Patty Wellborn

Email: patty-wellborn@news.ok.ubc.ca


 

A UBC professor says the WHO exercise guidelines for people with disabilities miss the mark because they are not based on people who exercise mainly with their arms.

A UBC professor says the WHO exercise guidelines for people with disabilities miss the mark because they are not based on people who exercise mainly with their arms.

Physical activity guidelines for people living with disabilities miss the mark

A UBC researcher is calling out the World Health Organization’s newly introduced activity and sedentary guidelines for people living with disabilities.

Kathleen Martin Ginis is director of the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management and a professor with UBC’s Department of Medicine and UBC Okanagan’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences. She holds the Reichwald Family Chair in Preventive Medicine, is a researcher with the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries and works to help people living with spinal cord injury maintain a physically active lifestyle.

Martin Ginis discusses the WHO’s recently-announced global guidelines and how they missed the mark.

Much of your research focuses on physical activity guidelines for people living with disabilities. Can you explain why getting exercise is so important for this population?

People with disabilities are at just as much risk for inactivity-related chronic diseases (heart disease, Type 2 diabetes) as the general population, if not more so. We also know that physical activity is important for mental health. However, people with disabilities do far less activity than the general population because of the countless barriers to activity that they face in their daily lives.

You have recently written an article for the Human Kinetics Journal, questioning the World Health Organization’s new physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines for people living with disabilities. What did they get wrong?

I’ve got several concerns with these guidelines. My biggest is that the guidelines are based on scientific evidence derived from studies of people without disabilities. Admittedly, there are still relatively few good studies that have measured the role of physical activity in preventing chronic diseases and improving the health of people with diseases. But in the absence of those types of studies, the WHO decided to simply extrapolate the research evidence for the general population and apply it to people with disabilities.

The upshot is that the guidelines for people with disabilities are now exactly the same as for the general population—150 to 300 minutes each week of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity and strength-training twice per week. One problem with this is that people with certain types of physical impairments do not have the same physiological response to exercise as the general population. We don’t know if they will get the same benefits from the recommended guidelines as the general population.

Also, none of the guideline evidence is based on people who do their exercise with their arms (e.g., to push a wheelchair or use an arm-cycle). No studies have looked at the long-term effects of 150 to 300 minutes a week of arm exercise so we don’t know the benefits or the risks. Even for people with disabilities who would be expected to have the same physiological response to exercise as the general population (e.g., people with visual or cognitive impairments), we cannot simply assume that that amount of physical activity will mitigate the many other risks to well-being that people with disabilities constantly face, such as poverty, lack of access to health care and social isolation.

Your paper talks about the tremendous societal barriers to participation. Can you explain what some of these barriers might be?

There are so many! People with disabilities are often turned away from fitness centres and recreation facilities not just because those spaces are physically inaccessible, but because the people who work there have misconceptions or a complete lack of knowledge about how to support a person with a disability in a physical activity setting.

A lack of transportation is also a huge barrier—one of the most common. People with disabilities are mostly excluded from public health campaigns and advertisements promoting physical activity. There’s the old adage ‘’if you can see it, you can be it.” Unfortunately, people with disabilities don’t see themselves represented in physical activity settings as often as they should.

If people living with disabilities decide these guidelines are unrealistic and unachievable, do you think they will simply stop trying to be active?

Yes. That’s my concern. The studies that we do have on physical activity for people with disabilities suggest that they can achieve significant health and fitness benefits by doing much less than 150 minutes a week. For instance, people living with spinal cord injury can improve their cardiometabolic health by doing 90 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise each week.

Given the plethora of barriers to physical activity experienced by people with disabilities, and evidence of significant benefits from lower doses of physical activity, it does not make sense for the WHO to promote the general population’s guideline as being an appropriate guideline for people with disabilities. I understand the WHO had good intentions to be inclusive with this guideline, but my concern is that the guideline will actually put people off, and further exclude people with disabilities from physical activity.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

The Stronger Together project connects patients with expert resources, online counselling, daily health trackers and opportunities to build social connections with Canadians experiencing similar health circumstances.

The Stronger Together project connects patients with expert resources, online counselling, daily health trackers and opportunities to build social connections with Canadians experiencing similar health circumstances.

Free online health resources, coaching and peer-to-peer support

Researchers with the UBC Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management (CCDPM) have teamed up with digital health company Curatio to provide Canadians with virtual health support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Stronger Together project harnesses Curatio’s social networking health app to connect patients with expert resources, online counselling, daily health trackers and opportunities to build social connections with Canadians experiencing similar health circumstances.

“Patients are facing unique challenges accessing health care resources during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Kathleen Martin Ginis, director with the UBC Okanagan-based CCDPM. “We need to bridge these gaps and help patients build social connections that can improve their health and well-being.”

In addition to contributing expert content, CCDPM researchers will assist with program evaluation for the platform’s nine different public communities—which are cardiovascular health and well-being, disability and physical activity, stroke recovery, keeping mentally strong with multiple myeloma, respiratory health and well-being, prostate cancer, 4+2 diabetes reversal, plan to move your kids and parenting during COVID-19.

Curatio CEO Lynda Brown-Ganzert stresses the importance of helping patients stay healthy from their own home while also reducing the burden on an already-strained health care system.

“By providing daily virtual support to patients, we can help improve the lives of Canadians and support the important work of our dedicated health care professionals,” says Brown-Ganzert. “Current participants have already seen improvements in their health literacy and outcomes by using our private and secure platform, not to mention the enjoyment of making social connections with people going through the same thing.”

Individuals can register for free access at www.curatio.me/strongertogether. By joining the platform, participants will assist researchers in learning how to best offer virtual health support and contribute to Curatio’s program development.

“We are thrilled to offer this new online resource that will contribute to the health of Canadians and the health care system as a whole,” adds Martin Ginis.

The Stronger Together project is supported by an investment from the Digital Technology Supercluster which brings together private and public sector organizations of all sizes to address challenges facing Canada’s economic sectors including health care, natural resources, manufacturing and transportation.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Study examines the benefits of virtual stroke rehabilitation programs

Efficacy and cost prove similar to traditional face-to-face management

While virtual medical and rehabilitation appointments seemed novel when COVID-19 first appeared, they now seem to be part of the new norm and might be paving the way to the future.

A recent review paper, co-authored by Brodie Sakakibara with the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management (CCDPM) has determined that virtual appointments, in the form of telerehabilitation, also work for people recovering from a stroke.

After a stroke, a client is provided with a therapy program to help re-gain loss of skills or motion—this can range from speech and memory, strength, balance and endurance. While not initially introduced for disease outbreaks, Sakakibara a UBCO assistant professor says research shows remote therapy can be effective during stroke recovery.

“Telerehabilitation has been promoted as a more efficient means of delivering rehabilitation services to stroke patients while also providing care options to those unable to attend conventional therapy,” says paper co-author Sakakibara. “These services can be provided to remote locations through information and communication technologies and can be accessed by patients in their homes.”

To learn how effective telerehabilitation can be, six different clinical trials—examining stroke telerehabilitation programs—were launched across Canada as part of a Heart and Stroke Foundation initiative. People recovering from a stroke were provided with interventions ranging from lifestyle coaching to memory, speech skills and physical-exercise training.

“Researchers from each of the six trials came together to write a review paper describing their experiences conducting a telerehabilitation study, and to report on the facilitators and barriers to the implementation of telerehab services within a research context,” says Sakakibara.

Going forward with telerehabilitation as a new reality, Sakakibara says the study authors determined there are important lessons learned from each of the six trials. Most notably, the efficacy and cost of telerehabilitation is similar to that of traditional face-to-face management. He also notes patients mostly reported satisfaction with the telerehabilitation when therapists were trained appropriately, and when there was some social interaction. Overall, clinicians prefer face-to-face interactions but will use telerehabilitation when face-to-face is not feasible.

And finally, since seniors are a key target group for stroke rehabilitation—as stroke is associated with aging—the technology needs to be easy to use and suit the needs of the end users.

“The older adult of today, in terms of technology comfort and use, is different than the older adult of tomorrow,” he says. “While there might be some hesitation of current older adults using technology to receive health and rehab services, the older adult of tomorrow likely is very comfortable using technology. This represents a large opportunity to develop and establish the telehealth/rehabilitation model of care.”

Sakakibara notes COVID-19 has amplified the necessity for telehealth and telerehabilitation for many Canadians—especially those in remote areas or for the estimated 70 per cent of stroke victims who are no longer able to drive.

“Prior to the outbreak, telehealth/rehabilitation was highly recommended in Canadian stroke professional guidelines, but was underused,” he says. “Now in response to COVID-19, the use of telerehabilitation has been accelerated to the forefront. Once these programs are implemented in practice, it’ll be part of the norm, even when the outbreak is over. It is important that we develop and study telerehabilitation programs to ensure the programs are effective and benefit the patients.”

The review paper, partially funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, was prepared by a team of researchers from across Canada. It was published recently in Telemedicine and e-Health.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

With gyms, recreation centres and sports programs closed due to COVID-19, people living with disabilities are looking for creative ways to stay active at home.

With gyms, recreation centres and sports programs closed due to COVID-19, people living with disabilities are looking for creative ways to stay active at home.

UBCO, Queen’s University, offer virtual, at-home physical activity program

For many people, staying active during COVID-19 isolation can be a struggle. More so for people living with disabilities, says UBC Okanagan’s Kathleen Martin Ginis.

Martin Ginis is a professor in UBCO’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences and director of the UBC Faculty of Medicine Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management. She’s also the director of the Canadian Disability Participation Project (CDPP)—a group that has revived a service called Get in Motion to support people with disabilities get regular physical activity.

Get in Motion was a phone-in coaching service led by Martin Ginis’s lab, but put on hold a few years ago. Now, with people self-isolating, there is a push from public health authorities for people to get a daily dose of physical activity. However, Martin Ginis and her colleagues from Queen’s University, Amy Latimer-Cheung and Jennifer Tomasone, say Canadians with disabilities have fewer options than others to get exercise.

“People with a disability are at increased risk for social isolation under ‘usual’ circumstances, but especially so during the COVID outbreak,” says Martin Ginis. “They also face unique barriers and challenges to physical activity. With the closure of adapted physical activity and recreation programs, we are very concerned about the health and well-being of Canadians with disabilities. We are offering the Get in Motion service as a way to manage some of the psychosocial and physical health risks of being inactive at home.”

Martin Ginis explains that adapted sport and exercise programs were closed across the country because of COVID-19.

“We had been talking to our community partners who were closing their programs and we were all feeling upset about the impact these closures will have on community members with disabilities,” she says. “We were all thinking ‘I wish we still had Get in Motion’ and then Amy Latimer-Cheung started the ball rolling—and got the service back up and running.”

Based virtually out of Latimer-Cheung and Tomasone’s lab at Queen’s, Get in Motion is available for all Canadians with physical disabilities, as well as for Special Olympics athletes. Participants can connect with a volunteer physical activity coach via phone or online conferencing. The volunteer then guides that person through an at-home physical activity program.

The CDPP is based out of UBC Okanagan and Martin Ginis has several students actively counselling Get in Motion participants while others are being trained.

Get in Motion volunteer Sarah Lawrason is a second-year doctoral student who studies physical activity participation among people with spinal cord injuries who walk. She was matched with someone who fits into her research population.

“My client lost access to her regular physiotherapy when COVID-19 happened. We talk once a week about her exercise goals,” says Lawrason. “She appreciates the accountability of checking in and setting a goal each week and she's enjoyed the resources I've sent her that have similar exercises to her normal routine.”

Lawrason notes, however, this is definitely a two-way relationship where both the coach and the client are benefitting.

“Initially, I was really excited to start coaching as it aligns with my own research,” she says. “But I also really look forward to my calls each week because it's a new friendly person to talk to when I'm feeling isolated.”

The CDPP has documented data about the benefits of sport and exercise participation for Canadians with disabilities including improved health, well-being and overall life satisfaction.

“Our research has shown that a sense of belonging is key to people with disabilities experiencing ‘full and effective participation’ in sport and exercise,” says Martin Ginis. “With Get in Motion, we are striving to provide that sense of belonging through phone calls with trained volunteers who have experience with adapted sport and exercise. Because the belongingness piece is removed if you are doing this all alone.”

For more information about the Get in Motion, or to enrol in the program, visit: cdpp.ca/get-involved

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

UBC Okanagan’s Sharon Hanna, Mathew Vis-Dunbar and Jason Pither announced this week UBC is the first Canadian university to sign on to the Center for Open Science’s online platform, OSF Institutions.

UBC Okanagan’s Sharon Hanna, Mathew Vis-Dunbar and Jason Pither announced this week UBC is the first Canadian university to sign on to the Center for Open Science’s online platform, OSF Institutions.

New service aims to make transparency, collaboration, and reproducibility easier than ever

With increasing interest in promoting transparency, collaboration, and reproducibility in academic research, the University of British Columbia announced today that it has become the first Canadian post-secondary institution to join the Center for Open Science’s online platform, Open Science Framework Institutions (OSFI).

OSFI is a highly flexible collaboration and research management tool that encourages best practices in project organization and reproducibility.

Mathew Vis-Dunbar is a librarian for the Southern Medical Program, biology and human kinetics at UBC Okanagan and has been leading UBC’s adoption of the system. He says the university’s embrace of open science is important for bringing greater transparency to academic research and for helping to maintain public trust in science.

“With recent concerns about a reproducibility crisis plaguing scientific research, the benefits of open science, where everything from research plans to the data and results of a study is posted for all to review and scrutinize, are well recognized,” says Vis-Dunbar. “Breaking down traditional barriers to collaborative research is also very effective at improving the quality and impact of research, making connections and accelerating the pace of scientific discovery.”

That is where OSFI comes in, says Jason Pither, associate professor of biology at UBC Okanagan and collaborator on the project.

“We all strive to publish ground-breaking research, but equally important is ensuring that our work is reproducible, and discoverable to all who wish to see it,” says Pither. “OSFI facilitates this. It is a free online platform that helps researchers organize their research projects and workflow, to keep track of all changes made along the way, and to store and share protocols and outputs.

Pither adds that it also integrates with many tools that researchers are already using, and makes large international collaborations easy.

“OSFI accommodates all aspects of the work that goes into research, such as storing data and making them accessible and discoverable,” he says. “And unlike other platforms, OSFI provides storage infrastructure that resides in Canada.”

“Our membership in OSFI will help UBC researchers lead Canada’s efforts towards greater transparency and rigour in academic research, and it’s a move I expect many other institutions to follow.”

To find out more about the initiative at UBC behind OSFI, visit:  openscience.ubc.ca/about

To find out more about the Center for Open Science and the OSFI platform, visit: cos.io

Ariel Smith, a second-year medical student, recently launched Okanagan Naloxone Training and provides free workshops on how to deal with an opioid overdose.

Ariel Smith, a second-year medical student, recently launched Okanagan Naloxone Training and provides free workshops on how to deal with an opioid overdose.

Medical student hosts opioid overdose prevention workshop

What: Free naloxone training and education workshop
Who: Southern Medical Program student, volunteers with Okanagan Naloxone Training
When: Monday, November 25 at 6 p.m.
Where: UBC Okanagan, room RHS 260, Reichwald Health Sciences Centre, 1088 Discovery Ave., Kelowna

Ariel Smith, a Southern Medical Program student at UBC Okanagan has seen first-hand the impacts of the opioid overdose crisis on Okanagan communities.

During the height of BC’s public health emergency in 2016, Smith volunteered as part of the naloxone training team with Helping Out People Exploited (HOPE) Outreach—an organization that supports homeless and exploited women in downtown Kelowna and Vernon.

For a year and a half, Smith visited homeless shelters and downtown locations. There, using naloxone kits, she trained some of the most vulnerable populations how to prevent opioid overdoses and save lives. Naloxone, if used promptly, can reverse the effects of an overdose from narcotics such as fentanyl or OxyContin.

While volunteers made great strides in education and training in the downtown cores, Smith quickly realized the general public was still largely unaware of the risk factors and how they could potentially help in an emergency.

“Through conversations with family and friends, I recognized a huge knowledge gap still existed in our community,” says Smith. “Especially, considering the majority of opioid overdose deaths in BC happen to people living inside a private residence.”

Now in her second year of studies at UBCO, Smith recently launched Okanagan Naloxone Training as part of the Faculty of Medicine’s FLEX (flexible and enhanced learning) course.

In partnership with HOPE Outreach, Smith offers free naloxone training sessions to people, businesses and volunteer organizations in the Okanagan.

“There is still a large stigma associated with opioids and naloxone training,” says Smith. “In our workshops, we create a safe learning environment for people to ask questions, learn to recognize the signs of an overdose and practice with real equipment.”

Smith is organizing an event at UBCO on November 25. Each participant receives hands-on training, a certificate of completion and a free naloxone kit. This event is free and open to the public. To register, email: hello@oknaloxone.ca

For more information about Okanagan Naloxone Training, visit: oknaloxone.ca

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Alexander (Sandy) Wright graduates this week as the first UBC medical student to complete their MD/PhD at one of the Faculty of Medicine’s distributed medical programs.

Alexander (Sandy) Wright graduates this week as the first UBC medical student to complete their MD/PhD at one of the Faculty of Medicine’s distributed medical programs.

UBC student earns medical degree and PhD at the same time

Alexander (Sandy) Wright, a newly graduated doctor from the Southern Medical Program (SMP), has seen his share of ‘firsts’ while attending UBC.

Wright was one of the first 32 students admitted as part of the SMP’s inaugural class—a group that began their studies at UBC Okanagan in January 2012.

“Showing up in Kelowna as part of the first class—the faculty, staff and community embraced us whole-heartedly,” says Wright. “It has been a real privilege to participate in the new program. The opportunities and experiences provided to us were unparalleled.”

It was during his first year of medical school that Wright’s passion and background in research led him to pursue enrolment with the Faculty of Medicine’s combined MD/PhD program. The seven-year intensive program offers students the opportunity to combine their medical education with demanding scientific training.

Wright graduates this week as the first UBC medical student to complete their MD/PhD at one of the Faculty of Medicine’s distributed medical programs.

For his PhD work, Wright teamed up with School of Health and Exercise Sciences Professor Paul van Donkelaar. Together the pair explored the effects of sports-related concussions on various aspects of brain physiology, including control of brain blood flow. Wright worked extensively with UBC Okanagan's Heat Athletics program and local junior athletic teams for data collection. Their work has shaped the latest international guidelines for concussion management.

Coincidentally, it was while studying concussions that Wright suffered a severe concussion playing in a recreational hockey game in Kelowna. His post-concussion symptoms sidelined him from his research and studies for nearly seven months.

Ultimately, he views the experience of this injury as a pivotal learning experience for both his research and his future medical career.

“Going through such a complicated recovery process not only gave me new perspectives into post-concussion syndrome, but also a better understanding of mental health in general,” says Wright. “My physical symptoms eventually settled, but the emotional symptoms took much longer to subside. Having this experience has genuinely helped me better understand and communicate with my patients and contribute to research.”

After nearly eight years in Kelowna, the newly minted doctor now heads off to Saskatoon and the University of Saskatchewan for residency training in ophthalmology. He heads to the Land of the Living Skies with his wife and two young daughters for the next five years—parenthood was another first during his time at UBC.

“Ophthalmology is such a beautiful intersection between medicine and surgery,” says Wright. “Amongst other things, the eye-based manifestations of systemic disease and nuances of the eye-brain axis provide great intellectual stimulation, while the procedures are delicate and precise. Above all, I look forward to the immense impact we can have on patients’ quality of life. The discipline is the perfect blend of all facets of my personality and interests.”

Similar to what drew him to the smaller class size at the SMP, Wright joins the Saskatchewan program that welcomes only one new ophthalmology resident each year.

“There will be no shortage of hands-on opportunities,” says Wright. “Ultimately, there is no substitute for experience in learning how to be excellent at your craft.”

As for his long-term plans, a return to Kelowna might be in the future.

“I like to set goalposts off in the distance at 10-to 20-year intervals and aim towards them,” adds Wright. “A lot can change over the next five-to-seven years of training, but I would really value the opportunity to return to the Okanagan to practice and to contribute to medical education at the SMP.”

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca.

Students at Revelstoke Secondary School learn about the field of midwifery during the 2018 roadshow.

Students at Revelstoke Secondary School learn about the field of midwifery during the 2018 roadshow.

Students in nursing, medicine, pharmacy, dental hygiene talk about career options

With a focus on inspiring the next generation of healthcare professionals, the Healthcare Travelling Roadshow is visiting rural communities across BC and the Yukon.

Each spring, the roadshow brings together a multidisciplinary group of healthcare students from post-secondary institutions from across BC to showcase their careers to rural high school students. Led by UBC medical students with the Island, Southern and Northern Medical Programs, the roadshow visits the following communities later this month:

  • Kootenay Roadshow (Cranbrook, Invermere, Golden) – May 5 to 11
  • Island Roadshow (Port Hardy, Port McNeill) – May 5 to 11
  • Northern Roadshow (Chetwynd, Mackenzie, Vanderhoof, Fort St. James) – May 12 to 18
  • Yukon Roadshow (Whitehorse, Dawson City, Atlin) – May 26 to June 1

At each high school visit, post-secondary students representing medicine, nursing, physical therapy, midwifery, pharmacy, dental hygiene, respiratory therapy and cardiology technology will present hands-on demonstrations and answer questions about their chosen careers.

The roadshow is a provincial initiative with trips taking place annually across the province. This year marks the introduction of a Vancouver Island-based trip.

“The Healthcare Travelling Roadshow was born at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) a decade ago. It has grown from a small pilot project into a significant provincial initiative to address the rural healthcare workforce,” says Dr. Sean Maurice, senior lab instructor with UNBC’s Northern Medical Program.

“The Roadshow team collaborates broadly with many different provincial partners to run this innovative project. This year, we are for the first time running four different week-long trips, involving 50 healthcare students visiting over 2,000 youth in numerous rural communities. We strive to put healthcare careers into the minds of rural youth, and put rural practice into the minds of healthcare students.”

To learn more, visit: www.unbc.ca/healthcare-travelling-roadshow.

Background

  • The Healthcare Travelling Roadshow was conceived at UNBC as a grassroots initiative to address rural healthcare workforce shortages. The provincial initiative has grown to include four regional trips. Since its inception in 2010, the roadshow has connected with more than 8,500 high school students in 43 communities throughout BC.
  • The Healthcare Travelling Roadshow is delivered in partnership with the UNBC, UBC Faculty of Medicine, Northern Medical Programs Trust, Rural Education Action Plan, Interior Health Authority, and Vancouver Island Health Authority.
UBC medical student Maegan Stuart.

UBC medical student Maegan Stuart.

UBC medical student helps address food security in Kimberley

A UBC medical student has helped tackle the problem of food security in a rural BC town.

Access to healthy foods is a common challenge for vulnerable populations in small communities like Kimberley, explains Dr. Ilona Hale, clinical assistant professor with the Southern Medical Program (SMP).

Hale, who is also chair of the Healthy Kimberley Society, says people often rely on food banks and other community programs to subsidize their household needs. But food options at those places can be limited. Food banks in smaller communities typically need to balance limited financial resources with a lack of commercial-scale refrigerated space to house fresh produce, she explains.

“Most food bank items are non-perishable, canned and dry foods,” says Hale. “Certain groups don’t have the financial means to regularly access healthy, fresh foods.”

This past spring, SMP student Maegan Stuart reached out to Hale to see how she could help address this problem as part of her training to become a doctor.

“A substantial amount of food thrown out at grocery stores is fresh fruit and vegetables that don’t look nice,” says Stuart. “The idea of a food rescue project is to divert perfectly-edible food from the landfill to programs that feed the community.”

At the time, Stuart was in Kimberley consulting with potential user groups including the food bank, school lunch programs, churches and seniors’ organizations. Following a similar model of food recovery projects in other small communities in BC and the United Kingdom, Stuart helped kick-start the process of securing suitable storage space, coordinating refrigeration equipment and recruiting volunteers. The final stop was the local Save-On-Foods grocery store where the local manager eagerly offered to donate all of their excess produce, dairy and other perishables.

“Liability is the most commonly cited reason for grocery stores declining to participate,” says Stuart. “Fortunately, the Food Donor Encouragement Act in BC protects companies from product liability when donating food. Once we explained how they are protected and could potentially save thousands of dollars in disposal costs, they were fully on board.”

At the end of August, the Healthy Kimberley Society secured a $95,000 grant from the Columbia Basin Trust to hire a part-time coordinator and launch the project in the fall.

“Maegan worked really hard to pull all the necessary stakeholders together and build a successful business case,” adds Hale. “Although we have been thinking about this kind of project for some time, Maegan’s work really helped us get it going.”

Now into her third year of medical school, Stuart is currently training at Kelowna General Hospital.

“I have a strong interest in preventative medicine and supporting long-lasting change,” says Stuart. “This project will help improve lives on a long-term basis and that means everything to me.”

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world. For more visit ok.ubc.ca.

Experts have created an evidence-based tool that can help coaches be sure they are offering quality programs to parasport athletes. Photo credit: Canadian Paralympic Committee

Experts have created an evidence-based tool that can help coaches be sure they are offering quality programs to parasport athletes. Photo credit: Canadian Paralympic Committee

Quality, not just quantity, important for building parasport programs

While blueprints are essential for any construction project, a team of researchers—working hand in hand with the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC)—say a clear blueprint is vital when it comes to establishing sporting programs including people with disabilities.

University of British Columbia researcher Kathleen Martin Ginis, along with a team of scientists from several universities and disability sport leaders from across North America, has been examining the quality of sport-related activities for people with disabilities.

The opportunity for someone with a disability to participate in an organized sport continues to grow each year in Canada, says Martin Ginis, who runs the Canadian Disability Participation Project (CDPP) from UBC’s Okanagan campus. However, she says, not all programs are created equal.

“While it is important to support sporting organizations in their quest to offer people with disabilities opportunities to participate in sport, it may also be time to start looking at the quality of these opportunities,” says Martin Ginis.

Research has proven that it’s vital for people with disabilities to be active, says fellow researcher Amy Latimer-Cheung, a Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity Promotion and Disability at Queen’s University.

“Sport is proven to promote physical activity among individuals with disabilities and has the potential to empower people, create a sense of community and redefine personal identities.”

To increase the likelihood of realizing these benefits, the quality of parasport is now being addressed.

“Quality experience should stand at the core of all sport,” explains Latimer-Cheung. “Participants should feel that they belong and have a choice. They should feel challenged, successful and focused. At the same time, they should find their activities meaningful.”

The research team suggests that positive experiences like these will help people stick with sport and achieve a range of personal and performance benefits. Further effects of more people active in sport also include a stronger system across Canada to develop more high-performance athletes.

Along these lines, the team has introduced an evidence-informed tool called the Blueprint for Building Quality Participation in Sport for Children, Youth, and Adults with a Disability that can help sport organizations determine if they are offering quality opportunities.

The blueprint uses up-to-date research to provide tools for building quality participation in sport programs specifically for people with a disability.

“Sport administrators, coaches and policy-makers who focus on sport for people with a disability must make quality of their programs a priority,” says Martin Ginis. “They now have an evidence-informed tool to help them in their quest.”

CPC’s CEO Karen O’Neill says the organization, alongside its sport partners, will look for the best ways to incorporate the blueprint to advance the quality of opportunities available for all para-athletes.

“This is important work and we applaud and support Kathleen Martin Ginis and the entire team of researchers for their efforts in improving parasport development,” O’Neill adds. “We know the incredible positive impact sport participation can have on the lives of people with disabilities. Offering quality experiences increases the chance of creating both lifelong and high-performance athletes, which ultimately supports the development of a strong and sustainable Paralympic sport system in Canada.”

The research introduces the Quality Parasport Participation Framework, which centres on six experiential elements that act as the ‘building blocks’ of quality parasport experiences. Under those building blocks, the team identified 25 conditions covering issues like physical environments, social environments, and activities that promote quality experiences. The ultimate goal is to provide the best experience for all involved.

“Our research, and the accompanying blueprint, emphasize that a multi-pronged approach is required to ensure a quality experience for all participants,” adds Martin Ginis.

This research, partially funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Disability Participation Project, was recently published in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise.

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