ticket purchased at the door. This coupon must be presented at the door to receive the discount (one coupon/couple; cannot be combined with any other offer).
Our Children | Fall 2022
Music for all students
Anna Plaskett and her daughter Elsa at the new Music Therapy Centre at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts in Halifax.
Programs join forces to increase accessibility and offer more opportunities By Lindsey Bunin Photography by Bruce Murray/VisionFire
nna Plaskett and Sibylle Marquard sing the same tune when it comes to their passion for music, education and its accessibility in the community. Plaskett has been a music therapist for 18 years and has been sharing her passion for music and education through her private practice, Heartsparks Music Therapy. This fall, she and her team will join the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts in Halifax. “We know music does so much positive and brings out the wellness in people, but folks with disabilities may not have had the same access,” says Plaskett, who is the new music therapy department head. “We’re hoping that having more diversity come through the doors of the building will open opportunities for all involved.” The Music Therapy Centre will work with people with physical and developmental disabilities and provide outreach for youth centres, seniors homes and other organizations.
As dean of music, Marquard couldn’t be happier about what this collaboration represents. “It’s a marriage made in heaven,” says Marquard. “We are making sure the Conservatory is serving the whole community, all demographics. Our programs are not only for gifted musicians and those studying to make music a career path. It’s really the missing link to making this a much more inclusive environment.” Music therapists work with parents to develop goals for the sessions. Programming is tailored to the students’ abilities and interests, and can be adapted to factors such as sensory environment. “I had a student with cerebral palsy who has limited movement and is non-verbal,” says Plaskett. “He loved to strum my guitar, so I’d adapt the songs and adjust the tempo so he could strum along and leave space for him to vocalize. We’d have a beautiful experience together.”
Two quality, well-priced, children’s books by New World Publishing for ages 7-10; grades 2-5, based on real events & popular historic places, both authored by NS public school teachers, and illustrated by Nova Scotia Art graduates . . . both books are family affairs. ‘TOGO’ to the Rescue! by Laura King; illustrator - Hannah Aubrecht. ISBN 9781989564219 8” x 10”, 36 pages - $13.95. Sensitive story of the Halifax Explosion about the resucue of a young boy, Ernie, by TOGO, a real working grocery-delivery horse and his driver, Uncle Arthur... based on real events and real people ... and on stories handed down within the family of the writer and illustrator - a mother - daughter team, both teachers. Night at the Gardens by teacher Nicole DeLory; illustrator Janet Soley, a sister team. ISBN 9781895814826 - 7.5” x 7.5”- 32 pages $10.95 Story is based on the concept of the popular film,“Night at the Museum” and two chapters in the iconic best-seller, Three Centuries of Public Art on the Halifax Public Gardens statuary by Barbara DeLory, which ‘‘come alive” when the Gardens’ gates are closed at night. Toby, the iconic dog from the nearby Sacred Heart school, joins the now-mobile statues for a night of fun, when suddenly they are interrupted by the flight of the Jaun Swans from the Gardens with the mischievious Victorian nymphs riding on board. Includes maps of the Public Gardens and adjacentVictoria Park!
ArtWorks is an all-ages art studio in Halifax, offering classes, camps, parties and workshops. artworkshalifax.com
Stories of Community Available in local fine bookstores or contact:
NEWWORLD PUBLISHING: 902-576-2055 - www. newworldpublishing. com
The Lonely Little Lighthouse
One Summer in Whitney Pier
Words by Lana Shupe Art by Marla Lesage
Words by Theresa Meuse Art by Jessica Jerome Indigenous Knowledge Series
Words by The Honourable Mayann Francis Art by Tamara Thiebaux-Heikalo
AVAILAB LE THR O UG H B OO KS E LLE RS E V E RY WH E RE !
Our Children | Fall 2022
By Trevor J. Adams
S’ ENT PAR ICK P
I’m Not Very Good At It By Darrel Gregory Illustrated by Ari Miller Friesen Press Ages 4 to 7 Most kids go through a perfectionist stage, where they want and expect to excel at everything they do and become discouraged and frustrated when reality’s limitations intervene. With tenderness and insight, author Darrel Gregory draws on his real-world experiences with his granddaughter to share a story of “mindfulness, self-confidence and positivity.” It’s about one little girl’s gentle journey to overcome self-doubt and learn that sometimes the attempt is more important than the outcome.
Muinji’j Asks Why
I Am Quiet
Told by Muinji’j and Shanika MacEachern Illustrated by Zeta Paul Nimbus Publishing Ages 5 to 8
By Andie Powers Illustrated by Betsy Petersen Bala Kids Ages 4 to 7
Written and illustrated by Brianna Corr Scott Nimbus Publishing Ages 5 to 8
As long-overdue discussions about reconciliation continue, kids are more aware than ever of the systemic racism in this country. What’s far harder for them to understand is why that cruelty ever took root in the first place. Mi’kmaw woman Shanika MacEachern and her young daughter Muinji’j form a unique storytelling duo, breaking down the colonization process that began with the first European settlers and led directly to the horrors of the Shubenacadie Residential School.
When the world sees an introverted child, they think they see shyness and timidity, but behind Emile’s placid eyes is a universe of whimsy and imagination. This warm story is a wry look at the difference between shy and quiet, but more importantly, offers reassurance to introverted readers, who have no doubt already received a great deal of unwanted and unnecessary feedback about how they should be more “outgoing.” Artist Betsy Petersen’s playful illustrations nicely depict the protagonist’s vibrant inner life.
An accomplished artist and writer, Brianna Corr Scott was the perfect choice to offer a new interpretation of the beloved Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “Thumbelina.” The story is about an old woman whose wish for a child is granted, in the form of a tiny girl born inside a flower. Her poetry is hauntingly lyrical, her illustrations ethereal and dreamlike. As with all good fairy tales, things get rather dark and moody before the conclusion, so sensitive younger readers may require some reassurance as the story progresses. An aesthetic delight, this one will become a family classic.
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