Monthly Theme: Wellness

Does anyone else feel like a switch has been flipped and we are firmly in autumn mode almost suddenly? I sure do. Leaves are turning colours and falling, my furnace got a dusting and a new filter before being woken up, and I’m wearing socks for the first time in months. I went hunting for a favourite pair of gloves the other day, and had a moment out with a friend last night where I yearned for the jacket I’d ignored as I walked out the door. Yup, it’s definitely not summer anymore.

beeAt our house, we’re back at the school-kid grind. I’m always amazed at the ease of which the school seems to fall into routine, like a bee hive where all members have a job to do to ensure success. Teachers to shepherd young minds, admin and staff to set a tone and keep the building running as well as it can, and students to fill their minds up with everything they’re learning – academic and social. Some kids transition pretty seamlessly into school, some need a bit of support to feel they’re in the right place. But, here, as we enter October, it seems to be a fairly well-oiled machine and needs are being met as best they can.

I’m bracing for the onslaught of colds and maybe even *shudder* lice that inevitably comes with a swell of school kids with their heads together and *knock wood* so far we haven’t succumbed to either. We’re still trying to grasp the last of the summer and spend time putting the garden to bed before the first frosts hit. Tomorrow, we’re heading to the New West Apple Press Fest to really make autumn feel welcome.

If I can make one request, readers? Please keep the storm drains in your neighbourhoods as clear as possible. When the rains hit (and it’s a given, here on the wet coast), clear storm drains make the streets less flooded and more safe.

This month, our theme on Tenth is Wellness. Our print issue is out at distributors starting today, featuring a beautiful cover illustration by my co-publisher, Johanna Bartels. Articles from the print magazine will be out on the website soon and we’ll be sharing and promoting them throughout the month.

We want to share stories this month that show off how well our community is and what parts need improvement. I’m hoping some of you will feel compelled to write about traffic, transportation, transit, housing, health, taxes, city services, community organizations… you name it.  Come to us with your ideas, and let’s share it on Tenth. Talking to one another in the community is one way to keep it well and a community mindful of wellness is a place I like living in.

 

Finding a Family Doctor

headIf it’s not housing or traffic, people in the city are talking about doctors–and the lack of them­–in this growing town of ours. Finding a doctor is no easy task and takes some serious digging, begging and luck to find the right fit (or any fit). It seems that everyone is on the hunt for a family doctor. With many in the profession retiring and the population of New West booming, doctors are in hot demand, but the supply is lagging behind. Continue reading “Finding a Family Doctor”

Body Connections, One Bone at a Time

The toe bone is connected to… well… everything.

Isn’t it funny how we always think of bones and muscles individually? Let’s take it a step further and try to make a connection for you.

Full disclosure: We work at a gym. So, we may be a little biased when it comes to opinions, but we promise we write this not as a self-serving advertisement, but rather an observation from our own point of view.

We see so many people come in for assessments and NeruoKinetic therapy sessions that always have a complaint about some part of their body. Is it migraines? Is it knee pain? Is it low back pain? And you know what we normally find? It’s so rare that the site of pain is the source of the problem.

In the current health environment, that’s what we’re all trained to believe. If you have pain at the top of your head, take a drug or do nothing. But what if your pain is caused by your shoulders? What if your neck being weak is the culprit? This is where this idea that the toe bone is connected to… well… everything comes into play. Continue reading “Body Connections, One Bone at a Time”

Toilet deserts of New West

The SkyTrain Station at 22nd St in New West is unusual in its isolation from commercial buildings. With no adjacent cafes, restaurants, or stores of any kind, 22nd St is a weird little bubble of activity within a sleepy neighbourhood of single family homes. 

If nature should “call” while you are at 22nd St Station waiting for a train or bus, you are out of luck. The only toilet can only be accessed with the aid of a (typically absent) TransLink station attendant. The nearest business you could ask is a doctor’s office, several blocks up the hill – but even if they might let you use their facility, they are closed evenings and weekends. 

As a fascinating NY Mag article about bathroom culture in North America pointed out, everybody poops, but nobody likes to admit it. One of the side effects is the emergence of public spaces that fail to meet the most basic biological needs of the people who go there. Without an easily accessible public toilet at 22nd St SkyTrain Station, men have taken to using the side of the building as a urinal. Women hold it in better (or perhaps are just sneakier), and parents caught in this toilet desert with a newly toilet trained preschooler are completely out of luck. In other areas, toilet deserts could be created when a bloc of businesses all restrict toilet access to paying customers only, or when the public toilets are closed seasonally or for lengthy periods.

So the big question is, does the City of New Westminster have a duty to ensure reasonable access to public toilets within commercial zones? And if so, how should this be done? Should funding be allocated for creating and maintaining universally accessible public toilets? Should businesses be encouraged (or even required) to allow reasonable access to bathroom facilities upon request? 

Several City committees have been asked by Council to discuss the issue of public access to toilets in New West, including the Access Advisory Committee, the Seniors Advisory Committee and the Committee I sit on, Community and Social Issues. The request reflects concern for seniors with dementia or health problems that require fast access to a toilet, but the issue also affects young children, people who are homeless, and anyone who has ever really had to go RIGHT NOW. 

What do you think? Are toilet deserts an issue in the city? Are there specific places where you see more public urination because of a lack of public access to toilets? What do you think should be done to fix these problems?

New West is a Healthy Community – My Health My Community Survey

Neighbours600x600When most people think about being healthy, they think of eating better, exercising more and not smoking.  Sure, of course all those individual behaviours have a huge impact on health, but you’ve probably also realized that our environment plays as important a role too.

Fraser Health, as has the Ministry of Health with its “healthier communities” focus, recognizes that where we work, live and play largely determines whether or not we are healthy.  However, the lion’s share of Fraser Health business, is about providing health care services – what to do when people get sick.  A very small percentage is devoted to prevention and promotion.  Yes, FH does immunizations and such at the Public Health Unit, but over the past few years FH has quietly taken a new approach – Healthier Community Partnerships.  The idea – that by working with the City of New Westminster, SD 40 and other community stakeholders – policies and initiatives outside of the traditional public health bag of tricks can be implemented to help improve the health of the citizens of New West.  Hence health is playing a more active role when it comes to issues like transportation, or community planning, just two examples where health is severely impacted by decisions being made.

A Healthier Community Partnership committee has been up and running for over a year, chaired by the City Social Planner and with representation from a Councillor, SD Trustee, City/School District/FH staff, Fraser Northwest Division of Family Practice, members of the public and others.  More and more you will be hearing what this committee has been up to.

One of the initiatives currently happening is the My Health My Community Survey.  Open to all residents 18 yrs and older in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health areas, it seeks to gather information about issues that influence our health, such as transportation, community services, green spaces, and sense of community.

This information will be used to inform policy and programs to help make New Westminster a healthier community.  In order to plan for a healthier city, we need to know where we’re at and get a sense of where else we need to go.

Confidentiality is a priority – survey answers and identifying information will be kept on separate computer systems complete with data encryption.  We are encouraging everyone to take the survey, as the more responses we have, the better we can assess and plan for a healthier New Westminster.

If you are 18 yrs or older, please take the survey at:  www.myhealthmycommunity.org.  And yes, there are prizes to be won for participating, including iPads and gift certificates.

 

 

 

Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine: Keeping a Medicinal Garden at Westminster Pier Park

File this under “who knew?”: Western Canada’s only accredited naturopathic school is right here in New Westminster.

The Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine, located at 435 Columbia Street is a graduate-level naturopathic medical college. Students applying require a university bachelor’s degree from a recognized post-secondary institution, or the equivalent and once accepted are entered into a rigorous four-year, full-time doctor of naturopathic medicine program.

The school is also home to the Boucher Naturopathic Medical Clinic. Much like the student massage clinic at West Coast College of Massage Therapy a few doors away, this teaching clinic offers high quality, affordable health-care to the public, while equipping our senior clinic interns with essential hands-on experience.

They are also the tenders of a public garden initiative at the Westminster Pier Park. Bill Reynolds, the Store Manager for the Boucher Institute told us about his recent day of gardening at their plot in the Park:

The day dawned bright with promise as we gathered at the Boucher Botanical Garden in Westminster Pier Park on April 28th, the last weekend in April.  Armed with shovels, rakes, hoes, brooms, watering pales and other requisite gardening tools; members of the Botanical Garden Committee met and proceeded with the task of the day which was the planting of our Garden.

Everything went well.  The garden plot provided by the New Westminster Park Dept. was fresh and had no weeds so, with many hands, the work simply flew and well before noon we had planted every herb available, raked the ground smooth, swept the adjacent sidewalks and then stood for a few minutes, finishing the last bits of our coffee and admiring our work.

The Boucher Botanical has been a dream of the students for quite some time and so it is especially gratifying to see it become a reality.  To date we have planted: Lemon balm, St. John’s Wort, Thyme, Sage, Lavender, Motherwort, Raspberry, Celandine, Marshmallow Comfrey, and Skull cap.  We expect to add a few more plants in the next month or so but now the job is to keep everything watered and weeded.  We want to invite all to come and visit our garden.  Westminster Pier Park borders the Fraser River just east of New Westminster Quay.  We hope you all enjoy and we will post pictures to show the progress of our plants over the spring and summer.

Boucher