Category "Smart Living"


Canada’s health-care system isn’t designed for parents with disabilities: experts – National

by BBG Hub

Jessica Vliegenthart was 20 years old when she became paraplegic after suffering a severe spinal cord injury.

Doctors said she was still able to have children, but she struggled to see how parenting could fit into her new life.

“I always sort of thought, you know, at some point in my life, I would probably [want kids]… but after my injury, I immediately wrote it off,” she told Global News.

“I thought, ‘I don’t want to add to this nightmare.’”

READ MORE: Children with disabilities were excluded from B.C. schools more than 3,000 times last year: report

Vliegenthart says it took five years after the accident before she felt like herself again. “Spinal cord injuries are a massive physical trauma,” she said.

“I was lucky, I escaped a lot of the psychological trauma that can go along with it — I never experienced depression or anxiety or fear or anything like that — but it took me five years to re-calibrate.”

Around that time, Vliegenthart married her husband. Slowly, having kids was back on her mind.

“It was almost just like the next thing to do in life,” she said.

WATCH (Sept. 2, 2019): Kingston teen creates app to help open doors for people with disabilities

But starting the process to have children was more complicated for Vliegenthart because of her disability.

“I had to go off some medication I’m on that makes my life livable. That was really hard.”

She was also worried about re-learning things as a mom who is also paraplegic.

READ MORE: ‘I couldn’t believe it’: Why disability claims for mental health are often a struggle

“I’m a super active person… I had been travelling the world playing sports, now I have a full-time demanding legal career. I had gotten my life dialed in so well with my disability,” Vilegenthart said. “I was worried I was setting a bomb off.”

It didn’t help that, throughout her pregnancy, she had a lot of questions her doctors couldn’t answer.

“For moms with disabilities, especially when the mom has a (physical) disability and is carrying the child, trying to get the answers to questions about what’s going to happen and how things work… that data simply doesn’t exist,” she explained.

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She had the pre-baby jitters like most other expectant mothers, but they were compounded by fear about how her disability could affect her pregnancy.

“Not being able to look it up and have an answer sitting there was really frustrating.”

Lesley Tarasoff can attest to a major lack of data about pregnancy and disability in Canada.

For her research as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Toronto, she has interviewed dozens of Ontario women with different types of disabilities about their pregnancy care experiences. One common thread exists: there’s very little information about it.

READ MORE: New rules present some greater barriers to air travel, disabled passengers say

“Just in general, a lot of health-care providers don’t receive a lot of training (or) education around disability broadly,” said Tarasoff.

Nearly 12 per cent of Canadian women of reproductive age has a disability… (but) we know very few doctors, nurses, social workers, et cetera have training around disability and pregnancy, specifically.”

This can contribute to feelings of confusion, fear and anxiety in expectant mothers who have a disability. It also makes it difficult to advocate for better health-care services — ultimately, it can perpetuate the barriers to adequate care that disabled parents sometimes experience.

Barriers to access

The needs of a parent with a disability will vary depending on the kind of disability they have, but one thing is clear to Tarasoff: most maternity care settings “aren’t really set up for women with disabilities in mind.”

“This is in terms of physical accessibility, but also around the different ways (people) communicate in learning and reading levels,” said Tarasoff.

Each time Vilegenthart saw a doctor, she was frustrated to find that the bed height wasn’t adjustable.

“For some reason, they don’t exist. Trying to get gynecological (and) obstetrician care… when you can’t get up on those beds is a challenge,” she said.

WATCH: Half of fathers admit to being criticized about parenting: poll

“I want to make it clear that my medical team did the best they could. I don’t want to make it sound like it was their fault, because, to be honest, they were kind of pioneers.”

The physical barriers continued after Vilegenthart had her son. She quickly realized that she couldn’t wear her baby in a carrier and also push her wheelchair — a reality which confined her to her house.

“The first six months was really challenging for me. It was like a force… I had to slow down,” she said.

READ MORE: Cancer patient was cut off from work disability benefits for 10 months — his story has warning for everyone

Access is worse the farther away you live from major cities.

“I’ve interviewed women as far as two and half hours away from Toronto who (…) come to Toronto for care because their community doesn’t have a specialist,” said Tarasoff.

Living in Kamloops, B.C., Vilegenthart had to travel to Vancouver for appointments regarding her pregnancy and her spinal cord injury. “You have to live in those places (or) you’re kind of stuck making it up as you go,” she said.

Everyone’s needs are different

“People with disabilities often make really great parents,” said Kristy Brosz, a medical social worker in Calgary.

She works with patients and their families after there is a diagnosis of disability or chronic illness.

“They’re very thoughtful about their priorities… they’re used to having to prioritize their day and be vulnerable.”

But these parents have unique needs, and Brosz says the medical system rarely provides specialized support for the pregnancy and parenting phases in a patient’s life.

“Often, patients are looking long-term (and want help) making choices about having kids or not… but a lot of times, the medical system is just saying ‘let’s focus on your diagnosis and treatment.’”

WATCH (Aug. 6, 2019): How to world school

In her work, Brosz tries to prioritize concerns like these, but it can be difficult to provide resources for people with lesser-known disabilities and illnesses. “In some ways, it does depend on what your diagnosis is (when it comes to) how much support you’re going to get.”

In reality, the needs of two patients with the same disability will be drastically different, which is why Brosz says there needs to be a more individualized approach to treatment.

“How do we capitalize on the strengths of a loving family?” she said. “A lot of patients have been living (with these symptoms) for a while, so they already know what they need,” and any external supports should focus on maximizing the systems a family already has in place.

READ MORE: Expert raises disability over proposed single-use plastics ban 

In Vilegenthart’s experience, having a community of other parents with disabilities has been life-changing.

“The single greatest resource out there is other people who have done it in your situation. Once I found a network of women with spinal cord injuries who had young kids… it was amazing,” she said.

“We ask each other questions about everything from labour and delivery to how to handle a kid’s birthday party when the place isn’t accessible to you.”

“Find other parents with disabilities who have figured it out, because somebody has figured it out.”


[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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How dangerous is vaping? What we know about its health risks – National

by BBG Hub

A London, Ont., youth was recently put on life support in the first known case of a vaping-related illness in Canada.

In the U.S., at least eight people have died from a mysterious respiratory illness related to vaping, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On Thursday, NPR reported there are 530 reported cases of vaping-related lung injuries in the U.S.

As more stories come out about the risks of vaping, eight Canadian health organizations have called for urgent action from the federal government to treat vaping like smoking.

READ MORE: Nearly 1 in 4 teens have tried vaping — Here’s how parents can talk about it

But what exactly are the health risks of vaping? Here’s what you need to know.

What is causing vaping-related injuries?

While much is still unknown, the CDC said in a press release on Thursday that they are tracking vaping-related lung injuries. The organization said that based on data, most patients who have experienced the illness have reported using e-cigarette products containing THC — a cannabinoid found in cannabis.

Additionally, data shows that many affected patients reported vaping THC and nicotine, although some patients reported using e-cigarette products containing only nicotine.

Symptoms of vaping-related lung injury include cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever or abdominal pain, the CDC reported.

WATCH BELOW: Coalition of health care organizations calls for action on young people vaping

According to Dr. David Hammond, a professor of public health at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, most of the severe vaping-related illnesses are likely due to contamination. Hammond’s research focuses largely on nicotine, drug and public health policy.

“The CDC, through some of the testing, has identified that in some of the THC products people used is what would be considered a contaminant,” Hammond told Global News.

“The working hypothesis is that at least some — possibly most — of these cases are not involving nicotine, and are likely due to some sort of contaminant; something in there that shouldn’t normally be in there.”

In other words, Hammond says this likely means poor manufacturing and bad batches of products may be a factor in the outbreak.

READ MORE: Health Canada advocates push for e-cigarette crackdown amid surge in teen vaping

As of now, there is no consistent e-cigarette or vaping product identified in all vaping-related illness cases, Hammond explained. There is also not one single product or substance “conclusively linked to lung disease in patients,” the CDC noted.

On Friday, Reuters reported that the U.S. investigation into the life-threatening lung illness has found that many patients had “pockets of oil clogging up cells responsible for removing impurities in the lungs.”

Researchers are trying to determine where the oil came from.

WATCH BELOW: Ontario teen diagnosed with vaping-related illness

One theory, according to Reuters, is that the oil deposits are residue from inhaling vaping oils, such as those containing THC or vitamin E acetate. Both are considered possible contributors to the current illnesses.

“Vitamin E is in lots of foods, but if you heat it and inhale it, it can be toxic,” Hammond explained.

The harms of nicotine

Even outside of severe lung illness or injury, health experts are concerned with vaping — period. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, the CDC reports, and nicotine is addictive and harmful to people at any age, but especially youth.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan orders hospitals to report vaping-related severe respiratory illnesses

The stimulant can harm the developing adolescent brain, affecting the parts that control attention, learning, mood and impulse control the CDC noted. Research has found that there’s a “strong and robust” linkage between vaping and subsequent tobacco use.

Health Canada also says that nicotine can affect memory and concentration. Vaping liquid containing nicotine can be very harmful, the government agency notes, if it’s swallowed or absorbed through the skin.

Hammond adds that there’s also concern around pregnant women vaping, and their unborn children being exposed to potentially harmful chemicals.

Long-term risks of vaping still largely unknown

Hammond said that while vaping should not be considered safe, the long-term health effects are still not fully known. Vaping may be safer than smoking cigarettes he adds, but it still poses potential harm.

WATCH BELOW: Why teens get into vaping

“Most of the chronic diseases that people hypothesize might be involved [in vaping] are things like cardiovascular disease and other lung problems,” Hammond said.

“Those do take a decade or two before they appear, just as the case for smoking… it’s not a benign activity.”

— With a file from the Canadian Press and files from Reuters 

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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When panic attacks happen at night: ‘I thought I was having a heart attack’ – National

by BBG Hub

Jemicah Marasigan started getting nighttime panic attacks earlier this summer.

She said the first time it happened, it was terrifying.

“It was almost debilitating in a sense where I just felt I couldn’t breathe,” she told Global News. “I started hyperventilating and my chest felt tight and felt really out of it. I thought I was having a heart attack.”

READ MORE: How to manage panic attacks – and why you should never ignore them

Worried she was having a heart issue, she went to the closest ER to her home in Toronto.

“The entire time I just had an impending fear I was going to die.”

Maneet Bhatia, a clinical psychologist based in Toronto, said panic attacks in general can happen out of the blue, sometimes even at night.

“They last at least one minute and no more than 10 minutes,” she told Global News. “There is no one cause (of panic attacks), but it’s believed to be caused by genetics, stress or changes in the brain.”

Bhatia says although there are no real causes, it is important to talk to a doctor to rule out sleep or thyroid issues. Timing also matters. He adds people who experience panic attacks overnight can also suffer from them during the day.

What is a panic attack?

Panic attacks are different for everyone but generally can cause dizziness, heart palpitations, sweating, muscle tension or feelings of not being in control of the situation, he says. Some people feel like they are having a heart attack, while others think they come close to death.

“It is important to rule out any heart or medical issues to ensure that what the patient is experiencing cannot be explained by a medical issue and that this a psychological phenomenon.”

Previously speaking with Global News, Dr. Melanie Badali, a registered psychologist and director of AnxietyBC, says we should always track panic attacks when they happen.

READ MORE: Panic attacks at work can feel ‘nauseous and suffocating’ — here’s how to manage them

“Tracking can help people recall events more accurately, identify conditions and triggers of panic attacks, and evaluate progress,” she said.

“For some people, completing self-monitoring or tracking forms can help them take on a new perspective — that of an observer or a scientist who is having panic symptoms rather than a victim being bossed around or bullied by those feelings and thoughts.”

This will be the most helpful for health-care professionals and mental health experts, she said.

Marasigan hasn’t been able to figure out what causes her panic attacks. She said when they do happen (usually once every few weeks), it happens during the middle of the night.

“I haven’t gotten medical help yet, but I try to message someone to help calm me down,” she explained. “My cousin taught me a trick to just try counting things in my environment to ground myself. Just try to get a grasp on my surroundings and realize I’m OK.”

Managing panic attacks at night

The thought of going through a panic attack in the middle of the night can be extra nerve-wracking. Feeling out of place, groggy or even being in the dark can all make the experience worse.

Bhatia says if they do happen, it’s important to fully “ride the wave.”

“Acknowledge and recognize and even name that you are feeling anxious and having a panic attack,” he continued. “The more you try to avoid it the worse it becomes.”

READ MORE: 3 steps to teach your brain to manage stress and crush it at work

He adds focus on grounding yourself because panic attacks often lead to feelings of losing control.

“(Try) breathing exercises to connect to your body or rub your hands against each other to feel your body again.”

He also advises his clients to have healthy conversations with themselves.

“(Tell yourself) ‘I am having anxiety and this is not pleasant but this will pass,” he said. “‘This has happened before, and I have survived it.’”

But ultimately, discuss your symptoms with a health-care or mental health professional.

“If you suffer from them, it is likely that you are dealing with stress,” he said. “It is important to rule out medical causes and focus on incorporating stress-reducing activities in your life.”

This can include yoga, exercise, mindfulness, relaxation, massages or consult with a psychologist or mental health practitioner to get a psychological treatment for the condition.

He says cognitive behavioural therapy, in particular, can be is quite effective.

[email protected]


© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Hoodies inspired by U.S. mass shootings spark outrage – National

by BBG Hub

In a breezy back-to-school video spot, angelic children describe their beloved new headphones, sneakers, skateboard. Soon, though, a disturbing reality dawns on the viewer: Those cherished new belongings are merely tools to foil a school shooter stalking the children.

And in a show last week, the fashion brand Bstroy offered a sort of back-to-school vision of its own, with models showing off hoodies emblazoned with the names of four schools touched by mass shootings, rent by what appeared to be bullet holes.

Both used shock value to make a point about gun violence — and both are dealing with different levels of reaction, some positive and, in the case of the fashion show, a lot of it negative.

READ MORE: Students flee a mass shooter in powerful back-to-school ‘survival’ video

“They knew exactly what they were doing in both cases and purposefully wanted to provoke it,” said Paul Argenti, a communication professor at Dartmouth College.

The backlash to the hoodies — which carried the words Sandy Hook, Stoneman Douglas, Columbine and Virginia Tech, sites of some of the deadliest school shootings — was swift and unforgiving after the fashion photos were posted last week on Instagram.

Models at a show for fashion brand Bstroy wear hoodies emblazoned with the names of schools touched by mass shootings at an apartment in the Soho neighborhood of Manhattan in New York. (Bstroy via AP)

Sandy Hook Promise, the nonprofit that is led by relatives of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and that released the “Back-to-School Essentials” campaign ad Wednesday, was particularly vocal.

“The fact that a designer would seek to profit by glamorizing the school violence that killed our children, Dylan and Daniel, and the deaths of so many more, is repugnant and deeply upsetting,” said Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden, managing directors of Sandy Hook Promise, in a news release.

WATCH: Students unveil back-to-school ‘essentials’ in school shooting PSA

“Nicole still has the bullet-ridden shirt Dylan was wearing the day he died,” Aimee Thunberg, spokesperson for Sandy Hook Promise, said in an email. “It is sacred, and for someone to pretend to create something like it — for their own bank balance — is indecent.”

READ MORE: Walmart to stop selling handgun ammunition in U.S. following mass shooting

Fred Guttenberg, father of Jaime Guttenberg, who died in the Parkland shooting, tweeted : “Under what scenario could somebody think this was a good idea? This has me so upset. If any of my followers no anybody involved with this clothing line, please ask them to stop it immediately.”

But as in most fashion shows, there was no intention to make the hoodies available for retail sale, said Bstroy co-founder Dieter Grams.

Moreover, he said, he sees commonalities between the Sandy Hook ad and what he described as his own company’s artistic attempt to bring attention to gun violence and honor its victims.

“I thought it was really well done,” Grams said of the Sandy Hook ad. “I’m in support of it, and I think anyone who supports that video should see what we were trying to do with our art.”

In 1994, Benetton caused an outcry with an ad showing the blood-soaked uniform of a Croat soldier killed in Bosnia, Argenti recalled. Urban Outfitters in 2014 sold a seemingly bloodstained Kent State University sweatshirt; it later pulled the item and apologized.

Credit: Bstroy via AP

Argenti advised creators to “have some common sense even if you want to be disruptive” and not choose examples that are too sensitive.

He said he found the Sandy Hook ad troubling for that reason, saying he wouldn’t want his child to see it.

“It starts out so lighthearted and then you get sucked in,” Argenti said. The Sandy Hook ad is unlikely to stop any violence in schools, he said, “just freak out kids in school.”

READ MORE: Alex Jones blames ‘psychosis’ for the conspiracy claims he’s made about Sandy Hook

It is also worth questioning whether a lavishly produced video spot was the best way to deliver Sandy Hook Promise’s message, said Pace University marketing professor Larry Chiagouris, pointing out the nonprofit sells clothing, too.

“That gets right back to the entire aura of nonprofit marketing: What is the most efficient way to make a change in the world?” he said.

Sandy Hook Promise’s tweet of the ad leads to a website where users can make donations. Thunberg draws a distinction between its financial motives and Bstroy’s, saying her group seeks to prevent violence by empowering children — not increase awareness of a clothing line in an oversaturated market.

“That is exploitation and serves no good to anyone except Bstroy,” Thunberg said. “Profiting from the tragedy of others is not acceptable.”

Credit: Bstroy via AP

Some experts agreed. Robert Passikoff, president of the New York-based customer research firm Brand Keys, said the difference is in execution. The Sandy Hook commercial was well executed and emotionally engaging, he said, while the hoodies make a blunter point.

“One was done so well and has people crying at the end,” he said, “The other one was, well, OK, I got your point. One did it with a scalpel and one did it with an AK-47.”

Grams, of Bstroy, said he has gotten positive feedback, including from people touched by the shootings at the schools named on the hoodies.

READ MORE: Sandy Hook gunman describes ‘scorn for humanity’ in newly released documents

One Parkland student whose brother died asked for a hoodie, he said. And a person from Newtown, where 20 children and six educators died at Sandy Hook Elementary, suggested casting models from the area for Bstroy’s next show.

Grams declined to divulge the identities of those who reached out, saying he did not want to violate their privacy.

Had Bstroy expected such publicity, Grams said, he might have reached out beforehand to relatives of shooting victims. But because a fashion show presents ideas that aren’t going to be circulated for a long time, he said, “in our mind, we had six months to reach out.”

“We make very niche art shows; we had no idea this was going to be publicized the way it was,” Grams said. “We had no idea we were going to get this kind of attention.”

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Handwashing vs. hand sanitizer: Which one is better at killing flu virus? – National

by BBG Hub

Health workers who use hand sanitizer between patients may be more likely to spread flu germs than those who take the time to wash their hands, a recent experiment suggests.

That’s because fresh mucus from infected patients interferes with the ability of the alcohol in hand sanitizer to reach the concentrations needed to deactivate the flu virus, researchers report in the journal mSphere.

Previously, it was recognized that rubbing hands with sanitizer and handwashing with an antiseptic cleanser have similar disinfection effects against flu viruses, said Dr. Ryohei Hirose, an infectious disease researcher at Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine in Japan who led the study.

WATCH: Back to school immune system boost

“However, in this study, we show that the physical properties … of mucus protect influenza A virus from inactivation by ethanol-based disinfectants,” Hirose said by email. “This increases the risk of (active influenza virus) transmission and hinders the eradication of health-care-acquired infections.”

Researchers did a series of lab tests and computer simulations to examine how much active influenza A virus remained after exposure both to an ethanol-based disinfectant sanitizer and handwashing with an antiseptic cleanser. Influenza A is the most common form of seasonal flu.

Flu virus in wet mucus from infected patients wasn’t destroyed after two minutes of exposure to sanitizer — it took about four minutes for the virus to be completely deactivated. That compares to just 30 seconds with handwashing.

READ MORE: Influenza vaccines might arrive after flu season starts in Ottawa, officials say

To see how mucus might make it harder to fight the flu, researchers dabbed volunteers’ fingers with either mucus or a saline solution containing the flu. Then they tested how long it took to deactivate the virus so it would no longer be contagious.

The ethanol-based hand sanitizer could destroy flu virus in saline solution within 30 seconds. Sanitizer could also deactivate flu virus in dried mucus in a little under eight seconds. But in moist mucus it took almost three minutes.

The key to effectiveness was reaching an alcohol concentration of just over 30 per cent, which happened more slowly in the gel-like consistency of fresh mucus.

WATCH: Can you beat the flu with pre-infected tissues?

These results suggest that until infectious mucus has completely dried, active flu virus can remain on the hands and fingers even after using hand sanitizer, the study team concludes.

Mucus containing the flu virus can take more than a half-hour to dry, the experiments also found.

Handwashing, however, could effectively destroy the flu virus in both wet and dry mucus quickly, the tests showed.

READ MORE: Ontario could face ‘very difficult’ flu season, health minister warns

One drawback is that the experiments don’t reflect what would happen outside a laboratory setting when clinicians cleaned their hands between patients.

Still, handwashing is the best approach when hands have mucus on them because alcohol-based sanitizer can’t physically remove organic material, said Elaine Larson, a researcher at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York City.

“Handwashing is the method of choice for physically removing anything from the hands by mechanically washing them down the drain rather than killing germs,” Larson, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

“Alcohols are preferable, better and faster, for actually killing germs but not removing dirt, residue or organic material,” Larson added. “It is, however, clearly the best option whenever a sink and clean materials (soap, towels) are not available.”

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‘No means no’ consent training overlooks nuances of sex: experts – National

by BBG Hub

Most campuses across Canada now require students to take consent training, in an effort to better protect students.

Research has found one in five women studying at a post-secondary institution in North America will be the victim of sexual violence over the course of her studies, according to the Canadian Federation of Students.

However, some experts say the traditional “no means no” curriculum is no longer sufficient because it overlooks the ways young people communicate during sex.

READ MORE: Schools tackle sexual assault even before students hit campus

A new study published in the Journal of Sex Research asked 615 university students to describe a time when they refused sex in the past.

Authors found a surprising number of young adults never used the word “no,” and some didn’t use any words at all. Roughly 53 per cent of the reported refusals included some variation of the word “no,” but 37 per cent involved excuses or non-verbal cues.

Among the wide range of responses were actions like telling their partner they weren’t in the mood, lying about not having a condom and physically pushing their partners away to signal that they didn’t want to have sex.

WATCH BELOW: Universities struggling to confront sexual harassment reality, prof says

As a result, researchers are calling for consent training that includes less explicit and non-verbal refusals, too.

The new way to talk about consent

Educator and sexual violence support worker Farrah Khan says calculating for nuance during sex is a step in the right direction — and several Canadian campuses have already begun to do so.

As the manager of Consent Comes First Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education at Ryerson University in Toronto, she is responsible for awareness, education, training, support and response to sexual violence on campus.

READ MORE: Man’s decision not to wear a condom, after agreeing to, is sexual assault: Ontario judge

Campaigns like “no means no” and “yes means yes,” she adds, fail to see that consent can also be communicated in other ways, like through body language.

It also makes consent seem static, which it isn’t. Consent should be “freely given, reversible, informed, enthusiastic and specific,” said Khan.

Part of teaching this to students is teaching them that “it’s a normal part of a relationship to have rejection,” she said.

“Somebody saying to you ‘actually, I’m not feeling this’ or ‘this doesn’t feel good to me’ isn’t saying ‘the sum of you is horrible’ or ‘I don’t want to be with you,’” she said.

“It’s saying, ‘I don’t want to do this.’”

WATCH BELOW: How to talk to your partner about your STI and the legalities around disclosing

Khan also worries about treating consent as a “checkbox,” because she worries it makes consent “an obstacle that you just have to get over to get to the sex.”

In her view, sex education needs to move beyond risk aversion to include pleasure, too. Students need a place to find answers to questions like, “How do I know that something feels good? [or] How do I know that I want to have this sexual activity?” Khan said.

She believes this is starting to happen on campuses across Canada. “Students and educators are starting to recognize that it doesn’t resonate to just say ‘OK, you need to know what consent is… this is the law… don’t do it.”

READ MORE: What the Brett Kavanaugh allegations reveal about alcohol and sexual assault

Consent training also needs to discuss sexual stereotypes.

“For young men, there’s a sexual stereotype that they’re always up for sex,” said Khan. She frequently receives messages from young men across the country asking if it’s OK that they don’t want to have sex sometimes.

“We have to demystify the things we’ve been told about sex,” she said.

Not everyone can just say ‘no’

Uche Umolu is the founder of the Consent Workshop, a Canadian organization that provides education and resources so youth can make healthier, sex-positive decisions.

During training with the Consent Workshop, it’s assumed that “not everyone can just say no,” Umolu said. “Lots of university students find themselves in very complicated types of situations,” and they aim to address the subtle differences that can arise.

To do so, they prioritize an “interactive approach” with activities and conversations designed to reflect possible scenarios — and appropriate reactions to those scenarios.

WATCH BELOW: STI rates in Canadian teens going up; how to talk about safe sex

Instead of using what she calls “cliche lines” like “consent is sexy,” Umolu aims to help students arrive at these understandings on their own.

For example, training focuses on “body language… and how to know when you’re making someone uncomfortable,” she said. “Only then can students start to realize the difference between, let’s say, sexual coercion and rape.”

The Consent Workshop also works to dispel stereotypes about perpetrators and victims. “Traditional consent training has this stereotype… but both come in different forms,” she said.

READ MORE: Even in a #MeToo climate, only 28% of Canadians understand consent

Khan and Umolu both agree: consent training needs to focus less on risk aversion and more on healthy relationships.

“We actually teach people how to recognize positive body language and… how to always check in with your partner,” said Umolu.

“Nobody is having a conversation like, ‘should we go ahead and have sex?’ before they have sex. Now, we should be teaching kids how to foster positive relationships and how to be more aware of other people’s needs and wants.”

Where to get help

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

Ending Violence Association of Canada, Assaulted Women’s Helpline (Ontario) and the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters & Transition Houses all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

— With files from Mike Le Couteur


[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Non-binary pronoun ‘they’ added to Merriam-Webster dictionary – National

by BBG Hub

“They” is now officially recognized as a non-binary pronoun in the dictionary.

On Tuesday, Merriam-Webster announced it had added more than 530 words to its online dictionary, including several entries that address the “ways we view ourselves and others and how we all fit in.”

The word “they” was expanded to refer to “a single person whose gender identity is non-binary,” Merriam-Webster wrote. “They” is often used by people who identify as neither entirely male nor entirely female.

“It’s an expansion of a use that is sometimes called the ‘singular they’ (and one that has a long history in English),” Merriam-Webster wrote.

“When a reflexive pronoun corresponding to singular use of they is needed, themself is seeing increasing use.”

READ MORE: Nova Scotia to unveil gender option changes for identity documents

The dictionary’s addition comes alongside society’s increasing awareness of diverse gender identities.

Singer Sam Smith recently announced on Twitter that they identify as non-binary and have changed their pronouns to they/them.

“After a lifetime of being at war with my gender I’ve decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out,” Smith tweeted.

“I am at no stage just yet to eloquently speak at length about what it means to be non binary [sic] but I can’t wait for the day that I am. So for now I just want to be VISIBLE and open,” they added.

According to Helen Kennedy, executive director at Egale Canada, adding “they” to the dictionary as a non-binary pronoun is an important move.

“We often focus on legal changes and policy reforms to advance inclusion of LGBTQI2S people, but smaller steps like having they/them defined as a pronoun in the dictionary not only lifts a weight off of trans, non-binary, two-spirit and gender-diverse people when navigating everyday life, it also shows that our society is becoming more inclusive,” Kennedy said.

“It also means there are zero excuses at this point for not respecting a person’s gender identity, and that is huge.”

While Merriam-Webster acknowledged on its blog that some folks argue the use of “they” for a singular person is grammatically incorrect, the dictionary pointed out that “they” has been in “consistent use as a singular pronoun since the late 1300s.”

READ MORE: Changes to gender-affirming surgery requirements in Alberta raise concerns

“They is taking on a new use, however: as a pronoun of choice for someone who doesn’t identify as either male or female,” Merriam-Webster wrote.

“This is a different use than the traditional singular they, which is used to refer to a person whose gender isn’t known or isn’t important in the context… The new use of they is direct, and it is for a person whose gender is known but who does not identify as male or female.”

“They” isn’t the only word Merriam-Webster added to its 2019 dictionary. Others include “vacay,” “dad joke” and “escape room.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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The best time to drink protein shakes – National

by BBG Hub

We’ve all heard protein shakes can be good supplements during our workouts, but when is the best time to drink them?

One small study by the University of Lincoln in the U.K. found protein shakes may not help people’s muscles recover after a workout, Healthline reported. The study noted respondents still felt muscle soreness, whether they drank a protein shake or not.

But because the study involved a small sample size, authors argued more research has to be done to connect the two.

READ MORE: Does your protein powder contain heavy metals and other toxins?

Registered dietitian Anar Allidina disagrees with the study’s conclusion and says protein shakes can be beneficial. She says the best time to drink a protein shake is after a workout.

“This is when your muscles need to be replenished,” she said. “Don’t bother having a protein shake before a workout. Some people prefer working out in a fasted state — if you need an energy boost, have a snack that is a combination of a complex carb and protein, such as whole-grain toast and nut butter.”

And when it comes to drinking protein shakes at all, not everyone who works out needs one.

“Protein shakes and powders are mainly for people who train competitively, athletes or have a hard time getting in protein because of diet restrictions,” she explained.

“Protein shakes should never replace real foods… [They] are supplements and are meant to supplement your diet.”

READ MORE: Eating crickets goes mainstream as protein alternative hits Canadian shelves

She adds that nutrient-dense meals consisting of a healthy balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats are full of vital minerals and vitamins that will strengthen the body.

“Keep your protein lean and simple,” she continued. “Aim for 20 grams of protein after a strenuous workout, such as two hard-boiled eggs and whole-grain toast or 3/4 cup of Greek yogurt and berries.”

If we consume too much protein, she continues, our bodies can’t use all of it.

“The extra protein gets stored as fat, which can work against your health goals.”

Buying protein powder

Allidina says when you invest in a protein powder, make sure you know exactly what you are getting.

“Protein powders and shakes are different. There are whey protein, casein, and plant-based protein shakes and powders.”

Whey protein is found in the watery portion of milk and is a mixture of protein isolates.

“It’s considered a complete protein [or] in other words, it contains all nine essential amino acids which the body can’t produce,” she said. “Whey protein generally contains low levels of fat and carbohydrates; it is a quick source of protein.”

She does not recommend why protein for those who are not able to tolerate dairy.

Unlike whey, casein is a slow-releasing protein, which can take up to six hours to completely digest and be used by the body, she added.

“Casein will help drip-feed your muscles over several hours, ensuring your body is constantly topped up with protein. This is best to take at night as your body is resting and in repairing mode.”

READ MORE: Is it safe to drink collagen powder?

Again, if you are lactose intolerant, this may not be a good option for you.

And lastly, there are plant-based proteins.

Rice, hemp and pea protein is usually well tolerated by people,” she said.

“Soy is a common food allergen like whey, so be careful,” she said.

“It has been thought that plant protein powders are not as good as whey protein since they are not a complete protein but this is not entirely true – you need to make sure your diet has quality protein to reap the benefits.”

Choose one that is minimally processed, contains plain protein powder with a short ingredient list and one without added artificial sweeteners.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Failure to launch kids’: Canadian students aren’t prepared for adulthood – National

by BBG Hub

This is the first story in a four-part series about the transition between high school and “the real world” — whether that’s college, university, the workforce or something completely different. Failure To Launch examines the gaps in Canada’s education system.

When Pearlia Veerasingam was in high school, she had no idea what she wanted to do after graduation.

She was in Grade 11 and remembers being told to talk to the school’s counselor for guidance, but it wasn’t a quick solution to her problem.

“I remember feeling so discouraged after that conversation,” Veerasingam told Global News.

Veerasingam was asked what degree she wanted, which type of institution she wanted to attend and if she had any experiences with apprenticeship. This left the 21-year-old even more overwhelmed.

WATCH: Every year, thousands of Canadian high school students are asked to figure out what they want to do after they graduate, and what these 16- to 18-year-olds choose has repercussions for the rest of their lives. Unsurprisingly, most teens don’t feel confident to make these decisions on their own. Global News asked 10 students to share their experiences.

“She was asking me what degree I saw myself getting, what my grades were, [if I even had the] grades to qualify for the programs I was looking at,” she continued.

“For someone who doesn’t know what they want, and then being asked all these questions, it makes you feel so pressured.” 

Not going to university was out of the question — an expectation she attributes, in part, to her Sri Lankan upbringing. But the Toronto-native didn’t want to waste her time or her parents’ money by making the “wrong” choice either.

“In the South Asian community, taking time off or going to college… you’ll get the support eventually, but it will be a choice that’s criticized at first,” she said.

“One of the biggest things you always hear is ‘you’re going to find your calling,’ but I feel like a lot of students are still trying to find themselves at that age.”

That same year, her law teacher had suggested a politics degree and that’s when things started to make sense: she always had a passion for it.

“It was my teacher who said, ‘you’re great at advocating for policies and procedures… you should really look into something like that,’” she said.

Illustration: Laura Whelan

Veerasingam, who graduated from Ryerson University earlier this year, is confident she made the right choices in Grade 12.

According to a recent study by think tank Canada 2020, the average student spends roughly $29,568 on higher education. The report found 70 per cent of all new Canadian jobs will require post-secondary education or skills training.

Like Veerasingam, thousands of teenagers in Canada will be asked to make the same decisions about their futures in the next few months. 

Often, students feel pressure to make the “right” choice — a decision that can lead to anxiety and confusion. With all of this at stake, experts wonder if teens are actually prepared to move forward. 

The impact of a big decision on a young brain

One of these experts is Erin O’Rourke, a teacher in the Toronto District School Board and a registered psychotherapist (qualifying) at the Toronto Counselling Centre for Teens. She worries about the pressure the education system puts on young people. 

She says many students haven’t figured out what they want to do with their lives: “I guess you could call them the ‘failure to launch’ kids,’” she said. 

In her experience, asking teenagers to make life-changing decisions about their education and career is problematic for a number of reasons. 

READ MORE: Teenage brain powerful yet vulnerable, and it affects behaviour: child psychologist

“We live in a world where [these kids] have been socialized from a very young age to [believe that they] can be anything,” O’Rourke said. 

“How, in a world where you’re told that you can do anything or be anything, could you choose one thing that you want to be?”

O’Rourke is also concerned about the ongoing brain development of a teen that age. 

“They are in a stage of redevelopment unlike any other, since they were first conceived. The [part of the brain] that’s involved in long-term decision-making, problem solving, managing time, weighing out consequences — that takes well into the twenties to really develop,”  she said. 

“So for them to try and make a long-term decision at that point is a hard thing to do, for sure.” 

Illustration: Laura Whelan

Although there isn’t enough research to suggest the pressure to make tough decisions about education or careers is directly linked to mental health issues, experts like O’Rourke says there could be a relationship between the two.

“Not knowing what you want to do with your life [can make you feel] really anxious, which could lead to depressive symptoms,” she said. 

The stress of not knowing 

Neel Shah, 16, just started his final year of high school in Toronto, and he’s already consumed with anxiety about what he’ll do when he graduates. 

“I don’t feel prepared to leave high school at all, in any way, shape or form,” he said. “I’m absolutely terrified of the future.” 

Shah is unsure of what he wants to study, and, subsequently, where he wants to work. 

In a dream world, he would pursue a college program in music and entertainment. But like others in his age group, Shah also needs to consider his parents’ opinion and the state of the workforce right now. 

READ MORE: Struggling to connect with your teen? Here’s how to get that special relationship back

“I don’t really want to go to university … but I feel like there’s a big stigma around choosing college,” Shah said. “I mean, I’m fine with it — I’m interested in business and law and a few other programs — but my true passion lies somewhere else.” 

He’s prepared to lean on family and friends for guidance during the next year, but is scared to be on his own as an adult.

“I know how to solve a derivative, but I have no idea how to do tax returns or set up an account at the bank or anything like that,” Shah said. 

“The whole idea that you have to have your whole life decided at 16, 17 years old, it’s terrifying,” he said. 

Instead, he wonders if students his age should have alternative experiences before post-secondary education.

“We should be trying out new things, trying to taste as much as possible and gaining insight about what the world can offer us and what we can offer the world.” 

Watch below: Education advocates discuss if high school lesson plans go far enough in preparing students for 21st-Century careers. Laurel Gregory reports.

Preparing for change

Although graduation rates in this country are higher than they’ve ever been, experts say this doesn’t necessarily mean students are prepared for what comes next. 

Between 1997 and 2010, Canada’s high school completion rate increased by roughly 11 per cent — from 77 per cent to 88 per cent. 

“This is one of the biggest unsung successes of our school system,” said Kelly Gallagher-Mackay. She’s a professor in public law, inequality and educational opportunity at Wilfred Laurier University. “It’s a huge change, and it’s important for preparing people for the future.”

The co-author of Pushing the Limits: How Schools Can Prepare Our Children Today for the Challenges of Tomorrow thinks that’s only half the story.

“The starting line has moved. Jobs you used to be able to do with only a high school credential either don’t exist now or they ask for many more academic qualifications,” she said. 

“The vast majority of the jobs that we think could lead to anything like a stable, middle-class life require post-secondary education.” 

The onus isn’t entirely on high schools to prepare students for their post-secondary education. Gallagher-Mackay believes employers, community organizations and families all play a part. She argues that high schools need to do better. 

Part of this is emphasizing the need for teaching social-emotional skills — the ability to work with others, adapt and commit to lifelong learning. “Your job isn’t going to stay the same no matter what. We can no longer assume that and we need to prepare students for that,” she said. 

Illustration: Laura Whelan

Gallagher-Mackay said good work is happening in some provinces, but there’s definitely room for improvement. 

“B.C. has grown a lot closer to having a curriculum that explicitly talks about what they mean by ‘social-emotional learning.’ … But in Ontario, there’s very little assessment around social-emotional skills, and I think there’s reason to worry about that,” she said. 

In July, the Ontario government announced a new financial literacy curriculum for Grade 10 students in an effort to better address the needs of students. It was widely lauded as a step in the right direction, but Gallagher-Mackay is skeptical. 

“Students should understand some basics of consumer finance, but it’s not a solution if they have uncertainty ahead,” she said. 

“If you think teaching people to budget in Grade 10 is going to be a silver bullet, you’re overselling what you’re teaching.” 

Transferring skills into the real world

When it comes to helping students determine what career they would like to pursue, Vancouver resident John Horn is of the opinion that Canadian high schools need to focus more on career-integrated learning.

He’s the board chair at CERIC, a national charitable organization that advances education and research in career counselling and career development. 

This means having career or experiential learning opportunities woven into the school curriculum. “When you’re studying things like biology, math or literature, how are we making sure that educators are always putting those into real world examples?” 

He also emphasizes the need for internship and co-op opportunities as a way to expose high school students to the “real world” applications of their studies. 

“At the end of the day, it’s going to take a combination of [these] things and counsellors, teachers and parents having these conversations in real time, all the time,” he said. 

Illustration: Laura Whelan

Veerasingam did a co-op term at a law firm during high school, which helped her figure out what she wanted to do as a career — but it hardly prepared her for the difficulties of actually finding full-time work after university. 

“After completing my Bachelor’s degree, I believed I had the correct skills and knowledge that could be applied to the workforce … but that wasn’t enough,” she said. 

She said she felt the same confusion leaving university as she did leaving high school, except on another scale. “Leaving high school, I felt [a lack of] confidence in my skills and knowledge to enter the workforce. Now, after university, I felt an extreme amount of pressure and isolation.

“The lack of opportunities and a crazy amount of competition has made me feel defeated.”

Veerasingam is frustrated — she graduated in June and has yet to find a job in her preferred field.

“I don’t think universities fully prepare students with the right tools to get started,” she said. “Most of the curriculum focuses on theoretical knowledge rather than practical knowledge that can be applied to the every-day.” 

READ MORE: Too much time on social media can hurt teens’ mental health: study

This is why Horn also advocates for more time spent on teaching students about change and resilience throughout high school. 

“I think the number one thing to know and to prepare for is the rate of change in the world,” Horn said. “It’s been constant — the work has always been changing, generation by generation — but it’s never changed this much, this quickly.” 

To prepare students for this reality, Horn recommends honing two distinct buckets of skills: human skills and technical aptitude. 

The technical aptitude means being able to unlearn a particular skill and learn a new one, once that old skill becomes obsolete.

Human skills are things like “being resilient, being open-minded and having a growth mindset [or] a focus on always learning,” he said. “Even though the world might change a lot, these are things that are always going to make you relevant” to an employer. 

The open-minded community approach

Like Gallagher-Mackay, Horn is a proponent of the community approach. 

“For starters, we need to support the very overtaxed high school guidance counsellors,” he said. 

School boards need to be better at identifying and providing the “resources and tools that counsellors need to be able to have those really simple, straightforward but also enriching career conversations.” 

Illustration: Laura Whelan

Beyond that, parents need to help students make meaning of those conversations. Parents need to ask questions like, “What does that mean to you?” and “What interests you?”

“Even the simple act of shifting the conversation from ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ [to] ‘What kind of work interests you right now?’” will help students better prepare, Horn said.  

Ultimately, every member of a student’s support system needs to remain open-minded. 

“Try and cultivate a bit of empathy by thinking about your [own] experience,” Horn tells parents. “Usually, when [you] reflect on their story, it’s not as linear as [you] might think.” 

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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4 mistakes people make on their resumé and how to avoid them – National

by BBG Hub

The first step to getting your dream job is crafting a killer resumé — one that’s clear, concise and demonstrates why you’re the best candidate.

But in an increasingly competitive job market, it’s tougher than ever to create a resumé that will make you stand out among hundreds of other applicants.

Career experts Maureen McCann of Promotion Career Solutions and Susan Murray, chief research officer at the Business Excellence Institute, have seen thousands of resumés between them.

Here, they explain the most common mistakes prospective employees make on their resumés and how to avoid them.

Esthetics matter

It might seem frivolous, but the way your resumé physically looks can say a lot about you as a candidate.

Your resumé should be organized, easy to read and easy to digest. For example, a disorganized resumé could inadvertently suggest that you’re a disorganized employee.

“You’re always demonstrating who you are… Make it really easy for them to pick you,” said McCann.

READ MORE: How to know if you should change careers or just change jobs

“I would say the most common mistake is that people use the template from Microsoft Word ’97, which is more than 20 years old now. That’s not to say you can’t use a template and then make changes to it, but from a visual perspective… you want to stand out in what is a very competitive job market.”

Murray prioritizes clean lines and easily identifiable figures.

“Have the numbers [to explain] what your current role is” and the difference you’ve made at your current company, said Murray.

Start with the most relevant information

Before you put together a resumé, thoroughly research the company you’re applying for.

“You’ve got to know them better than any of your competition,” said McCann. “Then, incorporate what you’ve learned into your reasoning.”

When you’re compiling your relevant skills and experience, do it strategically to avoid “a laundry list of things.”

WATCH: Money123 — What it takes to net high-paying jobs in Canada

“Say: ‘This is what I’ve done, and this is where it added value to the company,’” McCann said. “Put the headline at the front, otherwise you’re burying the lede.”

Typically, McCann recommends starting with a brief profile at the beginning, using relevant keywords and career highlights to draw the reader in.

“Grab their attention as quickly as possible, because they’re likely scanning through your resumé very quickly — they’ve got a lot of resumés to go through — so you want to make it really easy.”

Ditch flowery language and long paragraphs

Once you’ve determined your relevant skills and experience, convey them in a way that is straight to the point.

“Keep it in three to five bullets related to each role,” said Murray. “What does your LinkedIn say? What does your Twitter say? If you’re able to do it in a Twitter post, why can’t you do the same with a resumé?”

READ MORE: 28 per cent of men believe they could lose their job if they discuss mental health at work — study

She goes as far to say you can skip the objective.

“You’re already applying to the job so they know what your objective is,” Murray said.

This will vary from job to job, but for the most part, keeping it concise is key.

“There are certain cases where you do have to write paragraphs, like for a curriculum vitae, which is different than a resumé, but… for most jobs, bullet points will suffice,” said McCann.

WATCH: How to solve brainteasers when applying for a tech job

This also means removing the “hobbies” subtitle from your resumé.

“I think a resumé should professionally capture who and what you are right now,” said Murray.

Keep multiple resumés on hand and optimize them all for applicant tracking systems

Murray also recommends having multiple resumés in your rotation, depending on the kind of job to which you’re applying.

“If I’m applying for a research project, I have my more academic resumé versus my financial consulting job, [the resumé for which] is way more concise.”

READ MORE: 9 high paying entry-level jobs in demand in Canada now

More than 90 per cent of large companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS), which are algorithmic systems that analyze resumés to bring those of the most qualified applicants to the surface.

Unfortunately, if your resumé hasn’t been optimized for your specific role, it could fall through the cracks — even if you’re more than qualified for the position.

McCann recommends tools like Jobscan, which performs a cross-examination of your resumé and the job description to ensure your resumé is optimized to appear should the employer use an ATS.

Hire a professional

If all of this advice is overwhelming or you’re worried about landing the interview, you can always hire a professional to guide you through the process.

McCann recommends Career Professionals of Canada, a directory that you can use to source a resumé writer or career professional.


[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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