Our Children Summer 2019

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Halifax’s Family Magazine ourchildrenmagazine.ca

Summer 2019

The final bell

Retiring teachers share their insights from a career spent sharing with students

It just isn’t fair


Strategies for explaining income inequality to your kids

Parenting Health & Wellness Nutrition Book Reviews

Travel broadens the mind

Local options for your summer vacation plans

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Summer 2019

THE FINAL BELL Long-time teachers on the verge of retirement share their thoughts on what they’ve learned and life after the classroom


CONTENTS It just isn’t fair

How to explain income inequality to our kids

Travel broadens the mind DEPARTMENTS 7 Editor’s note Asking the experts

10 First bell Events, products, trends, and more

25 Nutrition Five ways to reduce sugar in your family’s diet

28 Parenting Health & Wellness How mental illness made me a better parent

30 Book reviews Our Children reviews Backyard Adventure, Seaside Treasures, Mondays with Nonna, Anna at the Art Museum

Nine Maritime destinations for summer learning




On our cover As teachers prepare for their retirement, Our Children asks them to look back on their career and share what they’ve learned. See page 13

Publisher Patty Baxter

Senior Editor Trevor J. Adams

Production and Creative Director Shawn Dalton

Designer Graham Whiteman Production Assistant Jennifer Cahill Production Coordinator Paige Sawler

Printing Advocate Printing & Publishing Advocate Media Managing Editor Ken Partridge Contributors

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Jill Chappell Cynthia d’Entremont Helen Earley Kristen Frisa Katie Ingram Edwena Kennedy Philip Moscovitch Suzanne Rent

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Asking the experts

Retiring teachers are an excellent source of insights on how to help our kids thrive

Ken Partridge, Editor Our Children Magazine

@OurChildrenMag www






Parenting is the most important and hardest job people ever have. Yet it’s a position anyone can hold. No experience required, no qualifications, no application process, no interviews. They used to say it came with no manuals either, but that’s no longer true. Bookstores and the Internet are packed with help from experts. Many have only theoretical experience, but the availability of information is light years ahead of what our parents had available. Our Children sought out our own experts for this issue. Our cover story (page 13) speaks with teachers about to retire from the classroom after years of spending almost as much time with our kids as we do. They’ve seen the disappearance of some issues, the rise of new ones they never even considered until faced with them, the impact of technology, and perennial problems. They’ve seen what works and what doesn’t, so their insights come from a place of intense knowledge and practical experience. We’re not talking untested theories here.

One source of some of those issues is income inequality. Today’s public-school system often has students from across the income spectrum in a single class. Fitting in can be tough to do at the best of times, but adding an income component makes it almost impossible. However, there are ways to make it easier. Freelancer Kristen Frisa takes a looks at how to engage our kids in discussions about income inequality and make them part of the decisionmaking process (page 17). This is our last edition of the 2018–19 school year, so we’re focusing on most kids’ favourite part of school: summer vacation. As referenced above, differences in income mean not all of us will be heading off to exotic locales around the world, but there are also great vacation opportunities closer to home. Two Our Children contributors, Helen Earley and Katie Ingram, have plenty of suggestions for budget-conscious families looking to get away during the summer months without sacrificing the opportunity for our kids to keep learning (page 21). n



Our Children | Summer 2019

By Suzanne Rent

Room to grow and play

New program helps SpellRead students make mind movies Halifax Learning is offering a new program called Painting Mind Pictures through its popular SpellRead program. Students enrolled in SpellRead and Painting Mind Pictures will work with speech language pathologist Natalie Sampson in 10 sessions, one session per month. The goal of Painting Minds Pictures is to enhance the learning in SpellRead by helping students visualize the material they’re learning in a new way, so students can make a movie in their minds that helps with overall comprehension. The Painting Mind Pictures program was launched in January and students who sign up for SpellRead are automatically enrolled. Enrollment is ongoing. halifaxlearning.com, or 902-433-4113

Outgrow Outplay Halifax is hosting its spring sale on May 25 and 26. Shop for your kids’ summer styles at discount prices. This annual sale also has toys, sporting equipment, arts and crafts, children’s books, maternity clothing, infant wear, and furniture. This is also a great way to sell the toys and clothing your children have outgrown and outplayed over the years. The sale takes place Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. the BMO Soccer Centre on Thomas Raddall Drive in Halifax. facebook.com/HalifaxOutGROWOutPLAY/

Bring your baby to the bar Parents can enjoy a fun date out with the kids at Chain Yard Urban Cidery’s BYOBB (Bring Your Own Baby (or kids) to the Bar). Enjoy a meal and one of Chain Yard’s ciders made with Nova Scotia apples, while babies and kids are entertained with movies and headphones, a kids’ menu, and colouring packs and prizes. Located on Agricola Street in Halifax, Chain Yard will host the BYOBB events once a month until June from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. chainyardcider.com

Fun for families at IWK Kermesse The annual IWK Kermesse is back on May 25 with all the activities that make this a must-attend event for families. Bring the kids to the Kermesse Children’s Fair on the grounds of the IWK where there will be live entertainment, a fish pond, bouncy castles, and train ride. Stop into the Chase Gallery at Public Archives at the corner of Robie Street and University Avenue for the Kermess Art Show and Sale from May 22 to May 30. And the Kermesse Flea Market will be at Gorsebrook Junior High School on May 25. If you have items to donate, you can do so until May 11. iwk.nshealth.ca/page/upcoming-events-current-fundraising


Back to the farm Head to the little farm in the suburbs and learn about local history. The Cole Harbour Farm Museum is a great spot for children to see pigs, chickens, and goats up close and in the barn. Have lunch in the tearoom on-site where everything is made from scratch, including the scones and jam. There are also two farm camps this summer: one for kids ages six to eight; and another for kids ages nine to 11. Also, check out the Cole Harbour Fibre Frolic, June 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Watch as the farm’s sheep are sheared for the season. You can make fibre crafts and watch demonstrations of spinning, weaving, and knitting. The farm is open daily from May 15 to Oct.15. There’s no admission, but donations are accepted. coleharbourfarmmuseum.ca



Our Children | Summer 2019

A taste of the sea on the Eastern Shore Take a family drive to the Eastern Shore for the Coldwaters Seafood Festival at Memory Lane Heritage Village, June 1 and 2. Located in Lake Charlotte, about a 45-minute drive from Halifax, the festival celebrates the seafood and coastal history of the Eastern Shore. Get a taste of fresh seafood or take in the family-friendly activities as net knitting, paint your own buoy, or build a lobster trap. The historic buildings of Memory Lane give a glimpse of rural life in Nova Scotia in the 1940s. Admission is $5 per person and children under 12 are free. Tasting tickets are $2 each. The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. coldwatersfestival.ca

Teaching ocean literacy Teachers can bring learning about the ocean to their classrooms with a new toolkit from COVE, the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship in Dartmouth, N.S. Created in collaboration with more than 50 educators from across Nova Scotia, the Taking Making Into Classrooms Ocean Toolkit includes a number of design challenges appropriate for students in various grade levels. Each challenge includes a design rationale, problem scenario, parameters, and success determinants. For example, design challenge three, “Water, Water Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink,” teaches students in Grades 2 to 4 how to turn salt water into fresh water to grow a few seeds if they were stranded on McNab’s Island. coveocean.com

Getting crafty Parents who are shopping at Michael’s in Bayers Lake can drop off their kids to Kids’ Club at the store every Saturday. This is a fun, creative, and inexpensive way to keep the kids occupied while you shop. There are two groups: one for kids ages three and up; and another for kids ages six and up. Projects include painted rock friends, rainbow bright, tulip time, gnome sweet gnome, and carrot crafts. The sessions take place every half hour from 10 a.m. until noon with the last session starting at 11:30 a.m. There’s no registration required, but parents must stay on the site while their children are in the club. The cost is minimal: $2 per project for kids age three and up; and $5 per project for kids age six and up. Michaels.com


Start Your Summer Story Sign up for the TD Summer Reading Club at any branch of Halifax Public Libraries. Set a goal, read away, and take part in fun activities to win amazing prizes. Learn more at halifaxpubliclibraries.ca


Summer of music The Broadway Company Players at the Maritime Conservatory of Music is hosting weeklong summer camps for kids in Grade 4 to 12. The camp for elementary students in Grades 4 to 6 runs from July 2 to 5, while the junior high program for students in Grades 7 to 12 runs from July 8 to 12. All students learn about voice, acting, and dance. The summer camps are a great introduction to the 36-week program that runs from September to June. That program wraps up with a fully-staged musical production in June. There are no auditions and everyone is welcome. maritimeconversatory.com


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Our Children | Summer 2019

The final bell

Long-time teachers on the verge of retirement share their thoughts on what they’ve learned and life after the classroom By Philip Moscovitch


obias Beale sits at his kitchen table sipping coffee, eating a bowl of cereal, and looking out the window at the fishing boats moored in Boutilier’s Cove. Among the papers spread out over the table there is a slim folder marked “Retirement.” I ask what’s in it. “All the bits of paper you’re not supposed to lose,” he says. Beale is a friend and neighbour, and he taught music to all three of my children. When he was a young jazz musician in Ottawa, he never imagined he’d one day find himself at the tail end of a teaching career. Heck, he didn’t even go to university until he was 27. His first teaching job was in Labrador and he got hired despite not having a teaching degree. Since then, he’s taught French, math, health, fine arts, and English. But for the last decade or so he’s focused on his first love: teaching students junior high band. One of the lessons he’s learned—he says it took him a while— is the value of being organized. “On the whole, kids respond better when their teachers are

really organized in their own thoughts about what they want to teach and how to get there,” Beale says. The other key lesson? Being honest and genuine. “Basically, if you go in there and you’re not completely genuine they’ll call you on it. Or they start shutting down… Not that many people [have jobs where they] have to stand close to the fire every day and figure out whether they’re being truthful or not.” Yvette d’Entremont, who retired a year ago, agrees. She worries that younger teachers are overloaded with administrative work and have a harder time developing their own classroom identities. “Put a lot of yourself into your teaching. Nobody else can be you,” she advises. “The students need to know who you are.”

Being Attuned Emotionally Theresa George is retiring at the end of this year, after 31 years at North River Elementary, near Truro. But she says some of the most important lessons she learned came at her first job, during the early 1980s. Fresh out of

Above: Tobias Beale




Our Children | Summer 2019

Theresa George

Above: Yvette d’Entremont on stage with one of her classes. Bottom right: d’Entremont near the start of her career. Top right: d’Entremont today.

university, she got hired to teach on the Poplar River First Nation in Manitoba. The experience stayed with her for the rest of her career. “I am probably a more understanding and accepting teacher because I lived in a community where I was a minority, and I felt welcomed,” George says of that first experience. “It’s always made me grateful and somewhat humble, and that’s a lesson I’ve taken with me to my classroom.” George, who spent the last five years of her career juggling teaching and being vice-principal, says one of the biggest changes she’s seen is a recognition of the many ways kids learn, and of the challenges they face. “One day, I was working with a little boy and he was struggling with something. And he said, ‘You know what? If you just give me a little more time, I’m going to get it.’ We’re teaching kids to be

Karen Johnston-Hutchins

more of their own personal advocates and inclusive education has brought about a lot of that change,” she says. Beale says he’s also learned to pay more attention to the emotional needs of students, especially those who may be struggling quietly, like he did when he was in school. “There’s an awful lot of stress with the students. Some of my teaching shifted to emotional content, and I found often I would end up with a student breaking down, usually stressed from something happening at home. What they really needed was to be told they’re doing all right, things are difficult, but it will be OK. So I started watching for that. What are they coming in with emotionally?” For Karen Johnston-Hutchins, that’s a key question. She started her career back in 1987, and since then has worked in more than six schools, teaching elementary, junior-high drama and English, and working as a principal. Since 2011 she’s been the guidance counsellor at Sackville High. Asked about the biggest changes she’s seen, she talks more about commonalities: the recurring social challenges that hinder children and have for decades. “Schools are just a reflection of what goes on in society. And so poverty and inequality are huge problems,” she says. “I think our society needs to do a lot more in supporting parents and young families. People can only work with what they have and what they know. If they didn’t grow up with a lot of great parenting strategies, they’re not going to naturally know how to do that. And you know, nobody really teaches them.” Beale says students with support learn better. “They’re more likely to be engaged if they feel comfortable and happy than if they feel criticized and pressured.” Johnston-Hutchins takes a similar approach, one that applies equally well outside the classroom. She says, “I really believe in

15 DECLINING FRENCH? In more than three decades of teaching, the biggest change Yvette d’Entremont saw in her classroom was the most disheartening one: a decline in speaking French. d’Entremont, who retired last year, taught elementary and high school for the CSAP, the province’s French-language school board, in Southwest Nova Scotia. But despite the board’s growing enrollment, she’s worried about the future. While she says she was “lucky to have worked with so many wonderful students who always gave me 100 per cent,” she is concerned about a trend she saw in her last few years: fewer students actually speaking French. “There is less of a population that speaks French because of all the amalgamation and assimilation. We’re a minority anyway in Nova Scotia, but the world of social media and access to it has become more and more anglicized,” she says. “There is less of a population of young people proud of their background. They associate it with something old. So we’re speaking less and less French at home, and it’s reflected in the schools. When you have kids who can’t think in French it becomes really hard to get them to write and speak in French.”

treating everyone with kindness. They say people will forget what you’ve said to them, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel. That’s paramount in life. If you’re kind to people and you smile at them and you do your best to try to help them out, even if you’re not giving them the best news or they might not like your answer, I think that really helps. But families need so much more than what we are able to give them. I don’t blame the education system. I look at society and say this is bigger than education.”

The Social Side Every teacher interviewed for this story has thought about how to maintain a level of social contact after they retire. Schools are a lot more sociable than many workplaces. Teachers are with other people all day long. And unlike most other workplaces, many of those people are children and teens. “One of the things I’m very aware of is that a lot of my contact with the world is with 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15-year-olds, so much so that speaking with an adult is kind of a novelty,” Beale says. “It is very social. Am I worried about that? Yeah. That’s one of the things that causes me anxiety about retirement.” George is expecting her first grandchild this summer, so that should keep her busy, but she is also planning to volunteer or maybe take on a non-teaching part-time job. Beale is still a working musician, so he hopes to devote more time to playing, an activity he says is “sometimes” social. A year after her retirement, d’Entremont says she found she missed “sharing a piece of myself with the students.” So, she became a dramatic-arts consultant, teaching workshops that pass on her knowledge of producing large-scale school dramas. And as for Johnston-Hutchins, she’s had her retirement plan in place for a few years. She has set up a part-time private counselling

practice and plans “to be moving into that pretty much full-time once I retire.” That will allow her to continue doing the same kind of work, but she still worries a bit about the social side. She says her practice “will help me ease out of the public system, but I will really miss the social part of my job: being around students and families and the staff. So that’ll be a big change for me.” Regardless of post-retirement plans, none of the teachers Our Children spoke to were slowing down in their final months. But the awareness of that final bell coming can still feel a bit surreal. George says, “It’s getting a little bit more like crunch time. And I really and truly am not sure how I’m going to put one foot in front of the other to walk out the door.” n

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Last year, she came back to substitute teach a Grade 10 French class, but was disheartened with all the English she heard. She hasn’t been back. Instead, she’s drawing on her passion and experience as a drama teacher, freelancing as a dramatic arts consultant for schools, helping them encourage French expression through theatrical productions.




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Our Children | Summer 2019


It just isn’t fair How to explain income inequality to our kids


By Kristen Frisa


eeping up with the Joneses used to be something adults worried about. Increasingly it’s something our kids are dealing with at younger and younger ages. As kids start school, they begin to feel the pressure to live up to their peers. While some kids go on trips to the sunny south during spring vacation, others stay put; while one neighbour keeps the newest video game console, another gets an older, used model. We all can’t have the same amount of stuff. Income inequality in Canada has been on the rise over the past 30 years according to the Conference Board of Canada (conferenceboard.ca). According to a 2018 report out of Dalhousie University (perceptionsofchange. ca/Hotspotsofincomeinequality.pdf), income inequality in Halifax grew 37 per cent from 1980 to 2015, with the bulk of the increase occurring since the 1990s. Dr. Patricia Lingley-Pottie, president and CEO of Halifax-based Strongest Families Institute, says this disparity can have negative consequences for kids, especially if their parents are stressed out just trying to keep food on table. “Research tells us children are at higher risk of developing mental health problems and other health conditions when they’re in lower income families,” she says.

Donna LeMoine, a clinical social worker at IWK Community Mental Health and Addictions, agrees. “Kids are really impacted by how parents are experiencing life,” she says, “so if parents are feeling like they don’t have enough to give their kids, it’s going to create a lot of stress in the family. “School gets to be this place where fitting in is really, really important. If you live in a family where things are tight and you’re not able to afford the clothes or the styles other kids have access to, that definitely has an affect on our sense of well-being and our self esteem,” LeMoine says. Kassinda Tolliver is a Halifax parent who says she’s seen firsthand the affect financial hardship can have on kids. She says her kids sometimes felt left out when her family couldn’t afford all the frills of middle-class life. “She didn’t have the nice clothes they had,” she says of her then 12-year-old. “It was quite a deal in the school she was in.” School programs such as hot lunches and milk delivery can make the income disparity more apparent. Tolliver says when she didn’t have the cash for the school milk program, she wasn’t offered any program to help provide her kids with the service, because schools in her middle-class neighbourhood take for granted


FEATURE there are two parents earning income in the home. “They don’t consider that it would be a financial burden to the family,” she says. Gin Yee, chair the Provincial Advisory Council on Education (PACE), says lower incomes can affect academic achievement, but he says administrators and school staff work hard to help lowerincome families by paying for field trips and other school-related fees for parents who need the help. If there’s a need, “it’s identified quietly, and it’s just taken care of,” Yee says. The thing is, he says administration doesn’t know to help if they aren’t notified. “Parents need to let the administration know they’re struggling and they need help,” he says. LeMoine says she believes this community approach is the

Our Children | Summer 2019

So, when your child asks for things his peers have, have a frank discussion about why they want them. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting something,” Donati says, “However, just to want those things because you think having them makes you better, that’s a problem.” Tolliver says she faced her children head-on with their income limitations. “I had to have the honest conversation that we didn’t have the same as everyone else had, and I did the best I could,” she says. Then show your kid how money flows in and out of the household. Rather than simply telling them ‘No, we can’t afford that,’ Donati suggests going over the budget together, demonstrating why funds aren’t available, then try devising a strategy together to make room in the budget.

Give them practice



Talking about money and how to use it can help children develop healthy financial habits.

best way to help kids who have access to fewer resources. She says snack programs that invite all kids to join create a sense of community and belonging. “It gets to be a shared experience rather than a shaming or stigmatising experience,” she says. It’s hard for parents to know how to react when their kids, just worried about fitting in, come home asking why they can’t have all the bells and whistles. How can the adults in kids’ lives help them understand the inequity of personal finance?

Talk about it One of the mistakes parents make is they don’t want to talk to their kids about money, says Elisabeth Donati, an award-winning financial educator and owner of Creative Wealth Intl. She says you would never avoid telling a child to brush their teeth because you don’t want them to worry about cavities. Likewise, talking about money and how to use it can help a child from developing unhealthy habits.

Donati says you can take some of the money you spend on your child, and instead run it through your child. By this she means give your child an allowance and expect them to use it to pay for things you ordinarily pay for. For example, if your child wants to shop at the book fair, or to buy snacks at school, asking them to pay with their allowance gives them practice at allotting money in a responsible way. Doing this allows your child to practice making decisions, and to make mistakes in a low-risk scenario. It also helps them learn goal setting, an important life skill on its own that goes hand-in-hand with money management. If there’s a specific want or need, set a goal to get it, and then devise specific steps to save up the necessary funds.

Teach by Example

In her e-book, 3 Keys to Raising Money Savvy Adults (academia.edu), Donati suggests you first need to educate yourself about money so you can set a good example. Your kids are learning by watching what you do, all the time, Donati says. She says you can involve your kids when you pay the bills, showing them how to check the accuracy of the bills and how to keep track of what you’ve paid. She says if you pay with credit cards, make sure you enforce paying the entire bill each month. Donati says she emphasizes the basic principles of money management, like ‘pay yourself first.’ It’s important your kids see you putting money away for the future, for emergencies, and for upcoming expenses. Donati says attitude is important, too. Fighting about money or spending on things you can’t afford only passes those mindsets down to your children.

19 Changing Perceptions Donati says the key is shaping kids’ thought patterns to reflect a healthy view of money. You can empower yourself and your kids by teaching them to set goals. If the have-not mindset is bringing your child down, you can help them by turning the thoughts around. “If we’re stuck in those negative thoughts it can cause a lot of anxiety or depression, so part of our approach is to change that thought process from a negative thought to a positive thought,” Lingley-Pottie says.

up n g si W NO

Take care of yourself Teaching your kids self-care is an important aspect of their wellbeing. Demonstrating good habits, like taking time each day to focus on mental health, is crucial for kids. “A lot of parents don’t take even five or 10 minutes for themselves each day,” LingleyPottie says. “If we don’t protect our own mental health and take care of ourselves it’s just going to accumulate over time,” she says. Problems such as depression, which can stem from lack of self care, can lead to health problems and missed work, which will adversely affect family finances. “It’s all related,” LingleyPottie says. n

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Our Children | Summer 2019




Travel broadens the mind Nine Maritime destinations for summer learning By Helen Earley


mmersive or hands-on experiences offer a depth of understanding that’s hard to match in the classroom. Luckily, when the school doors close in June, many museums and galleries open their doors for the summer season. Here are nine places in the Maritimes that offer rich educational experiences, the kind of learning you can’t get from sitting on the couch or looking at a screen.


Africville Museum, Halifax, Nova Scotia

In 1967, the city of Halifax left a scar on history when, as part of the expropriation of land in Africville, bulldozers came in the middle

of the night to tear down the Seaview United Baptist church. This was a place where children learned leadership skills, took music lessons, and celebrated special occasions with their families. More than 50 years later, the Africville Museum is housed in a replica of the church, providing a rich historical experience. Kids will be curious about what life was like for residents of Africville and may feel upset to see photos of the expropriation and of residents’ belongings going into city dump trucks. This summer, choose a sunny day, bring a picnic, and stay a while, exploring the site of Tibby’s Pond and the green grass on the shores of the Bedford Basin where the houses of Africville once stood.





Tip for Summer Learning:


Take photos of what you experienced… and don’t forget to print them. Printed photographs can provide a good starting point for diary entries or for writing projects once the kids are back at school.








Beaverbrook Gallery, Fredericton, New Brunswick

For students who are interested in the fine arts, there is no better place to explore than the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, New Brunswick. It began its life with valuable donations from Sir Max Aitkin, a millionaire Canadian-British newspaper publisher and politician, also known as Lord Beaverbrook. Nowhere else in the Maritimes will you see such an impressive collection of 18th-century British masters, European, and Canadian art. The piece de resistance for many aspiring artists is Salvador Dalí’s Santiago El Grande, a larger than life surrealist oil painting that, curators say, is best viewed while lying down on the floor, looking up.


Miner’s Museum, Glace Bay, Nova Scotia

There’s an advantage to being young (or at least short) when you go into “the deep.” A hands-on tour offered by the Cape Breton Miner’s Museum in Glace Bay requires visitors to don a helmet and travel into tunnels with a ceiling height of just over four feet, guided by a retired miner who tells stories about what a miner’s life was like working underground. See the equipment used to break the face of coal. Learn about the horses and pit ponies that spent days and nights in the darkness. Hear the sound of water dripping and the echo of your guide’s voice as you imagine a time gone by when the sound of blasting and machinery filled each dark room, located deep underneath the sea. This tour is an impactful experience: a lesson in culture, history, and industry children will never forget.

Kings Landing, Prince William, New Brunswick

About 20 minutes west of Fredericton, King’s Landing Historical Settlement is a 121-hectare living museum where children can step back in time, rolling up their sleeves to become temporary residents of this summertime village. What’s interesting about King’s Landing is the community isn’t original. When the Mactaquac Hydroelectric Dam was built in the 1960s, conservationists noticed the water would flood areas of the mid Saint John River Valley, potentially destroying settlements begun by Loyalist refugees and 19th-century immigrants. To prevent their loss, important buildings from these early settlements were moved to King’s Landing.


Eskasoni Cultural Journeys, Goat Island, Eskasoni First Nation

Do you know how to do a friendship dance? It’s pretty easy. But other dances are trickier, with a hop, slide, and a stomp that takes practice. Eskasoni Cultural Journeys is a two-hour hike through the woods of Goat Island, on the shores of the Bras d’Or lake, Cape Breton. Along the trail, experience hands-on lessons in traditional Mi’kmaq culture such as dancing, drumming, weaving, storytelling, and cooking, led by members of the Eskasoni First Nation.


Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, Baddeck, Nova Scotia

Most children know Alexander Graham Bell as the inventor of the telephone, but there is so much more. Despite leaving formal education at the age of 15 (it’s said he was too curious for school), he was also a teacher of the deaf and a prolific inventor. With partners, Bell built aircraft such as the June Bug and Silver Dart, which broke world records at the beginning of the 1900s. Another incredible invention was the HD-4, a massive hydrofoil, which in 1919 set the world marine speed record as the fastest craft on water. At the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site this summer, children of all ages can experience what it was like to drive this hydrofoil on the Bras d’Or Lake, through an incredible Virtual Reality experience. Children 13 or older can don a set of goggles for a totally immersive adventure; younger children can enjoy the experience using headphones and a screen.


Province House National Historic Site, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Everyone loves spending a week on the beaches of beautiful Prince Edward Island, but there are treasures to be found in the city of Charlottetown too. Although Province House is under construction, head next door to the Confederation Centre of the Arts, to learn about the political birth of Canada. See Parks Canada’s awardwinning film, “A Building of Destiny,” and experience the exhibit, Story of Confederation.



FEATURE Transportation Discovery Centre, Moncton,

8 New Brunswick

Moncton is a popular summer destination for families who love the thrill of waterslides and wild animals, but further downtown there’s a fantastic opportunity to get hands-on with science at the Transportation Discovery Centre at Resurgo Place. Children can launch a rocket, build a truck, fly a plane, float a boat, and even send homemade creations up a wind-tunnel. This hands-on science centre is a great way to spend a rainy summer afternoon in one of New Brunswick’s most kid-friendly cities. While you’re there, check out the Heritage Collection at the Moncton Museum, included in your admission fee, or pay an extra fee for a guided group tour in English or French.

Our Children | Summer 2019


What does family mean to you? This summer at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, there is a special exhibition called Family Bonds and Belonging that ponders this question through a collection of photos, objects and heirlooms, oral histories, and home movies from many different Canadian families. The interactive part? To learn about the child’s important family role, young visitors are encouraged to crawl through a pillow fort and play games in their own special section. n

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OTHER SUMMER GETAWAY SUGGESTIONS By Katie Ingram Nova Scotia abounds with summer vacation opportunities. Here are some affordable options that won’t break the bank. Many can be combined into a single trip, as they’re in the same community or town. Interactive History If you’ve ever wanted to know what life was like in the 1700s, 1800s, or early to mid-1900s, there are 10 living history sites in Nova Scotia. Visit the Fortress of Louisbourg, a partly-reconstructed French fort from the 1700s. It focuses on the day-to-day life of soldiers and everyday people, along with housing several exhibits and displays. Ross Farm has costumed interpreters and heritage buildings, but visitors can also be more immersed in history by taking part in activities, like candle making and woodworking. They can also visit the farm’s many animals and walk the trails. Sherbrooke Village allows guests to be Witnesses, where they just observe; Explorers, where they dress how people did at the time; or Discoverers, where they’re fully immersed in village life and take on a specific role. Museums There’s a Museum of Industry in Stellerton and a Firefighters Museum of Nova Scotia in Yarmouth. Many communities have more than one museum, covering different subjects or eras. A whole trip could be planned around museum visits in a single community, given how many there are. For example, a trip to the Bay of Fundy area could involve six Nova Scotia Museum-affiliated locations: The North Hills

Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Halifax, Nova Scotia






Museum, The Prescott House, The Haliburton House Museum, The Shand House Museum, The Lawrence House Museum, and the Fundy Geological Museum. Upper Clements Parks Upper Clements Parks, located in the Annapolis Valley, offers traditional theme park rides, such as the flume, a rollercoaster, paddle boats, bumper boats, Ferris wheel, and even a leisurely train ride. It’s also adjacent to an adventure park, which has 14 ziplines and a 20-metre free-fall jump. Beaches There are beaches all over the province, ranging www from lakes to ocean and sand to rocks. There’s an www abundance of beaches on the South Shore. You could stay for a week and go to a different beach each day. There’s everything from the tropical-like waters of Carter’s Beach to the rocky shores of White Point and the mile-long white sand of Summerville Beach. Camping Nova Scotia’s national parks offer views of Nova Scotia’s most unique natural wonders, including the Cape Breton Highlands and Kejimkujik between Queens County and the Annapolis Valley. Provincial parks, like the national ones, require a reservation and boast breathtaking scenery. They range from Cape Chignecto overlooking the Bay of Fundy, to the walking trails of Dollar Lake with its 119 campsites, boat launching site, and two beaches. Private campgrounds abound, with many offering family-oriented features like pools, theme days for children, and playground equipment.


Our Children | Summer 2019

Stephen Somers and Tressa Moore are parent navigators with the Halifax Regional Centre for Education. They assist parents in finding the right services available in education, justice, health, community services, and more for their families.

Wondering where to turn? Halifax Regional Centre for Education’s parent navigators will guide you


e know that navigating the many supports available to you and your family during the school years can be overwhelming. That’s why parent navigator (PN) positions were created in 2018. The role of the PN is to help parents and guardians of Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE) students find and access services available in education, justice, health, community services, and more. As part of HRCE’s Student Services Team, Tressa Moore and Stephen Somers have built strong relationships with community agencies throughout the region and have developed deep understandings of the tools and resources out there for you. Our PNs are available, free-of-charge, to help you find the support you or your child may need to find success inside and outside of school. They’ll meet you in a comfortable setting in your community to have a conversation about what your child may need. They’ll guide you and help connect you with the most appropriate services and resources. They’ll attend school meetings with you. They’ll be your co-pilot. n

WHO IS MY PARENT NAVIGATOR? Tressa Moore mooret@hrce.ca 902-464-2000 x4362 Available to families of students in the following families of schools: Auburn Drive, Cole Harbour, Citadel, Duncan MacMillan, Island View, J.L. Ilsley, Sir John A Macdonald, Bedford and Forsyth Education Centre (Bedford & Dartmouth campuses) Stephen Somers ssomers@hrce.ca 902-464-2000 x4361 Available to families of students in the following families of schools: Dartmouth, Charles P. Allen, Eastern Shore, Halifax West, Lockview, Millwood, Musquodoboit Rural, Sackville, Prince Andrew

Find your Family of Schools here: bit.ly/FamilyofSchools


Our Children | Summer 2019


Five ways to reduce sugar in your family’s diet Whole foods, fresh fruit can dramatically drop the amount of added sugar your family is consuming


By Edwena Kennedy


any years ago, before we had so much access to premade and processed foods, the worry of having to face sugar at every turn didn’t exist. When a homemade dessert was available, it was enjoyed to the fullest and the worry never came to parent’s minds that it was unhealthy, or the sugar content was too high. But now, especially if you’re a parent trying to instill healthy habits, I bet you feel your child gets too much sugar and avoiding it is hard. I’m with you. Excess sugar is one of the hottest nutrition topics around. It’s spoken about by doctors, nutritionists, dentists, and everyone in between. The biggest reason it gets so much attention is because high sugar intake is linked to everything from obesity and type II diabetes, to heart disease and dental cavities.

While sugar itself is naturally found in fruits and dairy products, it’s the added sugar that’s a problem. And although many of us would like to reduce the amount in our family’s diet, it isn’t always as easy as just reducing desserts. Added sugar is hidden in many common foods, from pasta sauce to yogurt. How can we get some of this sugar out?

What is added sugar and where do you find it? Added sugar is defined as any sugar used in processing and preparing foods or beverages, or added to foods at the table, or eaten separately, including table sugar, syrups, fructose, and honey. On the ingredient label, added sugar may appear under many different names (there are 60 of them), i.e. corn syrup, high fructose



NUTRITION corn syrup, molasses, malt sugar, raw sugar, corn sweetener, brown sugar, honey, syrup, glucose-fructose, and sugar molecules ending in “ose.” The good news is, added sugars don’t include sugars that naturally occur in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. These sugars are natural, provide energy, and are bound to other nutrients like fibre, which makes eating them a healthy choice.

How much sugar should we consume? The average Canadian is consuming 26 teaspoons of sugar a day. The World Health Organization and the Heart and Stroke Foundation in Canada say added sugar should be no more than 10 per cent of our total calories (ideally keep it down to five per cent). That’s five to 10 tsp of added sugar daily (or 50g) for an adult on a 2,000 kcal diet. For children under two years, the recommendation is to avoid added sugar completely. It can displace calories from more nutrient dense food, causes cavities, and lead to a taste preference for sweets over healthy food. Some foods are more obviously full of added sugar than others. For example, any “sweet” food or drink, such as soft drinks, candy, cookies, and desserts. In fact, almost half of the average daily sugar intake of children from one to eight years and adolescents from nine to 18 come from flavoured milk, fruit juice, regular soft drinks, and fruit drinks. Other “non sweet” foods also contain added sugar, such as cereals, pasta sauces, salad dressings, peanut butter, and yogurt. When most of your food is processed, it’s easy to surpass the recommended daily amount. Here are my top five tips for reducing added sugar:

1. Less processed, more whole foods When we decrease the amount of processed food we eat and eat foods in their natural state or minimally modified, i.e. a whole food, we instantly decrease added sugar in our diet. So, if you eat Ben’s sandwich bread, try fresh baked bread from a local grocer instead. Use a lot of ketchup? Try replacing it with hummus, pesto, or tzatziki. Substitute plain Greek yogurt for sour cream. Replace fruit gummies/leathers with a piece of fruit. Trade canned pasta sauce for homemade tomato sauce with herbs.In general, look for products with 6g added sugar or less per serving. This goes for cereal, yogurt, muffins, granola bars, energy bars/protein bars, and packaged snacks like cookies, crackers, fruit snacks.

2. Discover new “sweet” alternatives You can use whole foods such as fruits, spices, or various extracts to contrast any tart flavours or to “sweeten” up a dish. A great place to try this is at breakfast. Breakfast cereals and commercially-flavoured yogurts have a lot of sugar per serving. Some brands of yogurt have up to 36g of sugar per serving. To reduce sugar in hot cereals, add cinnamon or other “sweet” tasting spices such as nutmeg or cardamom. Just a little goes a long way.

Our Children | Winter 2018

I also love to add a drop or two of a pure extract, such as almond, vanilla, orange, or lemon. I especially love vanilla powder (just dried and ground vanilla beans) because it has concentrated flavour and none of the alcohol taste. Vanilla powder is on the pricier side, but a package will last you a long time. Here are my favourite homemade-flavoured yogurt recipes: Hawaiian Dream: Plain Greek yogurt + pineapple + coconut shreds + chia seeds. Berry Swirl: Plain Greek yogurt + berry compote (simmered berries on the stovetop with a pinch of maple and chia seeds). Chocolate Lover: Plain Greek yogurt mixed with chocolate coconut yogurt and coconut shreds.

3. Watch those beverages Sweetened beverages such as soft drinks, sport drinks, juice (even those cold-pressed detox juices), iced teas, etc. are the biggest source of added sugar in the North American diet. There’s 24g (six tsp) of sugar in a glass of orange juice and 39g (10 tsp) in just once can of Coke. That’s why water should always be your first choice when you’re thirsty. To liven up your water, try a sparkling water or flavour plain water by adding cut fruit (ex. oranges or cucumbers), or herbs (ex. basil and mint). Kids love placing a single slice of strawberry, a blueberry, or a raspberry in an ice cube tray with water. Freeze and serve the ice cubes in the water. When drinking milk, always aim for plain vs. chocolate milk, or go half and half.

4. Dilute what you can To help kids make the transition from commercially-sweetened food, ease into it by mixing half and half of sweetened product with its plain or lower sugar counterpart. Here are some examples to show you: • Mix your sweetened yogurt half and half with plain yogurt. Gradually reduce the sweetened yogurt until you’re eating just the plain. • Mix your high sugar cereal or oatmeal half and half with low sugar cereal and gradually shift the ratios in favour of the lower sugar cereal. • Reduce the amount of sugar called for in baking recipes by using 2/3 of what the recipe says and taste test. Next time try half the amount. How low can you go? Or try substituting dates and fruit purees. When using fruit as a substitute, the riper the better.

5. Redefine desserts While there’s always a time and place for rich, sugar-filled desserts, redefine your everyday dessert to include a variety of naturally sweet options. A baked pear with cinnamon, sliced banana with a drizzle of honey, trail mix with small pieces of dark chocolate or yogurt bits. Or maybe just fruit after a meal? Try out these awesome yogurt fruit dips for a sweet and healthy dessert:

27 “Cookie Dough” Dip 1 cup plain Greek yogurt 2 tablespoons cashew butter, almond butter, or sunflower seed butter 1 date, pitted and finely chopped (optional) Pinch of vanilla powder and cinnamon

Berries & Cream Dip

Directions: Mix dip ingredients together in a small bowl. Serve chilled with fruit or other snacks for dipping. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week. Edwena Kennedy is a mom of two, a registered pediatric dietitian and lover of all things related to infant and toddler feeding. Follow her on Instagram @mylittleeater for daily tips and advice on feeding your little ones. n


1 cup plain Greek yogurt 3 tablespoons crushed freeze-dried fruit (such as strawberries and blueberries) Pinch of vanilla powder

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Our Children | Summer 2019

How mental illness made me a better parent Making sure she fills her own cup first has made Jill Chappell gentler, kinder, and a healthy role model for her kids By Jill Chappell After the birth of her twin boys, Jill Chappell assumed the stress and anxiety she was feeling was normal for a new parent and tried to ignore it.




he term mental illness conjures up all types of images, but I doubt any of those pictures equate to the cover model of Today’s Parent. It’s yet another example of stigma surrounding mental illness and addiction I challenge you to change. As marketing and communications lead of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, my main goal is to improve the lives

of Nova Scotians, and their loved ones, living with mental illness. Our team raises funds and educates people province-wide to create hope and put an end to stigma. Our foundation works to ensure those living with mental illness and addiction are thriving in our communities. It’s an uphill battle, but we’re giving mental illness a run for it. So how did a television broadcaster end up working to better the lives of

families living with mental illness and addiction? First and foremost, I’m a storyteller and publicist with an extensive professional network, which happens to include my former colleague Starr Cunningham, president and CEO of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. But I also had a leg-up on the other applicants; I had firsthand experience living with mental illness.

29 Today my twin boys (yes, twins) are almost four-years-old. They are full of energy, make hilarious observations about the world, and make my life so much richer. Adjusting to motherhood was no easy task, but today following a successful pool and pizza party for 18 preschoolers with no tears, tantrums, or fights, I’m feeling pretty good about my parenting abilities. Four years ago, it was a different story. I was 30 weeks into my first pregnancy. It was a complicated one as is often the case with multiple births. I thought I was mentally prepared for the challenge, but the ensuing pre-term birth, followed by a four-week NICU stay proved to be more than I could handle. Becoming a parent was a significant lifestyle adjustment, but there was more at play. Still, anything that seemed out of the ordinary, I attributed to the added workload of having twins. High levels of anxiety, the inability to make decisions, fits of rage and irritability, peppered with bouts of insomnia and guilt. Oh, the guilt. All classic symptoms I brushed off as parenting rites of passage. Once my maternity leave was over and I went back to work, everything started to unravel. Once a punctual employee, I had trouble making it to the office on time. I would lie awake at night unable to sleep despite the physical demands of two busy toddlers and a full-time job. I couldn’t handle any amount of stress and now the emotional toll wasn’t impacting just me. My entire family was feeling the effects of my undiagnosed illness. I remember the moment I decided to make a change. Our childcare arrangements weren’t working for us anymore and the burden of finding a safe and nurturing environment for our children was too much to bear. With the support of my husband, I made the difficult decision to quit my job. I would focus on eliminating as much stress as possible and get to the bottom of what was wrong. I began seeing a counsellor and after several weeks was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and was exhibiting signs of postpartum PTSD. Being able to put a name to what I was feeling was a huge relief. I now knew what I was facing and could focus on addressing it. I began taking anti-depressants and still take them today. Counselling was an important part of my treatment plan. It helped me change my pattern of thinking and relearn how to communicate with my loved ones. It taught me to be gentler on myself, to let go of expectations, and reminded me to have a sense of humor when faced with life’s challenges. It not only improved my personal outlook but my entire family’s quality of life. It helped us reconnect and realize we’re not alone. Every family has their own struggles. Mental illness may have robbed me of some that new baby joy, but I believe I’m a better parent for it. It has allowed me to rebuild a life for myself that prioritizes the most important things, including mental health and my family. I’ve gained perspective, understanding, empathy, and patience (most of the time). And I now realize the importance of filling my own cup first so I can be a kind, positive, and healthy role model for my children. Navigating the health-care system over the past two years has opened my eyes to the critical need for mental health programming and services in our province. I have an excellent family doctor who has guided me through every stage of my illness. I’ve found a great counsellor who supports my emotional well-being. I’m lucky

because that’s not the case for everyone. However, we do have the ability to change that for our children. I believe a world where mental illness is treated equally to physical illness is within our grasp. Where help is readily available. I’m committed to changing the public perception of mental disorders and I challenge you to do it too. Make mental health literacy a priority in your family so our children don’t have to fight stigma, plead for help, suffer in silence, or worse. Our tagline at the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia is: Changing the way people think. I hope this column will allow me to not only change the way parents think, but how they interact with their children and others daily. Thank you to Our Children and editor Ken Partridge for this incredible opportunity. I’m really looking forward to putting on my journalist hat again and helping families make mental health a part of their conversation around the dinner table. It’s certainly something we all can and should prioritize, protect, and value in our community. It will not only make us better parents, but better human beings. Jill Chappell is the marketing and communications lead for the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. n

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Our Children | Summer 2019

By Cynthia d’Entremont

Backyard Adventure By Amanda Tomsen Storey Publishing


Bursting with 51 activities, this book is designed to ignite fun and rev up kids’ imaginations. There’s no excuse for boredom when an outdoor play space is filled with exploding sidewalk chalk or an experimental mud lab. How about creating an outdoor art gallery filled with “graffiti” string art or masterpieces made with shaving cream, leaves, and twigs? Does all this sound a little messy? That’s the beauty of taking free-play outdoors where dirt already abounds. There’s even a tidy option for showering outside before heading indoors. You’ll find science, art, drama, cooking, and more, mixed with a whole lot of adventure, in this innovative idea book.

Seaside Treasures

Mondays with Nonna

Anna at the Art Museum

By Sarah Grindler Nimbus Publishing Ages 4 to 8

Story by Olga Manzoni Illustrations by Luisa Grottker Ages 5 to 8

Story by Hazel Hutchins & Gail Herbert Illustrations by Lil Crump Ages 4-7

This interactive guidebook showcases a myriad of treasures found at the beach. Starfish, sand dollars, and sea urchins are scattered about, and little beachcombers are encouraged to “make sure there is no one home” before scooping up shells. An array of sea glass is illustrated in vibrant hues with helpful hints on rarity and origin. For example, some pieces of purple sea glass were transformed by the sun. Ancient artifacts occasionally dot the shores on both the west and east coasts of Canada, giving flight to imagined pirates. Budding treasure hunters are prompted to care for the environment as they sort out trash from treasure among the surprises yielded from the ocean’s shore. Creativity and exploration are spurred on with simple text and vivid illustrations, encouraging kids to head outside into the salt air to find their own collection of seaside treasures.

Does dreading Monday dampen your family’s weekend joy? In this “children’s book for adults first,” everyone is encouraged to set worry aside and embrace a new day by choosing a happy outlook. Anticipating exciting possibilities helps James and Nonna look forward to the time they spend together each Monday. Whimsical illustrations give life to the message of turning Mondays into a day to love. The author incorporates her “FrenchCanadian-Italian-Maritimer” heritage by sprinkling French and Italian words throughout the text with Nonna’s habit of saying “things three times.” This story highlights a grandparent and child’s special bond and the impact of maintaining a positive attitude. If parents and kids are feeling apprehensive as Monday morning looms, this story offers an alternative approach.

Making a connection between life and art is a challenge for Anna. She accompanies her mother to an art museum and quickly feels surrounded by things that are “old and boring.” Anna tries to entertain herself but is thwarted by the museum attendant. Anna’s mother reinforces a list of rules, and after a few more mishaps, Anna longs to leave. It isn’t until she passes through a half-open door and sees the painting of a young girl also looking bored that Anna understands how art imitates life. Inspired, Anna lingers in the museum, relating to the masterpieces. This book fosters an appreciation of fine art and includes illustrations of many historical paintings. Additional information is included in an index, offering kids an opportunity to develop their own connection to works of art.

Some straight talk on concussion and kids

from Brain injury NS

Summertime – high season for sports and recreation and increased risk for head www.BrainInjuryNS.com injuries. Concussion can be a nightmare issue for parents and children – especially for those in contact sports. However, half of concussions happening to kids are NOT sports-related and everyday activities provide endless risk. Sounds scary – but a little awareness goes a long way. Concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury – caused directly by a hit to the head, or indirectly by a hit to the body – resulting in a rotational movement of the brain within the skull. A concussion is a brain injury that cannot be seen on routine Xrays, CT scans, or MRIs. It affects the way a child may think and remember things and can cause a variety of symptoms. Your child does not need to be knocked out (lose consciousness) to have had a concussion. Your child might experience one or more of the following:

Thinking problems, child’s complaints, other signs & symptoms… • Does not know time, date, place, details about a recent activity • General confusion • Cannot remember things that happened before and after the injury • Knocked out, ringing in the ears • Headache, sleepiness • Feels dazed, feels “dinged” or stunned; “having my bell rung” • Sees stars, flashing lights • Loss of vision, sees double or blurry Wear the right • Stomach-ache, nausea, vomiting helmet and • Poor co-ordination or balance, dizziness make sure it • Blank stare/glassy-eyed fits! • Slurred speech • Slow to answer questions or follow directions • Easily distracted, poor concentration What should I do if I suspect my child has a concussion?











Your child should stop the activity they are doing right away. Continuing increases their risk of more severe, longer-lasting concussion symptoms, and increases their risk of other injury. Your child should not be left alone www.parachutecanada.org and should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible that day. If your child loses consciousness, call an ambulance to take them to the hospital right away. Do not move your child or remove any equipment such as a helmet. Anyone with a possible head injury should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. If your child is diagnosed with a concussion, the doctor should schedule a follow-up visit within the next two weeks. The signs and symptoms of a concussion often last for one to four weeks but may last longer. In some cases, children may take many weeks or months to heal. If your child has had a concussion before, they may take longer to heal. Recovering from concussion is a process that takes patience. If your child goes back to activities before they are ready, it is likely to make their symptoms worse, and their recovery might take longer. After an initial short period of rest (24 to 48 hours), light cognitive and physical activity can begin, as long as these don’t worsen symptoms.

Visit www.parachutecanada.org for more info and up-to-date concussion resources & tools. Visit us at www.braininjuryns.com. Brains…all we are. Have a safe and happy summer!