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Campus Life  

Sketch a career in animation with new Okanagan College diploma

Steff Farrar May 2017Aspiring animators will be able to bring their passion for drawing to life this fall with animation industry veteran Steff Farrar at the helm of a new two-year diploma at Okanagan College. 

“It’s exciting to be able to offer a program suited to an industry that has a lot of buzz right here in the Okanagan,” says Farrar, who recently moved to Kelowna in order to chair the Animation diploma program. She brings with her 25 years’ industry and training experience.

The College will be hosting a series of open house information sessions in its new animation lab in the Okanagan Centre for Innovation every Saturday in June to meet with prospective students and those interested in a career in animation. Farrar will be on site to answer questions and encourages potential applicants to bring their portfolios along. 

“Candidates might think their body of work has to be polished, coloured and poster ready, but to be honest, I’d rather see something loose and rough that shows good form,” she says. “That will tell me more about their skills and readiness to join and thrive in the program.”

With the animation entertainment industry experiencing exponential growth in the valley, graduates of the program will help to meet the local industry demands.

“All eyes are on Kelowna,” says Chris Derochie, Kelowna Supervising Animation Director at Bardel Entertainment. He explains that the lower Canadian dollar has helped the trend of big productions looking north. With the Vancouver sector exceeding capacity and the high cost of living there, it is creating opportunities within many studios in the Okanagan.

“We don’t necessarily want to have to search abroad for our talent, we need it to be close at hand,” says Derochie. “By hiring locally we can get the individuals into the studios quicker, and in turn those employees want to stay in the region where they have established family and life roots.”

Bardel’s Kelowna office started with four employees in 2013, today they have 82 employees and a target of getting to 120 by the end of 2017. It is this type of growth that has spurred the development of the College’s program.

Yeti Farm Creative echoes the same sentiments. 

“The industry is saturated with work and there are simply not enough qualified and skilled animators, designers, storyboard artists, FX artists, to fulfill current industry demands,” says Ashley Ramsay, Partner and CEO at Yeti Farm Creative. “The industry shows no signs of slowing down and Okanagan College graduates will be fortunate to have their pick of local opportunities should they wish to stay in Kelowna upon graduation.” 

Farrar is working in concert with local studios to ensure that an engaging curriculum responds to the changing needs of the industry, providing critical skills students need to fast track into being job-ready. The program focuses on drawing, design, and the principles and techniques of traditional and digital character animation in 2D, digital 2D and 3D animation. Skills will be developed in: visualization, animation software (Toon Boom Harmony), storyboarding, life drawing, and character design among others.

Students will learn in state-of-the-art classrooms at the Okanagan Centre for Innovation. A hub for creative digital arts and the tech sector, the Centre is newly opened in downtown Kelowna, placing students at the epicenter of top Okanagan animation studios including Bardel Entertainment, Disney Interactive and Yeti Farm Creative.

To assist with program costs, Okanagan College is providing $6,000 of financial support per program year to each enrolled domestic student ($12,000 total).

The free open house sessions will be held each Saturday in June (3, 10, 17 and 24) at the Okanagan Centre for Innovation (460 Doyle Avenue, Kelowna). The hour-long sessions will be offered twice each day: 10 a.m. and noon.

To find out more about the program visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/animation.

 





Greyeyes and Klick receive OC Alumni Association’s highest honours

Okanagan College Media Release

In recognition of outstanding contributions to the College and its surrounding communities, two Okanagan College alumni have earned the top honours awarded by the Okanagan College Alumni Association (OCAA).

Penticton’s Grace Greyeyes is the recipient of this year’s OCAA Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes excellence in the areas of leadership, the environment, business or industry, public or community service, the arts and/or support for Okanagan College. Ben Klick of West Kelowna will receive the 2017 OCAA Young Alumni Award, which recognizes extraordinary contributions of alumni under the age of 35.

Grace Greyeyes May 2017Greyeyes has been a passionate advocate for education all of her adult life, first in her nursing career which spanned more than 35 years in Canada and the U.S. and later as a volunteer, advisor, Elder, and Aboriginal knowledge keeper in the South Okanagan. She has been a member of the Aboriginal Education Advisory committee for School District #67 in Penticton for more than a decade and recently began developing curriculum for SD#53 (Okanagan Similkameen).

For the last five years she has also volunteered with the Penticton Indian Band’s Grandma program, which provides support to local elementary, middle and high school students. She also recently founded the Penticton Indian Band’s Snpinktn Elders Society.

Her passion for education has been recognized locally and at the national level. In 2016, she was honoured with the Okanagan Nation Transition and Emergency Housing Award for her commitment to education in the community. This September she will be participating in the National Gathering of Elders hosted in Edmonton.

Greyeyes’ connection to Okanagan College dates back to the institution’s earliest years. She completed her Practical Nursing training at the College (then B.C. Vocational School) in 1968. She returned in the early 1990s to continue to her education, pursuing Arts courses at the Penticton campus. Since 2015 she has served as Elder in Residence at the College’s Penticton campus.

“I’m humbled and grateful to be recognized by the OCAA,” says Greyeyes. “Education has always been very important to me. I really do believe that education transforms lives, and so I continue to encourage our young people to think about their education, set goals and reach for them.”

At only 21 years of age, Ben Klick has already made his mark in the country music scene in Canada and the U.S. andBen Klick May 2017 continues to amass fans and accolades, along with the attention and respect of his fellow artists in the industry.

Klick enrolled in the Audio Engineering and Music Production program at Okanagan College in 2014. He set out to learn as much as he could about the music industry, from the technical aspects of the recording studio to the finer points of marketing and entrepreneurship that go into launching a successful career as an artist. After graduating in September 2015, he released his debut EP Today and went on to play nearly 60 dates across North America the following year.

Despite a hectic recording and touring schedule, and an ever-expanding list of awards to his name – including 2015 Global Country Star Search Winner, 2016 Canada’s Walk of Fame Top 7 Emerging Artist, British Columbia Country Music Association (BCCMA) Award (2016 – Best Website), and 2017 First Round JUNO Award Nominee – Klick maintains close ties with the College and his community.

In January he headlined the “North of Nashville” concert at the College’s Kelowna campus. The show was produced by students from the very program from which he graduated. The net proceeds of the concert – $1,500 – went back to students in the program through bursaries. On March 23, he once again dazzled a hometown crowd when he took to the stage at the Kelowna Community Theatre to open for country music legend Tanya Tucker. Klick is currently working with producers in Nashville on new singles, the first of which will be released on June 12.

“Okanagan College is near and dear to my heart, so this award is very special to me,” says Klick. “Given all the incredible young OC alumni out there in the world doing great things, I feel supremely honoured and humbled to be recognized.”

“Grace and Ben share a remarkable dedication to the College and to community involvement,” says Kara Kazimer, President of the Board, Okanagan College Alumni Association. “On behalf of my fellow OCAA board members, I congratulate both of this year’s award recipients on their accomplishments. Those accomplishments – and the example they have set – will no doubt inspire our future alumni to consider the impact they too can have.”

Greyeyes and Klick’s achievements will be celebrated at the OCAA awards ceremony and reception on Sept. 19 at the College’s Kelowna campus. For more information about the awards and previous recipients, please visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/alumni.  

 



Ancient genetic markers in sockeye salmon can help manage healthier fish stocks

New genetic markers in sockeye salmon that can help improve management of fish populations. Photo credit: Kyle Hawes

New genetic markers in sockeye salmon that can help improve management of fish populations. Photo credit: Kyle Hawes

The markers, called single nucleotide polymorphisms, are individual locations in the genome that, in this case, allow researchers to distinguish between the different variants of sockeye salmon: those that spawn on lakeshore or island beaches and those that spawn in rivers and streams.

“The obvious practical application is in fisheries management,” says study senior author Michael Russello, biology professor at UBC Okanagan. “Until now, it was quite challenging and even impossible, in some cases, to identify these different variants outside the spawning season. But the new genetic markers provide a fast, inexpensive and accurate way to tell them apart.”

Michael Russello is a biology professor at UBC Okanagan.

Michael Russello is a biology professor at UBC Okanagan.

The ability for fisheries managers to precisely identify and monitor the abundance of different sockeye salmon populations is important to helping maintain healthy fish stocks, says Russello. The Ecological and Conservation Genomics Lab is working with fisheries managers to help classify kokanee, a freshwater form of sockeye salmon, to more accurately estimate population numbers, an important key in monitoring the impacts of changes to their habitat and hopefully in preventing future declines in the salmon run.

Russello and former UBC Okanagan post-doctoral associate Andrew Veale (now at the University of Otago) studied populations across the range of sockeye salmon in the United States, Canada, Russia and Japan at these areas in the genome. What they found was remarkably consistent genetic patterns for shore- and stream-spawning sockeye, despite spawning locations spanning different continents.

“What’s really exciting are the clues this provides for better understanding the genetic basis of how new forms arise in nature,” adds Russello. “In this case, we can estimate that the different sockeye salmon types diverged some 3.8 million years ago, much earlier than we would have predicted. There is incredible potential here to better understand the complex evolutionary history of this species.”

The study was published in Scientific Reports, an online journal from the publishers of Nature, and was supported by funding from Genome British Columbia, Okanagan Aquatic Enterprises, BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource, and BC Hydro.

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New economics and media course offered at UBC’s Okanagan campus

UBC Okanagan launches Economics and the Media, the first campus course of its type open to students across the university.

UBC Okanagan launches Economics and the Media, the first campus course of its type open to students across the university.

In today’s Information Age, media is everywhere. As the digital revolution continues to unfold and new global markets emerge, new media has become a growing economic influence.

Within this context, UBC Okanagan is launching Economics and the Media, the first course of its type open to students across the university, regardless of their program of study.

Available in January 2018, the interdisciplinary course will draw together students from every faculty and discipline, from economics and political science to management and media studies.

Julien Picault, instructor of economics, at UBC's Okanagan campus.

Julien Picault, instructor of economics, at UBC's Okanagan campus.

“This course is ideal for highly-motivated students seeking to gain supplementary practical experience with economics,” says Julien Picault, instructor of economics, who is leading the course design.

Taking a broad perspective, the course will cover the multifaceted nature of economics. Students will also have the chance to submit articles to KelownaNow, a partnered local media outlet for possible publication.

“Students will have the opportunity to expand on the theoretical models learned in previous courses by researching and writing media articles exploring the practical role of economics in the community,” Picault adds.

Picault says students may be surprised at the interactive nature of the course, noting there is a lot more to it than taking notes during class.

“Rather than traditional lectures, the course will include group discussions, brainstorming, group research and experimental learning,” says Picault. “This is an outcome-based course. Students will be expected to produce high-quality articles worthy of publication.”

Students will be held not only to UBC standards but also to those of the media outlet, providing a better understanding of workplace expectations.

Picault is one of two 2017 recipients of the Curricular Innovation Award, which provides faculty in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences up to $10,000 to develop innovative approaches to teaching and learning.

Open to all UBC students and starting January 2018, the new Economics and the Media course (ECON 391) requires completed prerequisites in Principles of Microeconomics (ECON 101) and Principles of Macroeconomics (ECON 102).

Registration opens in June and specific details can be found at: students.ok.ubc.ca/enrolment-services/course-registration/registration-dates

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Wine Talks returns with an expert panel on wine marketing

Okanagan College Media Release

Together with Liquidity Winery, Okanagan College is presenting
Wine Talks, An International Perspective on Wine Marketing, for the second time. Five international experts will come together at the Penticton campus on June 26.

“We are so pleased to build on our connections with the B.C. wine industry, and to continue working with Liquidity Winery,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “We look forward to hosting another Wine Talks with an excellent panel that brings a variety of knowledge to the table.”

Leading the discussion will be Mark Davidson, Global Education Manager for Wine Australia. Davidson has more than 35 years of experience in the hospitality sector and is a former Sommelier of the Year at the Vancouver International Wine Festival. He is an instructor with the International Sommelier Guild and is currently studying the theory section to become a Master of Wine.

Joining him is founder of WineDrops, Karen Graham. WineDrops offers commentary on policy and business issues in the Canadian wine and liquor industry, along with analytical and strategic advisory work through KMG Strategy Consulting. Prior to working in the wine industry, Graham held several senior level policy positions with the Business Council of BC and the United States Consulate in Vancouver.

Rob McMillan, Executive Vice-President of the Wine Division of Silicon Valley Bank, joins the panel once again, having presented at the first Wine Talks in November. In his role, McMillan supports the growth of California’s wine industry with his client base and by sharing views on factors impacting the fine wine business.

Vancouver-based lawyers Mark Hicken of Vintage Law Group and Shea Coulson, who practises commercial, regulatory, and constitutional litigation, will provide updates and insight on the direct-to-consumer market and interprovincial trade barriers. Hicken is the founder and co-chair of Vancouver’s annual Wine and Liquor Law Conference.

“The College plays a significant role in educating members of the B.C. wine industry, from the vineyard to the tasting room,” says Ian MacDonald, owner of Liquidity Winery. “We are delighted to work with them to bring world-class industry experts to the Okanagan and provide professional development events for our growing wine region.”

Wine Talks will be held on Monday, June 26 at the Penticton campus of Okanagan College (room PC 113, 583 Duncan Avenue West), from 6 to 9 p.m., including a coffee and wine break. Early bird tickets are $35 until June 19, when the price increases to $45. Tickets can be purchased online at www.okanagan.bc.ca/winetalks.

 



Workshop to provide a guiding compass for social enterprises

Okanagan College Media Release

SoFun Workshop Hosts May 2017An upcoming workshop will equip those seeking real-world solutions to challenges in our communities with the essential business tools needed to set their social enterprise ideas in motion. 

On Thursday, May 25 the Scotiabank Centre for Non-Profit Excellence at Okanagan College and Purppl, a community enterprise accelerator, will join forces to lead the SoFun workshop, teaching social enterprise fundamentals. The workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Kelowna campus of Okanagan College in room E103.

“Communities are struggling under the weight of chronic, persistent challenges like social justice, food and water security, accessible transportation, and economic empowerment,” says Andrew Greer, founder of Purppl. “The organizations tasked with solving these issues are struggling with unpredictable funding models.

“Using a social enterprise model can add predictable, sustainable, entrepreneurial revenue into these organizations which can be used to implement long-term solutions to community challenges. The SoFun workshop uses global entrepreneurial best practices and tools to help social entrepreneurs.”

Participants will examine the case study of Mission Possible (an organization which helps those affected by homelessness find meaningful work) through the global-standard Business Model Canvas tool. The model applies lean thinking, which aims to shorten the process from startup to implementation, therefore increasing efficiency and impact of the business idea. Participants will also be able to apply key learnings to their own business ideas and work on them while making the most of access to experts and resources in the room.

Increasing the sustainability of non-profit organizations has been one of the key directions of the Scotiabank Centre for Non-Profit Excellence since it was established in 2014. Social enterprise is a tool that organizations can use to achieve a level of sustainability.

“Our research shows that lack of access, or simply not knowing where to find the information, is a big gap in the non-profit sector within the Okanagan,” explains Dr. Kyleen Myrah, Okanagan College School of Business professor and faculty researcher at the Centre. “This workshop is one way to put information in the hands of those ready to help make the changes that will benefit our community.”

Attendees will each receive a copy of the Business Model Canvas, will have an opportunity to work on their own social enterprise ideas, explore available business resources, connect with other like-minded individuals, and have access to learn with and from other social entrepreneurs. The workshop is suited for: leaders of non-profits, individuals working in existing organizations (non-profit and for profit) with social enterprise initiatives, entrepreneurs looking to solve a social problem in their community, government employees looking to implement impact initiatives, and students.

Myrah and Greer will be joined by OC business professor Kerry Rempel to lead the workshop. Giulio Piccioli, founder of One Big Table, will also present about his experience of building a social enterprise focused on access to local food and the lean startup approach he has applied.

Tickets are $45 (at www.socialfundamentals.eventbrite.ca) and include lunch, coffee, and tea.

 



Gift supports Kelowna General Hospital and Biology Co-op education program

Kelowna residents Colin and Lois Pritchard have long been recognized in the community for their outstanding contributions to advancing health care in the southern interior region.  On Thursday, the most recent of their foundation’s contributions was unveiled at Kelowna General Hospital.

Thanks to the generosity of The Colin and Lois Pritchard Foundation, the Larissa Yarr Medical Microbiology laboratory at KGH has new, sophisticated testing abilities with a real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) laboratory. These highly advanced diagnostic instruments allow laboratory staff to detect and identify specific antibiotic resistance gene mutations, bacteria and viruses faster than ever before.

Currently, most viral diagnostics must be sent to Vancouver for testing in a reference facility, with delays due to the transport required.  The new PCR instrumentation allows for significantly increased capacity to test for viral illnesses directly at KGH.  When time is of the essence, having immediate access to this kind of advanced technology can significantly impact the clinical course of a patient.

Biology Co-op education program

The gift also includes a generous provision to UBC Okanagan’s Department of Biology to support one microbiology student per year for the next five years.  The student will have the opportunity for a four-month co-op placement in the Microbiology Laboratory at KGH.

The gift has the dual purpose of supporting talented UBC Okanagan students in real-world learning while also building capacity for the lab to undertake research on the PCR.

Since being founded in 2007, The Colin & Lois Pritchard Foundation has made possible some incredibly unique acquisitions at KGH including; the Endoscopic Ultrasound in 2015, which allows highly detailed gastrointestinal imaging; the MALDI TOF analyzer in 2013 that speeds bacterial identification; and Telehealth and Video Conferencing in 2012, allowing for remote specialist consulting and diagnostic work to be done where people live.

The gifts are remarkable on a number of fronts, not the least of which is the Pritchards’ commitment to working in partnership with both KGH and UBC-O.  Each gift is intentionally structured to fill less obvious but still critical needs within the hospital, while providing research and learning opportunities for students.

“These days, philanthropy in health care is often focused on cancer or cardiac care,” notes Dr. Edith Blondel-Hill, KGH Medical Microbiologist who has worked directly with the Pritchards.  “Supporting the microbiology laboratory with new technology to improve the diagnosis of infections will ultimately result in better antibiotic use, to preserve these lifesaving medications for future generations. This donation demonstrates this family’s commitment to the present and future health of our community.”

“The Pritchards’ history of giving is really unique,” notes KGH Foundation CEO Doug Rankmore.  “Over the years, they have been exceptionally engaged with our specialty medical teams to determine where needs exist that might typically be overlooked because it’s not top of mind in the media or even within the general medical community. Their gifts have had an incredible impact in this hospital.”

UBC Okanagan microbiology student April Mahovlic is the recipient of the co-op funding for this year.

“Working with Dr. Wilmer at the Lab has been a tremendous learning opportunity for me,” she says.  “I will be forever grateful to the Pritchard family for this gift.  Because of them, I have the opportunity to work with some of the most advanced technology in Canada.”

Indeed, the support of advanced education in the medical fields has been a top priority for the Pritchards and has resulted in several gifts to UBC over the years including bursary support for Southern Medical Program (SMP) students, research opportunities for SMP students at the BC Cancer Agency, simulation equipment and ultrasound technology.

“Health is one of UBC’s top research priorities,” says Vice-Principal and Associate Vice-President of Research at UBC Philip Barker. “The Okanagan campus is uniquely positioned to provide transformative learning opportunities for the next generation of innovators and critical thinkers. We look forward to continuing our work with Interior Health and would like to extend our sincere thanks to the Pritchards for their generous and ongoing support of our mission.”

INFO SHEET – NEW PCR INSTRUMENT AT KELOWNA GENERAL HOSPITAL

KGH DEPARTMENT OF MICROBIOLOGY

The Colin & Lois Pritchard Foundation’s gift supported the acquisition of a sophisticated piece of technology/ instrumentation that allows the microbiology lab at KGH to perform PCR, or amplify DNA, to detect and identify specific genome.

What is PCR and why is it important?

PCR stands for Polymerase Chain Reaction. Performing PCR has many practical applications and benefits including the locating of specific gene mutations and the diagnoses of viruses including HIV, SARS, H5N1, bacteria analysis for resistant genes in real time. This means the bio-medical team at KGH is able to make diagnoses faster than ever before, which allows them to treat these illnesses with greater efficiency.

In addition to influenza and other respiratory viruses and bacteria, this system provides capacity to test for gastrointestinal pathogens, resistance factors in superbugs and much more. While the new PCR instrument improves the capacity and range of testing that can be done at KGH, it is significantly more cost effective to operate.

With this acquisition, the microbiology lab at KGH is considered to be one of the most advanced in Canada.

The Colin & Lois Pritchard Foundation

Colin Pritchard, a retired lawyer and UBC alumnus and his wife Lois, founded The Colin & Lois Pritchard Foundation in 2007. A snapshot of the Pritchard Foundation’s philanthropy over the past ten years reveals a commitment to working in partnership with multiple organizations to profoundly impact the delivery of health care in our community both for today and for generations to come.

Over past 10 years, The Colin & Lois Pritchard Foundation has worked in partnership with KGH medical teams and medical faculties at UBC Okanagan to identify intersection points between the two institutions where provisions can be made for both the acquisition of state of the art equipment at KGH and learning and research opportunities for students.



UBC’s annual Think Tank supports a bright future for Osoyoos Secondary School

At this time last year, the fate of Osoyoos Secondary School was dire. Due to challenges with declining enrolment, the school was scheduled to close. However, the Rural Education Enhancement Fund provided funding and the school remains open.

A year later and things today look much brighter for the students of Osoyoos Secondary. The new flexible schedule was part of the focus at this week’s Small Secondary School Think Tank at UBC Okanagan.

Educators from across the province were invited to UBC Okanagan to participate in the fourth annual Think Tank, hosted by the Faculty of Education. The event supports rural education and the unique achievements and challenges faced by schools in small, often rural communities.

"Several years ago our staff committed to looking for new approaches to teaching and learning at Osoyoos secondary in response to declining enrolment and the new BC K-12 curriculum,” says Mike Safek, Osoyoos Secondary principal. “The outcome of the process, which was concluded before the school closure was announced, is a flexible schedule that has given our students more courses to choose from, more flexibility in personalizing their pathway to graduation, more ownership of their learning, and the ability to learn in high-interest areas."

Since beginning the flexible schedule in September, there has been a steady increase in the number of honour roll students, more access for credit courses for those students on track to graduate and better opportunities for students to explore areas of interest, which aligns with BC’s new K-12 curriculum mandate.

Safek notes that although there is much more work to be done at Osoyoos secondary, he commends UBC’s Small Schools Think Tank for being a place to share ideas, and gather insights from educators who face similar challenges in smaller school communities.

"UBC’s Small Schools Think Tank is a powerful venue to support innovation and change. Working with educators from around the province who are either wanting to innovate, or are engaged in innovation, is energizing and motivating. The collective energy and contributions of the group raised possibilities for us that will help us move forward in our journey."

“UBC Okanagan is so pleased to host and facilitate the 4th annual Think Tank,” says Susan Crichton, associate dean in the Faculty of Education. “This annual Think Tank allows us to focus on the richness and opportunities smaller schools and celebrate their success and innovation.  Each case, presented during our Think Tanks has provoked important conversations and helped to form a rich community of educators.”

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Students hit the road to recruit future healthcare professionals

A diverse group of university students from across BC and Canada recently spent a week in rural BC to inspire high school students to pursue future careers in healthcare.

“The healthcare travelling roadshow is designed to help address rural healthcare shortages by reaching out to high school students,” says Leah Trippell, a first-year Southern Medical Program student at UBC Okanagan. “At the same time we provide education about the breadth of careers available and what type of careers are needed in rural communities.”

Nine students representing UBC medicine, midwifery and pharmacy along with licensed practical nursing (Vancouver Island University), respiratory therapy (Thompson Rivers University), and optometry (University of Waterloo) participated in this year’s week-long trek to Grand Forks, Trail and Nelson.

The roadshow is an eye-opening experience for countless high school students, who discovered that thumbs have pulses, and babies turn during birth. Many are surprised to learn about the existence of midwives and respiratory therapists and the scope of practice each profession represents.

In total, more than 600 students from Grand Forks Secondary School, JL Crowe secondary in Trail, and LV Rogers secondary in Nelson participated in the travelling exhibition.

“The roadshow was a fantastic experience for our students,” says Helen Argue, Student Services and Career Prep Coordinator at Grand Forks secondary. “The greatest testimony came from the students who thought it ‘would be a waste of time because they weren’t going to be doctors.’  After the session, these same students were raving about the presentation and the hands-on activities.”

As part of the trip, the university students had an opportunity to explore each community, tour local healthcare facilities to speak with rural practitioners, and connect with local mayors and councils.

“It was amazing to spend time becoming familiar with some of the communities in rural BC,” adds Trippell. “Each community welcomed us with open arms and was so excited to show us what makes their city unique and to highlight the benefits of living in smaller communities where the work-life balance is an appealing part of the lifestyle.”

The healthcare travelling roadshow was conceived and developed by Dr. Sean Maurice at the Northern Medical Program, based at the University of Northern BC. The provincial initiative is sustained by support from the Northern Medical Programs Trust, Rural Education Action Plan, Interior Health and UBC Southern Medical Program.

The program has grown to include three regional trips this year including Kootenay (Grand Forks, Trail, Nelson), Cariboo (Quesnel, Williams Lake, 100 Mile House) and Robson (McBride, Valemount, Clearwater and Barriere). Since its inception, the roadshow has connected with more than 7,000 teenagers in 32 communities throughout BC.

First-year UBC medical student Stephanie Schindler (middle) leads hands-on activity for students at LV Rogers Secondary in Nelson as part of the Healthcare Travelling Roadshow.

First-year UBC medical student Stephanie Schindler (middle) leads hands-on activity for students at LV Rogers Secondary in Nelson as part of the Healthcare Travelling Roadshow.

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Exercising can protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease

Kathleen Martin Ginis is a professor in UBC Okanagan’s School of Heath and Exercise Sciences.

Kathleen Martin Ginis is a professor in UBC Okanagan’s School of Heath and Exercise Sciences.

The evidence is clear. Physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, says a panel of researchers and not-for-profit leaders, led by UBC’s Okanagan campus.

The researchers also confirmed that regular physical activity may improve the performance of daily activities for people afflicted with Alzheimer’s. Their conclusions may have significant implications for the 1.1 million Canadians affected directly or indirectly by dementia.

“As there is no current cure for Alzheimer’s, there is an urgent need for interventions to reduce the risk of developing it and to help manage the symptoms,” says study first author Kathleen Martin Ginis, professor in UBC Okanagan’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences. “After evaluating all the research available, our panel agrees that physical activity is a practical, economical and accessible intervention for both the prevention and management of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.”

Martin Ginis and her cohort reviewed data from more than 150 research articles about the impact of physical activity on people with Alzheimer’s. Some of the work explored how physical activity improves the patient’s quality of life and the others examined the risk of developing Alzheimer’s based on the amount of activity in which an individual participated.

The panel concluded that regular physical activity improves activities of daily living and mobility in older adults with Alzheimer’s and may improve general cognition and balance.  They also established that older adults not diagnosed with Alzheimer’s who are physically active were significantly less likely to develop the disease compared to people who were inactive.

“This is exciting work,” says Martin Ginis. “From here we were able to prepare a consensus statement and messaging which not only has community backing, but is also evidence-based. Now we have the tool to promote the protective benefit of physical activity to older adults. I’m hopeful this will move the needle on this major health concern.”

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, characterized by progressive neurodegeneration that results in severe cognitive impairment, compromised physical ability and loss of independence. The number of worldwide cases is expected to increase from 30.8 million in 2010 to more than 106 million in 2050.

The study, published in BMC Public Health, was supported by funding from the Ontario Brain Institute and the Alzheimer Society.

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