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Exploring the Bruce – Part 1

Since moving home in 2010, I’ve realized that, for being born and raised in Bruce County, I have seen a woeful amount of it.

Outside of baseball diamonds and arena parking lots, that is.

My parents and sister are/were athletes, so our summer Saturdays were spent going to four different towns for four different ball tournaments, and the winter was really no different, except the sports were hockey, ringette and curling.

We didn’t camp at MacGregor Park, we didn’t hang out at Sauble Beach and we didn’t take a boat ride to Flowerpot Island, in Tobermory. We played sports, and none of us would have had it any other way.

When I moved away from home in 2001, I slowly began to realize Bruce County isn’t just a collection of sporting rivals, it is absolutely beautiful – a place people drive hours to spend time in, and yet is so easily taken for granted by those of us who live here.

And that’s why the Explore the Bruce Adventure Passport is such a wonderful program for tourists, as well as locals who, like me, have taken little opportunity to discover the paradise we call home. So, after talking about it for a couple of years, we decided this is the year we will complete as much of the Adventure Passport, which you’ll find in the Summer issue of Grey-Bruce Kids, as we can.

The launch of the 2013 Adventure Passport took place at Tennyson’s in Underwood on Saturday, June 8. A few hundred people visited sponsors’ booths, enjoyed some wonderful food, face painting, games and much more.

Then the adventure began for our family – Amy, myself, Layne, 5, and Jace, 2 1/2 (who, you’ll soon notice, doesn’t care much for having her picture taken). There were three stops outlined for participants, and we decided to head inland to Folmer’s Garden Centre, on Hwy. 9, near Walkerton – a place I have driven by literally hundreds of times and had never visited.

Layne planting her flower at Folmer’s Garden Centre, near Walkerton.

We were given our Explore the Bruce T-shirts before Layne planted her own flower, and then we walked the breathtaking grounds, although what grabbed the girls’ attention was two frogs sitting proudly on lilypads in a cute little pond. The adult in me wanted grab the girls, spin them around, and make them see the natural beauty that surrounded us, and yet all they cared about was a couple of frogs? But then it dawned on me that this moment of youthful wonderment is exactly the point of the Explore the Bruce Adventure Passport  – being with family and enjoying the little things at a place we know only by name, and yet is so close to home.

The point isn’t just to get punches on your Passport at a dozen different stops – that’s the smallest part of the whole experience. It’s about being with your family, away from electronics, while exploring small corners of your home county, often for the first time.

It’s all about the journey, not the destination.

So we talked to the frogs for a while before loading up and heading into Walkerton to nab our first punch on our 2013 Adventure Passport – at Heritage Garden, near the Bruce County building in Walkerton.

Then it was off to Dr. Milne Park in Paisley, yet another place I’ve never been. As we rolled up, one of about a dozen cars taking part in this stop of the tour, it appeared to just be a jungle gym, which I knew the kids would absolutely love. The event organizers had also set up some games for participants as well, which looked like fun.

As the kids ran to join the other half-pints on the slides, I looked down the hill at the back of the playground and noticed a beautiful shaded area on the river. About half-an-hour later, with the kids somewhat worn out, we made the trek down the hill to get our Passport punched and that’s when I discovered an absolutely perfect spot for a quiet picnic on some warm summer afternoon, whether with the family or even just an afternoon date with my wife, a bottle of wine and a book (we’re, like, totally cool).

Arriving at Dr. Milne Park, in Paisley.

Paisley is a cute little town, which Amy has gained an affinity for in her travels, but I don’t think there’s any way we ever find Dr. Milne Park without Explore the Bruce. And, as I was quickly discovering, that’s precisely the point.

We had one final stop – Pioneer Park, at the marina in Southampton – before we were to return to Underwood for lunch and more launch party festivities.

Unfortunately, the fun at Dr. Milne Park was the final straw for Jace, who was snoring before we passed the Saugeen Bluffs Conservation Area, just west of Paisley. Upon arrival at Pioneer Park, it took just a few seconds to realize we had found another gem, just one or two blocks north of the giant Canadian flag that marks Southampton’s downtown.

Amy and Layne got out to explore the park, while I sat back with the Blue Jays on the radio, the windows down, and my baby snoozing away behind me. It looks like the girls had fun though…

Pioneer Park, at the gateway to Lake Huron, in Southampton.

Shortly thereafter, we arrived back in Underwood for a couple more hours of fun and food at the launch party, before we loaded up our exhausted and exhilarated children and headed for Ripley. With the help of the Explore the Bruce team, our Adventure Passport kick-off was to continue on Sunday, with stops in Kinloss, Wiarton and Lion’s Head, so we knew we’d have to get our rest.

I’ll blog about our amazing Sunday travels later this week, so stay tuned (and start planning your Explore the Bruce Adventure!).

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Summer’s ‘Cool Kid’ gives people the shirt off his back

Lance Davey, 13, of Williamsford, is the Grey-Bruce Kids/Owen Sound Attack Cool Kid for Summer 2013. Photo by Amanda Liefl Photography

You often hear about people who would give you the shirt off their back.

Well, the Grey-Bruce Kids/Owen Sound Attack Cool Kid for Summer 2013 did exactly that this past winter when a fellow student fell ill on the bus and couldn’t stop shivering. Cool Kid Lance Davey, 13, who is the bus monitor, wrapped his coat around his colleague at Sullivan School, in Desboro, and refused to take it back when the sick child arrived at their bus stop.

“Had the bus driver not called me to tell me why Lance didn’t have his coat, I probably would have gotten upset at him for losing it,” said his Mom, Heidi. “But that’s Lance. He never would have told me what he did to help that student.”

As you can tell, Lance has a kind heart and he has a wide range of friends to prove it. He is a leader in his school and takes his bus monitor duties very seriously, even getting off the bus at each stop to walk the students across the busy highway. For all his hard work, positive attitude and desire to help others, Lance received an Honesty Award at school this year, to go with the Caring Award he accepted last year.

“Lance has a big heart, and he’s quite a charmer,” said his Grandma, Dale Emmerson, who nominated Lance for the Cool Kids award.

Lance, who lives in Williamsford, enjoys working with his Dad Trevor, playing sports with his younger brother, reading, fishing, swimming at the McCullough Lake and playing baseball for his Desboro team, all while recently achieving his babysitting and snowmobile safety courses.

“Lance is just a regular kid, who sometimes does nice things,” said his very proud, yet humble, Mom.

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Meet our first ‘Cool Kid’ – Corbin Cuneo

Corbin Cuneo is the first Grey-Bruce Kids and Owen Sound Attack ‘Cool Kid’. He received a stick signed by the Owen Sound Attack, tickets to two upcoming games and $50 cash from Grey-Bruce Kids!

You know you’re a ‘Cool Kid’ when a complete stranger suggests you’re perfect for this contest!

The first Grey-Bruce Kids/Owen Sound Attack ‘Cool Kid’ is Corbin Cuneo, the son of Jordan Cuneo and Beth Cuneo. Corbin, 7, attends Holy Family School in Hanover, and plays hockey on Hanover’s Tyke team and soccer as well.

What makes Corbin a Cool Kid is how social he is, and how he spreads joy every chance he gets to people in our communities, as well as across southwestern Ontario. Since he was three years old, Corbin has run a toy drive for the London Children’s Hospital. He collects toys for two weeks and then hosts a meet-and-greet so everyone in the community can come together to share in the fun. Once he has a good amount of toys, his family takes them to London to the Children’s Health Foundation for distribution to kids who can use a pick-me-up. His toy drive has landed him on local radio, in the newspaper, on London’s news, and all over Facebook.

“He is such an inspiration,” said his Mom, adding he won an award at his school last year for demonstrating empathy.

Despite his community work, Corbin is just a regular kid. He likes sports, cars, Pokemon, playing with friends, watching movies with his little sister and family outings. He is also a very musical child, who is learning to play guitar and enjoys writing songs. “There isn’t a shy bone in this little superstar’s body,” Beth said. “We are certain he will do amazing things throughout his life with his ability to entertain and his big, generous heart.”

Congratulations Corbin! You truly are a Cool Kid.

If you are the parent, friend, relative or teacher of a Cool Kid, we want to hear from you! Visit www.greybrucekids.com for more information.

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Is it time to put away our cell phones?

This column, by Editor Dwight Irwin, appears in the Spring 2013 edition of Grey-Bruce Kids

I’ve never considered myself a ‘cell phone guy’.

I really don’t know what an app is for, outside of what I can gather from my more tech-savvy friends and their grandparents. I have little to no interest in yelling commands – generally to no avail, I assume – at the robot inside my iPhone2000. And you certainly won’t catch me lining up in the freezing cold for two days just so I can be the proud owner of the newest gadget, get my smiling face on TV while I hold the device over my head like I earned it, and have millions of people silently wonder if I’ve ever had a girlfriend.

I just never saw the attraction to being available 24 hours a day, seven days a week which comes with having a cell phone on your hip all the time. I think my need to disappear stemmed from my days as the editor of extremely busy newsrooms at community papers. In small towns, people don’t hesitate to stop you at the grocery store, arena or your front door to tell you exactly what they think about you, your paper, the local council and that creepy guy down the street who must be up to no good.

Plus, giving your boss every opportunity to track you down can only lead to more work.

With a cell phone, I’d say at the time, you could never be truly off work. For some, that’s heaven. For me, towards the end of my newspaper career when I was on the verge of burning out, it was the definition of hell.

So when I changed jobs, I was unimpressed by the BlackBerry that came with the territory. This job was different than my last, and a cell phone wouldn’t create the same trappings my previous employment would have.

For months after, I still saw something as ‘normal’ as texting as completely ridiculous. “Why would I type something with these fat fingers on a tiny keyboard when I could just make a 10-second call?” I remember saying, while completely forgetting about my years of utter dependence on email and Facebook messages.

Fast forward three years and I am now an absolute hypocrite when it comes to cell phones. I have bought a phone and entered a contract just so I could text, BBM and follow sportswriters, comedians, bloggers and completely random but interesting people on Twitter. I don’t play games on it but I mostly check messages within a minute or two of hearing the ‘ding’ (if not immediately). I even have friends I haven’t spoken to on the phone in ages, yet we send reams of text messages back and forth instead of just making that 10-second call.

The cell is the only way I can keep in touch with my friends, and hockey and baseball teammates, few of whom use Facebook or even email. It has become everything I said it never would to my social life and, unfortunately, my family is taking notice.

Though I try to leave my phone by the door when I come home – and am improving at letting a message go unread for a length of time – the girls still bring it to me whenever it dings, thinking I’d prefer to drop what I’m doing with them to check it. It’s not true, but it’s what they think, and that frightens me a bit, especially since my wife sent me a blog post from a Mom who realized she (and many, many other cell-phone-dependent parents) was not only missing out on her kids’ lives because of her attachment to her phone, she was also inadvertently telling her kids she didn’t care about their activities or playing with them because she wouldn’t give them her undivided attention.

And isn’t that all a child really wants from a parent?

Once she recognized it, she started the ‘Hands Free Mama’ movement, where she just puts the phone down (What? Even at boring soccer games and swimming lessons! I exclaimed) until the kids weren’t around.

Pay attention to our kids and leave the phone for later. If we’re really, truly needed, someone will make the call.

Huh… what a concept.

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Potty training an experience like few others

Jace, our just-turned two-year-old, is slowly learning how to use the potty.

If you’ve been through this rite of passage, you know what a painfully frustrating process it can be for the children and definitely the adults. Yet, there are few things that make you pull your hair out one minute only to be followed by singing, clapping, dancing and chocolate the next.

But that’s the beauty and struggle of potty training. We think she may (or should) be ready, but we don’t want to push her. She loves the idea of it – and certainly the attention that comes with sitting there and pretending is a bonus – but the will has been slow to follow.

The past week though, she’s starting to get it.

There have been a series of pees – but only in the potty upstairs, presumably because the one downstairs is full of cute-baby-bum-biting creatures – and the odd poop as well (though I assume these were more a result of good timing on our part, as she immediately yells ‘Almost done!’ when we catch her in her poop-in-the-diaper stance and frantically mention the potty).

Tonight was the second night this week she has, intentionally and on her own terms, left good ol’ Number 2 in the potty, before she jumped in the bath. I didn’t get to see this great achievement though. See, I’m not like my eldest daughter or wife who will sit with Jace and keep her company while she’s waiting to do her business. I find it awkward, so it must make her feel the same or worse. So I get her situated, usually with a book (though tonight was a calculator), and keep myself busy in another room. Tonight, I was catching up on some email while she kept running back and forth down the hallway, encouraging me to have a look.

This went on for 10 minutes before there was actually something to see, and then we had a great celebration, which included the splitting of a mini-Hershey’s bar from Halloween (yes, I deserve something too). Immediately after flushing, she wanted to give it another shot, so off I went to the other room. After three more trips to tell me to have a look, and one more mini-celebration (without chocolate this time) for the tiniest of successes, I finally convinced her to jump in the bath.

As I went to fetch her towel, I saw something on the hallway carpet. A tiny, misplaced leaf from this past fall that somehow just made its way to a traffic area. Thinking nothing of it, I picked up the leaf, and immediately regretted my decision. It seems all the travelling back and forth to the other room shook Jacey up just enough to leave a miniature present that my brain couldn’t process and hand couldn’t avoid.

Luckily, five years and two kids into this parenting thing, I only spent about 16 seconds squealing, frantically wiping my finger and washing it in scalding hot water.

That was followed by eight seconds of serious thoughts of removing my index finger with a rusty hockey skate.

See, there’s nothing to this parenting thing when you’re grace under pressure.

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Is Newtown the tipping point for change?

I have been aching to write this post, while at the same time putting it off for about 36 hours.

Now, after a wonderful Christmas celebration with my extended family, and the kids tucked safely and soundly into their beds, I can’t delay it any further. For once, honestly, this isn’t for you, my friend/relative/reader-of-Grey-Bruce-Kids magazine.

This one’s for me and my personal mental health.

Because I am disgusted.

Disgusted that a person could walk into a school and kill 20 children and seven adults. Normally – and this is sad to admit – mass murders in the U.S. don’t make my heart hurt. Sure, you briefly feel terrible for the random victims of a senseless shooting in a movie theatre or shopping mall (the two latest shootings in what is becoming a regular occurrence down south), but you grumble about it, read a news story or two, and then move on.

But this time, with the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut? This time, I am outraged.

I’m outraged for the needless deaths of so many people, but mostly the children. They are the same age as my eldest daughter. They are not faceless, nameless people like the adults who pointlessly perish in other mass shootings – every one of the children who died in Newtown look like my daughter, in my mind’s eye, when I torture myself by thinking about the terror and confusion they felt before all went black. That is why this… this… – I refuse to call it a tragedy, because tragedies are unavoidable like tsunamis and earthquakes – is cutting me so deeply.

I’m also outraged about the Americans’ love of the gun and their beloved (by an influential minority) and outdated Second Amendment, which was drafted to give people in the 1700s the right to protect themselves from the invading British. This ‘right’ has been so bastardized that even mentally ill people have the ability to legally purchase a semi-automatic assault weapon over the counter of a Target, so long as the proper paperwork is filled out.

Note: If you’re not familiar with Twitter, any web url in the following Tweets links directly to the quoted sources.

 

These high-powered killing machines serve no purpose other than to destroy anything in its path. Generally, the sport of hunting doesn’t require someone to squeeze off dozens of shots in a matter of seconds to knock a deer down, so the assault weapons are really only meant to do one thing – obliterate lives. I’m outraged at the pro-gun people who scream “Guns don’t kill people! People kill people!”. Guns – and I mean these ridiculous semi-automatic, yet legal, assault weapons, not your Grandpa’s .22 – in the U.S. are so readily available, and socially acceptable, that arguments can immediately turn to violence, or untreated, mentally ill people have the means to create mass destruction with relative ease.

And this:

Another Tweet from yesterday says the words ‘gun control’ need to be removed from our vocabulary. They’ve become too politicized, too diluted in nonsense to allow for a proper conversation. What about this?

Because, essentially, that’s what the situation’s about. I don’t want to “take all your guns”, crazy people, I want to end mass murder.

To wit:

And it can be done!

Regardless of what it’s called, and despite the protests of those whose hearts truly are hurting, the say-all-the-right-things-but-don’t-upset-the-gun-lobby politicians at the White House, or the currently silent pro-gun crowd, now is the time to discuss the love and accessibility of the gun, because news happens every day and no matter how much this hurts today, it will hurt less tomorrow, and real life resumes again on Monday, and we have to sneak in that last minute Christmas shopping, and soon, no matter how hard we try, Newtown just becomes another recognizable name like Columbine or Virginia Tech.

I’m outraged at the media. Not because it’s covering the story – though I have watched an interesting video about why it should minimize these shootings to stop the cycle – but because it has made me reflect on how I would have handled the situation during my 10-year career as a newspaper editor/reporter. I’d like to think I would tell my reporter to do all they could except stick a camera and notebook in the face of a traumatized six-year-old witness, but I know I absolutely would have demanded we get the story by any means possible, because rights-and-wrongs are more easily judged by those who aren’t on the ground and paid to report exactly what happened, without using hearsay. I’ve sent reporters to murder and crash scenes, I’ve reveled in the website traffic that results in someone else’s suffering, I’ve literally hung up during the most important job interview of my life to cover the biggest story of my newspaper career, and I don’t begrudge the media for covering this either. But it can’t stop here. The U.S. needs to come to terms with the fact their accessibility to, and deep-rooted love for guns, is responsible for thousands of deaths annually. It’s time for them to seriously have the conversation – not in coffee shops or on CNN and Fox “News”, or on Twitter, but at the highest levels of government, which absolutely has to shut out the pro-gun lobbyists for the betterment of their citizens.

Because, for the self-proclaimed ‘world’s greatest country’, this is sad and pathetic; yet, many wouldn’t have it any other way (in fact, some are calling for more guns, especially for teachers), despite the fact it:

Or this fact:

Maybe Newtown is the tipping point to change in U.S. policy on guns, health care for the mentally ill and media coverage of these events. It’s the only opportunity the 20 tiny people in these too-small-to-make-sense coffins now have to make a difference in the world. That was taken away from them by one sick individual, but also a country that won’t prevent it from happening again.

Get rid of guns. Help the mentally ill (and read this blog post from the mother of a brilliant, yet mentally ill child RIGHT NOW!), and end this madness.

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Bringing the Christmas spirit to Ripley’s Santa

Amid the rush to set up Christmas lights, get lists written and shopped for and frantic housecleaning in order to meet the approval of visitors, the spirit of Christmas can easily be forgotten at this time of year.

I’m not a religious person, so by the ‘spirit’ I don’t mean in a biblical sense. My interpretation of the Christmas spirit is doing good things and bringing joy to others, even if for the briefest of moments during difficult times.

The Christmas spirit was on full display in my hometown of Ripley on Monday night, when about 100 people – nearly 20 per cent of the town’s population, for some perspective – joined together to bring some Christmas cheer to a man who spread so much himself during my childhood.

The group of people – ranging from my 90-something Great Aunt and her friends from the retirement home to the freshest of babies – sang Christmas carols outside the home of a local gentleman going through the final stages of cancer, to say thanks for all the years he donned a red suit and beard and corralled youngsters on his knee, dishing out “Ho Ho Ho’s” and candy canes with great aplomb.

It didn’t matter if it was a community event weeks prior to Christmas or my family’s Dec. 24 celebration at the local Legion, he didn’t hesitate to make a personal appearance to make our holiday better, despite having a young family of his own.

So when the opportunity arose to not only say thanks for the childhood memories, but also to teach our young children about the Christmas spirit and the importance of always remembering and honouring a good deed when times of need have reversed, it made me proud to see my hometown come together en masse.

Our carols were out of tune and we forgot as many words as we remembered, but our hearts were in the right place.

And we brought a smile to the face of a man who made those his specialty during our younger years.

Update: Liz Dadson, editor of www.kincardinetimes.com, captured the moment on her website. See it here.

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All I want for Christmas

Dear Santa:

I know you’re really busy reading millions of letters from children from across the world right now, so I hope you don’t mind that this letter comes from a 33-year-old father of two.

See, I love the holiday season, especially now that my oldest daughter understands who you are, and why you bring presents on Christmas morning. I also love the fact I can spend two months threatening to call you with reports of bad behaviour, which is by far the best parenting tool in my arsenal. My hope is my youngest daughter, who turns two on Dec. 21, is not seeing the holes in my methods and plotting ways to exploit them in the future.

Anyway, it has been a very long time since I last wrote you personally. I’m not sure if an apology is necessary, but I want you and the elves to realize I don’t have any delusions about who the target audience for Christmas is – it’s about the kids. Always has been and always will be.

That’s great. It really is. Few things bring me greater joy than seeing a child’s face light up when they meet you at a parade or in a mall. During my 10 years in the newspaper business, I never dreaded an assignment that involved Santa.

Anyway, I think adults should also send you their wishlists, because, though we may not want toys that fit on your sleigh, it’s nice to know you’re looking out for us too.

So here is my list for this Christmas. I very much hope you can make some of my dreams come true this year.

• I hope all who are financially able will support their local food bank, Christmas toy drive and any other initiative that helps make this season more comfortable for hundreds of kids and adults in our communities. You may be surprised to find out who needs a helping hand this year.

• Can you send some elves to put up my outdoor Christmas decorations? I don’t like ladders or cold weather, so this is something unlikely to improve without an intervention.

• If you could just go ahead and put a block on all Facebook posts that say, “X number of sleeps until Christmas!” I’d be forever grateful. We all have calendars.

• Oh, a calendar.

• At press time, the NHL and its players still didn’t have a collective bargaining agreement, so if you’d threaten to withhold presents from some millionaires and billionaires, that would be cool.

• If that works and they return, it would be great if you could help the Toronto Maple Leafs get to the playoffs. I’m not sure what your policy is on striking deals with the devil, but…

• It would also be nice if you’d send some wintry weather our way this year too. Listening to my friends whine about their unused snowmobiles during last year’s mild weather was tiring. Plus, a nasty winter would give me the chance to tell everyone why my trip to work was much more dangerous than theirs.

• I hope people give you a break this year and do some shopping themselves, especially if they frequent locally owned businesses. The last time I checked, an outlet mall near Buffalo isn’t sponsoring one of our soccer or hockey teams.

• I know it’s cliché, but I really do wish good health and happiness for everybody. Except those who tell me to drink less beer, eat healthier foods, watch less TV and exercise more – they clearly don’t want me to be happy.

I will leave cookies out for you and carrots for the reindeer. My wife will probably eat the cookies.

Merry Christmas!
Love, your pal Dwight

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Tips for keeping kids safe on Halloween

Now that the parents of Grey and Bruce counties have enjoyed their Halloween at numerous parties throughout the area, it’s time to start thinking about what our kids will be up to on Oct. 31.

The Canadian Red Cross offers these great tips for ensuring all the trick-or-treaters have a safe and fun Halloween.

  1. Give your kids a map of their trick or treat route so they can find their way home. Mark the homes of nearby friends and relatives in case they need assistance on their journey. Younger children should be chaperoned by an adult.
  2. Instruct children to walk on the sidewalk not the street – even princesses and fairies have to watch out for motorists!
  3. Prepare for the dark with lighter coloured clothing and reflective surfaces. What better way to decorate a sword or a cape than with magical glowing tape?
  4. Avoid any type of flame by substituting candles with glow sticks. Wigs and costumes are highly flammable and glow sticks are perfect for illuminating Jack-o-lanterns.
  5. Remind your kids to stick with groups of at least four or five – after all, even legendary heroes are stronger as a team (like the Avengers and X-Men!)
  6. Tell them to only visit residences with a porch light on and not to enter a stranger’s home – politely accept candy and promptly leave.
  7. Costumes are meant to embellish – not to hide. Keep hems short to avoid tripping and don’t let masks block the eyes.
  8. Whether you have one eye, two eyes, three eyes or four, always look both ways before crossing the street.
  9. A flashlight is akin to a protective light saber of sorts and makes nighttime travelling safer (it also helps you spot a ghost or goblin trying to plan a surprise attack!)

Sometimes, we tend to overprotect our kids from the hazards that are just part of growing up, but Halloween is one of those times where we need to be reinforce these good behaviours. I remember, as a kid, flat-out running from house to house to maximize my treat-gathering time, and I’m nearly positive I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about traffic.

Now that fewer parents allow their kids to trick or treat on their own, there are more cars on the dark streets of even Grey/Bruce’s smallest towns, so before sending the kids out for their sugar infusion, be sure to offer some reminders about how to come home safely.

Have a great Halloween!

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Cyberbullying victim’s suicide mustn’t be in vain

If you’ve been following the news this week, you may have heard about the British Columbia teen who committed suicide just weeks after posting a heartbreaking plea for help on YouTube after years of being cyberbullied.

Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star calls out Amanda Todd’s abusers brilliantly, and we can only hope these ingrates come across the article and take the time to read it.

Watch the video. It is sad and powerful. And, as I learned when writing a story on cyberbullying for the Spring 2012 issue, this behaviour is all too common and knows no geographical bounds.

It happens here, every day.

Some people who have never known a life without the Internet – elementary and high schoolers – use this tool to spread hate, exert power over the weak, extort people who make a youthful mistake like Amanda Todd did by exposing her breasts via webcam, and act much tougher than cowards ever do in the face-to-face confrontations of the real world.

Amanda Todd cried out for help, but it never came. Her story is one we’ve heard before, but hopefully with each tragedy, families take the time to sit down and have a serious talk with pre-teens and teens about having fake online personas, the dangers of bullying, and the unthinkable consequences of their actions. We also need our kids to know that, if they’re the victim of these despicable acts, they HAVE TO talk to us or a teacher they trust.

Amanda Todd was driven to suicide by her tormentors. Although they may not acknowledge it, her blood is on their hands.

But we have to play a role too. We must honour Amanda Todd’s struggle by taking her story to our children so they don’t make that one, seemingly harmless mistake that led to the ruination of her life. By telling Amanda’s story, we may prevent our kids from even becoming the cyberbully (even though it’s impossible for us to think our angels could ever be the demons, but reality tells us otherwise).

We can only hope that, through her death, Amanda Todd can save numerous lives.

Posted in On my mind | Leave a comment
 
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