Our Children Fall 2019

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Halifax’s Family Magazine ourchildrenmagazine.ca

Fall 2019

A path to greater learning

Sensory paths are helping kids use their bodies to quiet their minds for the classroom

Growing up in an online world Safely sharing your kids lives via social media


Finding the right balance between education, extracurricular, and playtime

plus Parenting Health & Wellness • Nutrition • Book Reviews

Where children become everything they can be Singing, dancing and acting classes forr 4 - 16 year-olds www.stagecoachschools.ca/halifax-ca www.StagecoachSchools.ca

902-266-2601 902-266-2601

Halifax@StagecoachSchools.ca halifax@stagecoachschools.ca

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.

Your Adventure Awaits at Shubenacadie Wildlife Park featuring over 40 species of wildlife, walking trails, and wetlands Open May 15th – October 15th 9:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

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- I


Fall 2019


WHEN LESS IS MORE Finding a schedule that works for your family




A path to greater learning PHOTO: BRUCE MURRAY/VISONFIRE

Sensory paths provide increased physical activity in schools and help focus kids’ minds for better learning

Growing up in an online world DEPARTMENTS 7 Editor’s note Seeking equilibrium

8 First bell Events, products, trends, and more

24 Nutrition School breakfasts done right

27 Parenting Health & Wellness Connecting kids with mental health literacy

30 Book reviews Our Children reviews Jacques’ Escape, Help! Why am I changing?, Beach Walk, and Owling.

Experts says parents already have the skills to safely share stories of their kids on social media



On our cover For All Locations Phone: 902-420-6060

Malachi Skeete and his family have found greater balance in choosing only a few extracurricular activities that work for the family’s schedule as a whole, leaving more time to do them well. Photo: Bruce Murray/Visionfire. See page 15.

Above Lawtons 667 Sackville Dr. Lower Sackville Atlantic Superstore 3601 Joseph Howe Dr. Halifax Professional Centre 5991 Spring Garden Rd. Halifax

Publisher Patty Baxter

Senior Editor Trevor J. Adams

Above Lawtons 240 Baker Dr. Dartmouth

4 Forest Hills Parkway, Cole Harbour Above Lawtons 27 Peakview Way Bedford South

Production and Creative Director Shawn Dalton

Designer Graham Whiteman Production Coordinator Paige Sawler

Printing Advocate Printing & Publishing Advocate Media Managing Editor Ken Partridge Contributors Jill Chappell Cynthia d’Entremont Edwena Kennedy Suzanne Rent Heidi Tattrie-Rushton

For advertising sales and editorial and subscription enquiries: Tel. 902-420-9943 Fax 902-429-9058 publishers@metroguide.ca 2882 Gottingen Street Halifax, Nova Scotia B3K 3E2 metroguidepublishing.ca ourchildrenmagazine.ca No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the publisher. Return undeliverable addresses to Metro Guide Publishing at the address above.

Our Children is a Metro Guide publication.



Seeking equilibrium

What’s the right balance between scheduled activities and unstructured time for our kids? I had a completely unstructured childhood. I was never a Cub or Scout. I was not a member of any sports teams. No piano, violin, recorder, or even a ukulele for me. No tutor sessions for school, or learning other languages. And I didn’t miss it. I played sports. Basketball, baseball, and tennis where regulars, but I never joined a league. It was skins versus shirts on the court, a pile of gloves randomly divided into two piles on the diamond, and my most common tennis partner was the huge shipping bay doors on the warehouse across the street. Ken Partridge, Editor Cycling was, by far, my favourite. On weekends and during the summer, a group of us would hit the streets and go everywhere in Our Children Magazine the city, even off the peninsula and across the bridge. Mom would always ask where we were going and I would usually answer, “I don’t know.” @OurChildrenMag There was no plan. Just hit the streets and go www wherever our bikes took us. ourchildrenmagazine.ca It wasn’t until years later as I was approaching university that I realized I was different from almost all my friends. They were members kenpartridge@advocatemediainc.com of sports teams or Scouts, learning to play instruments the whole time we were growing up together and I never knew. It wasn’t something we talked about or shared. Even though in my www memory it seemed like we spent every waking moment together, it turns out there were whole chunks of their lives I knew nothing about. That was the first time I ever started to miss something I never had. They did cool things in Scouts like camping and learning survival skills. Sports teams led to trophies and peer recognition. What had I missed? Why didn’t my parents get me involved in these types of things? Skip ahead a few years and I’m out of school and starting a family or my own. I decide I’m not going to be like my parents and I’m going to get my son involved. Every time I www saw an announcement for some sort of activity www

in our community, I would get the details and bring them home. Pretty soon my son was a Beaver, playing soccer, learning basketball and lacrosse, signed up for intramurals in school, and enrolled in French immersion. We were on the go all the time. I’m not sure when I had the realization, but it hit me at some point that I was doing all this more for me than I was for him. Did he really want all this activity? Surely there was some sort of happy medium between my childhood and the one I was shaping for him. We eventually found that equilibrium. Some things fell away, like Cubs and basketball, while others stuck. He loved soccer and still plays today. He’s even coached and trained others. Once I learned to stop pushing, he found what he really liked and we kept doing that, while those things he wasn’t devoted to were let go. This is all a long-winded way of explaining why I was so keen on following up on the idea for this issue’s cover story (see page 15). Some of us parents, whatever our motivation, feel compelled to schedule almost every minute of our kids’ lives. We keep them constantly on the go from the time we wake them up till bedtime. Is this even healthy for them? Don’t they deserve some time to just be kids? Maybe they need work/life balance as much as we do. I may have missed out on organized activities when I was young, but I never felt deprived. My only enemy back then was the weather. Rainy days were the worst. It wasn’t until I was approaching adulthood and responsibilities that I developed this idea I was lacking in some way. An activity or two wouldn’t have hurt, but I had a great childhood. Given the chance I would likely return to those times with little hesitation. Hey, anyone know where I can find a warehouse with big loading bay doors? I think I still have a racket in the basement somewhere. n

Announcing our new editor She’s an Olympian, a businesswoman, a partner, and a mom and she is the new editor of Our Children! We are excited to announce Tracy Stuart will be joining the editorial team of Metro Guide Publishing. Tracy grew up in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia. She is a graduate of Acadia University with a Bachelor of Physical Education, and a Master of Science from the University of Calgary. She also holds a chef’s diploma from the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York. Tracy has travelled the world as a two-time world champion and Olympic bronze medal rower. She and her husband, Jared, own and operate Caldera Distilleries in River John, Nova Scotia. She is also a Rodan and Fields consultant and business builder. Tracy, Jared, and their two daughters, Brooklyn and Olivia, hang their hats in both River John and Halifax, where the girls attend the Halifax Grammar School.



By Suzanne Rent

Our Children | Fall 2019

Jade Douris, director of education.

The Studio sets the stage for kids at Shakespeare by the Sea Young thespians have a chance to learn Shakespeare and musical theatre from some of Halifax’s best acting talent. The Studio at Shakespeare by the Sea is led by company members Jade Douris, director of education, and Drew O’Hara, artistic associate. The duo will work with students to hone their skills in dance and acting, while also introducing them to musical theatre and The Bard. Classes are offered on Monday evenings and Saturdays and are open to kids ages three to 17. Sessions include those in junior and senior Shakespeare, pre-dance, primary ballet and jazz, and primary, junior, and senior musical theatre. Register online or by mail. Scholarships are available to those students in financial need. shakespearebythesea.ca/the-studio

Drew O’Hara, artistic associate


Let it go with Frozen Jr. at Neptune Theatre


From Sept. 18 to 22, the Neptune Theatre School YPCo. brings Frozen Jr. to its stage. Based on the Disney film and featuring music by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Richard Lopez, Frozen Jr. includes five new songs written just for the Broadway production. This play includes a story of love and acceptance, plus lots of adventure and laughs with princesses and sisters Anna and Elsa and a cast of characters, including the lovable, goofy snowman, Olaf. Neptune’s YPCo is a training program for young talent ages 13 to 18. Neptunetheatre.com

Neptune is staging Frozen Jr. Sept. 18 to 22.

Get running

Running is a fun, inexpensive, and accessible way for families to get fit together. The Kids Run Club has been getting Nova Scotia school kids active through running since 2004 and has some tips for getting your family running. • Focus on fun • Adapt distances by age and interest • Keep running interesting: invite your kids’ friends; add games and obstacle courses; find different locations/routes; and use running as a way to get places • Keep post-run snacks healthy (water and fruit) • Register for a fun run If your kids show an interest in running, check out the Youth Running Series (youthrunningseries.ca) or visit kidsrunclub to learn more about running or to get your school running.

Poetry without the stage

Shakespeare didn’t just write plays; he also wrote poetry. That gives him something in common with Devyn Tremeer of Westmount Elementary School. His teacher, Mrs. Fougere, sent us the following sample of Devyn’s work:

The Lonely Poem Where did my home go? I demand to go home! I look over the sharpie. I’m in a classroom. Where is my home? How did I get here? Where my mother go? Where she go? I just want to go home. I’m all alone in here. Wait I hear someone. Please help me. I just want to go home.



Stagecoach Performing Arts opens Bedford location

Our Children | Fall 2019

Stagecoach Performing Arts School is hosting a discovery day on Sept. 14 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Bedford United Church at 1200 Bedford Highway. The event is for parents whose children may be interested in classes at its first location in Atlantic Canada. Stagecoach is opening a location in Bedford this fall for children and teens ages four to 16. Classes offer students a full and well-rounded performing arts education, focusing on dance, voice, and acting. Founded in the U.K. in 1988, Stagecoach has 600 schools worldwide with 20 locations across Canada. Students can take part in camps, too, including during March break and during the summer. StagecoachSchools.ca/Halifax

Sensory friendly movies

Every four to six weeks, Cineplex Entertainment offers sensory-friendly screenings of new release films at its theatres. During the movie, the lights will be turned up and the sound turned down to make the film more enjoyable for those with autism spectrum disorder or those who would enjoy the sensory-friendly environment. Screenings are Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. The cost is the price of a child admission. Purchase tickets the Tuesday before the screening. This program is offered in partnership with Autism Speaks Canada and Autism Nova Scotia. Check the website for locations and selected films. cineplex.com/Theatres/SensoryFriendly


Slow and steady wins this race Until the end of September, hurry into the Discovery Centre to learn how taking it slow can be an advantage. The Centre’s first-ever live exhibition, Survival of the Slowest, explores counterintuitive survival strategies, showcasing some of nature’s wildest examples of how slow and steady really can win the race. The exhibit features 12 live habitats with animals including a two-toed sloth, african pygmy hedgehog, veiled chameleon, and green iguana. A professional wildlife educator is on site daily to feed the animals, clean their terraria, check on their health and provide any other care or support needed. All presentations with live animals have been approved by an Animal Care Committee, including a veterinarian and trained animal care experts. There will be times daily when the wildlife educator will bring out individual animals and present them to the public. There may be special circumstances, permissible by the wildlife educator, when some contact with an animal may be allowed. Please note: specific animals are not guaranteed to take part in the presentations. It is up to each individual animal if they would like to come out of their terraria. Show hours are at 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m., and 4 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesday, Thursdays, and Fridays; 11:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and 7 p.m. on Wednesdays; and 10:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. thediscoverycentre.ca

Music · Dance · College Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts, a non-profit organization, has been setting the standard for arts education in music and dance for over 130 years.

maritimeconservatory.com 902·423·6995

Individuals of all ages can further their love of dance and music under the guidance of skilled faculty members in a progressive learning environment.



Our Children | Fall 2019

Music in the Public Gardens

Families can enjoy music and one of the most scenic spots in Halifax with the concert series in the Public Gardens. The concert series wraps up in September, with a few more local bands playing in the park each Sunday. Concerts in September include Halifax Trombone Summit (Sept. 8), Asif Illyas and Kim Dunn (Sept. 15), and The Port City Concert Band (Sept. 22). Sit back and tap your toes to the music or get up and dance. All concerts start at 2 p.m. at the bandstand. Admission is free. Stay and enjoy the beauty of the Victorian gardens with a stroll around the park. halifaxpublicgardens.ca

Teaching locally, impacting globally The Scotia Suzuki School of Music, in the Lebanese Cultural Centre at 6141 Chebucto Rd. is more than just another school. True, its main offering is a 36-week curriculum based on the principles of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, which includes private and group lessons teaching music, dance, and culture. It’s also true it offers a shorter course curriculum in the summer months. However, it doesn’t restrict its activities to just Halifax. The school currently supports a chicken farm in Kenya, which produces eggs used to provide breakfast for students attending school in Nairobi. The Scotia Suzuki School maintains pen pal relationships with many of the Nairobi students and has accepted an invitation to visit in 2020. Older students from Halifax will travel to Kenya where they will work at the chicken farm, deliver eggs to the school, and cook breakfast for the students. They will also teach at the school and in turn learn about local music and dance. scotiasuzuki.org

Exploring wildlife in the autumn Fall is a fun time to explore at the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park. On Sept. 28, visit the park for a guided night tour and learn about the nocturnal habits of the park’s wildlife. This event is for ages eight and up and admission is $6. Make sure to dress appropriately and bring flashlights, insect repellant, and water. Another guided night tour takes place on Oct. 12, but is appropriate for all ages. Preregistration required for both night tours. And to celebrate Halloween, trick-ortreat at the park on Oct. 26. Dress in your costume, visit the animals, and pick up treats and other surprises. Regular park admission applies. wildlifepark.novascotia.ca

Every issue of Halifax Magazine reaches 43,600 of the city’s most affluent and influential readers



Photo: Shyronn Smardon

SHAUNTAY GRANTis a writer and performance poet based in Halifax. She is the author of several books for children including Up Home, winner of an Atlantic Book Award for Best Atlantic Published Book, and Africville , nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award. She teaches creative writing at Dalhousie University.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Title: My hair is beautiful / Shauntay Grant. Names: Grant, Shauntay, author. Identifiers: Canadiana (print) 20190141670 | Canadiana (ebook) 20190141719 | ISBN 9781771087667 (board book) | ISBN 9781771088442 (HTML) Subjects: LCSH: Hairdressing of Blacks—Juvenile literature. | LCSH: Hairdressing—Juvenile literature. | LCSH: Hairstyles—Juvenile literature. | LCSH: Beauty, Personal, in children—Juvenile literature. | LCSH: Self-acceptance —Juvenile literature. Classification: LCC TT958 .G73 2019 | DDC j646.7/42—dc23

Great Books

Printed in China Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Title: Tummy time friends / Carol McDougall & Shanda LaRamee-Jones. Names: McDougall, Carol, author. | LaRamee-Jones, Shanda, author. Series: Baby steps (Halifax Regional Municipality, N.S.) Description: Series statement: Baby steps | Fold-out accordion-style book with mirror inside. ISBN 9781771087674 (board book)

DDC jC813/.6—dc23

$9.95 CDN $8.95 US

TUMMY TIME FRIENDS A fold-out book

Mirror inside!

ISBN 978-1-77108-767-4

$12.95 CDN $9.95 US

Carol McDougall & Shanda LaRamee-Jones

MY HAIR IS BEAUTIFUL by Shauntay Grant 9781771087667 October | Board Book Ages 0–3 | $9.95 The quirky (and quacky!) final book in the Hackmatack-nominated Wereduck series


t’s not easy being a fourteen-year-old wereduck in a family of werewolves. In The Wereduck Code, we catch up with Kate after discovering that an ancient cure for her family’s curse—one she had hoped would mean her family could finally come out of hiding—turned out to be more complicated than that. The third installment of the critically acclaimed Wereduck series finds Kate sending away for a DNA test, thinking it will provide answers. The test’s results are shocking: there appears to be a toggle in human genetic code that is switched on in werewolves. And if that toggle can be switched off, like it was for her best friend John, does that mean it can be switched on? Will the scientist who discovered it use this information for good or evil? And where is Dirk Bragg? The tabloid journalist-turned-countrymusic-star—who’s come close to exposing Kate’s family more than once— is suddenly missing. And as John soon discovers, there’s an anonymous group of hackers called D-Net hot on Dirk’s trail, convinced he can reveal the truth about werewolves once and for all. With freedom and friendship on the line, the thrilling conclusion of the Wereduck series will leave readers on the edge of their seats!

978-1-77108-798-8 s/c, b&w, 5”x 7.5,” 224 pages, cover price: $12.95 Original b&w illustrations (Cover art not final) Ages 8-12 Pub date: September 2019


9781771087674 October | Board Book Newborn+ | $12.95

9781771087964 October | Children’s Non-Fiction Ages 4-9 | $14.95




Marketing Plans • National and regional media and review mailing • National and regional print and digital ads • School and library visits • NetGalley • ABT Holiday Gift Guide • Social media campaign • OLA conference

TUMMY TIME FRIENDS by Carol McDougall and Shanda LaRamee-Jones



Babies love to look at faces, and both sides of this book feature smiling baby faces. Your baby in the mirror.



This accordion-style book can be unfolded on the

TUMMY TIME FRIENDS McDougall & LaRamee-Jones

ro r ! M irs id e in

Features minimalist text and vibrant photos of toddlers sporting fresh dos, and a mirror to reflect your own baby’s beauty.


A celebration of natural hair, from afros to cornrows and everything in between, My Hair is Beautiful is a joyful board book with a powerful message of self-love.

For more information, contact In Atlantic Canada: Kate Watson, Publicist, 902-455-4286 ext. 226; kwatson@nimbus.ca Outside of Atlantic Canada: Karen McMullin, National Publicist, 647-461-3824; kmcmullin@nimbus.ca

Wereduck code ARC cover FINAL JUNE 21.indd 1


follow us online: @nimbuspub or nimbus.ca

by Diane Carmel Léger 9781771087803 August | Middle-Grade Fiction Ages 8-12 | $12.95

2019-06-26 2:33 PM

THE WEREDUCK CODE by Dave Atkinson

COME BACK TO EARTH, ESTHER! Words and Art by Josée Bissaillon

9781771087988 September | Middle-Grade Fiction | Ages 8-12 | $12.95

9781771087841 September | Picture Book Ages 4-7 | $22.95


But with limited resources, teacher shortages and not enough help for kids with special needs – it’s hard to give students the individual support they deserve. Students are relying on parents, teachers and the government to work together to fix our public schools.

For kids and teens ages 5-17


= $2.00


Simply check in with a Halifax Public Libraries staff member at any location to get started! Let’s invest in our kids’ futures by investing in them. ActForEducation.ca



Campus expansion, Discover including full gymnasium, a world-class education now open!

Small classes Pre-Primary through Grade 9

close to home.

HALIFAX INDEPENDENT SCHOOL Apply now for fall 2021. Enquire about our “visit-for-a-day”. @hfxindependent 3331 Connaught Ave (902) 423-9777 HalifaxIndependentSchool.ca


Our Children | Fall 2019

When LESS is MORE Finding a schedule that works for your family


By Cynthia d’Entremont

Emma Skeete says working with her piano students has changed how she approaches learning and extracurricular activities with her own kids.


mma Skeete’s agitation grew as she sat at the dining room table reviewing sight words with her young son. In her desire to give him an early joy of reading, she became frustrated with his distraction. Suddenly she thought, “If this was your piano student, how would you approach them?” “It was a lightbulb moment for me,” Skeete says. “Who am I trying to impress?” As an independent music teacher, Skeete runs a business that includes preparing lessons, event planning, and teaching small group music lessons during afternoons and evenings. “If this was any other kid, I would just find a goofy way of engaging them again,” Skeete says. “Why am I getting frustrated because it’s my own kid?”



Our Children | Fall 2019




Allowing free time for fun and play is equally important as more structured activities.

Kerry Copeland, executive director of Kids Run Club, (in back) with some of the kids enrolled in the club.

LOW-COST ALTERNATIVES Socializing with others and physical activity are just two of the benefits of extracurricular activities. Dr. Aimée Yazbek suggests volunteering as a family, camping with other families, or training for a race together as less expensive ways to “take in new experiences.” No time to run together after school? Kids Run Club is a free school-based provincewide program supported by Doctors Nova Scotia. Coordinator Kerry Copeland says more than 17,000 Nova Scotia students participated in the program last year. As of June, 74 HRCE schools were registered for the program that relies on volunteer coaches who are often teachers. “If kids are active during the school day, they’re much better students,” Copeland says.

For 15 years, Skeete has taught the piano-based Music for Young Children (MYC) program. Although being a music teacher ended up influencing her parenting approach that day at the dining room table, Skeete says that overall, becoming a parent of two boys helped her appreciate the scheduling challenges parents face. “I’m far more gracious about the fact that what I’m doing is just one thing in a whole slew of other activities that parents are involved in,” Skeete says. “If they aren’t getting work done, it’s not because they are purposefully not trying to do it. It’s because life has happened, and that’s very hard to juggle.” Now that her boys are six and eight, Skeete experiences the challenges of fitting in homework, piano lessons, piano practice, and sports. When she assigns music homework for her students, in two of her classes, she’s also assigning homework to her sons. “If I don’t think we can do it, I’m certainly not going to expect anybody else to do that,” she says. Skeete knows that families are busy, but still has an expectation that her students practice five times per week. “I do find that people who choose less extracurricular and do them well, those kids tend to go further, because they’re able to put the time in at the piano and they’re just calmer all around,” Skeete says. Dr. Aimée Yazbek, a psychologist at the IWK Health Centre, says there are many benefits from extracurricular activities including social interaction, physical activity, and confidence. “For a lot of kids who may not do so well in the academic department, extracurriculars may be a great way to boost their self esteem,” Yazbek says. Activities also foster time management skills, develop discipline, and encourage teamwork. “It really teaches them how to be a team player and what it means to connect to something in the long term and being able to work with others towards a common goal,” Yazbek says.

Dr. Aimée Yazbek and her family.





Dr. Aimée Yazbek suggests volunteering as a family, camping with other families, or training for a race together.

To prevent overscheduling, Yazbek suggests parents ensure the selected activity is really of interest to their child rather than a parent’s desire. It’s important to note if kids are looking forward to practices, games, and events. “I worry parents aren’t listening to their kids enough when they’re figuring out what activities their children are going to pursue,” Yazbek says. “I think there needs to be some good collaboration around what’s chosen for their child.” Yazbek says elementary students need about 10 hours of sleep each night. If activities are cutting into rest and downtime, and kids are tired and having difficulty concentrating, that may be a sign they’re taking on too much. As a parent of two elementary students herself, Yazbek says her daughter thrives with a variety of activities while her son often requests time just to play.

One strategy is to draw a chart with 24 hours in the day and record necessary things like sleeping, eating, school, and homework. This helps a family schedule what’s left over based on their values. “I think parents have to honour that. It’s like us coming home and needing some downtime,” Yazbek says. “Unstructured play is a stress reducer for kids. It also helps with their problem solving [and] creative thinking.” She says it’s important to ensure kids have adequate time to do their homework and study. If their grades are suffering, their schedule may be too full. One strategy is to draw a chart with 24 hours in the day and record necessary things like sleeping, eating, school, and homework. This helps a family schedule what’s leftover based on their values. “Make room for those things first, and then with the time that’s remaining, decide how you’re going to use that time,” Yazbek says. In her own family, they value wholeheartedly engaging in commitments. “It may mean we do fewer things, but we do those fewer things well.” Lorelei Burgess, centre director for Oxford Learning, says there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to balancing extracurriculars and academics. However, she does believe kids benefit from additional activities. “There’s a huge connection between physical activity and learning,” Burgess says.


Our Children | Fall 2019

Socializing with others and physical activity are just two of the benefits of extracurricular activities.




“There’s research that shows just walking to school for 10 minutes in the morning helps increase academic skills, so it doesn’t have to be organized sport, it just has to be physical activity.” To maintain a healthy balance, she also suggests mapping out a schedule to ensure families aren’t overcommitted. “When you have more than one child, scheduling for one impacts the entire family.” She notes that while it’s beneficial for kids to participate in extracurricular activities, it’s also important that homework and assignments happen at an optimum time for learning. “Things like staying up late or getting up early in the morning to do homework because you had an extracurricular activity is not necessarily the best use of time,” Burgess says. Parents can make the most of limited homework time by creating a space that is free from distractions and contains all the

supplies needed to work efficiently. For some kids, music may be beneficial while for others, it may not. “Being on your cellphone and having the notifications ding every time something comes in, that’s not useful. It ends up taking kids a lot longer,” Burgess says. Ultimately, Burgess says parents need to “go with their gut” and explore options if they feel their child is struggling. Making extra help a priority over extracurricular activities for kids who are having difficulty academically helps restore confidence. “Education and academics have to be a priority because it affects every single thing children do in their lives,” Burgess says. “If it’s not addressed, it just gets bigger.” Skeete compares an overscheduled child’s capacity to grasp music concepts with how a parent may feel when working through the day, driving kids to activities after work, and perhaps taking a night course. “That information’s not getting in there the way it would if that’s the only thing you were focussing on and you streamlined some other things in your life,” she says. With her own sons, Skeete tries to be in the moment and enjoy the fewer activities they’ve chosen. She also sets aside concerns about what other parents may think about their level of involvement. “Those are imaginary assumptions,” she says. “At the end of the day, your kid wants to know they’re safe and they’re loved and they’re cared for, so that whatever activities you do, it’s not the activities, it’s how you go about doing them.” n

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ourchildrenmagazine.ca kenpartridge@advocatemediainc.com

OurChildrenMagazine @OurChildrenMag


Our Children | Fall 2019

Sensory paths provide increased physical activity in schools and help focus kid’s minds for better learning outcomes


By Heidi Tattrie-Rushton

Sensory paths, similar to the one shown above provided by Jump2Math, are starting to appear in Halifax schools. They provide a way to increase daily physical activity, plus give kids a way to vent their kinetic energy so their minds can focus on learning.

hen the children in Jane Purdy’s grade 1 classroom at Smokey Drive Elementary in Lower Sackville start to get fidgety, she sends them out to play in the pond. “The pond” at their school is in the hallway and is not made up of actual frogs and water, but is a series of vinyl decals along the floor in the design of a pond which makes up their sensory path. Sensory paths are designed to provide a space for children to incorporate physical movement into their day, which has the added benefit of increasing mental focus, calming feelings of anxiety, working on mobility challenges, and accommodating different learning styles.

These paths began to receive a lot of attention amongst educators and parents last winter after the CBC shared a clip in early January that went viral. As a result, some local schools decided to install them. Harry R. Hamilton Elementary School in Middle Sackville laid its sensory path in April. It had been on the radar since the fall when members of the School Advisory Council (SAC) talked to some occupational therapists who recommended the paths as another way to support children with attention or mobility needs. When the CBC clip started circulating on social media, it spurred the school into action.



Right: Sensory paths are available in many themes, including nature and dinosaurs. Above: Sensory path at Harry R. Hamilton Elementary School.

GETTING ACTIVE Jane Gourley is the principal at Harry R. Hamilton Elementary School. She says the SAC was able to use some funding to purchase a sensory path set from Jump2Math, a Canadian company. “The whole idea is to allow students who need to move around, who need a break, or who need to get rid of some of their energy and express themselves through movement, to have that space, which will help support their engagement once they’re back in the classroom,” Gourley says. “Kids start to self-identify that this is what they need right now in order to be more successful.” The path features a variety of movements, including hops, squats, wall-sits, and fun twists and turns directed by colourful, imaginative themed designs. The set also includes letters and numbers, so children are learning while they squeeze in some extra physical activity. “The main goal is movement and being able to express yourself in a different way,” Gourley says. “A lot of classes have movement breaks built into the day, so this is an extension of that part of the curriculum. The movement helps their bodies to grow along with what they’re learning academically.” The school’s path is in its library’s makerspace in the hopes it will add to the inviting environment being built there, and receive less wear than if it were in the main hallway. The school also ordered an eight-foot by eight-foot hundreds chart on a mat, which can be placed anywhere in the school. Teachers can use it to play games such as finding even or odd numbers or to solve math problems by having the children hop onto the mat. Gourley says the hope is that by providing alternative ways for children to learn, they will be accommodating more learning styles. “We want all of the children to be comfortable in their learning space,” she says.

THE LINK BETWEEN PHYSICAL AND COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Frasier Keaney works in the research and design department at Jump2Math. This past year 10,000 of their sensory paths were sold to schools across North America, about half of which were nature-themed. Keaney says the nature-inspired themes are intentional. “A good dose of nature has been shown to improve emotional well-being, that’s why we spend a lot of time designing beautiful, nature-themed decals to bring some colour and beauty indoors where children, especially those who can’t go outside, spend most of their time learning,” he says. “We also found that by merely changing the environment it can help kids who might have different types of anxieties, whether social anxiety or something like agoraphobia.” To ensure the paths are engaging, challenging, and fun for all children, the company collaborates with kinesiologists, occupational therapists, parents, and teachers to gain insight into the types of movements and the designs used in the paths. “We strive to keep up with the growing body of science and we’ve learned that sensory paths can also help children with lower inhibitory control. This is thought to explain a wide range of behavioural issues found in children, including those with ADHD,” Keaney says. “Game mats and sensory paths in schools allow more opportunities for aerobic exercise, which has shown to benefit cognitive performance in children.” Based on feedback from schools and parents, Jump2Math is now developing outdoor and wall paths for schools, and even sets for Grades 7 to 12, including a Hallway Olympics path.

SETTING CHILDREN UP FOR SUCCESS At Smokey Drive Elementary School in Lower Sackville, Purdy worked with the Sackville High School’s O2 class to make their own set of sensory path decals. They were installed in May. She says her focus for the path was to give children who might be overstimulated or have special attention-related needs the space to burn off some energy so they can be more successful in the classroom. “For us it was less about exercise than about providing an option for when the kids need to get up and move and centre themselves,” Purdy says. “They can be sad about something or disappointed or



Our Children | Fall 2019




in an argument with a friend and just need that little bit of time and it’s providing that.” The high school had coincidentally received a large donation of vinyl from a company, which made it a cost-effective option for a class project. The teens met with Purdy’s Grade 1 class and together they designed the look of the pond path, as well as the physical activities to incorporated into it. She says the pond gets used on a regular basis. Sometimes children self-identify they need a break. Other times she can spot when a child is finding it difficult to concentrate or seems upset about something, and so she sends them out to the pond preemptively to set them up for success. “They just need a break from the room and it’s something to help them burn some energy, refocus their body, and be able to return to class,” she says. Children, in particular those working with educational program assistants, have enjoyed the pond for transitions from the classroom to the Learning Centre. Before the sensory path existed, they would

A Com Physica mon Vision fo Sedent l Activity and r Increasing ary Livi Re ng in Ca ducing nada



Most people have heard that being active is important to their physical health. However, what most don’t know is how important it is to their mental health. The data keeps coming back that Canadians aren’t meeting the daily minimum requirements for physical activity. Even more recent research is emphasizing there’s a strong correlation between physical activity and developing brain function and structure. Despite this research, ParticipACTION’s 2018 Report Card shows only 35% of five to 17-year-olds are reaching their recommended daily physical activity levels. The report card shows increased physical activity, even in short bursts, can support learning and brain development: “Active children and youth are better able to pay attention, focus, and concentrate on a given task for a longer period of time. This also appears to be true for children and youth with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism spectrum disorder, with even a single bout of physical activity improving attention and focus.” The research also says physical activity can serve as a short-term distraction from anxiety symptoms for children and youth, and can be a confidence and mood-booster for all kids. The Public Health Agency of Canada published a plan called, A Common Vision, with the goal of getting

May 31, 2018

Canadians of all ages more active: “Children and youth are spending approximately 8.4 hours of the waking day sedentary, the majority of which is spent at school.” Schools have been incorporating movement breaks into their curriculum, as well as increasing outdoor and physical education classes whenever possible. However, there are many children who still need extra activity to help keep them focused and have success in the classroom. New strategies, such as sensory paths in schools, are some of the alternative options schools are adopting in response to this research.

take walks around the school. Now they have an interactive option that also works a wider variety of muscle groups and provides a fun transition the children look forward to. Purdy says the whole school community is enjoying the path and there are plans to eventually purchase a pre-made set for the upstairs part of the school. She says although it’s an excellent chance to add in those short bursts of exercise throughout the day, the school is most excited about the changes already being seen in the children’s classroom behaviour and learning capabilities. “This is about giving kids that time and place to go when they need to get up and stretch or refocus their mind,” she says. “It’s about getting their bodies into a place to learn.” n

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Our Children | Fall 2019



Experts say parents already have the skills to safely share stories of their children on social media By Suzanne Rent The couple also signed up for 23Snaps, a free social network and photo sharing app for families. Spinney-Hutton says there’s more privacy on 23Snaps than on Facebook. “Family has been very happy with that and it’s easier to use than email,” Spinney-Hutton says. “And it’s not public.” The Internet and social media are just another issue parents need to think about now. Many children today have digital lives created for them from the day they’re born. But that also means content is preserved online forever. Often called “sharenting,” what parents post about their children can shape their online identities from a young age. MediaSmarts, (mediasmarts.ca) a non-profit charitable organization in Ottawa that studies and teaches families digital and media literacy, is working on some of the first research on youth, digital media, and “sharenting” in Canada. The group published The Digital Well Being of Canadian Families in 2018 (mediasmarts.ca/sites/mediasmarts/files/publicationreport/full/digital-canadian-families.pdf). It’s one of a few studies the organization is working on about the digital lives of Canadian families and youth. According to the report, the average child has 1,500 photos of them posted online by the time they’re five, while 92% of children in the U.S. under the age of two have some digital presence. For this study, the parents who took part were asked a series of questions. Seventythree per cent of parents said they sometimes shared content about their children, including photos, videos, and blogs. Fortythree per cent of parents make sure content is shared only with friends and family. Three out of five parents said they shared content to keep in touch with friends and family. And 17% of parents said they asked for their child’s consent before posting a photo or video that included them. Another 11% of parents said they regretted content posted online. Kara Brisson-Boivin, director of research with MediaSmarts, says they learned parents feel pressure to be seen as strict. But she also learned social media is a tool for sharing. “They are brilliant for those reasons because they are giving us ways to share those things in a way we never had before,”



isa and Andrew Spinney-Hutton took some time thinking about how they’d share photos and stories of their daughter before she was born. The couple already watched how friends and family shared content about their children online, so they had a good handle on what they’d share, too. “We went into this with an idea of how we would have rules for her, mostly because she can’t consent,” Spinney-Hutton says. Not posting any photos on any social media platform wasn’t an option, though; Lisa and Andrew’s families both live out of province, so they knew they’d want to share some photos of their daughter. Still, they have rules for what they do share. Spinney-Hutton says they only share flattering photos of their daughter. That means no photos of her in the middle of a tantrum or screaming and no photos of her in the bathtub. Usually the photos are from special occasions like Christmas and birthdays.


FEATURE Brisson-Boivin says. “You can self-educate. That can help you get the most control as you can.” That means understanding the platforms and always checking privacy settings on platforms, which she says can be difficult and time consuming but incredibly important. She says it’s also important for parents to model good behavior for their children. “This will be an ongoing challenge but one that’s best worked out in tandem with your partner and your children,” she says. Brisson-Boivin says parents already have the skills to safely navigate an online world and “sharent” in a way that works for everyone. She says parents already make rules for chores, bedtimes, and homework. They already create routines for their children. Now they just have to consider rules on a new platform. She says the parent-child relationship is one of trust and if the trust is offline, it will exist online, too. “Parents have been trying to do their best and working hard at it for centuries,” she says. “You already have the skills. You already know how to do this. It’s just a different environment.” Steve MacKay says he and his wife, Alecia, don’t have a specific plan in place for how they share content about their five-year-old son, James. But they do have rules. MacKay has accounts on a few platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. He says he treats each one differently, depending on the audience. On Twitter, he’s created a character for himself. His avatar is a photo of himself covered with a mask. He never posts photos of James and uses gender-neutral pronouns. He may post a photo, but covers James’ face with an emoji. “I don’t know most of the people on there,” MacKay says. “I don’t think they should know the details about James. They don’t need to know what my kid looks like.” MacKay uses Facebook to keep in touch with family. There are fewer rules there. MacKay says he knows everyone on his friend list and has a work, friend, or family relationship with them. MacKay says, too, when they post photos of James with other children, they get the permission from those kids’ parents first. “This is our way of sharing James and his milestones with family,” MacKay says. MacKay calls Instagram “the muddy middle.” Like Twitter, MacKay doesn’t know most of his followers on his Instagram account. He uses it mostly as a photo album and rarely interacts with anyone. He does remember posting a photo of a James with no clothes running around in the backyard. “Alecia and I had a talk and we thought maybe we should take that one down,” MacKay says. “There are unsavoury people in the world. There’s the embarrassment factor, too. When he grows up, not everyone needs to know everything about him.” However, some content can reach an audience much wider that parents expect. And what’s in that content can affect the childparent relationship. In December 2018, a father in Ohio posted a video of his daughter walking a five-kilometre trek to school. The walk was her punishment for bullying a student on the school bus. The video went viral and a number of news organizations wrote stories about it. Parents weighed in, either supporting or criticizing the father for the punishment and posting the video. Dr. Kiran Pure, a psychologist in Dartmouth, says by age four or five, children have a sense of themselves and can be embarrassed by situations in which they’re involved. She says


punishment by humiliation isn’t an option. “I think when you’re posting [on social media], be mindful of your child’s integrity,” Pure says. “You never want to compromise that. There are all kinds of ways to deal with the worst behaviours without shaming.” For example, Pure suggests cutting off screen time, making earlier bedtimes, setting limits, but not using ridicule. She says when she works with families in MediaSmarts published her practice, parents will The Digital Well Being of often want to share a video Canadian Families in 2018. demonstrating behavior. “I know every single time a parent shows me a video, a child doesn’t want me to see it,” Pure says. The Internet has a long memory. Pure says parents should think about identity theft, but also that their child will eventually be out in the world, looking for a job and making new friends. Pure says parents should think how they would feel about someone posting content about them they didn’t like. “Ask, ‘What purpose does this serve?’” Pure says. “Do you want your friends and family to judge your child negatively, because that’s what they will do.” MacKay says sharing photos and stories about James does bring a lot of joy to family and friends. He says funny stories James tells are often an antidote to more harmful and often toxic content he and family see online. Still, he says parents should always keep in mind who’s in the photos and who’s seeing them online. “I think you need to listen to your child, if they raise any concerns about it,” MacKay says. “And keep in mind who your audience is. Not your target audience, but who could potentially see it.” MacKay says he and Alecia will rework their rules when James is older, including not posting or taking down photos he doesn’t like. Spinney-Hutton says new parents should have a plan for how they will share their family life online. She says stress and sleep deprivation, and even the exciting news that comes with childhood milestones, can mean parents don’t think about the consequences. “Don’t post naked photos of your kid or at least think about it first,” Spinney-Hutton says. Spinney-Hutton says in their home, how social media is used will be an ongoing discussion. She says when their daughter is older, they will have a talk about media literacy and online content. “If she says no to using a photo, then we have to say okay,” Spinney-Hutton says. n

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Our Children | Fall 2019

School breakfasts done right We all know it’s the most important meal of the day, but we keep skipping it anyway By Edwena Kennedy


ou’ve all heard the phrase “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” It’s true for many reasons, but particularly for kids. While we may know it’s important, it seems breakfast is the last thing on our morning to-do list, or worse, it might not be on the list at all. Most times, kids (and adults) are swept up in the hectic pace of the morning and getting out the door, and breakfast gets skipped. Other times kids say they aren’t hungry until later in the day. Although common knowledge tells us one thing, sometimes the benefits of eating breakfast aren’t realized in the day-to-day. Kids have small tummies and need to take advantage of every eating opportunity to get nutrients. Kids have trouble getting enough healthy calories from whole foods throughout the day as it is, especially younger elementary school kids. Meals are often picked at, kids are easily distracted, and generally (unless they’re on a good feeding schedule) they tend to graze on snacks. Junk food and processed food is always competing for precious tummy space. Eating breakfast first thing in the morning means just one more opportunity to get a healthy meal in, more nutrients, and good fuel for the body and mind. Kids who skip breakfast have less focus and concentration. Breakfast is the meal where we break-the-fast after going all night without eating. Our blood sugar is lowest and our bodies desperately crave food to boost it. Low blood sugar can make us feel tired, dizzy, hungry, weak, and nauseous.

Breakfast keeps kids at a healthy weight Because eating a healthy, balanced breakfast will balance our blood sugars and makes us feel full, this decreases hunger and binge eating later in the day. When kids skip breakfast, they increase their risk of overconsuming on not only their daily intake of calories, but also foods low in nutrients and high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. This puts them at higher risk of being overweight or obese, thus prone to many preventable health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. If you and your kids still find you’re experiencing low concentration and cravings or hunger come mid-morning, the answer lies within the type of breakfast North Americans tend to eat.

Most of our society focuses on carbohydrates for breakfast, cereal, toast, bagels, muffins, waffles, bars, etc. Carbohydrates themselves aren’t necessarily the problem, but the fact that most of our breakfast is comprised of carbohydrates means we set up our day like this: 1. Blood sugars are low in in the morning. 2. We eat a carbohydrate-heavy breakfast, which raises our blood sugar a little too much and definitely too quickly. 3. This results in a crash shortly thereafter because it doesn’t take much to process pure, simple glucose. 4. This quick drop in blood sugar will cause kids to crave more carbs to quickly raise the blood sugar again, and then they’ll crash again. And the cycle of eating carbs and crashing goes on.

25 Good news is this cycle can be broken by eating more protein. Protein balances blood sugars and reduces hunger and binge eating. Research shows a higher protein breakfast results in less hunger and fewer calories consumed throughout the day. Depending on your kids’ age, you want to aim for 15 to 35 grams of protein per meal. Examples include ¾ cup regular (9g protein) or Greek plain yogurt (17g protein) with add-ins. Avoid the added sugars found in flavoured versions of yogurt. Try sweetening it with whole fruit or mix half flavoured and half plain yogurt to reduce added sugars while getting accustomed to the taste. Other add-ins include a couple tablespoons of slivered almonds or mixed nuts (4g protein), shredded unsweetened coconut, peanut butter, or any other nut butter (8g protein). Other examples include: • One or two eggs, scrambled (seven to 14g protein), veggies or fruit on the side, a piece of sprouted bread (4g protein) with 1 tbsp. nut butter (4g protein) • One slice sprouted bread, such as Ezekiel bread (4g protein), with a half cup mashed avocado spread on top (2g protein) and 2 tablespoons of sprinkled hemp seeds (7g protein) and a cheese string (6g protein). • Whole grain toast (3g protein) topped with a half cup mashed canned beans (6g protein) and three tablespoons melted shredded cheese (6g protein). • Three-ingredient pancake (1 banana, 2 eggs, dash of cinnamon whisked together and cooked over low-medium heat on a greased pan) (14g protein). Add a dollop of Greek yogurt or nut butter for an extra protein boost. If your child is stuck on cereal, is picky, or needs small changes at a time, start with a cereal low in sugar (less than 5g per serving), high fiber (more than 5g per serving). Add in protein and nutrient boosters, such as nut or seed butter, chia, hemp or flax seeds, nuts, and fresh fruit. Sub out their milk for a yogurt (a cereal yogurt parfait) or reduce the portion and add an egg on the side. Steel cut oatmeal is a great choice for an unprocessed carbohydrate that can be part of a good breakfast. To help keep protein and other things such as healthy fat and fiber high, try the recipe below.

Higher protein oatmeal Ingredients ¾ 1 1 ¼ ¼

cup quick cooking oatmeal (or use Quaker’s steel cut oats) cup milk of your choice egg tsp vanilla extract (optional) tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

Directions 1. On medium heat, bring milk to a simmer. 2. Vigorously whisk eggs for 15-20 seconds. 3. Once simmering, add oats and mix well. 4. Add the whisked egg. Alternate between adding egg and stirring. 5. Continue stirring until fluffy and moist. Add more protein with peanut butter. Top with fruits, chocolate chips, or light drizzle of honey.

If time is still too rushed, try these tips for a tight schedule:

2 Figure out what you’ll eat for breakfast the night before and set out dry ingredients, bowls, equipment, or pans. 3 Make a to-go breakfast the night before. Overnight oats (look for a higher protein, lower sugar recipe) are your best friend. Remember, most of these breakfasts only take 10 minutes or less to prepare. Practice getting up just 15 minutes earlier to make sure you get a healthy start to your day. 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

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1 Make breakfast the night before. Reheat as necessary. Breakfast burritos or quesadillas work great.

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Ready, Set....Shuffle! www

Lace up your running shoes and join us for a day of family fun to raise money for families in need at Christmas.

Saturday, December 7 @ 10 a.m. First Lake · 409 Glendale Drive, Lower Sackville

Register online: SantaShuffle.ca Early bird closes Nov. 23!

Presented by:





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 | Fall 2019


Connecting kids with mental health literacy Social media and Internet use is an unavoidable part of our children’s lives By Jill Chappell


rom smart phones to tablets, TV to video games, and even wearable technology, there’s growing concern about the effect ever-increasing screen time is having on our kids mental health. That’s why mental health literacy is a critical component of a child’s education.

It’s a need that’s being addressed by Halifax non-profit Family SOS through its comprehensive online safety and mental health program, Kidz Connect. The course is proudly supported by the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia through our Community Grant program.





Our Children | Fall 2019

Starr Cunningham, president, CEO, Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia.

“Kidz Connect provides our children with vital information that will have a positive impact on their daily lives,” says Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia President and CEO Starr Cunningham. “Not only does this program benefit the mental health of young Nova Scotians, but it helps eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness and addiction.” Kidz Connect was first launched in 2012 and continues to reach more children each year. This year the program visited 60 classrooms, reaching more than 1,200 students throughout the Halifax Regional Centre for Education. The goal is to increase mental health literacy by educating children about mental health and online activity. “Mental health is tied into every aspect of our programming, plus we do one full session on mental health,” says Kidz Connect program facilitator Kimberly Drisdelle. “We talk about how the Internet can be good and bad for your mental health. We talk about the ways in which screen time is good and can be used for self-care or as an outlet, and then the ways it can be destructive.” The interactive course provides six hours of programming over two to three weeks. The sessions include the latest information about online safety fundamentals, online etiquette, cyberbullying, healthy screen use, and mental health. Each session incorporates hands-on activities and games that resonate with students. Like one activity which compares getting rid of personal information online to getting toothpaste back into a tube. “Thank you for teaching me how to be safe on the Internet,” says Kidz Connect participant Summer. “My favourite activity was the toothpaste one because it was really like the Internet. You post a bad picture, it spreads, you try to get it off, but it won’t come off.” Kidz Connect also focuses on basic human emotions. Students learn it’s okay to be sad, nervous, or angry sometimes and how to recognize when these feelings become a bigger problem.

Students take part in the string game which emphasizes how everyone on the Internet is connected, no matter who they are.

They explore positive mental health practices, self-care, and the importance of fresh air, exercise, and healthy food. Students are often so engaged in the curriculum, they’re disappointed to see it come to an end. “I learned a lot from what you’ve been teaching us. I wish you could stay longer,” says Kidz Connect participant Megan. “Now that I know the Internet is not as safe as it seems, I’ve told a trusted adult my password and make sure my personal information is locked and safe from other people.” The feedback from schools has been overwhelmingly positive with all teachers surveyed requesting the program be delivered on an annual basis. The demand illustrates the real need for mental health education. “The presenter had a very good rapport with the students and was knowledgeable about the content of the program and how to work with students,” says one teacher. “[Kidz Connect] is a great program with really important content.” Thanks to Community Grant funding from the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, Family SOS expanded Kidz Connect this year. It implemented a full-time program facilitator and enlisted a consulting agency to update curriculum to reflect 2019 digital trends. The organization was also able to offer the program to everyone on their waitlist, plus additional schools, improving the lives and mental health literacy of hundreds more young Nova Scotians.

29 NEED MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT? If you’re looking for mental health resources, here are several organizations that provide exceptional mental health support and information for children and youth.

Kids Help Phone A 24/7 national support service offering professional counselling, information and referrals, and volunteerled, text-based support to young people. It’s completely confidential, available in English and French, and by phone, text, mobile app, or through the website. www.kidshelpphone.ca Phone: 1-800-668-6868 Text: 686868


IWK Mental Health and Addiction Services

e! r smil u o y Find

Mental Health and Addictions Program (MHA) treats children and youth under the age of 19 within a patient and family centered context. They strive to include families in treatment and to partner with families to support health and wellness for their children. Phone: 1-855-635-4110

Strongest Families Institute A not-for-profit corporation providing evidencebased services to children and families seeking help for mental health and other health and well-being issues. It provides timely care to families in the comfort and privacy of their own home. www.strongestfamilies.com Phone: 1-866-470-7111

TeenMentalHealth.org Presented by Dr. Stan Kutcher, SunLife Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health, this online resource is aimed at improving the mental health of youth. It provides scientific knowledge, presented in a youth-friendly manner. An excellent resource for educators and families alike. www.teenmentalhealth.org Phone: 902-470-6598

Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team

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Provides intervention and short-term crisis management for children, youth, and adults experiencing a mental health crisis. Phone: 902-429-8167 or 1-888-429-8167 Or dial 911, or visit your local emergency department. Jill Chappell is the marketing and communications lead for the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. n

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Our Children | Fall 2019

By Trevor J. Adams

Jacques’ Escape by Anne C. Kelly Trap Door Books Ages 10+ One of the first two releases from a new publisher in Lunenburg, this middle-grade novel brings history to life, sharing the story of 14-year-old Jacques Terroit, during the Grand Deportation of 1755, when the British expelled most Acadian settlers from the region. When the Terroit family lands in Massachusetts, which is as familiar to them as the dark side of the moon, Jacques yearns to escape and join his older brother who is fighting for the French. Instead, he embarks on a journey where he learns what family and home really mean, and who he is as an Acadian. This is author Anne C. Kelly’s first novel.

Help! Why Am I Changing?

Backpack Explorer: Beach Walk


by Susan Akass Cico Kidz Ages 10+ Billed as a growing-up guide for pre-teens, this book is a handy tool to complement those puberty talks than neither kid nor parent enjoy very much. A teacher with extensive experience and education on two continents, author Susan Akass brings a wealth of first-hand understanding to this book. Without condescension or prudishness, she offers a clear and forthright take on topics like Growing Up, Caring For Your Body, Looking After Your Mind, We Are All Different, Staying Safe, Making Babies and Families, and more. You won’t regret adding this one to your home’s library.

by the Editors of Storey Publishing Thomas Allen & Son Ages 4–8 The second in a series aiming to inspire kids to play and learn outside, this book is a handy year-round resource in Nova Scotia, where the coast is never far away. With 12 interactive field guides (shells, jellyfish, and more), science experiments, games, stickers, and simple projects, this book will teach young naturalists a ton, all while they think they’re just having fun. There’s also a magnifying glass and a beach log where kids can carefully note their discoveries.

by Mark Wilson Storey Ages 7–11 “Enter the world of the mysterious birds of the night,” says the cover of this book, delivering what it promises right from the first page. Wildlife photojournalist and nature educator Mark Wilson carefully documents the little-seen lives of these distinctive birds. He offers dramatic images of the 19 owl species of North America nesting, flying, hunting, and catching prey, plus lots of information about their silent flight, remarkable eyes and ears, haunting calls, and fascinating adventures. Kids will learn how to spot and identify owls, and mimic their hoots and calls. And the cover glows in the dark!


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