All posts by C. Sweeney

Local journalist, writer, blogger, glamping proprietor & enthusiast, family-life-juggler. Finding beauty in the world, locally and beyond yonder. EastCoastGlamping.ca

Community Herald: SHS HOPES TO DOUBLE DONATION FOR IWK

From human-hungry-hippos, to flash mobs, students and teachers at Sackville High School are pumping-up the energy and fundraising initiatives in the lead-up to their annual SHS Dance Marathon for the IWK.

Music students Matt Hustins Macdonald, Brandon Romans, Daniel Winters and Riley Prince-Gorman compose the theme song, Strength In Numbers, for this year’s six hour SHS Dance Marathon on Apr. 16, with inspiration from Mike Ryan of The Town Heroes. (L-R)
Music students Matt Hustins Macdonald, Brandon Romans, Daniel Winters and Riley Prince-Gorman compose the theme song, Strength In Numbers, for this year’s six hour SHS Dance Marathon on Apr. 16, with inspiration from Mike Ryan of The Town Heroes. (L-R) Hear their song below.

The countdown has begun for the big event, which will host dancers and teams from 18 schools in Halifax Regional Municipality and takes place on April 16 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. at SHS.

“We’re challenging each student to raise $50 … and if 1,000 of our participants raise $50 we will reach our $50,000 goal for the IWK,” says Lara Fawthrop, SHS music teacher.

Dance Marathon in aid of Children’s Miracle Hospitals initiated a number of years ago, but only recently came to Canada, says Marilyn MacGibbon, vice-principal at SHS. Last year the school exceeded by more than double it’s fundraising goal, raising an excess of $20,000.

“We were one of the first schools to really embrace it … and we were the most successful school last year, so this year we’ve raised our fundraising goal to $50,000,” says MacGibbon.

Full Story Here.

Down the hall, local award-winning musician Mike Ryan from The Town Heroes kicked back with five music students to compose an original piece of music for the upcoming event. “It’s a positive song geared at getting the kids excited,” says Ryan.

The five students are excited to perform the original piece, entitled “Strength In Numbers,” and The Town Heroes will perform for about an hour during the SHS Dance Marathon.  While Grade 12 percussionist Matt Hustins Macdonald says he can’t dance, he plans to put his talent to good use. “Its good for me to use what I’m good at and be able to help out … there’s always something you can do,” says Hustins Macdonald.

Music student Daniel Winters plays piano in the school band and says he’s proud to be contributing to the marathon.

“And when I’m not playing, I’ll be dancing for the kids who can’t,” says Winters, drawing inspiration from the song lyrics.

Doherty says she is emotionally invested in the event and sparking new ways to get the students involved, such as putting teachers on skateboards and having students manoeuvre them as human-hungry-hippos. With laundry hampers in hand, students donated $120 to watch the teachers attempt to capture 1,300 plastic balls rolling throughout the school lobby.

On March 31, Grade 11 student Marley Repchull led supporters in a flash mob Morale Dance, while other students were ‘bringing home the bacon.’

Elicia Taylor, Jennah Fiske, Keegan Pettipas-Repchull and Marley Repchull are ‘bringing home the bacon’ along with fellow Sackville High School students, fundraising for SHS Dance Marathon on Apr. 16, where 18 schools in HRM will dance for six hours in aid of IWK hospital. (L-R)
Elicia Taylor, Jennah Fiske, Keegan Pettipas-Repchull and Marley Repchull are ‘bringing home the bacon’ along with fellow Sackville High School students, fundraising for SHS Dance Marathon on Apr. 16, where 18 schools in HRM will dance for six hours in aid of IWK hospital. (L-R)

“It’s a play on a piggybank,” says Doherty.

“Our co-president Sam Butler brought in $100 in nickels,” says Grade 11 student Elicia Taylor. “Whoever has the heaviest donation gets to donate the sum of the donations in their own name (to help reach their individual fundraising goal),”says Taylor.

A wise strategist, Butler changed her $100 in fundraising to heavy, five cent nickels, weighing-in at 50 lbs. and registering an error on the scale.

“The Morale Dance takes place (during the dance marathon) at the top of every hour to announce the next miracle kid, so it’s our pump-up song,” says Doherty. “We’ve got five kids coming from the IWK and at the top of every hour they take the stage and they tell their story. Our kids take a knee (kneel on one knee) and listen to the children’s stories.”

“Overall, the event shows the kids that there are people who have overcome greater challenges than they could ever imagine happening in their own lives,” says MacGibbon.

“We want to help the IWK continue to do the amazing work they do,” smiles Doherty.

Donations to support the event can be made through the school or at SHS Dance Marathon on www.helpmakemiracles.ca. For Dancer and Team Registration visit the school’s website.

Going it alone at Nova Scotia Provincial Park campgrounds: How the shift to self-service affects campers

Countdown, T-minus-2-Days until Parks Nova Scotia reservation lines open for camping season 2015. Here’s how the move for some campgrounds to self-service will affect you.

East Coast Glamping

Photographer: Scott Munn | Source NSTA Photographer: Scott Munn | Source NSTA

This camping season, ‘Ranger Google’ might be campers port-of-call at some Nova Scotia provincial parks. We asked how this will affect your camping experience.

Nova Scotia will see seven of 20 provincial parks move to self-service, including two parks located within Halifax Regional Municipality.  We had a few questions around how this will affect campers and glampers alike. Here’s what we found out…

Campgrounds moving to a self-service model (Red are campgrounds East Coast Glamping services)

Here’s a few considerations:

  1. Self-service check-in: It will be important campers have their registration form printed and know their campsite before arriving. This will help you…

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Insta-Etiquette: Don’t want my daughter a #WCW on Instagram

Let’s teach our boys and girls some Insta-Etiquette. 
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I fought Instagram with my daughter.  She was one of the last in her class (so I’m told).  I always say it takes a village. So I chatted with parents, with my daughter and did some research. When I felt comfortable, we signed her up.

The legal age to get an Instagram account is 13-years-old, despite many of her friends younger siblings snapping and sharing.

She’s in Grade 7 and 13-years-old and along with all her other classmates, she’s cautiously delving into a world of selfie-narcisism, the search for self-validation and image rating, armed with our family house rules for online interaction.

Don't care to a #WCW on Instagram. Don't care to be objectified.
Don’t care to a #WCW on Instagram. Don’t care to be objectified.

Instagram Defined in the Tween & Teen World: A social media app letting users

  • snap, edit, and share photos or 15-second videos
  • both publicly or with their private followers
  • You post the photo and your followers comment, share and converse about it – usually reassuring how lovely you look.

I’ve limited time, but I’m learning the #HashTags, dangers and scanning accounts. Ensuring her stuff is private and secure.  But, last night a new #HashTag appeared with my daughter’s photo — not on her wall:

A boy in her grade had posted an image of her on his Instagram Wall stating she is his #WCW.

photoinsta#WCW refers to ‘Woman Crush Wednesday’ (note the ‘Woman‘) and has been around for a few years.  This is where men share images of celebrities or woman they’re crushing on, they ‘like’, they adore, etc.  There’s also images of coffees, pets and children, but for the most part, it’s men crushing on women.

For the record, there are #MCM ‘Man Crush Mondays’ too and this advice goes both ways.

Take a peak on your own Instagram or child’s account and search #WCW and see what images appear.  Welcome 50 Shades of Selfies.

Needless to say, my daughter’s  mildly embarrassed. She doesn’t like the guy and didn’t ask to be part of a public forum about the merits of crushing on her.  However, she’s on Instagram,  they ‘follow’ each other (along with the rest of the school), so I tell her she’s fair game. But, she has choices as to how she deals with it:

How a #WCW works in a Junior High:

  1. Boy posts image and labels it as his #WCW.
  2. Other boys then comment: “onto the next girl?”, “way to go”, “lucky you,” … or it could be worse like, “why you like her?”
  3. What unfolds is an easy forum for hurt feelings, embarrassment, discomfort.

I’m all for crushes – but is there a healthier forum?

Let’s teach our KIDS some Insta-Ettiquette:

  1. Parents: Are your 13-year-old kids on Instagram?  Take a look now and then and make sure they’re not socializing themselves into murky online territory.  Navigating crushes, likes and social interactions is tricky enough to get right in person. Let’s help our kids along online and save them the embarrassment or worse…
    • I happened to come across a post of my daughter and a few girls from her swim team, in their team change room, in a group photo… in their bathing suits. I immediately flagged this for removal from the online world and my daughter asked her teammate to remove it from her Instagram wall.  She did – no harm, no foul. Her friend hadn’t realized taking images in a change-room is a huge ‘No No’ – and my daughter, caught up in the moment, obviously forgot.  Remind your kids of the Rules: rules are easily forgotten in innocence at this age and it’s our job to help keep them on track.
  2. Boys: Ask before we post: DON’T use a girls image, photo, name online unless there is mutual consent. Maybe she doesn’t want to be labelled as your crush for others to comment about?  Let’s stop objectifying girls online. Same applies for girls.
  3. Boys & Girls: #PTD: Please Take Down: If you don’t like an image out there, it’s your right to ask it be removed.  But, you have to accept this may not happen  — so be careful what image you project, what you snap and allow to be snapped.
  4. Boys: So you have a crush. Great on you!  Now man-up and talk to her in person, have a REAL conversation.  If the feelings are mutual – terrific. If they’re not, you’ve given it a brave shot, shown her your mature enough to connect in person and it’s time to move on – offline.
  5. Girls: BE careful what image you project.  You’re posting to your future and it will be out there and most certainly shared.  Don’t project an image online that isn’t reflective of you. You’re more than the sum of your body parts!

If the Dalhousie Dentistry School FaceBook posting teaches us anything, it’s that teaching boys limits and respect, both online and offline, must begin at an early age.

CommonSenseMedia offers a fab app for parents with ‘need to know info’ on apps, movies, books, games and music. Here’s their ‘Need To Know’ for Instagram, like:

“Public photos are the default … unless privacy settings are adjusted. Hashtags and location information can make photos even more visible to communities beyond a teen’s followers if his or her account is public.”

Some info on recently added Instagram features affecting your teens safety check out uknowkids.com.

Stay safe. Stay informed.

Halifax Citizen: Skills for success

Winners of the 2015 HRSB Regional Skills Competition at Carpenter Millwright Trades College, first place Chandler Slater from CP Allen, third place Tyler Slaunwhite from Halifax West and second place Matthew Devoe, also from Halifax West photographed with Shane Butler, Regional Manager of the Carpenters Union (Atlantic Canada Regional Council). (L-R)
Winners of the 2015 HRSB Regional Skills Competition at Carpenter Millwright Trades College, first place Chandler Slater from CP Allen, third place Tyler Slaunwhite from Halifax West and second place Matthew Devoe, also from Halifax West photographed with Shane Butler, Regional Manager of the Carpenters Union (Atlantic Canada Regional Council). (L-R)

High school students from Halifax Regional School Board put their carpentry skills to the test during the 2015 HRSB Regional Skills Competition in Lower Sackville last month.

“We’re really excited to have seven schools represented from all over HRM,” says Bev Young, director of Carpenter Millwright Trades College (CMTC). Up from four schools in 2014, the 11 students arrived at CMTC for 7:30 a.m. and were given a blueprint, tasked with building a garden shed using materials donated by Atlantic Canada Regional Council.

HRSB high schools students, representing seven schools, competed in the 2015 HRSB Regional Skills Competition at Carpenter Millwright Trades College. First place CP Allen student Chandler Slater and second place Matthew Devoe, from Halifax West will go to the provincial competition later this year. Third place was awarded to Tyler Slaunwhite, from Halifax West.
HRSB high schools students, representing seven schools, competed in the 2015 HRSB Regional Skills Competition at Carpenter Millwright Trades College. First place CP Allen student Chandler Slater and second place Matthew Devoe, from Halifax West will go to the provincial competition later this year. Third place was awarded to Tyler Slaunwhite, from Halifax West.

“The roof rafters are a little bit tricky, but I have them under control now,” says Zack Harnish, a Grade 11 student from Cole Harbour High School.

It’s Harnish’s first year in the competition and he says he expects to have the roof on by end of day. “I built a lot of stuff like this with my dad and my grandfather,” says Harnish.

“3:30 p.m. is tools down,” says Young. She says while some will be close to completion, they don’t expect the students to finish.

The structure is similar to last year’s dog house, but four feet taller. The scaled-up challenge was chosen to give finalists an advantage at provincials and nationals.

“For those who move onto provincials, they’ll likely do a dog house … they’ll have an advantage because they will have already encountered something bigger,” explains Young. “If they go to nationals, he or she has to build a shed or playhouse, bigger than this, so we said lets give them the scope of what they’re to expect at a national level … and see how they rise to the challenge.”

Returning competitor, Donovan Linfield from Eastern Shore District High School says he prefers the garden shed project. “It’s more up to your height, so you’re not bent over.”

HRSB Regional Skills Competition at Carpenter Millwright Trades College, first place Chandler Slater from CP Allen will go onto represent HRSB in the provincial carpentry skills competition later this  year.
HRSB Regional Skills Competition at Carpenter Millwright Trades College, first place Chandler Slater from CP Allen will go onto represent HRSB in the provincial carpentry skills competition later this year.

Key competition factors include accuracy, measurements, neatness and safety. “All big factors, but end of the day, the main objective is to give an experience of competition and showing off their skills; learning where they can improve; and the carrot of course, is moving onto the provincial competition,” says Young.

“A skills competition is really not a test, even though it feels like one,” says instructor and judge, Elliott Boudreau. “You’re leaving with a lot more knowledge and skills than you came here with.”

Read the full story in the Community Herald.

Community Herald: Mother seeks community support for son

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Noah and his friends having a giggle fest in CP Allen Learning Centre with Tristan Dunn (clockwise from top), Tara Weston, Noah Isenor, Noah’s best buddy Brady Gerrior and CP Allen High School student and services department head Lauren Emanuel. (Cyndi Sweeney)

‘It takes a village.’ A phrase often describing support by the greater community in helping a child. Local mom Tara Weston is reaching out to her community: a last effort to keep her son’s wheelchair lift van and pay his remaining medical bills.

Her goal is to crowdfund $5 from 5,000 people, to raise a total of $25,000 in support of Noah’s journey.

“I’m just trying to put myself in a positive mindset. If 5,000 people gave $5, we’d have Noah’s van,” says Weston, who recently had to sell their family home to keep Noah’s fundamental transportation.

“If we can’t raise the money … and we lose this van, Noah basically has no access within the community anymore,” she says.

Noah has stage five spastic quadriplegia and cerebral palsy, he is legally blind and is speech impaired. Soon he will undergo his 38th surgery at the IWK.

Despite Noah’s many surgeries and daily seizures, his smile is full of joy and “he has chocolate eyes that melt your heart,” says Lauren Emanuel, student and services department head at CP Allen High School.

“They’re having a giggle-fest today,” says Jenny-Kate Hadley, vice principal at CP Allen. Noah and his friends sit laughing around their classroom table. “Noah is so engaged with the students,” says Emanuel.

Weston says the family has spent close to $220,000 over the past 15 years and his ongoing nursing and attendant needs have been assessed in excess of $7,600 per month. “We’ve great health care coverage here in Canada, but between insurance and provincial health coverage, it doesn’t cover all his medical expenses,” says Weston, leaving $3,800 each month not covered.

The family recently moved to an apartment in Bedford, from their family home specially designed for people with special needs.

“We couldn’t afford a house and a van, so we had to choose what Noah needed. We thought, it doesn’t matter where we live, if Noah had a good quality of life and can get around in the community … he’ll be happy.”

Having exhausted every avenue of financial help, from non-profit, government, friends and family, Weston says $5 from 5,000 is literally their last resort. With more than 400,000 people living in HRM, it’s a goal she says she hopes is attainable for Noah.

Read more on Noah’s Journey  in the Community Herald.

*Note: Since last week the family has raised $1,256 in donations and are now hoping to raise $23,000.

To donate, go to www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/noah-s-journey/201524 or find the link by visiting Noah’s Journey on Facebook.

Bedford-Sackville Observer: The power of sunflower

Beneath their “labour of love,” a 25 foot off-grid solar sunflower at Farmer’s Best along Bedford Highway, Sunflower Solar partners Keith Crews, Steven Weagle and Kirsten Weagle want Nova Scotians to know solar power has never been more accessible. (Cyndi Sweeney)
Beneath their “labour of love,” a 25 foot off-grid solar sunflower at Farmer’s Best along Bedford Highway, Sunflower Solar partners Keith Crews, Steven Weagle and Kirsten Weagle want Nova Scotians to know solar power has never been more accessible. (Cyndi Sweeney)

 “With our heat pump, we went down about 35 per cent on our power bill by just changing the water heater,” says Steven Weagle, president of Sunflower Solar.

Spring is not quite here, but meander around a bend on the Bedford Highway and a 25-foot sunflower is in full bloom at Farmer’s Best market. The off-grid solar beacon of sunshine was recently installed by Sunflower Solar and together the two businesses are cooperatively marketing solar energy to Nova Scotians.

“Solar has never been more affordable than it is now … we’re a little bit behind in Canada, but we’re catching up,” says Kirsten Weagle, one of four partners at Sunflower Solar Inc.

“Solar is totally modular so just about anything is possible from a homeowner or even a commercial business perspective,” says Weagle.

Originally from Lower Sackville, Weagle says he loves technology and being hands-on with innovating solar power. He says the sunflower project took about a year and a half and is a labour of love and a progression from engineering solar-powered hot dog vending carts in Ontario and Nova Scotia.

Read how solar power can reduce your household energy bills here.

For more info on solar energy visit www.sunflowersolar.ca and for solar energy solutions and rebates information visit www.efficiencyns.ca/energy-solutions/solar.

Halifax Citizen: Boosting badminton

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The competitive club now focuses on skill-level rather than age-level and is broken into three groups: Junior Development, Junior Competitive and High Performance, who were recently in Montreal competing.

The Sackville Junior Badminton Club rallies hard to give Nova Scotia competitive badminton a national presence.

“Badminton is a small community,” says Karen Stadnyk, SBC club founder. “It started in Sackville, but we’re an HRM-wide program with members coming from Halifax, Hammonds Plains, Bedford, Dartmouth, Tantallon … and even Truro,” she says.

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SBC formed about seven years ago in Sackville, but today only one of it’s 45 members comes from Sackville and practices are held at CP Allen, Citadel High School and Waverley Memorial.

Read the full story.

Sackville Junior Open, an open-to-anyone tournament for 8-to-22-year-olds, takes place Mar. 14 and 15 at CP Allen. Register at: www.badmintonns.ca.

Information is available about after-school lessons at Canada Games Centre at https://badmintonns.ca/after-school-badminton-programs/ and Dalplex summer camps at http://athletics.dal.ca/children_youth/camps.html.