Tag: health

Board Committed To Concussion Safety

* Updated: Please see media release below. I am pleased to see the resulting information from our administration and the steps they are taking to ensure that no shortcuts are taken when it comes to student health. *

Building on District Priority #4 (Promote health and wellness for all students and staff) at our Tuesday, November 27th Board meeting I put forward an RFI (Request for Information) to the administration regarding concussions and compliance with best practices.

Request For Information: Please provide information on how EPSB teams are compliant with best practices regarding concussions in athletics.

The safety of our young athletes is an issue of considerable importance to our community. This is an issue I’ve been hearing about frequently from parents, but also from community members given the high-profile attention that many professional athletes are shining on this issue. My intention is to ensure that this information is shared with parents and community members and together with our athletic professionals, we can further support safe sport.
Does the board have the proper policies in place to support the health of our kids?
For now, this post is merely a placeholder. Once I have the response from administration I will update and amend this blog post with links and references to the relevant material.
A district parent sent me these resources and if you have other links, please let me know michael@michaeljanz.ca and I will share them:


January 16, 2013

Board committed to concussion safety

Yesterday, the Edmonton Public Schools Board of Trustees received a report on the District’s use of best practices to prevent and address concussions among student athletes.

Board policy outlines the expectation that district staff provide safe learning environments for all students taking part in interschool athletic activities. To maximize student safety, staff must follow the Safety Guidelines for Secondary Interschool Athletics in Alberta and must implement safe coaching practices for athletic activities.

In addition, at least one member of a team’s coaching staff must have taken the Alberta Schools Athletic Association’s Concussion in Sports – What You Need to Know online course. Most recently, in November 2012, schools were provided with a Return to Learn Post-concussion Protocol to guide district staff in supporting students who are recovering from a concussion.

“The Board places the highest possible value on ensuring student safety,” says Board Chair Sarah Hoffman. “The District is taking the necessary steps to minimize the likelihood of concussions and to take appropriate action if they do occur.”

The District’s Comprehensive School Health team will continue to review district practice and make any necessary adjustments required to support student safety on and off the sports field. More details on concussion safety at Edmonton Public Schools can be found in the full board report, which is posted on the district website at www.epsb.ca.

Ward F Pool Party 2012: Saturday October 6th, Scona Pool

I’m excited to announce our second annual back to school Ward F Pool Party!

1030-1230, Saturday October 6th. Scona Pool.

Click here to download the invitation: Oct6WardFPoolPartyInvite2012

Book Review: The Cure For Everything by Timothy Caulfield

Building on District Priority #4 (Promote health and wellness for all students and staff) and our Ward F&H gathering (Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities) I had a chance to sit down with Timothy Caulfield, a local Ward F resident, parent, lawyer, academic, and author of the book “The Cure for Everything” (available online or at your local bookstore: http://www.penguin.ca/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780670065233,00.html)
Tim has seemingly boundless energy and gets to do some really neat work on everything from yoga to genetics. I read his book recently and I quite enjoyed it. Unlike other diet books, TCFE is a narrative journey through a personal health and wellness journey with a collection of funny anecdotes, scientific findings, and interesting recommendations.
It’s not a gimmicky “lose weight through X-fad” book, but rather an important reflection on what it means to be healthy and an analysis of some of the misinformation and myths that sabotage good intentions. Without giving out too many spoilers, Caulfield has some surprising findings on the most effective exercises, tough diet advice, and challenges yoga, genetic testing, and various other wellness trends. It’s done so in a fun and accessible and the book made for a short read.
The book is targeted at an adult audience but many of the lessons are important for children and families. I wish I had read this book when I was in high school, especially the bits about the best exercise. Topics range from stories about the psychology of eating, how we make decisions, and how vulnerable we are to placebos and marketing manipulation.
Tim and I talked about the importance of wellness education in our schools.
One of the important points Tim raises in the book is we as a society need to recalibrate our relationships with eating. Many of us are overeating and have no conception of how many calories are in many of our portions, and the madison avenue forces of advertising and marketing have very effectively upsold more eating and more portion sizes to us. Do children know where food comes from? Are they exposed to what proper portions are? And can they share these lessons with their family?
His book reinforces the need for daily physical activity for our students and the importance of playing hard– vigorous exercise is where the most effective gains are.
Check out the book and the video above. I’d be interested to know your thoughts so please comment below!

To see all posts related to health click www.michaeljanz.ca/health

The Milk Revolution at Westglen School

Last night at our board meeting we had a fantastic visit from a couple of Westglen students, their teacher and their principal to share with the board a very special initiative called “The Milk Revolution” that is a fun, healthy, creative example of schools implementing the District Priorities right in the classroom.

Check it out: http://themilkrevolution.blogspot.com/

Check it out!

In April 2011, grade four students at Westglen School began The Milk Revolution in an attempt to educate others about the amount of sugar in chocolate milk and to encourage them to make healthier choices.


During a health lesson, students watched a clip from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and learned that a 250 ml carton of chocolate milk contains a 26 g of sugar. They decided to take action by educating others about healthier choices when it comes to drinking milk. This action took several forms, including The Milk Revolution Blog and three episodes of MooTV.


Westglen students have worked hard to spread their message. They involved other classes at their school and at neighbouring schools. They also shared their message with the Westglen Parent Association, Board Chair Dave Colburn and Assistant Superintendent Mark Liguori. Edmonton-based singer/songwriter, Kristilyn Roberston, wrote a song, “One Glass at a Time” in honour of The Milk Revolution. To date, The Milk Revolution blog has received over 27,000 hits from around the world. Jamie Oliver has been following along on Twitter, and included The Milk Revolution as a Blog of the Month on his Food Revolution website. By June 2011, students achieved their goal of reducing the amount of chocolate milk and increasing the amount of white milk consumed by students during the lunch hour by 60%.


The Milk Revolution project created by Westglen students is aligned with the Board Priority to promote health and wellness for all students and staff and with the District Plan as it pertains to enhancing quality teaching practices and supports for diverse learners. This project is just one example of how district teachers facilitate flexible, innovative and personalized approaches to learning.

The Milk Revolution demonstrates the potential of a Universal Design for Learning approach in creating more accessible, flexible and engaging activities that meet the needs of a broad range of learners.

• Throughout The Milk Revolution, students acquired and demonstrated skills in 21st century learning, including critical and creative problem solving, collaboration, communication, effective use of technology, and digital citizenship.

The Milk Revolution is an example of the leadership role students can take in promoting health and wellness for all students and staff. This student-driven project promoted healthy food and beverage choices, encouraged students, staff and parents to examine their nutrition practices, and provided opportunities, support and encouragement for staff and students to eat healthy foods.

Ward Gathering #4: You are Invited! Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities November 3rd

Ward Gathering #4: You are Invited! Please RSVP michael@michaeljanz.ca

Further information on Walk to School Week October 3-7th

This post contains information sent to me from SHAPE- Safe, Healthy, Active, People Everywhere! Happy Walking!

International Walk to School Week

Every year over 40 countries participate in walk to school events during International Walk to School Week (October 3 – 7, 2011).    SHAPE provides ideas, posters and participant stickers for participating schools.

The majority of adults surveyed walked to school.   They don’t always remember the details but do remember the fun, adventure and companionship they felt.  They walked with siblings, neighbors and often stopped to pick up friends along the way.

Today in Alberta over 50% of students are driven to school.  Parents drive them for convenience, unsafe drivers and traffic concerns.  The result is traffic congestion in and around schools, unsafe crossings and students getting less physical activity.

Parents said they would let their children walk/cycle to school if there were safer/improved routes, reduced traffic dangers and they were not alone.  This is where SHAPE can assist schools with School Travel Planning, Event Days, Walking School Busses or Walking Buddies.

For more info visit us online at www.shapeab.com

“Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities.” ‘NSTEP, and student health in the summer media

Do you know how many sugar cubes are in one “Big Gulp?”    Answer at the end of the post.

Did you hear about this kid? CJ is a 10 year old fitness guru.

Healthy schools, healthy communities…

When I think back to high school, I know I was in the best shape of my life, and I know the school environment played a significant role in reinforcing healthy living and healthy eating.

I’m pleased to say that wellness is one of our five district priorities #4: promote health and wellness for all students and staff.

Health and Wellness is a topic I hope to be writing more about over the next few months, especially as the subject of my next Ward Gathering will he “Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities.” (The last Ward Gathering was on attracting more families to our neighbourhoods. Click here to read the summary.)

Details are unfolding but this event will likely be in the south portion of our ward in November, and will be a joint gathering with Trustee Ripley who represents the neighbourhoods south of us. With so many events going on in the city, we want to make these gatherings as effective and efficient for all of our community and school leaders!

‘NSTEP: Nutrition, Students, Teachers Exercising with Parents

A few weeks ago I had the chance to take in a joint presentation to Alberta Health, Edmonton Public Schools and Edmonton Catholic Schools representatives from the N’STEP program. ‘NSTEP and other programs like it are simple, practical, and can not just improve the lives of students, but can also help bring healthy living home for the whole family!

To learn more about ‘Nstep, check out this video and their website:

Healthy Schools in the Media:

Considerable discussion has been happening in the letters section of the journal about childhood obesity.

Nationally, the student health issue has been attracting some concern and is seen by many as a proactive investment to keep our health care costs down.

Ontario report examines new and better ways to improve health care system while ensuring accessibility and affordability; urges government to expand or introduce mandatory nutrition and physical education programs for students in grades 1 to 12.

Also in the Globe & Mail:  Why aren’t our kids out playing?


Locally, check out these letters for two different points of view about the role of the school in the wellness of our community:



Got feedback? Please leave a comment below!

What do you think about the importance of health and wellness in our school system?

What partnerships do you think should be emphasized between Alberta Health Services and our school system?

How can our communities do more to support health and wellness?

What can we do to reclaim our public spaces and encourage citizens of all ages to just get out there and play?

– –

Oh and that Big Gulp? 53. 53 Cubes of Sugar. The good folks at  ‘Nstep taught me that. Yikes.

New District Priorities for Edmonton Public Schools

Thank you for your feedback on my thoughts about citizenship and Edmonton Public Schools. I was happy to support a new, clear, succinct Vision, Mission, and 5 key district priorities for the next three years.

This suite of priorities will now inform our budgetary decisions over few months as we have to make tough decisions regarding our disappointing 1% budget increase.


All students will learn to their full potential and develop the ability, passion and imagination to pursue their dreams and contribute to their community.


We work with families and community partners to provide safe, caring, healthy, diverse, inclusive and equitable learning experiences that engage students to achieve their full potential in an increasingly interdependent world.

District Priorities 2011-2014

  1. Provide supports and programs that will enable all students to complete high school.
  2. Deepen students’ understanding of equity and empathy as key citizenship traits.
  3. Ensure all students and their families are welcomed, respected, accepted and supported in every school.
  4. Promote health and wellness for all students and staff.
  5. Listen to staff, honour their contributions, and support their opportunities for collaboration, growth and professional development.

“What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?” Wi-fi in Edmonton Public Schools

***Update: The board reaffirmed our commitment to using health canada guidelines for wireless in Edmonton Public Schools during our January 25th Board Meeting***
Some of you might have tuned in to a recent Edmonton controversy surrounding a few parents at an EPSB school regarding the installation of wi-fi in the classrooms. We have received presentations from these parents at the last two meetings. I’m going to write briefly on the process and where we are at and then add a few concerns I have.
The process:
The EPSB district position has, and continues to be that Health Canada guidelines are the standard by which the district conducts their operations. There is a motion on the table from one of my trustee colleagues to reaffirm our commitment to those standards. All of our meetings are available by livestreaming online by clicking here: http://www.livestream.com/edmontonpublicschools
The fact that we are having this discussion shows that the system is working. If a community member, student, or teacher has a grievance with any practice or decision made, they are encouraged to take the matter forward through many of the different channels made available to them. In this case, and in many others, citizens are able to actively participate in the governance of our public education system. That is what happened in this circumstance. A group of parents were unable to find satisfaction at the school level and chose to pursue the channels available to them and that is why this issue has found itself in front of the board.
There has been considerable information provided by administration regarding our practices with regards to wi-fi and their confidence in the safety practices currently in place. As Health Canada, the Canadian Cancer Society, and other reputable organizations continue to peer review information, our district will continue to support the best health practices entrusted for our children, whether they be with pesticides, paint, microwaves, electronic devices, or wi-fi.
My concerns:
I’m concerned that the attention being paid in the media and the community to the wi-fi debate has become a kind of unintentional red herring, distracting the public, the board, and the district from some of the more pressing and more unhealthy challenges facing our students that stem from pollution, poor nutrition, auto-dependency, and the lack of density/walkability in our urban form. There is much more substantive research done of many other proven health warnings that we are not talking about as a board, and these concerns should be our primary focus.
When it comes to student health and cancer prevention, agencies like the Canadian Cancer society at www.cancer.ca show that if we are serious about preventing cancer and promoting wellness in our children and in our society, we need to focus on the proven and widespread causes of cancer, what I call the “big four”- obesity, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and continued exposure to smoking and tobacco products. Wi-Fi and electronic devices are not on their list at this time. Banning pollutants and pesticides is a pressing priority for the Canada’s premiere cancer prevention organization and I have an inquiry in to administration at this time on this issue.
As a society, I believe we all need to be concerned with student health and safety, potential carcinogens, and other negative variables in our schools that might be impacting citizens, especially our youngest and most vulnerable.  Strong consumer guidelines, independent consumer watchdogs, government regulators, especially those that pertain to food, health and water, are just a few of the ways we need to look out for one another.
Let’s stay vigilant, but let’s make sure we are focusing our efforts on the areas where we can make the most difference and where we have the science to back us up.
The district should be focusing on the health and wellness of all students, especially focusing on increasing exercise, improving student diets, and eliminating exposure to tobacco products. We should do our best to keep all students and staff members healthy, and minimize their exposure to harsh chemicals and cleaners. For many of these health improvements, the studies are conclusive, clear, and point to a clear path forwards. My preference is to direct our district resources and energy to focus on promoting student health and wellness by taking a bite out of these “big four” challenges.
As always, if the facts change, I’m open to changing my mind.
For more information:
Blog from a Neurologist at the Yale School of Medicine (h/t @stolenfire)
Edmonton Journal/CTV Story
Edmonton Public Administration response to Trustee Cleary’s questions regarding Wi-Fi safety:
And finally, a little REM because this song has been stuck in my head as I’ve been writing this post…