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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ontario’s Minister of Children and Youth Services has penned an open letter to Toronto’s City Council making his case for why the city’s current street hockey ban should be lifted.  Council is expected to debate the issue later this week.

Michael Coteau says Ontario’s capital city can lead the way for other places around the province to encourage outdoor play.

“Road hockey bans are commonplace in municipalities across Ontario and I am hoping your council will show leadership by making it clear that children can and should play safely on neighbourhood streets,” he said.  “A vote to overturn the prohibition and let kids play will challenge other municipalities to abolish similar road hockey bans in their own communities.”

In his letter, Coteau, a father to two young daughters and MPP for Toronto’s Don Valley East constituency, stressed the many upsides of physical activity that go beyond on the obvious health and wellness benefits.  He said life skills such as communication, patience, perseverance and teamwork go hand-in-hand with an active lifestyle.

At paramount issue in this debate is the safety risk posed to children who are playing in the street. Council will also weigh the potential hazard for motorists as well as possible interference with city maintenance.  A city staff report recommends keeping the ban in place for those reasons.

“Transportation Services believes that the “Status Quo” option represents the best balance of competing needs. Recognizing that street hockey, basketball, and other sports activities do occur on public roadways, there are legitimate safety and liability concerns with permitting this activity,” the report states.

Coteau says he’s taken safety under consideration in his proposal and believes there are ways to encourage physical activity while also ensuring the well-being of children across the city.

“The obvious issue at hand is the safety of our children, and I agree that our kids need to be safe, but there has to be a better way than denying them of their right to play,” he said.  “That’s why I am urging all City Councillors to think carefully about this debate.”


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Kids hear about cancer. We all do. Experts say it’s important to talk about it.

In this first part of our World Cancer Day video series, ‘Kids Talk- the ABC’s of Cancer’, we ask kids, “Have you heard about cancer? If so, how?” Don’t miss their answers.

Plus, Dr. Mary Gospodarowicz, Medical Director, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, tells us why it’s important to talk about cancer.

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There is no question that the best source from which to get your vitamins and minerals is by eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy, grains, protein and omega 3 rich fish.  The fact is many families are on the go and busy and quite often the side of vegetables is not served at the drive thru and the only fruit you may get your kids to eat is a glass of orange juice.

Whether or not to take a multivitamin, or any vitamin, depends on a number of factors.  If you eat a well balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, dairy, eggs, grains and meat and alternatives then it is likely you don’t need an additional source of vitamins.

If you are lactose intolerant, your kids are picky eaters, there are food allergies in your family or you are eating on the run more nights than you are sitting at the kitchen table, then there may be health benefits to taking vitamins.

Key Vitamins

This list shows the key nutrients that should be a part of your families diet to maintain optimal health.  If you know you are not getting these vitamins on a regular basis, then looking for a multivitamin that includes this alphabet on its ingredient list may be a good option for your family.

Vitamin A for eyes, skin and immune system found in mango, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, and grapefruit.

Vitamin B for energy and creating red blood cells found in peas, spinach, sweet potatoes, avocado, bananas and mango.

Vitamin C for growth and tissue repair and stronger immune system from oranges, red peppers, broccoli, grapefruit and strawberries.

Vitamin D for strong bones, teeth as well as nerves, muscle and immune systems found in eggs, dairy, chicken, beef and fortified juice and cereals.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant important to boost your immune system and fight viruses and is found in spinach, blackberries, kiwi and raspberries.

Omega 3s –  Protect against heart disease, reduces symptoms of hypertension, depression, attention deficit disorder (ADHD), dementia, joint pain and boosts immune system.  Found in fatty fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon and in some fortified eggs and juice.

Fiber – in addition to preventing constipation it helps lower blood cholesterol, controls blood sugar levels and may also help prevent and treat a variety of diseases and conditions, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Good amounts of fibre is found in peas, apples, pears, grains, barely, and beans.

If you have healthy fruit and vegetable eaters but they don’t like fish, then perhaps just an Omega 3 supplement is what is right for your family.   Talk to your family doctor to determine if you or your kids need to take a multi vitamin.  They will review your typical weekly meal plan to determine what nutrients may be lacking and then look to increase those foods in your diet, or consider a supplement.

Remember, it’s the nutrients we need and not artificial colouring, flavours or sweeteners. Read the label carefully for the medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients and choose one that is specially formulated to meet your needs.

Good nutrition for all ages starts with serving a wide variety of whole, fresh foods as much as possible. A good multivitamin acts like a back up plan and is a great way to enhance a balanced, healthy diet – not replace it.  Including a daily multivitamin alongside fruits and vegetables will help to ensure your family gets all of the vitamins they need to be healthy and active!

LINK – kids need a multi vitamin –


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The art of massage isn’t just for injured athletes or stress-filled office workers.  Babies can benefit too.
It seems like an oxymoron … infant massage. How could these creatures – swaddled, nurtured, shielded from the cruelties of the world in every way – possibly be in need of massages?We adults use massage to melt away the stresses of the day – meeting deadlines, paying bills, juggling all facets of our busy lives. Or to deeply penetrate and relieve taxed muscles, from elite athletes to weekend warriors.But babies? It may seem surprising, but an infant’s developing nervous system can benefit greatly from a skilled massage as he learns to cope with our big, cold and noisy world.As any new parent will tell you, an infant’s life is far from peaceful. There are the digestive pains. The inability to soothe oneself to sleep. Learning to breastfeed. Even teething pains eventually.

The general benefits of baby massage comprise four main areas:

  • relief from pain and minor upsets;
  • interaction with parents and the environment, thus supporting bonding and attachment;
  • relaxation for deeper and longer sleep;
  • stimulation, especially for the nervous system, to grow and manage itself.

Jill Vyse has been working with families and their babies since 1991 at her Ottawa studio ( She has found two major reasons why parents should give infant massage a try: to aid digestion and sleep.

“Serious gas, constipation, colic and improved sleep are the reasons I hear again and again,” says Jill.

With regard to digestion, massage stimulates a particular nerve to release a digestive hormone. This in turn improves baby’s digestion and makes bowel movements easier.

As for improving sleep, as with adults, massage helps baby relax. The strokes that parents learn in baby massage classes stimulate the infant’s central nervous system in a way that enables the baby to self-calm more easily.

Baby massage differs from adult massage in that parents do massage with the baby and not to the baby. As you will notice at a baby massage class, your baby is on her back, so there is eye contact and communication between you and your child.

“It’s so rewarding to start to learn your baby’s cues in such a fun way,” says Jill.

As moms who have tried baby massage, we can tell you, as with most things that benefit your baby, you’ll soon feel much better as well.

Tips for massaging your baby

Follow your baby’s cues. She has a large vocabulary in her body language and in the sounds she makes.

Talk to your baby. Communicating through words, and the tone of your voice develops your baby’s listening skills. And, of course, smile!

Stay encouraged. Even when your baby is not “attuned to interact and massage” at this particular time, try again later that day, or another day.

Create the right atmosphere. You need a warm area and a calm surrounding. Have a baby-friendly oil at hand.

Ask permission. Making small circles around the head or a suitable touch, warm up a little oil in your palms. You can say something like, “Hi Sweetie, are you ready for a massage?”

Now you can try these three techniques

Cuddle and glide on legs. Start with holding your baby’s ankle on the inside with one hand and stroking from the hip to that ankle with your other hand. Make several gentle and firm strokes and watch how your baby responds. Relax your hand and it will mould to suit the shape of the thighs. Babies often enjoy this same stroke for the arms; just go slowly.

Benefits: Fun, relaxing, improves circulation.

Yummy tummy. You will need to work very low on baby’s tummy, so pull the diaper down or try this during a diaper change or post-bath. Start with hands near the belly button and stroke down with your flat palms, using a paddling motion down to the groin. Let one hand follow the other.

Benefits: Proven results for serious gas, constipation, promotes regularity.

Criss-cross. Just like on the tummy, you will need a little more oil. Start with each hand on baby’s lower rib cage, then gently glide up, across your baby’s chest, to the opposite shoulder and glide back. One hand at a time. This stroke is like painting a big letter X on your baby’s chest. Take your time and watch your baby’s cues.

Benefits: Relief for chest congestion, encourages baby to take a deeper breath, fun.

Moms Andrea and Lianne cofounded and co-host Parents Talk on Rogers TV. Together they have produced several award-winning parenting DVDs and web videos.

Originally published in ParentsCanada, May/June 2012

Watch VIDEO of baby massage

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What is the 28 Day Total Body Detox?

•A 28 Day program designed to help you clear unhealthy toxins from your system

•A 7 day meal plan, with snacks, available gluten-free and dairy-free

•Pharmaceutical grade nutritional supplements to support healthy total body

detoxification and healthy digestion

Are you feeling any of these symptoms? This may be the ideal program for YOU!

•Bloating, constipation

•Tired and lacking energy

•Dry skin and lack luster hair

•A feeling of living in a fog or cloudy head

•Discomfort after meals

Benefits of our program include:

•More energy and vitality!

•Better quality of sleep

•Improvements in digestion

•Increases mental clarity

•Radiant skin and hair

Please contact Healthy Girl Coach Sara Martel or 416-704-5908


It still shocks people, even now, even after all this time.   And I am genuinely moved by the reactions – every single time.

Many years ago —- I have no idea when.  All I remember is that I was a fairly young mom when I made ‘the discovery”.  No idea what precipitated it.  No one told me about it.  It was one of those serendipitous discoveries about parenting that influenced several things.

“Children need you more as they get older.”  Period.  Full stop.

You can’t imagine the reaction I get when the conversation includes this line.  The usual reaction and response is, “what?”

My humble discovery was/is this.  When children are young, parenting largely reverts around what I call “maintenance” issues — feeding, diaper changing, overall care.  As they get older parenting becomes more about, for lack of a better term and in keeping with the alliteration (!), “mental” issues.  Communication, social skills, dialogue, physchological questions.

I remember that this line of thinking was paramount in my deciding to become an entrepreneur.  The master plan was that I wanted to be home with my children MORE as they got older.  I have taken the means to achieve that.

Those ‘after-school conversations” are a gold mine.  Homework time (not always fun, but a learning ground for parent and child nonetheless), etc.

I’m not always around for each of these activities on a daily basis, but I’m there for the vast majority of them and it does make a difference.  It offers a wholly unique perspective on the child and on how to parent them.

Young parents are always mesmerized by this concept.  For that matter so are many older ones.

This is not to say that you abandon a young child and arrive on the scene when they are older.

I just believe that kids of 8 years old and up really need their parent(s) to be around not just at mealtimes, but in different situations to help support them and gently guide them with the inevitable social, emotional, physiological, and psychological issues that come up.

The happy by-product of this original discovery is being able to learn about each childs’ true character, decision-making ability, personality traits, etc., that come to the fore in this ‘older’ years.

It’s a truly wonderful discovery both about your child and yourself, as parent.