Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Talking with Hayley Wickenheiser

Right To Play was originally established in 2000 with a purpose to use sport and play to educate and empower children and youth to overcome the effects of poverty, conflict, and disease in disadvantaged communities. Since its founding, and growing from its origins in Olympic Aid, elite athletes have played a major role in its activities.

This partnership with amazing athletes continues through Right To Play's Athlete Ambassadors. In Canada, six of these Athlete Ambassadors are taking the lead to help Level The Field. To learn more and vote for a chance to travel to West Africa to see Right To Play's work in action click here.

Hayley Wickenheiser is one such Athlete Ambassador. On Friday, I had the opportunity to interview Hayley about her involvement with Right To Play and the Level The Field campaign. Yup just me chatting with Hayley, probably the best female hockey player on the planet. 
CanaDad: What inspired you to become an Athlete Ambassador with Right To Play? 
Hayley Wickenheiser: I discovered Right To Play at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. What struck me was that it was such a simple concept, that you really don't need very much but can have such an impact. The power of sport and play to help children rebuild their lives and overcome challenges is amazing. As a female hockey player, I had faced my share of challenges growing up, so achievement and accomplishment through sport really resonated with me. 
Canadad: What are some of the most important, most fun and coolest things Right To Play does? 
HW: It helps that Right To Play is run by one of my Olympic idols - Johann Koss. It is a really solid organization with great administration that helps ensure every possible penny goes to helping empower kids in disadvantaged areas of the world. 
CanaDad: Can you share an experience that touched you while on field trip with Right To Play? 
HW: In 2007 I had the opportunity to travel to Rwanda with Right To Play. I got to meet one of Right To Play's local coaches, a guy named Ed*. He was a great guy in his early 20's. Working with him I got to know him and I asked about a scar on his forehead. He told me how is family had been killed during the genocide in 1994. His family had been hacked to death by machetes. Ed and his sister were both attacked at the same time, but they pretended to be dead and ended up being tossed in a pit on a pile of bodies. They pretended to be dead for a few days and eventually crawled out and managed to escape. One of the organizations that helped him rebuild his life was Right To Play. It really struck me, that even having been through such a terrible ordeal, he was such a happy person. 
CanaDad: As a parent, how much has Right To Play's philosophy impacted your parenting style? 
HW: My work with Right To Play has really taught myself and my son how fortunate we are, and how fortunate he is to be kid growing up in Canada. Sometimes we squander the amazing opportunities we have every day. I had a chance to take my son Noah to Ghana where we toured schools that had to share one wet textbook amongst all the students. The difference in our situations really touched us both. However, there is still a lot of work to be done, even right here in Canada as parts of the North and Aboriginal Communities face tremendous challenges. It is important to remember that Right To Play helps children all over the world, even right here at home. 
The next time we chat I'll have to remember to see if she's available to sub in at one of my floorball games.
And remember, visit the Right To Play Level The Field Facebook page to learn more about the programs and vote for your chance to win a trip to West Africa with Right To Play to see a program in action.

*Names have been changed to protect identity.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Prunes & Puking

The Pumpkin Man is five months old and we've got him on the fast track. Well at least he has started "solid" foods. They're still pureed, filtered, mushed, ground and otherwise pulverized, but they are technically solids.

The motivation behind the move is similar to most of our parenting techniques - we're just trying to reclaim some sleep. Now the Wee Man (Pumpkin Man's older brother for those not paying attention) was a pretty darn decent sleeper. Slept through the entire night from an early age (but maybe I walked to school uphill both ways).

Of course we were spoiled, but yes we'd like some semblance of night back. So the theory is to load him up,up to the gills, stuff him full of whatever we can and it'll help him pull through until the sun rises in the east.

To his credit, he really seems to be enjoying his new foods. Squash, sweet potato, apple sauce, mushed prunes. At least I thought it was mushed prunes, maybe mixed with a bit of rice cereal. That is until I tasted it. And nearly vomited.

Yes, it turns out we feed our small child, our adorable babe, our cute little munchkin absolutely disgusting food. The secret ingredient: formula, the stuff they make especially for babies.

Keep on keepin' on, little man. It only gets better from here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Play for Success

Last week we helped Right To Play kick off their campaign to help Level The Field for children everywhere. Vote now for a chance to go to Africa and see Right To Play's work in action.

CanaDad is teaming up with Hayley Wickenheiser, alongside the likes of Kaylyn Kyle, Kyle Shewfelft and to help Canadian parents understand the power of play in helping children develop intellectual, social, physical and emotional skills necessary for success in life.

Win a trip to Africa while helping empower youth in Africa by visiting the Level The Field Facebook page.

Canada Plays

Play-based learning is a staple in Canadian homes to teach essential life skills to children:
  • 83% of Canadian parents say they use play to help in conflict resolution
  • 76% use play as a focus on education
  • 72% also use play for team-building
Overall 97% of Canadian parents use these techniques in their households.
Some would say "mission accomplished", but sadly this critical tool is unavailable to way too many children in the developing world. Right To Play's work provides children everywhere the skills they need to develop equally and reach their potential.

For example, Right To Play helps develop communities by empowering young individuals facing adversity with the confidence to become leaders of change. In Benin, Right Too Play helps both children and parents understand their children's rights as well as raise awareness and prevention methods within their communities. 

Ivie's story
Ivie from Benin
When Ivie was 16 she was sexually abused by a family member. In many communities in Benin, there is no support system in place for girls like Ivie to seek help. Right To Play has been actively working with her community leaders over the past few years raising awareness and educating children and their communities about the rights of children. Through playing games and sports with Right To Play, Ivie gained confidence in herself and trust in her Right To Play trained coach. This confidence helped Ivie share her story of abuse with her coach, prompting volunteers and staff to take action immediately. Right To Play works together with the community and local governments to protect girls like Ivie from forced marriage and provide them with ongoing support they need to put a stop to the abuse and create a brighter future.
How do they do it?

Right To Play employs a complex methodology that goes beyond simply building knowledge and awareness by ensuring participants acquire skills to adopt and maintain behaviours such as self-esteem and problem-solving. Right To Play's focus on experiential learning ensures that through play children can reflect, connect and apply the essential learning. To ensure quality implementation, Right To Play also employs a delivery model that build local capacity and sustainability. But at it's core is the belief that every child has the right to play.

Help us Level The Field and provide children around the world with the opportunity to play. By voting on the program you want to see in action, you'll have a chance to go to Africa with the team that has the most votes and see Right To Play's work in action. 

To learn more visit Level The Field.

When Children PlayThe World Wins.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Science on the Fly

The joy of learning is infectious, although as a parent I'm finding that it can spread more like SARS. Today on the ride home, the bigger wee man was asking his questions as usual.

Where is this?
Why is that?
What's going on there?
Can you see it?

I wish I remember the uncanny specificity of his queries, but generally battling rush hour traffic, suppressing road rage and negotiating the menu for dinner win out. Tonight though he had me stumped.



"Why do we have hair?"

"Ummm, to keep our heads warm".

Maybe not accurate, maybe not original, but I was grasping. Let's be honest, when I'm on my game and don't know the answer I can usually turn it back on him. Yes, the old answer a question with a question trick.

"No! That's what hats are for".

Alright kid. Finish learning to read so I can tell you to go look it up.


Well I did look it up, it's a bit faster now with that whole interweb thing, and this is kind of cool: The evolution of hairlessness helped to set the stage for the emergence of large brains and symbolic thought (thanks Scientific American).

Did you know though that almost all dinosaurs had some form of feathers?