Halifax’s Family Magazine ourchildrenmagazine.ca
LOVE Back to walking
Longing for the simple joys of a stroll to school
OF THE GAME Parents play a key role in helping high-performance kids excel at sport while having fun
Learn how to overcome kid chaos
Health & Wellness • Nutrition • Book Reviews
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?
TO MAKE SURE YOUR HELMET FITS RIGHT!
FINGERS ABOVE YOUR EYEBROWS
STRAPS FORM A
UNDER YOUR EARS
FINGER BETWEEN STRAP AND CHIN
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!
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Science Starts Here
Discovery Centre’s new free, online video series makes science learning at home fun and easy with weekly hands-on, curriculum-connected workshops for students across the province, bringing science to your family at a time when it is needed most. Visit www.thediscoverycentre.ca/discovery-at-home for more information.
about the publisher
Trap Door Books, an imprint of Nevermore Press, publishes books for middle grade and YA readers. We believe dreamers and storytellers are educators who inspire children and provide them with a refuge in what is often a confusing and chaotic world.
Jake mac ack kinnon’s Fed up with people not saying what they really mean. When he rescues an old hound dog from the pound, he has no idea of the impact she’s about to have on him. Sandy is a fairy dogmother who grants Jake’s greatest wish—to be able to read minds, in particular that of his father who’s “gone out west” to find himself. Jake soon discovers that mind reading isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes, the truth sucks.
Fourteen-year-old acadian ian Jacques terriot is being deported with his family to the British colony of Massachusetts. He longs to escape and join his older brother in fighting with the French. Jacques is about to set out on a journey that will teach him the true meaning of family and home, as well as what it means to be Acadian.
in a coma aF aFter being hit by a truck while riding his bike, thirteen-year-old Rion is stuck in Limbo—a vast and empty solar system of planets and stars. His twin sister Bellamie may be the only one who can rescue him, but to do that she has to learn the truth about The Accident. With the help of fellow schoolmate and psychic Adley, she also learns the truth about her own sexual identity.
click For more inFo
Lunenburg, nova scotia 902-634-3063 firstname.lastname@example.org nevermorepress.ca
Dreams of Summer Start with Nimbus!
THE MERMAID HANDBOOK
THE BOOK OF SELKIE
Words by Taylor Widrig Art by Briana Corr Scott
Words and art by Briana Corr Scott
978-1-77108-865-7 $19.95 | cookbook June | Ages: 8+
978-1-77108-820-6 $24.95 | picture (and paper doll) book June | Ages 3-7
SUMMER FEET Words by Sheree Fitch Art by Carolyn Fisher 978-1-77108-854-1 $22.95 | picture book June | Ages 3–7
GARY THE SEAGULL Words by Christian Johnston Art by Paul Hammond 978-1-77108-836-7 $12.95 | picture book June | Ages 3–7
A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO GOODBYE By Melanie Mosher 978-1-77108-846-6 $13.95 | middle-grade fiction June | Ages 8-12
ANNAKA By Andre Fenton 978-1-77108-892-3 $16.95 | YA fiction June | Ages: 14+
Available through booksellers everywhere follow us online:
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LOVE OF THE GAME
Even when competition is postponed, parents play a key role in helping high-performance kids excel at sport while having fun
16 DEPARTMENTS 7 Editor’s note Making the most of our opportunities
8 First bell
Back to walking As the pandemic has forced us to embrace at-home education, many look forward to the simple joys of walking to school again
Conquering clutter Experts weigh in on the best ways to organize kid chaos
Events, products, trends, and more
26 Nutrition Does your child need a probiotic?
29 Health & wellness Supporting family mental health after a tragedy
30 Book reviews Our Children reviews Dakwäkãda Warriors, No Girls Allowed, The Stars From Me to You, I Lost My Talk / I’m Finding My Talk
31 Poetry: “Because We love, We cry” A new poem by Sheree Fitch commemorating the Nova Scotia attacks.
WE Schools @ Home complements curriculum and helps parents, teachers, and kids connect and stay socially engaged
E R I P S N I E G W N I R V E I H L T E E V I G T TO THY AC HEAL
On our cover Encouragement, role modelling, and fostering diverse interests—there’s a lot parents can do to help kids succeed and have fun in sport. Publisher Sales Director Senior Editor
MAKE YOUR DAY A HEALTHY AND ACTIVE ONE. Visit our Healthy Habits, Active Advice page online for great tips, links, and activities to keep the whole family moving at home: canadagamescentre.ca/fitness/personal-training/healthy-habits-active-advice/
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UNCERTAINTY ALL AROUND
With so much out of our control, we should make the most of the opportunities we now have
Tracy Stuart, Editor Our Children Magazine
I know that this is not an easy time; we’ve all experienced our fair share of www disappointments.
But I also know we www can rise above it
or several weeks now, we’ve all been living in uncharted territory: isolation, homeschooling, birthday parties missed, and the grieving of lost loved ones done quietly at home. But through it all we can find light. We’ve also been blessed with time to think, time to pivot and learn, quality time with our families, time to assess who we want to be when we reemerge from this world pandemic. There has never been a better time to access incredible resources from the comforts of home. Just last week we did a tour of the Louvre in Paris, we tuned in to a virtual dance party with a DJ in our community, we’ve taken a painting class from a teacher at our school, and we’ve watched gardening shows. And the list goes on. It’s been incredible to see how creative you can become when you aren’t running the roads. If you are running out of ideas to keep your family entertained, turn to First Bell on page 8. Olivia Malley has compiled an assortment of engaging online activities that will keep the pipeline full for weeks to come. I know that this is not an easy time; we’ve all experienced our fair share of disappointments. But I also know we can rise above it. As an Olympian there was never certainty in my athletic career. I may have gotten sick or injured before a big race, my seat in the boat was never guaranteed, decisions about the direction of the team were beyond my control. This is similar to what we are witnessing now. There are thousands of athletes that have
been counting down the days for the Olympic torch to burn brightly in Japan, but now, just two months before the opening ceremonies, the 2020 Summer Olympics are postponed. These are circumstances beyond our control, but it is our reaction that will be what predicts our future success or failure. The great athletes will view this as an opportunity to become even faster and stronger, further honing their skills. Parents play a huge role in helping children navigate through uncertain times. What I learned as a high performance athlete has helped me be a better mother by being a good model for them and to focus on the things we can control, like ensuring we have lots of nutritious food in the house, making sure we get outside to play every day, ensuring that we all get a good night sleep, and making sure we have planned activities to keep learning new things. Kim Hart Macneill caught up with one of my Olympic teammates Karen Furneaux, who shares her story on page 12 about how goal setting and focus played a role in her success. This growth mindset is also very much a part of the Sanford family’s philosophy as well, as Olympic hopeful Wyatt (their youngest) has had to pivot in his preparation for Japan. Both are very positive stories about how our mindset can be so powerful in helping us shape our world. From my family to yours: stay safe and enjoy this time together.
Our Children | Summer 2020
By Olivia Malley
BODIES IN MOTION While your kids may be confined to a smaller space than they are used to, that doesn’t mean they still can’t keep up their physical activity. Participaction is a national nonprofit focused on getting Canadians up and active. The organization has rounded up some great resources to keep your family active during these times. For example you can try some sock ball soccer, or pick a game to do while walking around your neighbourhood. participaction.com
PHOTO: BIGSTOCK/ MONKEYBUSINESSIMAGES
ART AT HOME Help keep your children’s creative side active with these step by step art projects from the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Extensive art supplies are not needed because the projects only require what most people have lying around the house. These videos and downloadable lesson plans are easy to follow, and each have an educational touch. So far the projects have been paper structures and drawings inspired by Mi’kmaw quillwork designs. New videos will be coming out each Sunday. artgalleryofnovascotia.ca/ studiofromhome
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CHECKING OUT The Halifax Public Library has a multitude of online resources to keep kids busy at home. In their blog posts, kids will find fun activities like how to make stop motion movies and how to build a robotic hand. The library also has resources for e-books and animated talking picture books. For movies, check out the library's newest online resource Kanopy. By signing up for a free account with your library card you will be able to access free movies and TV shows for kids. halifaxpubliclibraries.ca/kids
Where children become everything they can be Singing, dancing and acting classes for 4 - 16 year-olds
Stagecoach Performing Arts is the trading name of Stagecoach Theatre Arts Limited. Stagecoach Theatre Arts schools are operated under franchise and are independently owned by their Principals. Stagecoach and Creative Courage For Life are registered trademarks of Stagecoach Theatre Arts Limited.
Our Children | Summer 2020
INTO THE LAB For your little scientists the Discovery Centre’s BitSize Science has 10 fun science projects to do at home. Each activity has step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow and that you and your children can do together. Activities like creating invisible ink and milk fireworks are wide ranging and inventive. They also only need materials from around the house and each activity has an explanation of the science behind the fun. thediscoverycentre.ca/bitesize-science The Discovery Centre has also launched the new online program, Discovery@Home, delivering weekly hands-on, curriculum-connected workshops for for all grades. The free programming includes interactive video sessions designed to complement school curriculum. Discovery Centre science educators will use software to transition from live demonstrations to screen-sharing, enabling the use of a variety of media and educational applications. thediscoverycentre.ca/discovery-at-home/
PHOTO: NEPTUNE THEATRE
While you may be used to packing your kids lunch or giving them money for the cafeteria, now may be the perfect time to get them to help make their own food. Nourish Nova Scotia has tips for cooking with children and recipes to help families make and enjoy food together. The recipes are also on the healthier side such as root vegetable patties and three grain raspberry muffins. Plus, there are fun activities surrounding food and things found in the kitchen, like egg geodes and soap clouds. nourishns.ca
CURTAIN CALL Halifax’s Neptune Theatre has a 14 day challenge for children. This project will have your children take inspiration from their favourite movies, books, and stories to create their own new tales. As they bring their stories to life with a performance, they’ll learn about the world of theatre from costumes to staging. Once the 14 days are over, kids can email Neptune to get a certificate of completion. neptunetheatre.com/theatre-school/overview/ theatre-kid-challenge
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THE WORLD AROUND US For more experiments in fields such as biology, environmentalism, and chemistry check out Supernova. Run by Dalhousie University, the activities take between 15 minutes to an hour to complete and there are over 30 to try. Some of the activities include crazy crystals, fun fossils, and lemon volcanoes. Supernova also designed the activities to only need everyday materials. They will be posting new content daily, and there is a section where you can let Supernova know what you would like to see next. supernova.dal.ca
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LOVE OF THE GAME Even when competition is postponed, parents play a key role in helping high-performance kids excel while having fun
By Kim Hart Macneill
Our Children | Summer 2020
he first year Angela Sanfordâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s three boys were slated to play on different basketball teams, she and her husband decided that was the end of basketball. The boys traditionally played baseball in the summer and basketball in fall and winter, but three different teams made driving to practices and games impossible. To keep the boys active, the Sanfords installed a heavy bag in their basement allowing them practise boxing moves for fun. At the urging of a school friend, they signed up for a two week trial at the local boxing club. The friend quit after the first night, but Wyatt, the youngest Sanford, was hooked. Last year, the now 21-year-old was the Canadian Qualification Winner for the now-postponed Summer Olympics in Japan. Many children dream of standing on the Olympic podium or suiting up with their favourite NHL team. For most, it remains just a dream. For those with the skills and drive to go all the way, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a lot parents can do to help them meet their goals. Most of it happens off the field, continuing even now as a pandemic shuts down organized competition.
The Sanford boys tried many sports. Here Ryan and Wyatt celebrate a second-place finish with the Hants North Jays at 2010 Little League tournament in Amherst.
Our Children | Summer 2020
Dan and Angela Sanford with their sons (left to right) Devin, Wyatt, and Ryan, after Ryan won his first international boxing tournament, the 2011 Kansas City Ringside World Championships.
Angela is quick to point out she “was never going to be the first choice on any team,” but she carried a love of sport since childhood and instilled it in her children. In 2011, Devin, her oldest, and Wyatt both made the provincial core baseball team. They and middle brother, Ryan, played for the provincial dart team’s youth league and were provincial boxing champions. “And we thought three basketball teams would be hard. [That year] was intense,” Angela says. “I don’t know if we saw our house at all that year.” Unknowingly, Angela and her husband Dan’s choice to let their boys play as many sports as they wanted set them up for success. Single-sport specialized training in children and teens leads to a risk of overuse injury and burnout, says a 2017 study from UCLA. The study defines specialization as training for eight or more months of the year and quitting all other sports to focus on one. The paper mentions how the American Women’s Tennis Association tackled this issue in the 1990s. At the time, many emerging phenoms went pro as young as 13, and burned out, quit prematurely, or suffered significant injuries. The WTA developed the Age Eligibility Rule, which laid out a phased-in approach and development programs designed to prepare players 14–18 for the rigours of professional play. Like the Sanfords, three-time Olympian and two-time World Champion sprint kayaker Karen Furneaux didn’t start her sport career with the one that would bring her acclaim. “When I started kayaking, I didn’t love it,” she recalls. “It’s not an easy sport. You’re in the water more than you’re in the boat sometimes.” But when a skiing accident forced her to stop competing, she found her love of kayaking. “The thrill for me was to actually set a goal to make the Canada Games team,” she says. “That goal was very real for me. Once I had that goal, I was locked into it and I tried really hard.” Her motivation came more from the goal than the sport, she says. While Furneaux’s injury left her no option but to quit competitive skiing, she says her parents offered her and her siblings the gift of
making their own choices about sport. “We always felt that they were there and that they were supporting us, but they let us do our thing,” Furneaux says. “I think that was really, really important.” The Sanford family motto when it comes to life and sport is: close doors slowly. “We did everything to encourage them to try everything and give everything the benefit of the doubt as long as they can,” Angela says. “You’ll know when the time is right to say, ‘This part of my life has to change.’” Over the years, Angela has met parents who push their children to live their own dreams. She admits she lives vicariously through Wyatt’s success, but it is his success. “I would love to see the world the way he sees it. But I’m glad that we didn’t push him. It had to come from him.” Another important aspect of success in sports in the mental side, according to Andrew Ling, a Halifax-based mental-performance coach who has worked with university and national teams. “There is no magic pill for confidence, but it’s a central piece that really affects any type of athlete,” he says. One opportunity for parents to help young athletes maintain confidence is reminding them when they’re preforming well, and monitoring negative self-talk when they aren’t. You can spot negative self-talk by watching body language and facial expressions for signs of disappointment or regret. Ling uses a basketball foul shot as an example. “If I’m talking to another athlete and I look over after the throw, I should feel like you’ve made it based on your body language. If I see you looking down and setting yourself up to miss the second one, I’ll know that you missed the first one.” Instead of focusing on the mistake itself, Ling suggest players strive to understand what happened to cause the missed throw, build on the skills needed to make the throw next time, and practice positive self-affirmation. Parents can help by identifying and celebrating successes. “You don’t know exactly when the perfect point is, where that athlete
Although she first aspired to a skiing career, at around age 13 in 1989, Karen Furneaux discovered a passion for kayaking.
felt that confidence again, but you can say ‘Wow, that was a great match. Help them identify it so they say, ‘Yeah, I felt great out there’ to themselves.” Ling recommends that parents help student athletes identify and anticipate obstacles. “If we talk about it, then we have a plan,” Ling says; this level of preparedness is another way to instill confidence. Parents should also anticipate the obstacles they will face while raising young athletes.
“We have a ton of friends,” says Angela, “but we don’t have a close knit set, that gang of friends you’re getting together with on the weekend. We have our boxing family, we had a baseball family, we had a dart family. There were certainly times that we recognized that as teenagers the boys didn’t have those school, teen friends.” When Wyatt’s boxing coach first told Angela and Dan that he had a good chance of making the Olympic team, the couple had a long talk about the future after the boys went to bed. “How do you tell your kid who was just told that he has a strong chance of going to the Olympics, that you can’t afford to help him get there? It was probably the biggest struggle all along. We had to say, what are we going to do to make this happen?” The support from their community in Kennetcook, Nova Scotia, played a big role in that, Angela says. “We’ve never felt like we were doing this on our own. We’ve always felt like it really does take a village to raise a child. It’s been wonderful that way.” She says even today, neighbours ask after Wyatt, who lives in Montreal as he pursues his Olympic dream. Angela and her husband second-guessed their children’s heavy involvement with sports over the years, but knowing that her children were following their passions and felt supported but not pushed by their parents made it easier. “You’re going to have doubts, you’re going to have fears, and sometimes you just have to take that adversity and make it work for you,” she says. “You have to work through it and know that there are things bigger in life that you have no control over, that you cannot change.”
Embrace the POWER www
Karen Furneaux and the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame offer a free program of motivational presentations for student athletes called POWER Up Your Team. Furneaux uses storytelling and the power acronym to help children find their own power in themselves and their teams. • Presence. Stand tall and radiate confidence. • Openness. Stay open to learning and growth, including failures and challenges. • Wisdom. Find wisdom within yourself and others around you, including family, friends, and teammates. • Energy. Engage in your performance to promote www positive results. • Resilience. Hang in there when times get tough. www The program is currently on hold due to COVID-19. Contact the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame for information on when it will resume. nsshf.com/power-program
Our Children | Summer 2020
PHOTO: VAUGHN MERCHANT
Membertou Elementary Walking School Bus.
Back to walking
As the pandemic has forced us to embrace at-home education, many look forward to the simple joys of walking to school again By Chris Benjamin
hen school returns one of my family’s favourite things will be resuming our daily walks. I can already hear the lilting “Welcome Baack” from the Welcome Back, Kotter theme song, which my wife blasts every year during the first walk to school. We’ll round up the troops—five fresh-faced Grade 3 students, a Grade 1 sister, parents, and two or three dogs—at Connelly and Edinburgh streets, and we’ll encounter other walking groups as we head to the Bayers Road crosswalk, kinetic energy crackling through the excited chatter. Some will whiz to the next intersection via scooter, others will roll via bicycle, and some will saunter casually. My wife and I will dance like the goofballs we are. It’s quite a crowd on the first day back, and something we miss dearly since social distancing kept us all home. During a normal fall, winter and spring, our street’s six kids, occasionally joined by a couple of tag-along friends, will be accompanied by one to three adults each morning: our Walking School Bus (WSB).
“For my son Thomas, it’s about starting the day with friends,” says parent Jennifer Cameron, a self-employed public relations consultant. “He looks forward to the walk, even though he’s shy.” For Cameron, the WSB, which started when her son entered Grade Primary, is a reassurance of safety, physical activity, and friendship for Thomas. His peers would be with him, familiar faces in a new environment, guided by a parent to help them navigate road traffic, and cars backing out of their driveways, blind to small children. “There’s no battle, no complaining or whining,” Cameron says. “He’s proud to be on the walking school bus.” Patrick Laroche, an IT professional, originally saw the WSB as a time saver. “Same advantage parents of kids with regular school buses have,” he says. Four days a week, he could see his son, Reid out the door and know he was cared for and safe. That’s still a significant benefit, but he has found many others. “Kids hanging out together, being kids. I enjoy it too, walking the
kids, seeing them play, seeing them when they arrive at the school and knowing their environment.” His daughter Faye has since officially joined the WSB, but even when she was in daycare she would tag along with her own little backpack. “Her big brother taught her the ropes and it helped her with having social success when she transitioned to school,” he recalls. Neither Cameron nor Laroche specifically mentions helping the environment when they talk of the WSB, although Cameron says she would definitely be driving a lot more without it. We all would. That’s not why we started it, but a WSB is a great way to reduce carbon emissions, particularly in school zones, where growing lungs (and brains) breathe more rapidly than adults, absorbing more pollutants. My wife, Miia, initiated our WSB. We held a meeting at our house to gauge interest, set ground rules and, most importantly, named ourselves. The Edindon WSB was born.
We set starting times and a meeting place. When people are late, we give them a courtesy knock to make sure they’re still planning to come that day. “Drivers” give as much notice (usually by text) as possible on days they can’t lead the bus, so another parent can step in. Some parents go nearly every day because they enjoy the exercise and social time with other parents. There were early discussions about the route, whether to use the crossing guard on Connelly or the traffic lights on Oxford—we went with a route with two crossing guards. With three workfrom-home parents on our team, there is flexibility and builtin contingency, and parents frequently trade “driver” days to accommodate one another. We are part of a larger movement, one that spans Halifax, the province and Canada. There are informal WSBs like ours, and ones backed by schools or by regional centres for education (RCE), or by environmental groups like the Ecology Action Centre (EAC). They are part of an effort to pushback against inactivity and car
dependency. In Nova Scotia, one in three children is obese, and under 20 per cent walk to school, compared with 60 per cent of their parents’generation. Why is that? Are those of us within a half-kilometre radius of our kids’ schools really too busy? Possible. But according to Stephanie Johnstone-Laurette, EAC’s youth active transportation coordinator, the biggest reason parents give for not walking their kids is safety—our fear of traffic creates more traffic. “Most parents aren’t comfortable with a young child walking to school,” Johnstone-Laurette says. Exacerbating the problem has been the growth of catchment areas as schools have amalgamated, creating longer walking distances. “This is where it’s important to have a school champion,” Johnstone-Laurette says. “You need walkable communities, to find a safe route.” She says most schools now have a transportation advisory council that can help create WSBs, plan the safest possible routes, ideally with crossing guards. “Safety is the key issue,” she says, “and there is safety in numbers.” Walking (or riding or scooting) in groups, with at least one adult along, increases visibility and enhances decision making. With time and experience, we’ve seen our kids learn the route, and how well trained they are to stop at each road and wait for the
CLASSES youth & adults at home Circus Hip Hop & Stretch Living Room Drama
Our Children | Summer 2020
PHOTO: ECOLOGY ACTION CENTRE
Leon de Vreede with safety equipment he had made to support the Bridgewater Elementary School Walking School Bus.
rest of the group, including adults. “They benefit from repetition of routes and reminders about how to cross street.” When surveying young WSB participants, EAC has found that their memories from walking are entirely different from a child being driven. “Those in cars remember another vehicle or the school. Walkers remember the worm they saw. Or the person they waved to.” Connections to community and connections to the natural world. The WSB is likely a growing phenomenon as RCEs and the province are making physical activity a priority, calling for 10 to 25 minutes daily. “It’s really being pushed on a community level. Walking school buses bring the pieces [community, safety, activity, and environment] together.” Our group hopes the WSB is the start of a lifelong habit, normalizing active transportation. That’s important, because according to Johnstone-Laurette, older children are even less physically active, with only five per cent of boys and one per cent of girls achieving provincial activity goals in high school. “Hopefully they want to stay together as a bus when they’re older, because they’re friends and they trust each other,” Cameron says. “Maybe it will become just them walking,” Laroche adds. “We already see that with older kids in our neighbourhood.” For more information on starting a Walking School Bus in your neighbourhood, visit ecologyaction.ca/walking-school-bus
www.inesS.ca/youthzoom Summer Circus Camps
Our Children | Summer 2020
Conquering clutter Experts weigh in on the best ways to organize kid chaos By Heather Laura Clarke
any Nova Scotians went declutter-crazy after reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo: holding items to see if they “sparked joy” and discarding anything that didn’t into donation bins. (Thrift shoppers still speak fondly of the KonMari method era when the shelves of secondhand stores overflowed with wonderful cast-offs.) But although Kondo tried to follow up with some tips for sorting children’s items (board games, toys, books, and general clutter) she never quite hit the mark. Parents struggled to apply her calm, less-ismore wisdom to their children’s bedrooms and playrooms. A single teddy bear next to a lone toy car on an immaculate white shelf? While that might be practical in a tiny urban apartment, it’s not exactly helpful when you’re staring down at a three-storey minefield of Barbie shoes, Pokémon cards, Peppa Pig figurines, gnawed plastic blocks, and Happy Meal toys.
Jane Veldhoven, a Certified Professional Organizer and owner of Get Organized by Design in Halifax, says children’s clutter makes many parents regularly feel overwhelmed. “The needs of children change rapidly over time, which means there can be a lot of accumulation,” she explains. “The type of toys that children play with changes over time, which means they must be edited on a regular basis.” But it’s the “editing” process that can daunt, with cabinets, drawers and shelving units overflowing with toys, books and games. Parents are exhausted at the thought of going through the mess, so it can feel easier to just buy another bin and ignore it for a while longer. There are emotional attachments, too. Even if they know their kids have outgrown their train table or set of Calico Critters, Veldhoven says sometimes parents hesitate to get rid of the
Our Children | Summer 2020
Kids preferences are constantly evolving, so if you sort regularly, you'll help keep clutter from accumulating.
items because they may have been a gift from a friend or family member or a toy that was once their child’s favourite. The reality is, however, that most of our houses have too many unused toys. Just as adults tend to wear just 20 per cent of their wardrobe 80 per cent of the time, Veldhoven says children tend to only play with about 20 per cent of their toys, and “they can survive with much less than we think.” Laura Churchill Duke agrees it’s important to start by paring down what you have because the first rule of organization is that “you can’t organize clutter.” “If you have too much stuff, it will be really difficult to organize and as soon as you do, it will just get messy again,” explains Duke, who owns Your Last Resort Home Organization and Staging along with Jennifer Saklofske and Raina Noel. The business is based in the Annapolis Valley, its organizers working with clients across the province. While it might be easier for parents to sneak into the toy room with a black garbage bag and just start tossing, Duke says it’s better to include your children. “We strongly believe kids must be part of the process to learn these skills and that parents should do the decluttering process with the kids, not behind their backs,” says Duke. She says it’s usually “too overwhelming” to tackle an entire room because most kids (and adults) lack the skills to know how to begin. She says it’s most helpful to start with a specific category like stuffed animals or books. “I remember asking my son to clean out his desk drawer and he literally started having a meltdown and freaking out. It was so overwhelming for him,” recalls Duke. “This is when I discovered category by category. I had him start with just the pencils, then the erasers, and we were finished in no time.” When she’s working with a family, Duke will patiently put out a pile of five to 10 items and encourage the kids to push each toy under a “Keep” sign or a “Get rid of” sign.
“I try to do this without judgement, but sometimes I will guide them by asking ‘Do you still play with it?’ or ‘Isn’t it broken?’ or ‘Would your little cousin play with it more?’” says Duke. If they insist on keeping a toy that really should be tossed or donated, Duke lets them. She says she knows if they repeat the process in a month, the kids will be able to let go of even more items. “You can also try packing up items you think you can let go of, labeling them with the date and storing them away for a sixmonth period,” adds Veldhoven. “If no one misses them, they can probably go to someone who will actually put them to use.” If you’ve tried paring down your kids’ toys and find you’re still drowning in excess LOL Dolls and Hot Wheels, you may want to consider hiring a professional organizer to help. “Bringing in someone who is not attached to the stuff can help with the editing process,” says Veldhoven. “Also, because we have seen so many play areas, we can certainly provide excellent advice on storage options that are affordable and attractive.” Duke agrees that working with a professional can be especially helpful in situations where clean-outs usually lead to family squabbles. “Children often respond to other adults better, and there is less tension or emotional attachment,” says Duke. “Many wives have hired us to work with their husbands for the same reason!” Veldhoven says it’s important for parents to model the behaviour of tidying up and putting their own things away. “If your children see you doing it, they will learn to do it as well,” she says. “If your children have attended daycare or have started school, they know the meaning of putting things away.” Kids need to know where to put items away, and that’s another challenge. Kids outgrow toys and books, but they also outgrow organizational systems. Veldhoven says one of the biggest reasons tidying kids’ spaces can be hard for families is because what works for one stage of life might no longer work for the next.
21 An organized basket system may have been perfect for baby toys, since it was the parents picking them up anyway. But once that baby grows into a toddler, baskets are too easily dumped out, mixing wooden puzzle pieces and plastic farm animals together into a “toy soup” all over the floor. Veldhoven says there needs to be an obvious, well-labelled space for each item in order for this to work. She suggests using adjustable shelving that can grow with your children. Clear bins make it easier for kids to see what’s inside, which makes it less likely they’ll dump the whole thing onto the floor. “If the system is easy, the kids are more likely to use it,” says Veldhoven. Duke says proper storage is key, but the solutions should be customized to your child’s personality and habits. Some kids, she says, love to have things “micro-organized.” Instead of one bin for “doll clothes,” they’ll do best with separate bins for Barbie clothes, American Girl clothes and Build-a-Bear clothes. “But some kids will just combine all the clothes together and don’t want it micro-sorted like this,” adds Duke. “In that case, a larger bin or trunk might work better, but you can still keep cars in one, Lego in another, etc. Kids feel so much pride when their rooms are organized.” Label bins so the kids (or parents, friends, and babysitters) know where everything goes when tidying. If your child can’t read yet, Duke suggests labelling the bins with photos or even gluing a sample item to the front of the bin. Bins are only one storage solution. Stuffed animal nets and tall shelving units take advantage of vertical space. Armoires, ottomans, and under-bed drawers provide hidden storage. Hooks and clothing racks are perfect for organizing dress-up clothes and costumes. Board games stack easily on deep bookcases. Peg boards are handy for everything from Nerf guns to containers of art supplies. Jennifer Saklofske with Your Last Resort Home Organization and Staging uses a hanging shoe organizer to corral her daughter’s tiny Shopkins. It’s hung at her height, and she can easily see her toys through the clear pockets. No matter how you choose to store the items you’re keeping, Veldhoven says the key is to teach your children they don’t need piles and piles of toys to be happy. Studies show that children play longer and more deeply when they have fewer toys. So while owning fewer toys may be beneficial for your children, Veldhoven says it’s also likely to set them up for an adulthood where they’re comfortable sorting, discarding and organizing their possessions as needed. “The less you own, the easier it is to keep your home organized,” says Veldhoven. “Teaching your children to hold onto less ‘stuff’ will serve them well later in life.”
If storage is accessible and well organized, kids are more likely to use it.
QUICK TIPS FOR DECLUTTERING & ORGANIZING YOUR KIDS’ SPACES Start with three bags, boxes or signs labeled with “Keep,”
“Donate,” and “Toss” so everyone understands your sorting system. Instead of tackling the whole mess all at once, work category by category (i.e. stuffed animals, books, Barbies, art supplies). Guide your child through the sorting process by asking when they last played with an item, if they think someone else might enjoy it more, if it’s broken, etc. If your child insists on keeping items you don’t think they’ll really use, consider boxing them up separately and packing them away for six months to see if they notice. Don’t feel guilted into keeping toys just because they were an expensive gift. If your child isn’t going to use them, they’d be better off in the hands of a child who will love them. Store the remaining items in a way that’s accessible for your child, where everything has its own place. Talk to your child about the best way to organize specific items because they might have great ideas. Clear bins are helpful, and everything should be labeled for easy clean-up. Repeat the process every six months or so, because kids’ interests change quickly. Toys they love now might be “too babyish” next time.
Our Children | Summer 2020
Students from the Millwood High School in Sackville have been creating special projects to support the community. During the holidays they wrapped gifts for seniors.
WE Schools @ Home complements curriculum and helps parents, teachers, and kids connect and stay socially engaged By Crystal Murray
pen almost any publication or news site and you’ll see the physical impacts of COVID-19 quantified into understandable units. Infection rates, cases resolved and death toll. The numbers and the evidence are updated hourly but other aspects of the pandemic aren’t as easy to plot on a graph or pop into a spread sheet. We’re learning that just as quickly as the pandemic overturned our typical daily routines, the impacts on mental health were as immediate, troubling and hard to contain.
“WE Schools opens the door to explore and create a more global view for my students” —Dayna Crathorne While no one is immune to mental illness, there is increasing attention on supports for young people. Most mental health advocacy for youth is concentrated in the education system. However, when schools responded to the call for physical distancing to help slow down the spread of the virus and students went home, an important mechanism for mental health awareness and support was compromised. Acknowledging the tremendous amount of stress that young people, educators, and parents are experiencing as a result of the pandemic, WE Schools (an educational partner active in 7,000+ schools across Canada) launched an at-home learning platform on the website we.org Last fall, 10,000+ students from schools all over Atlantic Canada celebrated their year of action at WE Day Atlantic, sharing stories about their projects and good deeds that transform their communities and change the lives of people in schools but around the world. Many Nova Scotian families are tuned in to the high energy star-studded productions that happen in cities throughout North America every school year, that celebrate “doing good” but may not be as familiar with the WE School program that has taken a quick pivot to learning at home and its relation to wellbeing. “The program launched in early April provides curricular resources around social emotional learning,” says WE co-founder Craig Kielburger. There is a strong emphasis on wellbeing and resiliency that are so important right now where COVID-19 has upended the educational system. “WE Schools @ Home was in response to so many school districts, principals, teachers, but especially parents who are now stepping into the role of the teacher,” says Kielburger during an interview from his home in Ontario. The fundamentals of the free program are delivered by email every Monday to Friday. They’re turn-key resources for parents, teachers, and students. School districts throughout Canada have been helping share the information since the pivot to learning from home. Dayna Crathorne, a Grade 9 teacher at Millwood High School in Middle Sackville says she is grateful for the resources. She uses the curriculum enhancements in her classroom through the year. She believes the continually updated program gives her students more time to think critically about world events and issues. “WE Schools opens the door to explore and create a more global view for my students,” says Crathorne, from her new makeshift classroom office in her basement of her home in Bedford. The resources are also great to work alongside the new service-learning component that has been brought into the curriculum for Grade 9 students in Nova Scotia. You see the value of this program come front and centre.”
Millwood High teacher Dayna Crathorne has been connecting with her students to support their on-line studies during the pandemic, using new tools from WE Schools @ Home to complement her weekly curriculum. The program focuses on building resiliency and social/emotional learning.
Earlier in the year, her students created projects to support the Sackville Warming Centre and gave a welcomed refresh to the female washrooms in the school. As much as Crathorne says she values the engagement and empowerment that comes from service learning, she is also confident that the new program focus on wellbeing now that students are in a home learning environment will have a very positive impact. “I like to bring social emotional learning into almost everything I do when I teach my students,” adds Crathorne. “I am a real person and I want my students to know this. I want them to understand that we all have struggles and we all can talk about it. I have anxiety and I am very open to discuss this with my students. I am now using the discussion cards provided by WE Schools to create other ways to connect on these subjects.” Crathorne, who has been teaching for seven years has also shared with her students that her grandmother who is in a home for special care tested positive for COVID-19. “My students are very caring and want to know how my grandmother is doing,” she says.
Our Children | Spring 2020
Bring WE Schools @ Home to your family See we.org for free resources. WE Schools Live A daily online program to educate, engage and inspire with educators and experts for one hour. Busy parents can feel confident that their children during this hour are receiving positive, educational content. WE Schools Live streams daily on Facebook at 2–3 p.m. ADT. • Mindful Mondays: Learn how to nurture your well-being and the well-being of others, including through self-care practices that build resiliency. • Teacher Tuesdays: Engage with a teacher selected for their incredible pedagogy and charismatic teaching style to captive students. • Wellness Wednesdays: Learn how you can take care of your own physical health during a time of limited mobility. • Take Action Thursdays: Service learning comes alive, with action plans to tackle local and global issues even when physically distancing. • Feature Fridays: Join an interactive episode where WE Schools Live dives into a timely and trending topic in the servicelearning space.
Daily virtual lessons featuring a certified teacher Virtual lessons that students can tune into daily by grade level, led by a certified teacher. Each virtual lesson will come along with additional resources to support parents in homeschooling in an easy and digestible way.
Social and emotional learning tool kit An online tool kit that includes daily activities to do at home to support well-being and foster empathy, compassion and resiliency.
TEACHER SUPPORT AND RESOURCES Interactive and experiential daily virtual lessons Virtual classroom lessons for students (P–12) that cover myriad timely topics, including staying in the know for COVID-19, using
technology to do social good, and building well-being skills through social and emotional learning. Teachers will also have access to lesson plans and activities designed exclusively to help enhance core curriculum.
WE Teachers Hub Access to an archive of free online resources designed to provide teachers with resources to support students. The WE Teachers Hub has everything from ready-made lesson plans to professional learning courses that educators can access along with exclusive, virtual learning experiences and a community of teachers around the world. The platform equips educators with tools to address critical social issues with students, starting with trauma-informed resources and professional learning. Click here to access the WE Teachers Hub.
Pandemic—Informed Community Resource: COVID-19 This resource will assist teachers to address pandemic-related trauma. Educators gain a deeper understanding of the topic, relevant context, and explore the pedagogical benefits of traumainformed teaching.
Teacher Webinars Weekly webinars every Thursday at 4–5 p.m. ADT to support and build community among teachers in their shift to creating virtual classrooms. Topics will include classroom management in a virtual world, virtual lessons for students, Q&A with subjectmatter experts in well-being to support students’ social and emotional learning and share best practices for learning at home.
25 “This is very real for so many people. I wanted to be as honest about it as possible and I posted a video to share with them to let them know how I am feeling.” WE Schools complements the core curriculum. “What we are doing is tackling the social emotional side of learning,” says Kielburger. “The program and the content that we have developed with the help of many incredible mental health experts and educators is something that young people can access every day and apply to their own life to help manage the challenges of this unique time.” Kielburger emphasizes that all resources are free, including a new edition WE Wellbeing digital playbook to help students cope with social isolation and tips for keeping up with school while dealing with the anxiety and fear. “We are also getting ready for when teachers and students go back to school,” adds Kielburger. “There is a trauma informed curricular program that will help support people who have been through a very difficult time. We know that some people more than others may have experienced the reality of family members facing economic challenges, the loss of loved ones or increased levels of domestic violence.” While the organization depends largely on the local school boards to actively communicate to parents, Kielburger adds that they also have champions like Senator Stanley Kutcher an expert in youth mental health and resiliency participating in their WE Schools Live programming on Facebook. Celebrated Canadians like Olympians Tessa Virtue and Silken
Laumann sharing their self-care tips on the Wellbeing podcast followed by psychologists who talk about what they just heard and how ordinary people can tie the ideas into their own lives. “The truth is I believe that what
is currently a physical health crisis is becoming a mental health crisis for young people,” says Keilburger. “It’s critical that we provide these proactive and prevention focused resources to support young people at the time.”
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We’re here for you, with at-home activities, storytime videos from Library staff and special guests, learning tools, contests, and—of course—digital reading materials.
Our Children | Summer 2020
Does your child need a probiotic? Probiotics can be beneficial, if you use the right ones at the right time By Edwena Kennedy
robiotics seem to be everywhere: your sister is taking one daily to treat her bloating, your doctor may have recommended one for your colicky baby, and the yogurt aisle in the grocery store is screaming about all the probiotics it contains. Is it worth giving your child one too? Probiotics are live microorganisms (AKA bacteria) that survive in the digestive tract and promote gut health. We have trillions of natural bacteria living in our guts. The good bacteria keep the bad ones at bay, strengthening the gut’s mucosal barrier so that foreign materials and germs cannot bind to it. They can also work by lowering the pH of the intestine (making it more acidic) so that it would be an inhospitable environment for unfavourable materials and germs to live. Having lots of good bacteria keeps us healthy. And even though the gut is constantly hosting new probiotics, it is important to ensure that the balance between the good and bad bacteria is not offset. We always want the ratio of good to bad to be very high. There are lots of different types of probiotics. It’s important to understand that each specific strain (or specific variety within a general family of bacteria) has a specific benefit. Some have no proven benefit. Research on all this is new so we don’t have the full picture yet, but there’s no use in taking any probiotic for the sake of it if you don’t understand which are clinically proven to have positive effects. Most research shows that Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and
Probiotics have many benefits, if you take the right ones for the right job.
Saccharomyces are a few general family groups of bacteria that are naturally occurring in the body and seem to have beneficial properties. But again, what’s important is the specific strain within each of these general categories. From birth, an infant’s gut will begin to populate with different bacteria (making up their “microflora” or specific population
of bacteria in their gut). Different factors, such as genetics, the type of delivery (caesarean or vaginal), the infant’s diet (breastmilk or formula), and other factors such as the environment and presence of antibiotics, influence the composition of gut microflora. For example, according to a study done in 2009, infants acquired different
Kid-Chi—Kimchi for Kids This recipe, found at mountainfeed.com, adopts a kimchi recipe and makes it a little less spicy, something many kids will be sure to appreciate! It includes many ingredients, most of which you will probably already have on hand. It is a quick recipe to make, however needs 7 hands-off days to ferment. Give it a try!
What to do
• • • • •
1. Core and cut cabbage 2. Massage cabbage with sea salt, about 2 minutes 3. Peel and coin carrots 4. Mince fresh ginger and garlic 5. Add remaining ingredients to massaged cabbage and massage again, about 2-5 minutes or until juice can be easily squeezed out of the vegetables 6. Pack mixture into a jar while pressing down lightly until the brine rises and covers the vegetables completely 7. Secure lid on jar and store out of the sun in room temperature for 7 days to allow for fermentation. 8. Store kimchi in the fridge once opened for two months!
2 lbs napa cabbage, cut in ¼ inch slices 2 tsp. sea salt 2 medium carrots, peeled and coined 1 tsp. ginger, minced 1 tsp. garlic, minced
types of bacteria during their first months via breastfed milk compared to formula feedings. Those infants that were fed mom’s milk had a high level of Bifidobacterium species that dominate in the gut while on the other hand, formula fed infants have more Enterobacter microbes in the gut. The difference was due to the makeup of the breast milk, therefore influencing the makeup of their general microflora. You can get more good probiotics naturally occurring in some foods or via supplements (chews, powder, or drops). But these supplemental probiotics won’t stay in your gut forever. They’re somewhat water soluble, which means they enter and then they leave. Millions of probiotics leave in simple diaper change. This means that as far as we know, to see any benefits from supplemental probiotics, we need to be consistently giving them to our children. Does this mean we should all be handing out daily probiotics? No. Most kids don’t need them at all. However, in certain circumstances where environmental or medical changes may affect the colonization of good vs bad probiotics, help from supplements or food can be warranted. If your child has been sick for an extended time, has digestive issues, or is taking antibiotics, this may be a good time to introduce a probiotic supplement. Remember, the health benefits of probiotics are strain specific (meaning a specific type of bacteria must be present in a specific quantity). Furthermore, probiotic supplements haven’t been proven to be completely safe for the immunocompromised (e.g. premature babies). Always consult a doctor or dietitian before giving your child any probiotics supplements. Sometimes medication our kids need to take, such as antibiotics, can upset the gut’s balance by wiping out all bacteria, not only the bad stuff. This can significantly decrease the body’s ability to protect itself against germs and unwanted foreign materials, meaning your kids are at risk for things like antibioticassociated diarrhea. In times like these, experts often recommend a probiotic containing Lactobaciallus rhamnosus GG and Saccharomyces boulardii to prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Note that
while most probiotics should be taken after taking the antibiotics (so that they won’t be affected by the antibiotic), one type called Florastor can be taken during antibiotic treatment. Sometimes your child will just have diarrhea for other reasons (most likely due to a viral or bacterial infection). Research has shown that there can be a reduction of stool frequency and duration of diarrhea (by about a day) in children when they take probiotics containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Saccharomyces boulardii. The effects that probiotics have on constipation are heavily debated. Research gives no clear answer, though some studies have shown that Lactobacillus reuteri Protectis was more effective than placebo in improving the frequency of bowel movements in adults and children with functional constipation. Research shows that the type of bacteria found in the gut is different in those with eczema versus those without (such as lower bifidobacteria presence with eczema). While the research isn’t 100%
clear, supplementation with Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG has been promising in showing a reduction in the severity of presence of eczema. Functional abdominal pain (which may or may not be associated with diarrhea, constipation, bloating) has been shown to have improvements in severity of pain experienced with L. reuteri DSM 17938 (and some studies show Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG can have benefits too). Research shows that a specific bacterial strain called Lactobacillus reuteri 17938 has been associated with decreased crying spells in exclusively breastfed infants. While a general probiotic isn’t necessary in most cases (especially when eating a diet rich in probiotic foods as is explained in the next section), you can help protect your child against commonly infectious diseases such as upper respiratory infections, pneumonia, and stomach flu. It’s not guaranteed, but use of certain general probiotics may be beneficial in the prevention and management of upper respiratory, bacterial, and viral infections.
Our Children | Summer 2020
What Probiotic is right for your baby/toddler? My Child Has
BioGaia ProTectis Baby Drops BioGaia ProTectis Chew tabs
Culturelle Kids Daily Digestive Care Kids Daily Probiotic Florastorkids
Acute Gastroenteritis (diarrhea)
Culturelle Kids Daily Digestive Care Kids Daily Probiotic Florastorkids DanActive
BioGaia ProTectis Baby Drops BioGaia ProTectis Chew tabs Culturelle Kids Daily Digestive Care Kids Daily Probiotic
BioGaia ProTectis Baby Drops BioGaia ProTectis Chew tabs
Functional Abdominal Pain
BioGaia ProTectis Baby Drops BioGaia ProTectis Chew tabs Culturelle Kids Daily Digestive Care Kids Daily Probiotic
General Protection Against Commonly Infectious Diseases
Genestra Brands HMF Fit for School Dan Active BioGaia ProTectis Baby Drops BioGaia ProTectis Chew tabs
We’ve put some of my most recommended probiotic products in the table on the left for you to compare and decide which probiotic you many need. This is not a prescription. Check with your doctor or dietitian on recommended dosages. Many foods contain naturally occurring probiotics that give us an extra boost of good bacteria for general digestive health and immune function. Day to day, it’s great to eat a variety of these foods and give them to your little one. It’s much harder to get good bacteria into our systems, especially as we are no longer accustomed to eating fermented and cultured foods (as we did before refrigerators existed). Also the use of antibacterial hand soaps and sanitizers, being outside less, and even consuming antibiotic-containing meats, decreases our exposure to healthy bacteria. Getting back to regularly consuming more of these probiotic rich foods is always a good idea. One of the most familiar probioticcontaining foods is yogurt. Look for ones with “live active cultures” in the ingredient list. Keep in mind that usually the concentration of probiotics found in yogurt isn’t enough to effectively treat a specific issue, but regular consumption of this and other probiotic foods will be good for general health and immunity. Other fermented dairy products such as kefir (a fermented milk drink) also contain a myriad of probiotics. Try them in place of milk over cereal, or in a smoothie!. Non-dairy alternatives such as soy milk contain probiotics too. Beyond this, fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, tempeh, and kombucha are all delicious and excellent sources of probiotics. Some of the probioticcontaining foods listed above can be easily made at home, adjusting them to your family’s preferences.
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Our Children | Summer 2020
PARENTING HEALTH & WELLNESS
Supporting family mental health after a tragedy Learn to help your kids grieve and process the unthinkable By Jill Chappell
s if parenting during a pandemic wasn’t already challenging enough, the emotional toll of the mass shooting in Nova Scotia has placed an even greater responsibility on parents to manage their family’s mental health. “When something happens that threatens us, it changes our lives,” says Dr. Alexa Bagnell, Associate Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the IWK Health Centre. Parents should emphasize that it’s normal to feel sad, shocked, and angry, and to cry when things of this magnitude take place. Teaching them that bad things can happen to good people, but that this type of thing is incredibly rare, is a good place to start. “Reassure them that they are safe,” says Dr. Stan Kutcher, a Senator and children’s psychiatrist. “That you, your family, their friends and pets are safe. Clarify the level of probability. One out of 36 million people and once in over 155 years. This promotes cognitive processing. Reframe the discussion to the heroes of the event: the police officer and people who died trying to save others.” It’s also important to find out what they know and answer their questions. Be as honest as possible while keeping it age appropriate, suggests Bagnell. Limit time on media and don’t speculate about what happened. The tragedy directly impacted many young people. It’s important to take time to mourn. Some are grieving the loss of a parent, a teacher, a classmate, or a friend. If your child knew someone who died, join in the remembrance activities underway, express feelings and pay tribute. We may not be able to protect our children from the reality of this unthinkable violence, but we can listen, even if we’re supposed to be on a work call. “Take the time to listen,” says Kutcher. “Ask what they have heard about and ask how they are feeling. Then validate their feelings. It’s okay to share how you’re feeling too. It’s also essential to correct false information.” Experts suggest keeping your schedule, and your children’s schedule, as normal as possible. Do your best to adapt and master your emotions, even if it feels forced. “The more routine, the more normalcy in the house, the safer they’re going to feel,” says Bagnell. “‘My parents got this. They’re upset about something but they’ve got this.’”
“It’s normal for your child to experience sleep disturbances, crying spells, clingy behaviour, stomach/headaches, irritability, bad dreams or anger,” says Kutcher. "If these issues persist longer than about four weeks it may be time to reach out for mental health care. For the older kids, teens are at risk of turning to substances or having suicidal thoughts. If you notice these signs, it’s time to seek mental health care.” At the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia we are huge proponents of self-care. Foundation President and CEO, Starr Cunningham, emphasizes that self-care is not selfish. It’s anything but selfish,” says Cunningham. “It’s vitally important during the best of times, but even more so now. We all need to remind ourselves that simple things like a good night’s sleep, physical activity, healthy food and taking time to do those things we enjoy make us not only stronger people, but stronger parents.” Make it a priority to schedule time to laugh, talk to friends, and involve the kids in joint or family activities that interest to everyone. It’s also an ideal time to focus conversations on the positives of the day. Children may not understand the full impact of practicing gratitude, but they can certainly tell you what makes them happy and what they are thankful for. There are many free mental health resources available online and over the phone. As proud supporters of Kids Help Phone, the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia encourages children and youth to connect with trained experts by dialling 1-800-668-6868. You can also find other accessible resources on our website at mentahealthns.ca, including a listing of free e-mental health tools now being offered by the Nova Scotia Health Authority Mental Health & Addictions Program. Stay safe and stay connected. We will get through this (both parents and children), together. Jill Chappell is the marketing and communications lead for the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. ■
Our Children | Summer 2020
By Trevor J. Adams
Dakwäkãda Warriors By Cole Pauls Conundrum Press Ages 12+ Your kids have probably never read a graphic novel quite like this, nor one as deeply rooted in Indigenous culture and artistic tradition. Creator Cole Pauls is a Tahltan comic artist, illustrator, and printmaker from the Yukon. Driven by a desire to help revitalize the ancestral language of Southern Tutchone, he created this bilingual comic about two earth protectors saving the world from evil pioneers and cyborg sasquatches. Trippy, lively, and fast-paced, the story will entertain young readers while helping them see the world through a new cultural lens. Young artists will particularly enjoy seeing Pauls craft a fantastic and unique sci-fi universe.
No Girls Allowed
The Stars From Me to You
I Lost My Talk / I’m Finding My Talk
By Natalie Corbett Sampson Nimbus Publishing Ages 8–12
By Nicole Bea Nevermore Press Ages 8–12
By Rita Joe / Rebecca Thomas Illustrated by Pauline Young Nimbus Publishing Ages 4–8
Today, young women who want to play hockey have countless role models. They can look to the many stars of Team Canada and their frequent international wins. In the 1970s, it wasn’t like that: there were few women’s hockey teams and the women who did play toiled in obscurity, with no Olympic team or media attention to inspire them. And it took a lot of brave young women to change things. Inspired by a true story, Natalie Corbett Sampson takes readers to 1977, where a 10-year-old battles for her right to play Canada’s game, despite cruel opposition from adults and kids alike. Emotional and tense, this is a classic underdog story for any sports fan, but especially empowering to young women, whether they’re aspiring athletes or not.
Author Nicole Bea is an accomplished novelist and short-story writer specializing in middle-grade fiction, and this novel may be her most ambitious (and poignant) yet. Thirteen-year-old Rion was riding his bike when a truckdriver hit him. Now, he’s stuck in Limbo—a cosmic void between heaven and “not-so-good heaven.” Is there any way out? His twin sister Bellamie may be able to save him, but first she has to learn the truth both about the accident and herself. Thoughtful and sensitive, with a surprisingly deft treatment of very weighty subjects, this book is a good entry point for discussions about life, death, personal responsibility, and sexual identity.
One of Rita Joe’s most influential poems, I Lost My Talk tells the revered Mi’kmaw elder’s childhood story of losing her language while living at the residential school in Shubenacadie. Joe’s powerful words explore and celebrate the survival of Mi’kmaw culture and language despite its attempted eradication. Now, it’s published for the first time as an illustrated children’s book, paired with I’m Finding My Talk by Rebecca Thomas. As a secondgeneration residential school survivor, Thomas reflects on working through the destructive effects of colonialism and rediscovering community and culture. Colourful and evocative illustrations by Mi’kmaw artist Pauline Young complement both books.
Our Children | Summer 2020
Because we Love, we Cry By Sheree Fitch
Sometimes there is no sense to things my child Sometimes there is no answer to the questions why Sometimes things beyond all understanding Sometimes, people die. When it hurts like this, my child When you are scared, suffering, confused Even if we are not together Together, let us cry Yes, there is still so much love Because we love, we cry. Sometimes the sadness takes away your breath Sometimes the pain seems endless, deep Sometimes you cannot find the sun Sometimes you wish you were asleep. When it hurts like this, my child When you are scared and confused Even if we are not together, Together, let us cry Yes, there is still so much love Because we love, we cry. Wish that I had answers, child Wish all this wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t so There are impossible things, child I cannot bear for you to know. When it hurts like this, my child When you are scared and confused Even if we are not together, Together, let us cry.
PHOTO: BIGSTOCK/RUSLAN KBR
Yes, there is still so much love Because we love, we cry. Republished with permission; copyright remains with the author.