Note from the Editor

To view the entire magazine click on the above cover.

Imagine, if you will, that your child is having problems at school. You try a variety of tactics but eventually find yourself up against a wall. What is your next move? Why, to start your own school of course! Impossible? That’s exactly what the Ferguson family did. Read the Door is Open and discover the great lengths a family will go to find the right solution for their kids.

Learn about the unexpected consequences of over watering in Sensei Chris Taneda’s Watering Children.

No question, the Okanagan is a great place to live. In her article Family-Friendly Adventure in the Okanagan, Amie Gosselin helps us off the couch with her tips and ideas for getting the family outdoors and exploring this picturesque valley.

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The Door is Open

by Faye Arcand

Life isn’t supposed to throw you curve balls…You grow up, you meet the person that rocks your world, and you get married. After a few years you start a family…one baby…two baby…and suddenly you’re the picture of the average family and life is hunky dory…or is it?

This is the fairytale.  The ambiance of perfection… the happily ever after. You don’t even consider any other possible truth as you walk forward with a faith that is blind and trusting. Besides, you already have that mental picture of what  normal looks like…you’re bombarded by it daily via social media, magazines, and billboards. You constantly see the smiling faces of those perfect families. There aren’t any tears or screaming…they all look so happy and normal.

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Watering Children

by Sensei Chris Taneda, Kyoshi, Nanadan 

My father nurtures a substantial collection of bonsai trees. He spends hours trimming and clipping these living works of art. Plants that are on the brink of dying often find a second life if they are adopted by him. Dad can fix nearly anything. He also builds things from scraps that would be most people’s junk. These two attributes have apparently skipped a generation. When we are gifted plants, they immediately become wards of my wife. A local nursery offered a series of lectures on plant care. The expert said that most houseplants are killed by over watering. Conscientious and caring owners excessively moisturize their leafy prizes. The roots, from all the loving wetness start to rot and as the color of the plant changes to shades of autumn, the owner thinks it must be thirsty. More water is the only logical solution. The intentions have merit but the result is a dead plant. The lecturer explained that after the Christmas rush, unsold poinsettias are put in a corner and given less attention and less water. His observation was that the plants become healthier and more vibrant. Stress will cause some plants to blossom.

One quality that I do have is to right brain ideas. My inside voice said, “this is how many parents raise their children”. With love and all good intentions parents will give too much. The more the parents do and give, the less the child has to be responsible for. Skill sets for problem solving and creativity become extinct. Gratefulness and responsibility are replaced by attitudes of entitlement and unintentional discourtesy. Parents will do things for their children because it is easier than teaching the child the skill. They may even think they are being Super Parents. Subconsciously the child understands that the parent has no confidence that they can actually accomplish the task. It breeds insecurity and poor self-esteem.

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It Takes a Village

by Katelin Mitchell, Immigrant Services and Operations Manager at KCR

With over 200 volunteers ready to help, many items donated and planning meetings held, the Central Okanagan prepared itself to welcome newly arrived Syrian refugee families.  KCR – Kelowna Community Resources worked together with many community partners and sponsor groups to devise a plan to support and assist these families who were expected to arrive in the masses.

To date we have had the privilege of welcoming over 30 Syrian families to this community and are expecting at least another four families by the New Year.  Families are supported by private, government, or blended sponsorships and all are looking to make a good life for themselves and their families in their new homeland.

As a smaller community outside the larger metropolitan areas, we have had the benefit of being able to welcome small numbers of Syrians at one time therefore allowing us to be able to provide specialized, individualized services that best meet the needs of those we serve.  My favourite example was the day that we took eight adults and 21 children under the age of 11 to the dentist.  Three local dentists generously opened up their clinics and volunteered their time for a whole day to assist these four families.  It took four vehicles, 16 car seats, four volunteer drivers and two interpreters to pull this day off but due to our ability to customize the supports required we were able to make this day happen and the families all came away healthier for it.

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Thai Yoga Stretch Therapy

by Jessica Levy, founder of Body Connection Fitness / Photography by Jura

As a new mom our body is recovering from both our pregnancy and labour. We are hunched over breast feeding and carrying around baby, we become tight in our chest and develop an overstretched upper back which leads to back and neck pain. We may also have tight hip flexors, thighs and hamstrings from pregnancy which can lead to other issues. Fitness training is super beneficial to strengthen the weak muscles and Thai Yoga Stretch Therapy will help to increase mobility of the tight joints and muscles.

Thai Yoga Stretch Therapy is used to relax the mind and body, while creating greater mobility in the joints and increasing flexibility. This allows the body to move more efficiently which can help with daily activities, sports, poor posture, fitness and more. It is an ancient healing practice that combines Indian Ayurvedic principles, acupressure and assisted yoga postures.

This therapy is amazing for anyone to experience, from the sedentary to the active. Most of us are forward in our jobs or day to day living; sitting and typing at a desk, sitting in our car, watching tv, doing chores, etc. This causes our hip flexors, hamstrings, chest and shoulders to be tight. Athletes even seek out this practice to become better players.

When you have optimal range of motion and mobility in the joints, the body moves with ease and energy in a way that even fitness professionals cannot do without assistance. Thus, allowing increased mobility so the body can function better. It has the many benefits of yoga with the patient’s body in a passive state during the stretches, not to mention it is extremely relaxing and feels amazing.


Thai Yoga Stretch Therapy is now offered in Kelowna by Jessica Levy.


 

Family-Friendly Adventure in the Okanagan

by Amie Gosselin

My youngest daughter tromps down the beach and plunks herself beside the water. Scoop by scoop she loads sand into a bucket then pats it down with her hand.

Shovel, pat, shovel, pat. There is a rhythm to it.

“Mommy, sand cake,” she says, beckoning me to join her. I’m comfortable on the beach, staring at the open expanse of water before me, but how can I possibly say no? Together we fill up the bucket and carefully turn it over. Our ‘sand cake’ is complete with a few shiny rocks and twigs.

My middle daughter walks along the beach stopping every few moments to pick up something that has caught her eye. She turns it around in her hand inspecting it, marveling at it. Plunk, it lands at the bottom of her beach bucket. After a while she spreads all she has collected before us: two bottle caps, a feather, an oddly shaped stick, several rocks that catch the sunlight and sparkle. All these, the treasures of childhood.

My oldest, meanwhile, is exploring Kalamalka Lake with a snorkel and mask.

“What do you see?” I call to her.

“A minnow!” she hollers back with excitement.

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Helping Kids Play Sports

by Athletics for Kids  •  www.a4k.ca

Athletics for Kids (A4K) is a BC-based charity that helps children and youth participate in sport by providing financial assistance for registration fees. Our vision is that all BC children have the opportunity to play sports and realize their full potential. In 2016, we provided over 1,000 sports grants to the kids of BC, in over 40 different sports; both individual pursuits such as swimming and martial arts and team sports such as soccer and hockey. A4K works with over 400 sports organizations around the Province and receives referrals from social workers, school administrators, outreach workers, counsellors and many others.

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Inspiring the Entrepreneur in Our Children

by Marika Wolf, Realtor  •  Photography by Captured by Gagan

This year I was honoured to speak at the Kids Leadership Summit put on by some awesome people in Kelowna. The topic was Entrepreneurship and even though I am not an expert, I definitely know the ins and outs of leadership and entrepreneurship.

I create, I take risks, and I live my passion every day. As a real estate agent, I work with lots of different people, have a very flexible schedule (so that I can still take the kids to martial arts class and fairy tale dance), and I am my own boss. I am an entrepreneur and I believe the world needs more of us.

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Preparing For and Transitioning to Child Care

11 Tips to Help Families Navigate the Return to Work

by YMCA of Okanagan

The initial switch to child care often presents a challenging adjustment period for families. Though difficult, this introductory phase is temporary with everyone adjusting at their own pace. After working with many families throughout this transition, the YMCA has gathered the following eleven tips to help make the return back to work a little easier for you and your family.

Set a positive tone • Children often reflect the mood of their parents. If you are nervous or emotional, they will likely pick up on it. Keep a positive outlook and calm demeanour to guide your child’s reaction. Children adapt quickly and it’s often more difficult on the parent. It is important to remember you will all settle into a new normal soon enough.

Meal prep  • It’s normal for children to feel over stimulated after a full day of playing in a new setting. For the first while, they may be clingy for attention once you return home. Make freezer meals ahead of time and as much as you can, use your crock-pot and prep dinners the night before. Simplifying dinner time will allow for more quality time together to wind down and reconnect.

Spend some time apart • If your child is unaccustomed to being away from you, it’s best to gradually introduce small increments of time apart. Leave your child with a babysitter or go for a workout and leave him or her in child minding. This will help each of you adapt slowly while reassuring your child that you will always return.

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Sunscreen and Kids

by Kristen Thompsonkristen.thom@gmail.com

It’s an overcast day at the park and my kids and I are having a familiar battle over sunscreen. In that I’m trying to smear it on their faces, and they’re wriggling to break free from the assault.

“It’s not even sunny out!” my preschooler shouts as she breaks free. And now I’m second guessing myself. Is it worth the fight? Is it full of chemicals anyway?

Figuring out how best to protect our children from the sun can seem daunting. This is partly because the market is so saturated with sun safety products, and there seems to be conflicting information about how best to keep UV rays at bay and when the sun is most dangerous.

So I reached out to two experts in skin care to find out the facts and myths around summertime sun safety and help Canadian parents be prepared.

Q: Before shelling out for the latest sunscreens and SPF rated clothing, what should parents know about minimizing kids’ UV exposure?

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Inheritance When a Child Lives with Mental Illness or Addiction

by Jody Pihl, Lawyer and Mental Health Advocate at Pihl Law Corporation

Parenting a child who lives with mental illness or addiction can be heartbreaking, challenging and exhausting for parents and other family members. Once an adult, a child living with mental illness or addiction can create a lifelong emotional and financial commitment from the parents.

When engaging in estate planning, a parent with a child living with mental illness or addiction requires special planning considerations to protect the interest of their child, the ongoing care of the child and to protect their family from potential problems in the administration of the estate once the parent is gone.

It’s not unusual that special considerations for a child with mental illness or addiction sometimes come at the expense of other children who are impacted by having a sibling who requires special care and may be unpredictable, disruptive, or destructive. This disparity between children and their needs can add to existing family tension as well as the potential for disagreement between beneficiaries once a parent is gone.

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Kids, Books and Dogs

What a Great Combination!

by Kim Braeuer, Assistant Community Librarian, Mission Branch

A library may not be a place you would expect to find dogs, but at the Mission branch of the Okanagan Regional Library, children reading to dogs, is a regular occurrence.  Since 2013, the Mission branch library, has been fortunate to offer PAWS to Read, an individual  reading program for children  with volunteers and therapy dogs certified through St. John Ambulance.

The goal of PAWS to Read at the Mission library is a simple one – to foster the love of reading in children.

The use of therapy dogs in reading programs, both in libraries and in schools is gaining popularity. Research has shown that reading to dog programs not only help improve reading skills but also benefits in areas of social and emotional development.  It’s a fun and novel way for children to gain confidence in their reading.

For all children including, emergent or struggling readers, reading sessions with a dog provides a nonjudgmental, motivating, relaxed environment in which to read aloud. This practise is essential to improved literacy.

Dogs may not be able to read, but they make great listeners.   Reading a story to an attentive  calm dog can also be a bonding experience and often the kids want to come back to read, again and again.

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Mothers Helping Mothers

by Shannon Christensen, Executive Director at Mamas for Mamas

Mamas for Mamas is an award winning charitable organization in Kelowna that supports mothers in crisis and provides ongoing support to low income mamas and their kids. Our mission is to change the landscape of poverty through innovative approaches to financial barriers faced by struggling families; we envision a future where no mama or child is left behind.

The most recent figures from Statistics Canada (2014) paint a stark picture: One in five BC children are poor. Fifty percent of BC children being raised by single parents are poor and single mothers are going hungry to feed their children (2016 BC Child Poverty Report Card). We can change these disheartening statistics and change the landscape of poverty in our home communities when we come together.

We are growing quickly as an organization in order to keep up with the demand and have just moved into our new forever home where we can provide ongoing support to these mamas and their children through our various programs including: our donation and comprehensive donation programs, our sustainable nourishment program-filling the gaps in farm to table nutrition, our teen mama support program and our high in demand parenting and mental wellness programs.

We are so excited to announce the opening of our Mamas Karma Market, where everything is free and kindness is the only currency you need. Find our store in our new space at 120-1735 Dolphin Avenue.

Our goal is to create a space where our mamas feel safe and comfortable when they come in for poverty relief support. We are dedicated to creating a community where no child goes to bed hungry, where no kids in our community walk to school without winter coats or with holes in their boots. We envision a community where hope prevails.

If you would like to help contribute to a safe and comfortable space for our Mamas to reach out for the help they desperately need, please drop off items to our store or email Shannon@mamasformamas.ca to make a financial donation.


Mamas for Mamas. Donate. Share. Support. Connect. We offer a community without barriers to raising healthy, happy children. For more information call 236-420-0075, email us at info@mamasformamas.ca, come by for a visit at 120-1735 Dolphin Avenue in Kelowna or visit our website at www.mamasformamas.ca.


 

Continuing the Conversation:

Our Kids and Problematic Substance Use

by The Bridge Youth and Family Services

In a perfect world kids wouldn’t use drugs.  There would be no trauma to suppress, no pain to treat, no boredom to alleviate; all kids would grow up happy and healthy, free of mental health concerns and capable of reaching their full potential.

But: the world isn’t perfect, and even if youth are provided with everything they need to flourish, we know from the research that substance use issues can still arise. Let’s face it, drugs are everywhere: from alcohol to tobacco, from caffeine to cannabis, and from prescription medications to fentanyl; and, given our children’s natural curiosity and creativity, many of them can and do access drugs that were not intended for them.   Although substance use amongst our young people is declining in British Columbia – as it is across Canada – it is still not unusual for many children and youth to experiment and explore a variety of substances. And while most people who use psychoactive substances don’t necessarily develop an addiction, with the current opiate crisis, even recreational drug use can now have deadly consequences.

How do we know if there is a problem? Unfortunately, many normal developmental stages of being a teenager can mimic some of the early warning signs of a Substance Use Disorder (SUD). Mood swings, altered sleeping patterns, dysregulated eating, change in peer group and loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities are more likely to be a part of regular development than an indication of a SUD. But they are symptoms that parents and caregivers can stay attuned to, to see if further exploration is warranted.

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