Thursday, June 15, 2006

Sexual Health Resources for People with Disabilities

People with disabilities often have a hard time finding sexual health information because of myths and discrimination surrounding their sexuality. Some of the myths about people with disabilities, as identified by the Canadian Health Network, are:

  • People with disabilities don’t have any sexual needs or feelings at all
  • People with physical disabilities aren’t capable of having sex
  • People with developmental disabilities can’t understand their sexual feelings and don’t need sexual health information
  • People with developmental disabilities have a higher sex drive than people without disabilities and need to be controlled
  • Nobody would be attracted to a person with a disability

These myths are prevalent in our society and believed by many caregivers. Caregivers, whether they are parents, siblings, social workers or doctors, often act as information gatekeepers – deciding what information a person with a disability should have based on their discriminatory ideas about the sexuality of people with disabilities. As a result, people with disabilities have a much harder time getting sexuality education and good sexual health information.

The AIDS and Disability Action Program (ADAP) at the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities offers sexual health resources designed specifically for people with disabilities. We have five information booklets on sexual health available free of charge:

  • Know About HIV and AIDS
  • Know About Safer Sex
  • Know About Condoms
  • Know About Seniors and HIV
  • Know About Communicating with your Doctor

ADAP also sells Condom Educator Kits for $15. Included in the Condom Educator Kits are two instructor’s guides – one for HIV/AIDS prevention for people with disabilities and one for people with developmental disabilities, a wooden demonstrator, condoms, lube and the five information booklets listed above.

If you are interested in any of these resources please contact Claire at 604-875-0188 or toll free at 1-877-232-7400. You can also email her at

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Fostering a dog

Did you read the last post? Are you interested in becoming more active, but not sure you want the responsibility of a dog? Maybe you should become a foster parent to a dog. This means that you would provide a temporary home for a dog until a permanent home is found. The City of Vancouver Animal Shelter has a foster program and is always looking for new members.

There are lots of benefits to fostering a dog besides increasing your activity level:

  • animals that have endured hardship and could really use a loving home where they can get used to living with people again while waiting to find a permanent home
  • provides a great lesson in compassion, nurturing, and generosity to children in a home

What type of dog needs a foster home?

  • older dogs
  • dogs with health problems
  • mothers and puppies (Fostering a litter of puppies a great way for your family to experience raising baby animals without adding to the pet overpopulation problems)
  • dogs with behavioral problems or unaccustomed to living indoors
  • any dog who has been at the shelter for more than three months.

My family adopted an older dog and had a great experience. Older dogs need homes and are usually somewhat trained when they join your family - which makes the whole process of getting a dog easier on everyone! I think they also make more loyal and loving pets because they appreciate a good home.

If you are interested in joining the Vancouver foster program please call the shelter at 604-871-6888 (MUTT) or visit the Animal Shelter's website

If you live outside of Vancouver and are interested in fostering please email Claire at or call 1-877-232-7400 and I’ll help you find a foster program in your area.

Dog Ownership and Regular Walking

The Alberta Centre for Active Living recently reported on a study that examined the relationship between dog ownership and regular walking. The purpose of this University of Victoria study was to find out whether a sense of responsibility for the health and well being of the dog is the cause of the relationship between physical activity and dog ownership.

The results of their studied revealed:
· dog owners spend more time walking than non-dog owners
dog owners walked on average 300 minutes per week
· non-dog owners average 168 minutes of walking per week
· dog owners were also more likely to engage in mild or moderate activity than non-dog owners.

What conclusions should be drawn from this? Are dogs the newest exercise fad? The study showed that dog owners who feel a sense of responsibility or obligation for the health and well being of their dog are more likely to walk more. About 25% of dog owners were found to be not walking their dogs! The study’s results suggest that a caring relationship between the owner and the dog was the most important factor that led to increased exercise.

For more information on this study please visit the Alberta Centre for Active Living

Make your grocery shopping more efficient

By Rose Reisman

(NC)—For some shopping is a pleasure, for others it's a chore. Whichever it is for you, when you have a family, grocery shopping is a necessity.

I enjoy grocery shopping and I like to take my time picking the best-looking fruits and vegetables, scanning all the new product offerings and reading labels. The problem is, most of us don't have the time to enjoy the experience. Here are a few tips for grocery shopping that I developed as the national spokesperson for Balanced Living for McCain Foods.

• Make a good grocery list and stick to it, carefully crossing out items that are added to the cart. The best list is based on a weekly meal plan and meal planning is an important tool in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

• Keep the list in a handy spot like the fridge door. Jot down things when you're using them up.

• Start shopping from the outside aisles where you usually find the fresh fruits and vegetables – I call it the healthiest section of the store and starting there puts me in the right frame of mind to complete my purchases.

• In recent years food labels have changed significantly. Take a bit of time and become familiar with the labels. Being knowledgeable about labels will allow you to make better decisions in the grocery store. A good source of information about labels can be found at www.healthyeating

• Did you know that some words commonly used on labels such as "light" or "lite" can mean different things to different shoppers? The term "light" means that the food contains one-third fewer calories or half the fat of the regular product. "Lite," on the other hand, is often used to describe the product – light in taste, color or texture.

Try doing your label reading at off-peak times. Many supermarkets are open late so this may be an option that works for you. The shopping aisles are not as congested then and you'll feel more comfortable pushing your cart to the side to review labels more completely. If possible, avoid shopping on weekends or the day before a holiday because it's a lot easier to get help from a store attendant when you are one of only a few customers.

Finally, try to always shop at the same supermarket. Familiarity with the layout of the store means quicker and easier shopping! More information is available online at or www.

Rose Reisman, one of Canada's best selling authors and nutrition consultants, is the national spokesperson for Balanced Living on behalf of McCain Foods. This is the last in a series of four articles on how to achieve the Balance of Living Well in today's busy world.

- News Canada

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Good Health Tips: Fight afternoon slump

By J.C. Carroll

(NC)—Do you seem to run out of energy at the same time every afternoon? Feeling tired and lethargic is the price we pay for a jam-packed lifestyle, but mid-afternoon is a bit too early to come to a dead stop. There are solutions to this, say health consultants. With a little know-how, we can quickly feel more refreshed, alert and focused. Here's how:

• Take a walk or get some form of activity during your lunch break.

• Drink more water. Dehydration can often leave you feeling sluggish.

• Choose lunch options wisely. High-fat or high-carbohydrate meals may leave you feeling sleepy.

• Plan for a snack. Low blood sugar often contributes to lack of energy and difficulty concentrating. Choose a snack however, that is not high in sugar.

• Get some fresh air. Try to go outside for a few minutes in the natural sunlight.

• An aromatherapy mist, with fragrances like rosemary or clove, goes a long way to invigorate the senses.

- News Canada

Understanding Brain Stroke and Injury: A workshop for family and friends

GF Strong Rehab Centre, 4255 Laurel St. Van

When: June 24th, 2006 - 9:00 a.m. to Noon - in the Board Room

Facilitators: Karen McCombie and Jennifer Wonders

Still need more info? Contact Jennifer @604-737-6221.

Queer Summer Camp

Gab Youth Services is organizing a Queer Summer Camp for youth 25 and under. This year the invitation is being extended not only to Gab youth, but to any Queer or Straight Allied youth who would like to attend. This will be a free camp, but space will be limited to 25 youth due to funding.

The tentative location is Zajac Ranch which is on Stave Lake just north of Mission on August 26th till the 28th.

Feel free to visit or the Gab Youth web page

Gab is looking for 8 committed youth 25 and under who would be interested in being part of a planning committee as well as becoming youth leaders at the camp.

If you are interested in planning the camp, can attend the camp on August 26th – 28th and able to commit to weekly or bi-weekly meeting please email for an application form.


Friday, June 02, 2006

LGTB Health Matters – New resource launched!

LGTB (Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered and Bisexual) Health Matters, An Education and Training Resource for Health and Social Service Sector was developed to increase access to health and social services for LGTB people in BC and across Canada. It was developed by The Centre in partnership with the Canadian Rainbow Health Coalition as one of eight partnership projects that took place in different communities across the country in 2004-2005.

LGTB individuals continue to experience homophobia and transphobia in accessing health and social services. Many LGTB people also experience a lower health status than the general population. LGTB individuals indicate that they do not feel comfortable coming out to their primary health care providers who often have received little or no training on the unique health issues they face. They believe that they would not receive the best care if the service provider was uncomfortable with their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

“Access to culturally relevant health and social services for LGTB individuals is a matter of equity and reflects the equality that all Canadians are guaranteed under the Charter” says Gens Hellquist, Executive Director of the Canadian Rainbow Health Coalition.

For more information or to obtain a copy contact The Centre at or 604-684-6548. Available in coil bound hard copy or in PDF at

Got a question about asthma?

(NC) — When a child is diagnosed with asthma, it can raise a lot of questions and concerns for parents. For this reason, The Lung Association and the Division of Respiratory Medicine at The Hospital Children (SickKids) are pleased to present, Questions and Answers about Asthma - a parents handbook of information.

The book is free of charge and available by calling The Lung Association's Asthma Action Helpline at 1.800.668.7682 or at the AboutKidsHealth Family Resource Centre located at SickKids.

- News Canada

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Free publications on violence against women with disabilities

The National Clearinghouse on Family Violence (NCFV) offers free publications on a wide range of topics under domestic violence. Some of the topics covered are:

  • violence against women with disabilities
  • violence against women during pregnancy
  • violence against women who do not speak English or French
  • the link between violence against women and eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia)

Publications are available online in PDF or HTML form. They are also available in print and can be ordered online via the NCFV’s new Shopping Cart ordering system.

To explore this new ordering system and the NCFV website please visit:

The Community Advocate Support Line

The Legal Services Society of BC recently launched the Community Advocate Support Line (CASL). The CASL line will be operated through the LawLINE. CASL will be staffed full-time by a lawyer who will be available to provide brief legal advice and legal information to BC advocates in relation to certain client files the advocate is handling.

CASL anticipates their advice and assistance will generally be in relation to the following areas of law:

- income assistance;
- residential tenancy and other housing issues (including foreclosure);
- family law;
- employment insurance;
- Canada Pension Plan (including disability benefits);
- debt collection and bankruptcy;
- consumer contracts; and
- judicial review.

If you have a legal question regarding a client with a problem falling outside the specified CASL case priorities, please contact CASL and they will review the situation.

To access services through the CASL project, you must provide the CASL lawyer at the outset with the full legal name, address and phone number (if any) of your client. You will also need to provide the full legal names of any opposing parties involved in your client's legal issue. CASL’s professional responsibilities as lawyers require them to confidentially review and record this information. This means that before calling the advocate should generally obtain their client’s consent to release this information to the CASL project before calling.

The CASL line has requested that the phone number not be distributed because it only has one line and is for advocates. If you are an advocate and this service would be helpful to you please contact LawLINE for a referral at 604-408-2172 or 1-866-577-2525 (toll free outside of the Lower Mainland).

If you not an advocate, but are looking for legal information, advice or referrals you can call LawLINE at the above numbers as well.

Friday, May 19, 2006

May is Speech and Hearing Awareness Month

Did you know?

  • One in 10 Canadians has a speech, language or hearing problem.
  • About 4% of preschool children have a significant speech or language problem.
  • About 1% of Canadians and 4% of preschoolers stutter. Men are four times more likely to stutter than women.

Speech and Hearing Awareness Month is coordinated by the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists (CASLPA). There are events taking place across Canada. Here are the events happening in BC:

· "50 Years of Making Waves" - The Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is celebrating 50 years of service to deaf, deafened and hard of hearing British Columbians with a cocktail reception and entertainment on May 26 at the Vancouver Aquarium and a dinner and dance, May 27th held at the Coast Plaza Hotel and Suites.
Contact: Susan Masters for details.

· Mayoral Proclamation of May Month at Penticton City Hall, Penticton, BC. Tuesday, April 25th at 10:00 a.m.

If you or your organization is interested in celebrating Speech and Hearing Awareness Month it isn’t too late to download electronic files of the “May Month Marketing Kit”.

This kit contains everything needed to promote the month. It includes: a media release, publicity tips, celebration ideas, ad mats, public service announcements, assorted fact sheets and feature stories, poster, clip art sheet and photo gallery.

For further information please visit CASLPA's web site -

Self-defense Workshop for Lesbian, Gay, Transgender & Bisexual People

The Centre serving and supporting Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered, Bisexual People and their Allies is offering a free, participatory workshop with information and techniques to help LGTB people stay safe and defend themselves against violence. If interested, please come wearing running shoes and loose, comfortable clothing.

The workshop will be held on Wednesday, June 7th 7:00 – 9:15 p.m at 1130 Jervis Street, Lower Hall @ St. Paul’s Church.

To register please call (604) 684-5307

Monday, May 08, 2006

Free online guide to Family Health and Literacy

This guide is designed to help integrate health and literacy education in family literacy programs. It contains easy-to-read health materials and websites for family literacy teachers, health educators and practitioners who work with low literate parents. The resources listed can help teach health to families with lower literacy skills and are free online. There are listings of easy-to-read health information, lesson plans and teaching activities, online activities to use in class and activities and games for parents and children to do together. It also discusses how to integrate health and literacy education, how to get started and engage adult learners, and how to build connections between literacy programs and local health services.

To access the Family Health and Literacy online please visit:

This guideline is a PDF that only will open with Adobe Reader 7. If you don’t have Adobe Reader 7 you can download it via the above address.

Hard copies are also available free of charge for a limited time: please

Request for Stories: Life Experiences of Adults with Developmental Disabilities

Kathie Snow, author of Disability is Natural, is collecting stories of childhood experiences by people with developmental disabilities. She is requesting “good and bad” stories about family life, growing up with a disability, experiences with therapists, interventions and medical care, relationships, education and independent living. Snow’s goal is to write a book that includes real-life childhood experience with her recommendations on how to parent children with developmental disabilities differently.

There are no length requirements and no firm due date. However, her April 27th email asked for them as soon as possible! Stories can be published anonymously if requested. If your story is chosen you will receive 3 free copies of the book once it is published.

For more information please visit:

PLAN workshop for families of teens transitioning from school to adulthood

Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network [PLAN] is a non profit organization that assists people who have a disabled relative. PLAN is offering a two-part workshop on May 10 and 13 from 7 – 9:30pm at the Life Centre Community Church 185-3655 Kingsway. The cost is $30 per individual or couple and free to lifetime PLAN members. This two part workshop will cover topics on how to secure the future for your son or daughter. Such topics include: home, work, support circles, estate planning, disability benefits and alternatives to adult guardianship. Participant will also receive a resource guide and a map to understanding the potential services and funding mechanisms available.

To register for this workshop please call PLAN at 604-439-9566 or email

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Council of the Federation Literacy Award

Created in 2004 and first awarded in 2005, the Council of the Federation Literacy Award acknowledges outstanding achievement, innovative practices and excellence in literacy. The award honours a person or group in each province and territory whose accomplishments have shaped the landscape of literacy. BC nominees must have lived in the province for at least 2 years and be a current or former student, literacy volunteer, pracitioner, teacher, administrator, researcher, business or organization.

The May 15 deadline for nominations is fast approaching!

Nomination forms are available at:

BC Multicultural Health Directory

The Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC (AMSSA) is providing the BC Directory of Multicultural Health Expertise as a free on line service for health organizations, institutions, community agencies, communities and individuals to facilitate the identification of public health care professionals with multicultural health expertise as well as cross-cultural health care services.

To register your program in the directory click on the following link:

Monday, May 01, 2006

Just released: Quick Guide to Health Literacy

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' recently released the new Quick Guide to Health Literacy. The Quick Guide is a reference for professionals interested in health literacy. Strategies discussed in the guide are taken from current research in health literacy and health communication.

Some of the strategies explored in The Quick Guide include:

* improving the usability of health information
* improving the usability of health services
* building knowledge to improve health decision-making
* advocating for health literacy improvement.

To take a look at the Quick Guide and a sample Power Point presentation please visit:

Thursday, April 27, 2006

New booklet available! Know About…Communicating with your Doctor

The AIDS and Disability Action Program has added a new booklet to it’s “Know About” series – Know About…Communicating with your Doctor.

The aim of this new booklet is to give people strategies to prepare for a doctor’s appointment so they can get the most benefit out of their visit. Communicating with your Doctor outlines the benefits of a good patient – doctor relationship and gives readers tools to help them communicate effectively with their doctor. Readers are encouraged to prepare for their appointment by writing down their questions, gathering information their doctor might need and taking responsibility for their communication needs. For example, if the reader uses a hearing aid they should let the doctor know and make sure it is working well before the appointment.

This booklet is now available free of charge. If you are interested in receiving copies of this 13 page, plain text booklet with illustrations please contact Claire by phone at 604-875-0188 or email at Booklets are available in Braille.

New website on Health Communication Activities

The US Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recently launched a new web site on health communication activities. Health communications is the study and use of communication strategies to inform and influence decision that enhance health.

Health communication aims to improve patient – doctor relationships through training doctors and individuals in effective communication skills. Improving health communication has many benefits:

* raises awareness of health risks and solutions
* provides the motivation and skills needed to reduce health risks
* helps individuals find support from other people in similar situations
* contributes to health promotion and disease prevention
* can increase demand for appropriate health services and decrease demand for inappropriate health services.

There are 4 separate sections on this website: Health Communications, Health Literacy, the Prevention Communication Research Database, and e-health.

To check out this website please visit:

Friday, February 10, 2006

Health Literacy Fact Sheets

Written by Linda Potter and Constance Martin and published in August 2005.

"This series of nine fact sheets was created for those who are designing patient education materials for consumers with low health literacy skills."

Fact Sheet 1: What is Health Literacy?
Fact Sheet 2: Who has Health Literacy Problems?
Fact Sheet 3: Impact of Low Literacy Skills on Annual Health Care Expenditures
Fact Sheet 4: Health Literacy and Understanding Medical Information
Fact Sheet 5: Strategies to Assist Low-literate Health Care Consumers
Fact Sheet 6: Preparing Patient Education Materials
Fact Sheet 7: Tools to Evaluate Patient Education Materials
Fact Sheet 8: Health Communication and Cultural Diversity
Fact Sheet 9: Resources for Health Literacy Information and Publications

Download the fact sheets in PDF format at:

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Multi-format health information

Healthy Roads Media offers "free audio, written and multimedia health education materials in a number of languages. They are being developed to study the value of these formats in providing health information for diverse populations."

So far, information is available on the following topics (some have several sub-topics):
* Abuse
* Asthma
* Cancer
* Dental
* Diabetes
* Diseases and Conditions
* Exercise
* Health Services
* Heart
* Immunization
* Nutrition
* Smoking
* Tuberculosis
* Women's Health

Languages include: English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic, Somali, Bosnian, Russian, Hmong and Khmer.

Particularly interesting are the online video clips which are specially formatted to make them accessible with low-speed Internet connections.

Visit Health Roads Media at

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Helen Osborne's Tips: The Power of Pictures

Tips for February 2006
by Helen Osborne

Reprinted with permission.

Patients and their family members need to consistently and completely understand health information. They need this in order to understand how to access care, follow directions, recognize emergencies, and comply with other health tasks.

But many people have trouble understanding health information. One reason can be due to readers' limited literacy or learning skills. Another reason may be that the information itself is very difficult. Almost always, problems in understanding arise when there are mismatches between ways patients learn and how information is presented.

Pictures and other visual aids can help patients "get the picture" of what health professionals are talking or writing about.

... read tips for using visual aids and learn about Helen's workshop "How to Draw and Use Pictographs" at her website:

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Helen Osborne's Tips: 8 Ways You Can Improve Health Communication

Tips for December 2005
by Helen Osborne

Reprinted with permission.

Communicating health information effectively takes more than just short words, bullet points, or colorful pictures.

Based on strategies in my book, Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, here are 8 ways you can improve health communication.

1. Know your audience, in general. Begin by getting familiar with the "average" person in your intended audience. This means knowing about literacy level, language, culture, and age. It also means being sensitive to disabilities or emotional issues which may affect how the "average" person understands and uses health information.

2. Tailor communication, in specific. But no one really is "average." After you know where to begin, tailor or adapt communication to meet the needs of each individual. This may be drawing pictographs for someone who speaks limited English. Or teaching just one concept at a time to someone who has trouble concentrating. You can also tailor communication by giving resources to learn more.

... read the remaining tips at Helen Osborne's website:

You can order a copy of Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, in any of these ways:

Health Literacy Consulting website at website at

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Copyright 2005, Jones and Bartlett Publishers,

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Helping people with disabilities find health information

Shelley Hourston, Director of BCCPD's Wellness & Disability Initiative, AIDS & Disability Action Program, and the Health Literacy Network, made a presentation at the Canadian Community Information & Referral Conference in October 2005. Her topic was "Helping People with Disabilities Find Health Information" -- "to explore our perceptions of disability and how they affect communication and information seeking behaviour...and how people with disabilities find health information...."

Disabilities and Health Information--main paper
Barriers & Solutions Tip Sheet
Seeing with New Eyes--Appreciative Storytelling Exercise
Health Literacy Tools & Resources

To download the paper, tip sheet, exercise or resource list, visit the December 5, 2005 Community Alert at the BCCPD website:

Monday, January 09, 2006

Speak Up! against intolerance

Prejudice and discrimination have a profound effect on our health and ability to ask for the information and help we need. Speak Up! Responding to Everyday Bigotry is a new 80-page guide published by the Teaching Tolerance Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center. The guide and many other resources are available at a website called Materials to promote tolerance and to help cope with bigotry are available for teens, kids, parents and teachers. View or download Speak Up! at

Our thanks to Mind Matters: BC Mental Health E-News (Vol 37 January 2006) for alerting us to the great material at And speaking of great resources, Mind Matters is a terrific source of information in a convenient monthly electronic newsletter produced by the Canadian Mental Health Association's BC Division office (CMHA). Check it out at