Halton resources to get you on track for the school year

It is the first week of September and parents and children across the region are starting to settle into the back to school routines. I remember how busy the start of the school year was for my children and want to let parents know that halton.ca offers many great resources to help you and your child transition to the new school year.

  • Ready, Set, Go! is an online resource for parents of children starting kindergarten. You can access resources including school calendars, checklists to prepare your child for school and health information on topics such as growth and development. This section also links you to the many resources available in the Halton community to parents with young school-age children.
  • Ready, Set, Whoa! is an online resource for parents of teens entering high school. On these pages you will find resources including blogs, videos and links to community resources that can help you and your child manage the change and challenges faced when the high school years begin.
  • HaltonParents connects you with public health nurses and child development staff who provide a wealth of information about parenting topics that cover all years from birth to young adulthood. Our HaltonParents team are active daily on Twitter, Facebook and the HaltonParents blog, providing tips and advice to help you in your parenting journey.
  • Halton.ca/immunize provides a great explanation of what parents need to do to ensure immunization records are up to date for school. You can find out what immunizations are required for school and use our online reporting tool to update your records. All immunization records must be reported to your child’s school and the Halton Region Health Department.
  • Halton.ca/healthyliving links you to resources that can help you and your family build physical activity and healthy eating into your daily routine. Walking and cycling to school are great ways to be active. Our page on cycling and pedestrian safety for children can help you teach your child how to be safe when being active on the way to school on their bike, scooter or when walking.

Keeping you and your family safe and healthy is an important priority for Halton Region. I encourage you to take time to access the resources I have listed above. Supporting parents and families helps make Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.

Get ready for back to school by updating immunization records

At Halton Region we want to make getting ready for back to school as easy as possible. Some immunizations are required to attend school, so it is important to make sure immunizations are up-to-date and reported to the Halton Region Health Department.

ImmunizeReportHalton has made it easier for parents and guardians to report and request immunization records:

  • You can now report immunizations using our online reporting form – you can even take a picture of your immunization record and send to us through our webpage!
  • If you’re unsure what immunizations the Health Department has on file, you can fill out the convenient online immunization records request form to request a copy.
  • You can also update your records on-the-go by downloading and using the OneHalton app.
  • If your child is unable to get immunized or if you choose not to, you must have a notarized exemption on file with the Health Department in order to meet school attendance requirements.

As always, parents or guardians can also report or request records in person or by dialing 311.

Look for important letters from the Halton Region Health Department

As we continue to enforce the Provincial Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA), the Halton Region Health Department periodically sends letters to students in target age groups who have outdated immunization records. In spring 2017, we sent out letters to families of students born in 2008 and 2009; we’re currently sending letters to families with students entering grades 9 to 12 this school year. If you received one of these letters, please report your child’s immunizations as soon as possible to the Health Department to avoid possible school suspension.

If your child requires certain immunizations, please visit your family doctor. If you are in need a family doctor, please visit halton.ca/newdoctor.

Working together, we can protect ourselves, our children and our community from vaccine preventable diseases. Thank you for helping us keep Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.

Helping parents and children make the transition back to school

Regional resources and supports to help you get ready for school

It’s that time of the year again for the kids to go back to school. Are you ready for school routines, packing lunches and making sure your kids children know how to get to school safely? As you enjoy the final days of summer vacation, I want to share with you a number of Regional resources that can help make your families’ transition back to school—safe and healthy.

Getting school-ready

Do you have a major change happening in your family? Is your little one starting kindergarten or maybe you have an older child starting high school? Halton Region offers two online resources filled with valuable tips and information to help you support your child as they start school. Ready, Set, Go!, for preschoolers starting kindergarten and Ready, Set, Whoa!, for teens, can help you navigate and support your child’s journey through the next stage of their life.

Keeping your immunizations up-to-date

Immunization is one way to protect our community from the threat of preventable diseases that can easily be spread in schools. If you haven’t already done so, please ensure your family’s immunizations are up-to-date and that your children have all of the legally-required immunizations to attend school. All updated immunizations must be submitted to the Health Department.

Halton has recently been making it easier for parents to report and request immunization records. You can now report immunizations either online, in person or by dialing 311. If you’re unsure what immunizations the Health Department has on file, we recently launched an online immunization records request form to give you a more convenient way to request a copy of the immunization records we have on file.

Safely getting to school

Teaching children to cross the road safely when walking or biking is an important first step towards independence. As parents, we start by holding their hand as they cross the road and reminding them to always look all ways before crossing. When our children begin to head to school with friends—it is still important to keep talking about safety. If your child will be going to school on their own, you may want to practice walking to school together so they feel comfortable with the route. Our website (halton.ca) also includes information on pedestrian and bicycle safety that can help reinforce important safety messages with your children.

Support for parents

Getting organized and managing the demands of “back-to-school” routines can feel overwhelming at times for parents and children. Remember you can call or connect online with HaltonParents where public health nurses will provide support, information and other resources to cope with those everyday issues. Connect with us online at halton.ca/haltonparents, on Twitter @HaltonParents and Facebook, by email at haltonparents@halton.ca, or dial 311 to speak directly with a public health nurse. I would like to wish all Halton parents, students, teachers and school staff a wonderful, safe, healthy and productive school year.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.

Celebrating Clean Air Day with Ka-Pow to Powerjams

Protecting public health, emergency preparedness, environmental health and air quality are all Citizens’ Priorities in Halton Region’s 2011-2014 Action Plan.

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On June 5, Halton Region celebrated Canadian Environment Week (June 2 – June 8, 2013) and Clean Air Day (June 5) at Milton Public Library with the first public reading of Ka-Pow to Powerjams, a picture book for children aged four to eight.

The launch at Milton Public Library was attended by more than 50 young students and featured a book reading, a visit from some special guests from the Mountsberg Raptor Centre, a presentation on asthma triggers and an emergency preparedness display.

Ka-Pow to Powerjams is the third and final book in a three-book series about the implications of air quality and climate change on human health. It builds on the themes presented in A Farewell to Featherwagons and Wings and Thingamajigs, completing the Owls for Climate Change series by exploring emergency preparedness themes and the linkages between climate change, severe weather and energy conservation.

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Over the next few months, copies of the book will be provided to public libraries in Halton as well as child care centres, schools, community networks and partners. A complementary Storytelling Kit is available online.

As this story illustrates, simple actions can have an impact in making our community healthy, energy smart and disaster resilient. This week, why not walk or bike to your local library and borrow a copy of the book to share with your children or grandchildren. Related to emergency preparedness, consider assembling or purchasing a 72 hour Go-Kit to use during an evacuation of your home or community.

Visit www.halton.ca/owlbooks to read all three books online.  Books one and two are available in English, French, Cantonese, Polish, Punjabi and Spanish; translations of book three will be available online this summer.

If you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Heart Health in Halton

At Halton Region, we encourage and support our residents to make healthy choices.  In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about how making healthy choices can help prevent the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for both men and women in Halton but it is preventable and manageable. Eating healthily, keeping physically active and living tobacco-free can help reduce risk of heart disease.

Halton Region offers many programs and services that support healthy eating, physical activity and tobacco cessation. Below are some examples of the programs and services that the Halton Region Health Department provides.

  • Our Community Food Advisor Program helps educate community groups about the skills needed to adopt healthy eating habits. Participants also learn more about safe handling and food storage.
  • Farm to School works with local organizations to bring fresh, locally grown produce into Halton elementary schools to help influence healthy eating habits in a positive way that can also help children understand where food comes from.
  • Eat Smart helps employers in the Region provide healthy food choices to employees by offering awards to companies that maintain high standards of food safety while also offering nutritious food choices in the work place.
  • Walking is a great way to add physical activity into the day. The Count Your Steps Program is a partnership between Halton Region and participating libraries and municipalities that allows residents to borrow pedometers to help track their progress.
  • Through WalkON , Halton Region works to engage the community, municipal staff, and elected officials in the creation of built environments that support walking for active transportation.
  • Halton’s Stop Smoking Clinics work directly with residents who smoke to determine personalized methods of quitting, free of charge.
  • Our Tobacco Cessation Community of Practice brings together health professionals interested in helping people live smoke free to share and learn more about cessation.

If you would like to learn more about these and other programs, please dial 311 or visit www.halton.ca/healthresources.

If you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

New online tools for parents: “Kindergarten: Ready, Set, Go!”

We’ve been making our website a priority over the past few years – to improve the information and resources we have available to the residents of Halton and increase the interactivity of our site. Now, parents of children ages three or four will find everything they need to know to help prepare their child for the transition to kindergarten in the new “Kindergarten: Ready, Set, Go!” pages.

Prepared in partnership between Halton Region, the Halton District School Board, the Halton Catholic School Board and the Ontario Early Years Centres, parents will find comprehensive information and interactive tools such as:

Topics and resources cover the five key areas of child development, health and building healthy lifestyles, setting routines, parenting tips, reading, schedules of school PD days and holidays, and upcoming local parenting presentations.Ready Set Go

In Halton, almost one in four five-year olds (Our Kids Network Report Card, Early Development Instrument) results is not ready for school. Halton Region, in partnership with our community organizations, want to help change this statistic and ensure parents in our region have the information, resources and support they need to help give their children the confidence and skills they need to succeed in school. The “Kindergarten: Ready, Set, Go!” pages should certainly help them achieve this goal.

Keep in mind that parents with children of any age – from pregnancy to raising teenagers –can connect directly with one of our public health nurses or child development staff at any time, in many ways, through HaltonParents:

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Youth can make a difference!

Craig Kielburger addresses the audience at the Be a Hero awards ceremony.

Several talented Halton youth were recognized at an awards ceremony recently for our annual Be a Hero contest.  The awards ceremony for Be a Hero was held on November 21, 2012 and included Craig Kielburger, co-founder of Free The Children and Me to We.  Craig‘s message that “one youth can make a world of difference” nicely complemented the impressive contest submissions that were displayed around the room.  In Halton, our youth are making a difference and their contest submissions demonstrated they understood the importance of affordable housing and how it impacts people in our community.

In Halton, like many other communities in Ontario and Canada, we are building affordable housing units to ensure that individuals and families have access to safe and stable homes. A healthy community requires a range of housing options that meet the needs of all incomes and stages of life.  Youth, single adults, families, seniors, people with disabilities and recent immigrants all face challenges finding housing they can afford. The needs can be hard to see but they do exist. Housing is a complex issue that requires the support and involvement of government, the non-profit sector, the private sector and people in our community.

The top prize for this year’s contest was awarded to a class from Assumption Secondary School in Burlington for a YouTube video entitled “Home.” The class receives $1000 for their submission.  The additional prizes were awarded as follows:

  • 2nd Place – Cheryl Joseph from Iroquois Ridge High School (Oakville) for her poem “The Hard Way” ($500)
  • 3rd Place – Kylie Pinder from Nelson High School (Burlington) for her 3D model display “Everyone Deserves a Home” ($250)
  • 4th Place – Mayuri Mahendran from Iroquois Ridge High School (Oakville) for the book “A Place to Call Home” ($100)
  • 5th Place – A group of students from Craig Kielburger Secondary School (Milton) for their YouTube video about a youth struggling to find a home (Andrew Annis, Stephen Groulx-Mustafa, Sarah MacKay and Celena MacMaster) ($100)
  • Be a Hero Spirit Award – Iroquois Ridge High School for the highest number of participants in the contest

I congratulate all the contest participants for helping to raise awareness about the importance of affordable housing in Halton. Halton Region is committed through the Citizens’ Priorities – Halton Region’s 2011-2014 Action Plan to providing housing supports to address the needs of low income residents in Halton.  To learn more about this and Halton Region’s Comprehensive Housing Strategy visit  www.halton.ca.   To view my video blog about affordable and assisted housing, visit www.halton.ca/housingvideo.

YouTube videos submitted to this year’s contest are posted on the Be a Hero YouTube channel which can be accessed through www.halton.ca/beahero.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”