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7 sneaky ways to keep your kids brains active all summer

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Jul 26th, 2016

Have you ever heard of ‘summer slide’? This term describes the tendency for kids to lose some of the knowledge they’ve gained during the school year. New studies are now showing that kids can lose up to two months of information that they learned in school during the summer time.

As a preventive measure, many parents prevent ‘summer slide’ by having their child complete workbooks and worksheets. However, editor-in-chief of ‘Today’s Parent’ magazine Sasha Emmons says there are other ways to avoid this slide without having your kid sitting down and working on summer homework. Below are seven sneaky ways to incorporate math and reading into their summer routine.

1. Have your kid read up to six books this summer.

Studies show that reading just six books can stem ‘summer slide’. Rather that completing workbooks, a trip to the library is a far more exciting activity that kids will enjoy. Kids are encouraged to pick out their own books that appeal to their interests.

Sneaking in reading during daily activities will also stem the ‘summer slide’. This can include reading recipes, playing Boggle, playing Bananagrams, creating a word of the day, performing karaoke, or reading maps.

2. Work math into everyday life.

Instead of completing math worksheets, work math equations into a child’s daily routine instead. This includes finding the lowest and highest price on a menu or at the grocery store, calculating travel time during a trip, or how to split the cost of snacks or a dessert.

Playing math games like Tenzi, Crazy 8s, Old Maid are also great, as they incorporate math equations into a fun activity.

3. Post a word on the refrigerator every week and see how often you can use it.

For a child to really internalize a new word, they have to hear it about seven times in context. Pick an uncommon word, and incorporate it into regular conversation to create a dialogue on what that word means.

4. Make a scrapbook of your family’s vacation.

Young kids can cut and paste photos while older kids can write captions, creating a beautiful souvenir of your summer. Designing a scrapbook works the right-side of the brain for creativity, while writing captions works the left-side of the brain.

5. Journal or diary.

A journal or diary is a great way for a child to collect their daily thoughts. Writing on regular basis helps children form entries that contain good grammar, and a beginning, middle, and end.

6. Exposing kids to new experiences over the summer can also improve their learning capabilities.

Most cities are full of free activities to broaden children’s experiences. Some ideas include visiting a farmer’s market and talk to farmers about where food comes from, participate in one of the city’s cultural festivals, or go to the park and look for wildlife.

7. Download educational apps.

Many applications for your mobile devices can be very educational. There are a variety of learning applications that incorporate games, music, and problem solving skills available on the App Store for iPhone and iPad, and the Google Play store for Android devices.

‘Salad dressing’ spills out of transport truck after DVP roll over

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Jul 20th, 2016


A 52-year-old man from Brampton faces careless driving charges after a transport truck spilled its load of salad dressing on the DVP northbound ramp to Highway 401 west late Tuesday morning.

The driver, who has yet to be named, was taken to hospital as a precaution as crews worked for most of the day to clean up the mess.

“You can see the traffic that is coming southbound is very slow,” said OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt from the scene.

Schmidt said the trailer had food products, specifically salad dressing and mayonnaise inside of it.

“I am being told many hours, most of the afternoon until we get the vehicle upright,” Schmidt said.

#BTSleepWeek: Finding the perfect pillow

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Jul 7th, 2016

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Nothing starts the day off better than getting a good night’s sleep and it all starts with the right pillow. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the varieties of pillows available, chiropractor Stacy Irvine, shares her advice for choosing the perfect pillow.

Back Sleepers

Sleeping on your back is the best sleeping position to help the back rest comfortably. Many people find this is the only way they can sleep during a severe bout of back pain or while recovering from spine surgery.

When lying on the back, a pillow should support the natural curvature, or lordosis, of the cervical spine, with adequate support under the head, neck, and shoulders. Pillow height should be lower than for side sleepers. Placing another pillow or two beneath the knees further alleviates any back strain. The pillows tend to flatten the lumbar curve, easing the pressure on the facet joints in the back of the spinal column.

Look for a pillow with extra loft in the bottom third of the pillow to cradle the neck area.

Side Sleepers

A firmer pillow is needed to fill in the distance between the ear and outside shoulder. Ensure there is a 2-inch gusset if extra support is needed. For added comfort, look for side pillows with elongated corners that wrap around the shoulders.

When lying on one’s side, a pillow should support the head and neck so the spine maintains its straight and natural horizontal line. A thicker pillow is needed for sleeping on the side than sleeping on the back.

Bending the knees and placing another pillow between them helps keep the spine in a neutral position. When there is no support between the legs, the upper leg rotates downward, pulling the pelvis and distorting the natural line of the spine. A firm pillow between the knees usually prevents this downward rotation better than a softer pillow. Adding support between the knees can prevent back pain and allow the back to heal and rest better while sleeping.

Stomach Sleepers

Sleeping on the stomach is the most stressful position for the back and neck. Patients may be advised to avoid sleeping on the stomach if they have certain spine conditions, or following spine surgery. If sleeping or resting on the stomach is preferred, the pillow should be relatively flat, or the head should rest directly on the mattress, so the head and neck aren’t strained. In this position, it is often best to place another relatively flat pillow under the abdomen or pelvis to help the lower back keep its natural alignment.

Look for a very thin, almost flat pillow. A stomach sleeper may not even need a pillow, but consider tucking one under the stomach to avoid lower back pain.

Combination Sleepers

Individuals with varying sleep positions should look for a pillow that has higher areas for side sleeping and lower areas for back sleeping. A pillow with a mix of different fillers or a buckwheat hull pillow might be helpful. Using a single all-purpose pillow is likely to result in a pillow that is too high for sleeping on the back and too low for sleeping on the side.


 A variety of different pillows can be found from Bed Bath & Beyond.

 Mattress provided by www.casper.com

 MALM Bed courtesy of IKEA

Another weekend closure: Bike Share shuts down for upgrades

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Jun 17th, 2016


First a portion of Line 1 (Yonge-University-Spadina) shuts down this weekend in Toronto for TTC work. And now the city’s bike-sharing network is out of commission for three days.

But that’s not all. With a slew of road closures this weekend for events and ongoing construction work, and the St. Clair streetcar line shutting down starting Sunday, how is anyone supposed to get around the city? Walking seems like a good option, or borrow a bike, but really, just plan your route ahead, and give yourself lots of time.

With respect to Bike Share Toronto, the network will be shut down for three days, starting Friday, for hardware upgrades.

“We’re going to be switching the technology that powers the system in order to be able to add more bikes and more stations later this summer,”Bike Share Toronto stated online.

The bike sharing network has around 4,000 active users.

Prior to this weekend’s closure, Bike Share asked its members to ensure their mailing address was up-to-date online to ensure they receive new keys for the new system.

The new bike keys were expected to arrive last week. Once they received them, members were asked to log in to their account again to activate the new key and re-enter their billing information.

The new system is expected to be running the week of June 20.

Related stories:

Bike Share Toronto gets $4.9-million boost from Metrolinx

Bike Share Toronto network about to double in size

City will take over Bixi bike-share program

Bike Share has undergone some changes over the past couple of years.

In July 2015, Metrolinx partnered with the Toronto Parking Authority (TPA) and committed $4.9-million worth of bikes and docking stations to expand the network.The new bikes and docking stations will be in place by December 2016 and will be close to transit stations and densely-populated areas.

Then in April, the TPA announced it would buy 1,000 new bikes and 120 new stations from PBSC Urban Solutions, its new supplier of bikes and stations for the bike network. The move will double the number of bikes in the program.

Province investing $4.9M to expand Bike Share Toronto. Watch the video below or click here to view it

6 back pain myths, debunked

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Jun 8th, 2016


Back pain is a common condition that affects 85 per cent of people at some point in their lives. Back pain can be overwhelming and the symptoms are easily misunderstood. With this in mind, chiropractor Dr. Stacy Irvine debunks common myths about back pain and shares tips on how to get the proper help that you need.

Myth #1: This pain is so bad and so intense, I should probably head straight to the emergency room

This is where many people with sudden onset low back pain end up. The emergency room should not be a first stop unless you are experiencing a loss of sensation in the saddle area or loss of bowel or bladder control. The best first step is to find a good musculoskeletal expert to help you diagnose the cause of lower back pain.

Myth #2: I should go right back to bed and stay there until my pain goes away

Bed rest will not help alleviate your lower back pain, and in many cases will actually make it worse. Dr. Stacy Irvine says you should keep moving as long as you can tolerate it. A chiropractor can help you identify positions of relief to keep you moving.

Myth #3: I think I can “stretch” this pain away

Dr. Irvine warns against stretching until a thorough assessment has been performed. In some instances, certain stretches and positions can make things worse. A chiropractor can suggest the exercises that will be the most helpful and when to begin doing them to decrease the risk of aggravating the symptoms.

Myth #4: I definitely need a massage

Once again, it’s important to have a thorough assessment and get educated about the true cause of back pain before treating the symptoms. Massages can be helpful in some cases, but aggravating in others. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill that can work for every single case of back pain.

Myth #5: I need an X-ray, CT, MRI to figure out why I have back pain

Most of the causes of acute lower back pain will not show up on any of these images. It will be a waste of time and a waste of health care dollars to have these images done. A qualified health care provider is trained to know when extra imaging needs to be performed.

Myth #6: Once my back pain is gone, I no longer need to do my exercises

Once patients are no longer in pain, many stop performing helpful exercises that helped them recover. For the majority of cases, back pain can return as the body’s muscles go back to their de-conditioned state. It is extremely important to make healthy back care and strengthening a priority.


5 tips for landing the perfect summer job

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Jun 8th, 2016


With summer approaching, many students are searching for summer jobs, but landing that perfect opportunity can be tough. To help the job search, Dr. Karyn Gordon shares five tips that will ‘wow’ potential employers, and help students land a fantastic summer job.

1. Be punctual

Dr. Karyn Gordon says younger generations often show up just on time or even late for interviews, which is one of the greatest irritants for HR managers. This may be due to a generational difference, as the older generation will interpret being late as “a sign of disrespect”. For a better chance of getting hired, show up reasonably early for the interview.

2. Do your research

Whatever the job is, research the company before the interview. Dr. Karyn says many HR managers are shocked that many applicants do not properly research their company, haven’t visited their website, and don’t really understand their business before the interview. Spend some time researching the company, its history, and its values.

Ask questions like, who are they? What do they do? Who is their audience? What are the different areas within their business? How do you think you can add some value?

3. Wow them with your resume

Gone are the days of dull single page resumes on white paper. Applicants need to stand out among the large stack of other resumes – try adding some colour, a picture, and even graphs and charts to make a resume ‘pop’. Dr. Karyn recommends even performing a quick Google search for ‘creative resumes’ to gather ideas.

4. Be prepared

Learning to rehearse is a great habit. Be sure to practice out-loud what to say and how to say it, while also paying attention to body language, tone of voice and facial expressions. According to Dr. Karyn, the entire body needs to fully rehearse out-loud so that when its “show-time” muscle memory takes over in a stressful “no-time-to-think” situation.

5. Leave your parents in the car

Dr. Karyn says many HR managers experience parents getting involved in the hiring process either by calling or handing in resumes for a job on behalf of their children. HR managers want to see independence and confidence and to know the applicant is ready for the job and can handle the full responsibility. Parents should stay in the car and provide support only before and after the interview.

Understanding eating disorders for World Eating Disorders Action Day

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Jun 2nd, 2016


Organizations and activists representing 30 countries are uniting today for the inaugural World Eating Disorders Action Day. The goal of this day is to increase awareness, eradicate myths, and to advocate for more resources and policy changes to help those affected by eating disorders. 

Eating disorder statistics

Each year, nearly 500,000 people across Canada struggle with an eating disorder. Research suggests that as many as 600,000 to 900,000 Canadians meet diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder at any given time.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, with over 1,500 people per year affected. Although eating disorders affect both genders, approximately 80 per cent of individuals with eating disorders are girls or women.

Types of eating disorders

Anorexia nervosa – Distorted body image, restricting calories and starving.

Bulimia nervosa – Bingeing and purging, misuse of laxatives with related electrolyte imbalance and numerous other serious problems.

Binge eating disorder– Compulsive eating without purging. Accompanied by feelings of disgust, loss of control and distress.

Deborah Berlin-Romalis advises not to jump to conclusions while diagnosing an eating disorder, and to consult a resource such as Sheena’s Place. There are very few medical professionals that can properly diagnose, as the study of eating disorders is extremely underfunded.

DISCLAIMER: Always seek medical advise before diagnosing an eating disorder.

Possible signs to look out for

  1. Dramatic weight loss.
  2. Wearing big or baggy clothes, lots of layers hide body shape or weight loss.
  3. Obsession with nutrition facts, calories and fat content of foods.
  4. Obsession with continuous exercise.
  5. Continuous trips to the bathroom immediately following meals.
  6. Visible food restriction and self-starvation.
  7. Visible bingeing or purging.
  8. Use of diet pills, laxatives, ipecac syrup or enemas.
  9. Eating in isolation, or fear of eating around and with others.
  10. Unusual food rituals such as shifting food around on the plate, cutting food into tiny pieces, making sure the fork avoids contact with the lips, chewing food and spitting it out, but not swallowing.
  11. Visiting websites that promote unhealthy ways to lose weight.
  12. Hair loss.
  13. Pale or “grey” appearance to the skin.

Important food safety tips for summer

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, May 26th, 2016


Summer is approaching, which means grilling season is in full effect. Many will be heading out the patio and grilling chicken, steak or fish for family and friends. However, there are some precautions to take as handling raw meats increases the risk of foodborne illness.

Health Canada states that between 11 and 13 million people experience foodborne illness every year. Ensuring the safety of raw meats can be challenging, especially in the summer as warmer temperatures increase the chance of bacteria forming. Luckily, Rose Reisman has simple tips to keep in mind to lower your risk of foodborne illness this summer.


1) Have two different coolers on hand.
Keep raw meats and perishable foods like salads and vegetables separate by using two coolers.

2) Fill each cooler with ice packs.
The temperature inside the cooler should be at or below 4°C (40°F).  Remember food should be kept out of the temperature danger zone of 4°C to 60°C (40°F to 140°F) as harmful bacteria can grow in as little as two hours within this range.

3) Keep food stored in lock up containers.
Be wary of re-sealable freezer bags as they can leak and contaminate an entire cooler.


1) Check the temperature of cooked meats.
Bacteria that causes strands of food poisoning (E. coli, salmonella, campylobacterare killed by heat. To avoid foodborne illness, meat must be cooked to a safe internal temperature as colour alone is not a reliable indicator.

Ground meat: 165°F (74°C)
Fish: 145°F (63°C)
Poultry: 165F (74°C)
Pork: 145°F (63°C)

2) Marinate meats to reduce carcinogens from flames.
A marinated steak can cut carcinogens by up to 88 per cent. When meat has been marinated, it creates barrier from harmful chemicals produced by heat.


1) Wash your hands thoroughly.
Always wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after handling food. Be careful if using hand sanitizer or alcohol based wipes, as these contain flammable ingredients.

2) Use a clean plate when taking food off the grill.
Never put ready-to-eat or cooked food on a plate that was used for raw meat, poultry or seafood as this will cause cross contamination.

3) Keep several sets of clean utensils, cutting boards, and plates on hand.
Prevent cross-contamination by using utensils, cutting boards, and plates that are visually different.

Worst foods to leave out

– Ice cream or ice cream sandwiches
– Potato salad or egg salad
– Coleslaw
– Chocolate

Best foods to leave out

– Pasta salad or bean salad (that don’t contain  mayonnaise)
– Cheese and crackers
– Chips and dip
– Veggies and hummus

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