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Archive for category: Sports and Leisure

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So I Guess Your Kid Doesn’t Wear a Seat Belt Either?

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

I get very confused when I see children riding bikes without helmets.  Over the last many years the safety benefits of a helmet for biking, skiing, skateboarding, ice skating (and many other sports) has been well studied.  Research shows that helmets can be extremely effective in preventing head injuries and ¾ of all cycling fatalities are the result of head trauma.  You don’t even have to hit a car or tree to sustain a head injury – the ground or even your handlebars are often enough.

The laws in Ontario are clear:  since October 1, 1995 anyone under the age of 18 is required to ride a helmet on a road or sidewalk (http://www.toronto.ca/cycling/safety/helmet/helmet_law.htm).  Based on an increasing number of adult cycling deaths by head injury, it is likely that this law will soon be extended to adults as it is in other provinces.

So, considering the laws and the well-publicized risks, why are children (including young children) still seen riding bikes without helmets?

As adults, I recognize that we were not raised to wear helmets.  Adopting this practice has been difficult as we find it unnatural, maybe uncomfortable, and probably uncool.  However, most of us likely wear seat belts when in a vehicle.  Why?  BECAUSE WE WERE RAISED THAT WAY.  Seat belt laws in Ontario were passed in 1976 and so many of us were raised in the era of this as mandatory.  Many of us probably don’t even have to think about our seat belt anymore as it is part of our regular “get-in-the-car” routine and we feel naked and exposed without it.  We need to apply the same concept of “normal” to our children regarding helmets. 

There are two main reasons why children need to wear helmets. 

1. They are safe and have been shown to save lives and reduce disability.

2.  IT IS THE LAW.

As a parent, by not requiring that your child wear a helmet on their bike you are not only putting them at risk, but are also teaching them that laws don’t matter.  And I am not talking about the diligent parents whose children leave the house with a helmet on, to later have this on their handlebars or undone on their head.   I am mostly talking about the young kids in my neighbourhood who are out on their bikes without helmets, often under the supervision of their parents, and are thus not being taught that helmets are law, mandatory, and safe.

I am going to hazard a guess that no parent would put their child in a car without a seat belt.  Heck, child seats are also law and until a certain age, these are five-point and offer more protection than the adult restraint.  So, for the same reasons you put your child in a seat belt (protection and law) you need to ensure they are wearing a helmet for biking (skating, skiing, skateboarding).  And lead by example – get a helmet for yourself and model the appropriate behavior.  And be firm: no helmet should equal no bike.  No discussion.

 

Previously posted June 2016

 

Summer Programming Note:

Summer vacation is here and we will be taking a break from our regular schedule.  We will be posting some of our popular seasonal blogs just once a week throughout the summer but will resume our regular three weekly posts in September, filled with new and exciting content including our popular O-Tip of Week series.

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Accessible Travel Destinations Across Canada

Summer vacation is here!  For those looking to get away or those looking for fun day trips as part of a staycation, the possibilities may seem endless, however, for someone with a disability they may be limited.  The good news is that there are many fully accessible destinations, activities, and adventures across Canada!  Take a look at the following care of the Rick Hansen Foundation to explore ideas for fun in the sun experiences that are available to all.

Rick Hansen Foundation:  Vacation Ideas for Travelers with Disabilities

Learn more about accessible travel in our previous post, Vacation Plans? Consult our Accessible Travel Guide.

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Ergonomic and Safety Tips for Pain-Free Gardening

Do you have, or are aspiring to have, a “green thumb?”  Or do you simply enjoy beautifying your home or spending time connecting with nature?  Whether you garden for pleasure or purpose you may be reaping many of the health benefits, however, you may also from time to time suffer from a sore back and achy muscles brought on by the hard work and bending involved.  Take a look at the following article from Sunnybrook which discusses simple ways to prevent aches, pains, and injury when gardening so you can enjoy your garden all season long. 

Sunnybrook– Your Health Matters:    How to avoid pain or injury while gardening

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Kick off Cottage Season Safely

The Victoria Day long weekend in Canada is known as the kick off to summer and the official beginning of cottage season.  Whether you own, rent or visit friends and family with cottages make sure you do so safely, as cottages have dangers you may not need to think of at home.  Make yourself familiar with some these safety tips care of the Federation of Ontario Cottager’s Associations (FOCA) and the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). 

Heading to the cottage this long weekend? IBC and FOCA partner up to offer Top 10 Tips

 

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The Relationship Between Physical Activity and Depression

We have talked a lot on our blog about the benefits of regular physical activity for your physical, cognitive and mental health.  Why?  Because quite simply, other than laughter, physical activity is the best medicine!  A study recently published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry looks at the relationship between regular exercise and depression.  Learn more about this study here care of the New York Times.

The New York Times:  Exercise May Help to Fend Off Depression

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Organization O-Tip of the Week: Think Vertical to Maximize Space

Our O-Tip of the week series we will be providing valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

Did you know that being organized can help you to reduce stress?  Spring is around the corner, and with it comes Spring Cleaning!  Therefore, for the month of April, our O-Tip of the week series will share some of the best tips to help you get organized–  because an organized space is a healthier space!

If your garage is anything like mine it is used for more than simply storing your vehicles.  Sports equipment, garbage and recycling bins, lawnmowers, snowblowers and more share this space and without some strategic organization it can get quite crowded.  The best solution for an organized garage is to take advantage of vertical space.  Use wall shelves and peg boards for smaller items, and install hooks and shelves on the ceiling and walls to allow for increased space around the perimeter.

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Adaptive Physical Activity Guidelines for Children with Disabilities

Participaction and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, have created a fantastic resource for parents of children with disabilities.  The Ability Toolkit’s purpose is to ensure that all children are meeting daily movement requirements.  The toolkit helps to break down what a healthy day should look like for children and youth and provides ways to modify and adapt activities for many physical disabilities.  Take a look at the Ability Toolkit here and if you’re struggling to find adapted physical activities for your child consult an Occupational Therapist who are experts in providing solutions for living.

The Ability Toolkit

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O-Tip of the Week: Pack a Clothespin for Cleanliness

Our O-Tip of the week series we will be providing valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

Spring Break is upon us so for the month of March, our O-Tip of the Week series will provide tips for traveling like a pro!

Clothespins come in handy for more than just hanging laundry!  Pack a clothespin in your toiletry bag and use it to prop up your toothbrush to keep it from touching hotel sinks and counters.  Because you don’t want someone else’s germs to ruin your vacation!

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O-Tip of the Week: No Need to Use Data with this Simple Trick

Our O-Tip of the week series we will be providing valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

Spring Break is upon us so for the month of March, our O-Tip of the Week series will provide tips for traveling like a pro!

Did you know you can still use GPS on your smartphone without paying the high price of data usage in a foreign country?  It’s easy to do with Google Maps.  Before you leave download maps of the areas you will be visiting and when you arrive you will be able to use these with GPS for driving directions completely offline.  Learn more in the following care of Google Maps support.

Google Maps:  Download areas and navigate offline

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Are You Capturing the Moment… or Missing it Altogether?

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

I love the song “Scare Away the Dark” by Passenger. Some of the lyrics have powerful insinuations: “we should stare at the stars and not just at screens”…”we want something real not just hashtag and twitter”…”we are all slowly dying in front of computers. I believe there is significant truth to what he is saying. The technology pendulum has swung so far in the direction of obsession and I am personally looking forward to it bouncing back to some form of neutral.

If addiction is defined as “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice that is physically or psychologically habit-forming to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma…” or “usage of something that is beyond voluntary control” then I would argue that technology applies, and many people have a serious problem.

On a recent holiday, the evidence of this was immense. On one occasion I saw three young women on a horse-drawn carriage ride (a $50 experience I might add) and they were all looking at their phones. Were they texting, tweeting, posting on FB “loving my horse-drawn carriage ride”, or maybe playing candy crush, Instagramming a photo, or taking a selfie? Or the families sitting at dinner looking down, using their devices, essentially ignoring each other. Or the guy at the theme park videotaping his experience – he was even videotaping while a photographer was taking their family photo! I am not sure it matters what these people’s intentions were with their devices, but I felt that in perhaps trying to capture these moments they were missing them completely. Look around, talk to each other, take in the sights, sounds, smells, be mindful of the fragility of life and take a moment to be grateful for the experience. Connect. Engage. Smile at a person, not just a screen.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for capturing moments. But some moments need to be captured by our eyes and filed in our brain, not just on a device, memory card, or online. The concept of being present includes enjoying moments while you are in them – without living in the past or obsessing about the future. How can we do this? Enlightened Living suggests that being present involves recognizing that we can only do ONE thing at a time and thus we should engage wholeheartedly. Taking a photo while trying to absorb a moment are two tasks that cannot happen simultaneously. Thus why people feel that “life has passed them by”…they were never there to fully experience it in the first place.

So every once in a while check your addiction. Step away from your phone. Take technology away from your children. Leave it at home. Don’t take it on vacation. Set rules for technology behavior. In our house, we have significant rules for screen use, including a 17 clause contract our daughter signed in getting her first cell phone at age 14.  Some of the important clauses include: 

  • Rule # 1: The phone cannot be used to be mean to anyone – directly or indirectly.
  • Rule # 2: Proper grammar and spelling must be used when communicating.
  • Rule # 4 and 5: The phone is not allowed upstairs and cannot be used during family or meal times.
  • Rule # 9: I will not use my phone to take photos or video of people without their permission. I will not post or share photos or video without the consent of the people in them.
  • Rule # 15: I will follow classroom and teacher rules for phone use when at school.
  • Rule # 16: I understand this is not an appendage and obsessive use will not be tolerated.
  • Rule # 17 is a list of reasons for repossession.

My 14 and 12-year-olds read the contract together. At the end, my 12-year-old said: “so, what CAN she do”?

Do you feel sorry for my kid? Don’t. The real reason for the contract was not because she needs to be rigidly structured, but because I, as a new parent of a kid with a cell phone, was not comfortable with the entire concept in the first place. At 14 (and younger) kids are not developmentally able to understand and grasp the full impact of this new power in their possession. That is why there are recommended ages for Facebook (14), and age-specific laws for driving and drinking. They are young, naïve, immature, and still learning the ways of the world. I have a responsibility to be her guide, as effortful as that is. In the end, the contract worked to set out the expectations, establish boundaries, communicate about safety and proper use and helped us recognize the need to adapt as a family to the transition of now raising teenagers, not just “kids”. But my true intent was to make sure that I don’t teach her, or worse, model for her, that technology trumps experiences, replaces in-person relationships, or is a valuable way to tick away the proverbial time bomb that is life.

So, try if you can to capture moments by being present, and by using your born faculties to photograph, store and file your memories – not just a device. Check in with yourself at times about your behaviors, track these, shock your system with some detox, set some boundaries and try to unplug.

 

Previously posted July 2014