Mental Health Week

29 04 2011

May 1 to 7 marks the 60th anniversary of Mental Health Week here in Ontario. The Canadian Mental Health Association offers these tips for mental fitness:

  • learn ways to cope with negative thoughts
  • do one thing at a time
  • exercise
  • enjoy hobbies
  • “collect” positive emotional moments

For more about these tips, and information about Mental Health Week events and materials, visit this web site:

An Ambitious Undertaking…

21 04 2011

OK, it’s six months away but I had to share one of the most ambitious volunteer undertakings I have yet to embark upon…

Together with Event Co-Chair, Marilyn Smith (no relation, but how uncanny!) I am organizing a sizeable fundraising event to benefit the Community Child Abuse Council. October is Child Abuse Prevention Month, so it’s the perfect time for this soiree. It’s also set for 10 days before Halloween…hmmm, costumes anyone?

The 2011 Mad Hatter’s Ball is a party with a purpose. And a fundraising event like none other. Unique venue, great food, live music and dancing, no silent auction, no head table, no speeches. Just a lot of fun and a chance for adults to come out and play in support of kids who really need our support. For information and tickets, or to join us as an event sponsor, please visit the event web site :

Feed The Dream

15 04 2011

Did you know that in Hamilton more than 23,000 students get a breakfast, lunch and/or snack each day at their local school or community centre? Many of these kids, 1 in 4, live in poverty. Others lack the required nutrition to get them through the day because busy lives, work schedules, or stressful home situations get in the way. Hamilton Partners in Nutrition (HPIN) provides nutritional meals and snacks to students across this community, funded largely through provincial money but relying also on donations and fundraising. Rising food costs require ongoing efforts to raise money and a significant dependence on volunteer dedication.

On Saturday, June 18th you can support their work by supporting their Feed The Dream Auction. It will be held at Hamilton’s Discovery Centre and will include both silent and live auction events as well as entertainment and hors d’oevres. Opportunities to help include buying event tickets, donating auction items, volunteering for the evening, or advertising in the auction brochure. EnMark Associates is pleased to be donating an auction item, and challenges readers of this site to do the same.

Full details can be found at or by calling 905-522-1148, ext. 301.  Be sure to find out about the special pre-auction cruise aboard The Harbour Queen.

There are more than 100 student nutrition programs in Hamilton, and as of June 2010 they serve 447,183 breakfast meals and 650,690 snacks with the help of 6,695 volunteers. Parents alone contribute more than 45,000 hours of volunteer time, estimated to represent more than $750,000.


Karen’s recent work has included a project with the Hamilton Community Foundation and area stakeholders to develop a universal school-based nutrition program in Hamilton. Buildiing from what is already in place, the initiative aims to make nourishment available to all elementary school students (secondary school population would come next) and to help the community move forward towards the goal of being the best place in which to raise a child. Watch this blog and the Hamilton Community Foundation’s web site (see link at right) for updates on the project.

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

8 04 2011

McDonald's ad, Austria

 Regular readers will know that I have talked about this topic often – the commercialization of childhood and the inappropriate (and damaging) marketing of everything under the sun to kids. More often than not the messages are highly sexualized, exploiting the very innocence that ought to be protected.

Here are two resources you may find interesting. It’s nice to share other voices and reassuring to know others are ranting about this too. their mission is “to keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere, and to prevent it from exploiting children and subverting the higher values of family, community, environmental integrity and democracy”. Check out their Parents’ Bill of Rights and campaign to get salespeople out of schools.

Our nation is in the grips of a commercial hysteria. Sometimes it seems like everything is for sale. At Commercial Alert, we stand up for the idea that some things are too important to be for sale. Not our children. Not our health. Not our minds. Not our schools. Not our values. Not the integrity of our governments. Not for sale. Period. national organization (U.S.) devoted to limiting the impact of commercial culture on children – their mission is “to reclaim childhood from corporate marketers”. Good resources and attention to diverse issues (from obesity to violence) along with clout in their advocacy efforts – they have successfully battled Disney, Scholastic Inc. (Bratz), McDonald’s and Hasbro. 

The commercialization of childhood is the link between many of the most serious problems facing children, and society, today.  Childhood obesity, eating disorders, youth violence, sexualization, family stress, underage alcohol and tobacco use, rampant materialism, and the erosion of children’s creative play, are all exacerbated by advertising and marketing.  When children adopt the values that dominate commercial culture—dependence on the things we buy for life satisfaction, a “me first” attitude, conformity, impulse buying, and unthinking brand loyalty—the health of democracy and sustainability of our planet are threatened.  CCFC works for the rights of children to grow up—and the freedom for parents to raise them—without being undermined by commercial interests.

CCFC is active in the Toronto area where a recent campaign helped stop the installation of digital monitors in area highschools (along with their ad content)…anyone involved with CCFC in Hamilton???


1 in 3 Women

4 04 2011

Ontario’s new Sexual Violence Action Plan: Changing Attitudes, Changing Lives addresses a “serious and pervasive” problem in this province. It speaks frankly (“violence against women devastates lives – it has no place in society and it will not be tolerated”) and includes a commitment of $15 million over four years ($5.2 M for public education campaigns, $1.6 M for professional training and education, $3 M for sexual assault centres, $3.7 M for interpreter services, $1.95 M for anti-human trafficking initiatives). 

Many Ontarians don’t realize the alarming statistics surrounding sexual violence and its prevalence in the lives of far too many women. One in three women will experience some form of sexual assault in their lifetime. Sexual violence crosses all social boundaries, affects women of every age and cultural background, and has devastating impacts on the lives of victims and their families as well as the well-being of society as a whole. [Laurel Broten, Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues, Sexual Violence Action Plan, March 2011].

The plan updates the Province’s former “domestic violence” action plan (2004) and addresses crimes such as sexual assault, sexual exploitation through human trafficking, sexual harassment, and sexual exploitation using technology and the Internet. It focuses on sexual violence against those 16 years of age and older (the Plan reports that separate initiatives are being developed for children and for men).

Many people only think of sexual violence as a very violent crime that happens between strangers – the perpetrator lurking in a dark alley or in the bushes. In reality, most sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim – an acquaintance, date, friend, colleague or family member – and often it occurs in private places, like the victim’s home [Ontario’s Sexual Violence Action Plan].

The Plan acknowledges that current statistics are alarming and that women across Ontario live in fear. The crime that is sexual violence won’t be curtailed successfully by any one effort or approach alone, thus it is heartening to see prevention as well as post-incident response included in the Province’s approach. The stated vision in the Plan is that “Ontario is a place where all women live in safety, and are free from the threat, fear or experience of sexual violence”. Published progress reports are promised after two and four-year intervals (2013 and 2015).

No less than 16 provincial Ministries are listed in the Plan as partners in the effort and members of the Ministerial Steering Committee on Violence Against Women, and the Plan highlights several collaborative approaches. It is nonetheless unfortunate that the leadership in launching this Plan came from the Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues. Sexual violence is not a “women’s issue”. But the Plan does include a request from the Province for changes to the Criminal Code of Canada and that’s a positive step in the battle against electronic victimization (among the newest threats). Also welcomed is the Province’s financial investment in education, prevention and victim response initiatives.

For a full version of the 23-page Plan click here: Ontario’s Sexual Violence Action Plan 2011.