The Gateway board of directors is pleased to announce Leslie Walker has been appointed as a Research Associate.
Leslie is currently completing her Doctorate of Social and Economic Sciences at the Vienna, Austria University of Technology. Her research focuses on technology theories and policies to reduce the inequality associated with Artificial Intelligence (AI) in health care. As such her research conclusions are highly relevant to regions such as Huron County.
"I am thrilled to be joining the Gateway team and have already been inspired by the world class research and the commitment to rural health in our region. I hope to use my consulting background to strengthen the organization and amplify the amazing value the Gateway team has created thus far” said Walker.
Originally from Goderich, Leslie completed her Honours Bachelor of Commerce and Psychology at McMaster University and Master of International Business from Queen’s University, including an international MBA exchange to Guanghua School of Management in Beijing, China. She has spent the last four years working with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), working globally on large digital enablement projects with major tech companies such as Google and Microsoft. Her focus on public-sector clients has allowed her to use cloud technology and a metrics-based approach to provide better, more cost-effective services to citizens.
Gwen Devereaux Gateway CERH said, “How fortunate we are to have Leslie join us bringing such exceptional talent to our region”.
Leslie has always celebrated her Huron County roots and is particularly fond of summers in Goderich. She can be frequently seen paddle boarding on the lake, enjoying the G2G trail and visiting the Goderich Library.
Gateway is pleased to announce that it has received donations totaling $1,000 from Hensall Co-op and the Poultry Farmers of Huron County.
The cheque presentations were held at the Gateway offices in Goderich. Seen in the photo (l. to r.) are Jessica Kuiper representing both the poultry farmers and Hensall Co-op, Gwen Devereaux, president, Gateway CERH and Alex Westerhout of the Poultry Farmers organization.
Each September the poultry farmers hold a golf tournament and donate the proceeds of the event to a local charity. For many years Gateway has been a recipient of some of the funds raised. Hensall Co-op is assisting organizations in the region that have been affected by the COVID pandemic.
Gateway CERH’s president, Gwen Devereaux, expressed her appreciation and gratitude for these donations; “This ongoing support from the agriculture community is key in allowing Gateway CERH to provide research and programs supporting members in this vital sector of our economy”.
We are pleased to welcome Alis Bonsignore, PhD (candidate), R.Kin to our team at Gateway, Centre of Excellence in Rural Health. Ms. Bonsignore previously obtained her Master’s degree in the Department of Experimental Medicine from the University of British Columbia and is completing her PhD in the Department of Exercise Sciences at the University of Toronto (anticipated Winter 2021). During her PhD, she was honored with one of the highest ranked Canadian graduate scholarships from the Canadian Institution of Health Research and was successful in securing over $175,000 in funding to support her research. The focus on her research program examined the physiological changes that occur to both the blood vessels and the heart secondary to cancer therapies. Secondly, she examined how these physiological mechanisms can be used to inform clinical practice and policy to determine which cancer survivors should be referred to cardiac rehabilitation in order to reduce their risk of heart disease, one of the leading causes of death in this population.
In her new role as the Program Director, Healthy Hearts Cardiac Rehabilitation, she has a growing interest in understanding the differences in the delivery, uptake and effectiveness of cardiac rehabilitation programs in rural communities compared to more urban centres. Secondly, she is interested in designing more effective and integrated models of cardiac rehabilitation aimed at addressing the unique barriers that are experienced in rural communities. She hopes that this research will help inform policy makers, government and stakeholders on how cardiac rehabilitation can be improved to ensure equity of access and delivery of care in rural communities.
In addition to her research experience, Ms. Bonsignore has extensive experience as a clinical Kinesiologist in cardiac rehabilitation, in program design and development, and teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level. These experiences will lend success to her new role at Gateway, Centre of Excellence in Rural Health. Please join us in welcoming Alis to her new role.
Joan Cluff was our winner of our Screenagers draw.
"When I read about the Screenagers movie in the Bayfield Breeze, I immediately thought of my teenage grandchildren who spend way too much time on their devices. I decided to purchase the movie and to watch it together with my daughter and grandchildren. The kids were not keen, to say the least, but to their surprise, they actually enjoyed it and learned a lot of valuable information. I thought the movie was very well done and informative. Everyone should take the opportunity to watch this movie.
As a parent, my daughter learned the importance of developing contracts with the children so that they buy into having fair rules surrounding a healthy amount of screen time allowed per day. Determining and agreeing to these rules helps to avoid many conflicts. She also learned how important it is for teenagers (and people of all ages) to be sure to have no screentime for at least an hour before going to bed.
As a 12 year old boy, my grandson learned that too much technology kills brain cells, especially during the teenage years while the brain is still developing. He also learned that playing violent video games are more likely to cause rage and violent acts in real life. Also that technology is highly addictive and can cause depression, anxiety and stress.
As a 14 year old girl, my granddaughter recognized that social media causes poor body image, cyber bullying, stress and hurt feelings. Social media is very time consuming because the more contacts you have, the more texts and posts you have to read and respond to." - Joan
Worry about aging parents is raising stress levels for Huron County’s sandwich generation. By the end of March, Rural Response for Healthy Children’s parent support team contacted over 200 families from their client list. Parents and caregivers expressed a multitude of factors causing more stress during the pandemic. Juggling their family needs at home while also checking in on aging parents, undertaking a list of to-dos to support their aging parents to isolate, worry about the virus and the longevity of the new normal are heavy weights.
In early March, pre-pandemic, Rural Response for Healthy Children (RRHC) received approval from the federal government’s New Horizons for Seniors program to build understanding and awareness about grandparents who are raising their grandchildren in Huron County. By early April, the project funding was leveraged to provide immediate pandemic support to Huron County seniors who isolated at home to decrease their risk of exposure to coronavirus. “This was our chance to respond to what the support team was hearing from parents as a major stressor in their lives,” according to Selena Hazlitt, RRHC’s Executive Director. $5000 was immediately transferred to OneCare’s grocery delivery efforts and collaboration was struck with Huron Food Distribution Center to provide food to grandparents who are raising grandchildren as well as weekly support and provision of masks.
As a follow-up to the initial funding, in September 2020, the federal government provided RRHC with additional funds from the New Horizons for Seniors program. These funds are being used to build opportunities for seniors to stay connected during the second wave of the pandemic. It is anticipated that by providing $3000 to the ‘Lonely No More’ program, developed by Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health, some of the stress of parents/caregivers who continue to worry about their aging parents will be alleviated.
The ‘Lonely No More’ program is an excellent example of a proven model that is responds to the needs of isolated seniors. The ‘Lonely No More’ program consists of weekly teleconference calls between isolated older adults facilitated by trained community members (peer facilitators). These peer facilitators are trained in resource navigation, health coaching dialogues, elder abuse bystander prevention, peer support and the program’s outreach model.
‘Lonely No More’ was originally piloted in 2019 to combat loneliness and social isolation felt among rural older adults. During the pilot, the program demonstrated success in providing rural older adults the ability to participate in a free phone based, peer support program that addressed their need for socialization and provided rural older adults a chance to take leadership positions within their community. A number of positive impacts were seen during the pilot program such as the creation of new points of support for rural older adults, created a sense of connection, links between rural older adults through new peer relationships were improved and feelings of self-worth and giving back to the community were created. Due to the positive impacts the program’s peer support model and community interest, the program was offered again this year. With the additional sense of distance and isolation associated with the COVID-19 health pandemic it has been a welcomed service in our surrounding rural communities.
Executive Director, Rural Response for Healthy Children
Research Chair of Rural Coaching, Board Director & Project Lead, Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health
A huge thank you goes out to our sponsors and participating community members that joined us this month at our two documentary and dialogue events: Screenagers & The Next Chapter.
We would also like to say a special thank you to our panel participants:
We are excited to announce that Patricia Robinson has joined our Board of Directors. Patricia grew up in Huron County and has returned to Goderich as a nurse practitioner at the Maitland Valley Medical Centre. She enjoys working in rural areas, gaining valuable experiences in Weagamow (Round Lake) and Ukerewe Island (Tanzania). Prior to nursing she was an educator, mostly at international schools which enabled her to learn many languages. She likes to travel, within Canada and internationally, and enjoys being active, whether it is hiking, kayaking, gardening or skiing. Her interests in mentoring health care professionals and improving community health align well with the Gateway and the board is excited to work alongside her to improve rural health. Welcome Patricia!
As the saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child”. One part of the village is Gateway CERH offering an on-line screening of a documentary Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER: Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience. Join the community conversation in a follow-up Zoom Q and A session about strategies to help our kids and teens build crucial skills to navigate stress, anxiety, and depression in our digital age.
This topic is especially relevant during the pandemic. Last month a report was released by a research team at McMaster University and The Offord Centre for child Studies – Impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on Ontario Families with Children: Findings from the Initial Lockdown. The report provided a snapshot of the experiences of Ontario families during the initial phase of the lockdown. Caregivers and children of all ages were coping with unparalleled challenges. “Many parents indicate that their children are worse off in terms of behaviour and mood since the COVID 19 pandemic started”. A third of the 7400+ caregivers surveyed reported needing assistance with their child’s behaviour and/or stress and more than half of parents stated that they would be interested in receiving parenting tips.
Remote learning is a reality for many students this Fall, requiring much more screen time than they are used to. It’s so important to make the most of their time outside school hours to enjoy the outdoors and get lots of exercise for their general well being. Safe distancing interaction with peers within your bubble or class cohort is also beneficial for one’s mental health. Social skills are learned and like any skill, they require practice.
Filmmaker and physician Dr. Delaney Ruston takes the conversation around screens and teens to the next level with Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER: Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience—a film that examines the science behind teen’s emotional challenges, the interplay of social media, and most importantly, what can be done in our schools and homes to help them build crucial skills to navigate stress, anxiety, and depression in our digital age.
In Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER, we follow Delaney as she finds herself at a loss as to how to help her own teens as they struggle with their emotional wellbeing. She sets out to understand these challenges in our current screen-filled society, and how we as parents, grandparents and educators, can empower teens to overcome mental health challenges and build emotional agility, communication savvy, and stress resilience. We witness Delaney as she finds her way from ineffective parenting to much-improved strategies. We follow other personal stories of families from an array of backgrounds with a spectrum of emotional challenges. Interwoven into the stories are surprising insights from brain researchers, psychologists, and thought leaders that reveal evidence-based ways to support mental wellness among our youth. The impact of social media and other screen time is incorporated in all the topics raised in Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER, how it may be impacting our teens’ mental health, and what we can do to help foster youth in the face of struggles.
Gateway CERH would like to acknowledge and thank The Town of Goderich and Larry Otten Contracting, sponsors of these virtual Speaker Series events.
Gateway CERH has purchased the licencing rights which allows their organization to offer this documentary to registering participants. Registrants will watch Next Chapter on their own time during a two-week on demand viewing period Oct. 8 - 22, then opt to participate in a moderated Q and A session on ZOOM Oct. 22 at 7:00 PM, led by a facilitator and a panel of local experts coordinated by Gateway.
Register for this documentary online: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/116131706059
Nothing beats Rotary Club of Goderich's annual golf tournament! Thank you for the invite. We look forward to joining again next year!