Healthy teachers – happy classrooms

A health-focused Lynn Valley couple has written the book on keeping teachers healthy. With more than 20 years practicing occupational therapy focusing on the education sector Wade Repta put much of his expertise down on paper in The Well Teacher with the help of his wife Andrée.


Keeping teachers well


“Expectations on teachers are extremely high,” said Wade. “They work under extreme scrutiny and typically they are hare high performing individuals who put others ahead of themselves. The job can be overwhelming – it’s far more challenging than people think.”

Covering a range of topics The Well Teacher was written to give teachers practical tools to keep them in the classroom longer and to get them back sooner after injury or illness.

“If someone is struggling with mental or physical health it can be a tough to manage while caring for 22 children,” said Wade. “I have probably worked with over 1000 teachers either one on one or in workshops. We see so many challenges and there was nowhere for them to go to get the information they need. We wanted to give them the information to improve their well being. We hear over and over again ‘Why didn’t I know this?’ Or ‘Why was I never taught this?’”

Another big difference between other sectors and education are the return to work accommodations, explained Andrée. After an injury or significant work absence most employees are able to figure out with their employers reduced hours, part-time schedules, different responsibilities and a variety of other accommodations.

“For teachers depending on their schedule, their blocks, their specialties it can be difficult to find support for that which makes it very different from other sectors,” she said.

Most of the book is specific to the teaching profession which Wade says is to address the unique challenges teachers are facing.

“In the work we do – [the teachers we see] are already struggling,” said Wade. “Our job is to help people to manage their illness or disability and then figure out their work. This book is to help those teachers and to give information to teachers who don’t want to get to that point.”


Specific help for teachers


Topics range from mental health to ergonomics to voice as well as an entire chapter on returning to work after an injury or illness. They cover the day to day life of educators which can slowly erode health. The physical challenges are usually not brute force injuries but stem, typically, from poor routine.

“In younger grade levels everything is low, so there are repetitive injuries from bending, kneeling,” said Andrée. “Or in high school a teacher maybe working by a white board all day long and not doing in the best way.”

Often small changes to classrooms and routines can help those teachers. The Well Teacher also addresses the physical challenges of chronic conditions and disease. But that’s not the case for other teachers.

“Of those we see – people who are asking for help or had a crash – pretty universally, about 50 per cent are off for physical health and about 50 per cent are off for mental health reasons,” said Wade. “We are seeing a lot of anxiety, we are seeing a lot of depression and while it is not a diagnostic term, we are seeing burn out. They are just tired.”

People don’t realize it’s common for teachers to feel that way because they get multiple breaks throughout the year but when they are at work it is overwhelming, he said.

“So many are just barely getting by.”

The Well Teacher website also has a number of resources available that help readers implement the strategies in the book.

“We wanted it to be functional and actually used and put into practice,” said Wade. “We know sitting down and setting goals leads to more success. We want teachers to have more control over their wellness – to prevent a further decline or give them a starting point to get back in the classroom.”

The Well Teacher is available online or by contacting Wade and Andrée at thewellteacher@humanworks.ca to order your copy and arrange Lynn Valley pick up to save on shipping.

Who is your good neighbour?

It’s one of our favorite times of year here at Lynn Valley Life: The Good Neighbor Award season.  Year after year this is a highlight for all of us.


Our quiet contributors


Day-to-day we try to gather interesting and Innovative stories about Lynn Valley but one thing that is often missed are the quiet stories. The good that goes on in our neighborhood everyday – often unnoticed beyond the person or organization helped.  We have people step up in times of need, we have those that day in and day out give of their time, money and energy. We have those that invest in our schools, our community groups, our churches. We have those that are staples on our streets who step up and help neighbours and friends whenever it’s needed. From helping refugees to outstanding coaches to people who are practically community institutions.


Pillars of the community


Lizz Lindsay at Sharing Abundance.

The Good Neighbour Award has been going strong since 2012. We receive heartfelt nominations – some short, some long. Check out some previous winners and read their stories – whe have an exceptional community! Last year we had Tim Green, a tireless supporter of the Lynn Valley Services Society and Molly Nye House. Dave and Wilna Parry passionate advocates for refugees and immigrants. In 2015 we were proud to recognize Cath Bates Dimmock a volunteer with Argyle Secondary for more than 10 years! We have shared the astounding work of Lizz Lindsay and her charity Sharing Abundance that brings people together through food and programs address food insecurity and social isolation. We love hearing about who makes a difference in your life and our community.


How to nominate your good neighbour


Who might our Good Neighbour be for 2018? Please send us a note telling us why you think your nominee makes Lynn Valley a better place to be. It doesn’t have to be long and fancy – just from the heart! Please send your suggestions to info@LynnValleyLife.com before December 31, 2018. Lynn Valley’s Good Neighbour for will receive a plaque, a restaurant gift certificate, and some well-deserved recognition!


Looking for more?


There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

Culture Days: Shaketown

Lynn Valley will be buzzing with activity for the ninth annual Culture Days September 28-30th. Events and activities will be happening throughout Canada, North Vancouver and in our very own neighbourhood.


North Shore Culture


Culture Days is an opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to try something new, experience something totally different, discover creative spaces in the community and meet the artists that work there. North Vancouver Parks and Recreation have centred the events at seven different “Hubs” throughout the District and City of North Vancouver.

“North Shore Culture Days celebrates the vital role that arts and culture plays in creating vibrant and connected communities. We invite residents to participate, be inspired and have some fun.” said Heather Turner, director, North Vancouver Recreation & Culture Commission.

We have two picks for Lynn Valley:

  1. Saturday Sept. 29; 10-11 a.m. Shaketown Walk with NVMA curator Karen Dearlove , Community History Centre, 3203 Institute Road, Lynn Valley
  2. Saturday, Sept. 29; 2-3 p.m. The Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore with author David Crerar,  Community History Centre, 3203 Institute Road, Lynn Valley

Shaketown


At the turn of the last century, Lynn Valley isolated, forested and at the edge of the frontier.

“It really was in the mountains,” said North Vancouver Museum and Archives Curator Karen Dearlove. “Before bridges it was a fairly remote. Just to get up here traveling from Burrard Inlet was difficult. It was mostly skid roads for the mills.”

Ca. 1909. Hastings Creek bridge and boardwalk on Lynn Valley Road, with flume running overhead.

The heavily treed landscape was bisected by Tote Road, a rugged skid road that allowed oxen to haul felled logs down to the Moodyville waterfront, “Centre Road” (now Mountain Highway), and Pipeline Road, a plank road along which a pipeline was installed to carry drinking water from Rice Lake into North Vancouver.

Its relative remoteness and difficulty did not keep people away. The community was first called Shaketown because of the mill – on Mill Street – producing cedar shakes or perhaps it was because of the the shake-sided shacks housing the necessary workers.

“Because the workers at the mills wanted to live close by, homes were built, stores opened, clubs and churches were formed. There was an influx into the area and quite quickly it became a community,” said Dearlove.

The appeal of good jobs, land and a community drew a diverse group of workers from early Chinese and Japanese workers, to industrialists from Vancouver and a number of families from Finland, plus many others, she said.

“Many were like Walter Draycott – they had a sense of adventure,” she said.


Shaketown Walk


Ca. 1910. Depicting the new streetcar line at Lynn Valley Road and Ross Road. The Lynn Valley general store is at the right.

The September 29th Shaketown walk will take participants on an hour-long stroll through Lynn Valley, centring on the intersection of Lynn Valley Road and Mountain. Dearlove will present historical images alongside today’s environment to explore juxtaposition of then and now.

“We have some really great historical photos that show how buildings have changed or moved,” she said.   

The guided walk should be easy for most abilities. It begins at the Community History Centre, 3203 Institute Road, Saturday,  Sept. 29, 10-11 a.m. Participants must pre-register by calling 604 990 3700 x8016.

For all the Cutlure Days events check out the  NVRC website at https://www.nvrc.ca/arts-culture/culture-days (for Lynn Valley events, click on the Lynn Valley Hub accordion on the webpage) or the national website at https://culturedays.ca/en.

All images courtesy of the North Vancouver Museum and Archives.

To learn more about Lynn Valley’s history check out this page.


Historic images


ca. 1950s. Panoramic image along Lynn Valley Road, across from Mountain Hwy. Buildings depicted from left to right: the Brier Block; the Triangle block; the Fromme block. Lynn Valley United Church can be seen behind the Fromme block. This image was taken after the streetcar lines had been removed.

Trail Tales

The North Vancouver District Library has launched a new program to get families outside and active all the while enjoying a good story. 

Trail Tales will take families to Princess Park Aug. 17 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. for a literary walk and the story Two Sisters by E. Pauline Johnson and illustrated by Sandra Butt. It’s a story that fit naturally into the goals of the program said Danielle Wing, a children’s librarian at NVDPL.


The Legend


“Chief Joe Capilano told the legend to E. Pauline Johnson, a Canadian poet, who retold the legend in her book Legends of Vancouver [published in 1911],” said Wing. “ Now, it has been illustrated and presented as a children’s picture book.”

The story is rooted in the mountains of the North Shore.

“Since the book is being presented outdoors, it is fitting that the story focuses on the land and landmarks that families can explore after reading the story. We acknowledge that the land on which we gather is the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples and this book showcases the Salish Sea and explores themes of Creation, courage and peace,” said Wing. “It also includes supplemental information that will enable readers to further immerse themselves in the rich history of Coast Salish cultures. We hope that this book will inspire families to learn more about the land we live on.”

The library was inspired to create Trail Tales after being inspired by library in Vermont and others that have started similar programs.  

“Stories come in many formats and can be presented and experienced in many ways,” said Wing. “North Shore families are active and excited to explore the outdoors already, so we wanted to provide a unique literacy opportunity that took advantage of this while celebrating the remarkable nature we have in our community.”

Presenting the story on a walk allows each family and child to experience it uniquely and coloured by the ways they learn and engage with it.

“We know that children are diverse learners and that each child will take a different approach when reading or listening to a story,” said Wing. “The wonderful thing about engaging with a story outdoors is that everyone can take their own approach: they can walk quietly and read while listening to the sounds of nature around them, or, they can leap and bound between the signs and react as noisily as they’d like!”

The library is debuting a number of new programs that engage patrons in different ways and in different places. They also have a new Brews & Books series which takes melds a pint with author discussions at a local brewery. The Trail Tales program aims to show reading isn’t necessarily a passive activity.

“We hope that families will recognize that literacy and reading can be active and fun,” said Wing. “The North Vancouver District Public Library aims to connect our community, share knowledge and inspire stories: Trail Tales will allow families to interact, share a literacy experience with one another, learn something new and inspire them to explore literacy in all of its forms.”


How it works


Library staff  have created numbered signs that will be displayed throughout the Princess Park from 10:30-11:30 a,m, August 17, starting at the parking lot. Families can either walk with a librarian who will read the story, or they can follow the signs on their own. Trail Tales will be an interactive and engaging family experience for all ages.

Additional dates and locations can be found on the library’s website.

Green thumbs and others needed to help local seniors

There was a curious post circulating a North Shore Facebook group: someone was searching for people who love to garden.


Calling green thumbs


“We have people who in the past have enjoyed gardening, and would still love to do it,” said Eunice Kruse, volunteer coordinator of the Lynn Valley Care Centre. “We have a rooftop garden with raised beds that the residents can use.”

But that can’t happen on their own.

The Lynn Valley Care Centre is looking for a volunteer or two who can share an hour of gardening with residents once or twice a week. The volunteer would take them up to the garden and plant seeds, help weed and visit with the senior, said Kruse.

“We would be looking for someone who loves gardening and can help one or two of our residents at a time,” said Kruse. “It means so much – it gives good mental and physical stimulation. There is also a sense of purpose of being able to do something they used to be able to do.”

The Lynn Valley Care Centre offers intermediate care, extended (complex care), palliative care, and end-of-life care. It has a combination of government subsidized beds and private pay rooms and suites.


Have a passion – share it


If gardening isn’t your thing there are many other opportunities to interact and support the residents, said Kruse. Some volunteers visit with pets, some help organize tea time, one helps seniors get to their appointments with the in-house hairdresser, while others help with arts and crafts. Volunteers also read aloud and host music afternoons and sing-alongs.

 

There is another project Kruse needs volunteers to get started: a social group for senior men.

“I would like to find two-three men who would meet with our elderly men,” she said. “To talk about things that are important to men.”

Research shows that social interaction is immensely beneficial to seniors – or anyone who is feeling isolated, but recent research shows men are less likely to seek out that interaction, said Kruse. She hopes to find enough interest to run the group once a week and give residents a chance to chat about past and current hobbies, interests and adventures.

The reward for volunteers is tangible.

“You see what these visits mean to the residents,” said Kruse. “In just an hour or two you can see someone come to life. It’s a two-way street you give your time and they will give back.”


How to help


To learn more about the volunteer opportunities at the Lynn Valley Care Centre please call Eunice Kruse at 604-982-3709 (she is in Mondays or please leave a message) or visit the volunteer page of its website.