Thursday, June 30, 2011

We Can All "Be a Fan" of the Special Olympics

The 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games has returned to the birthplace of sport. Hosted by the city of Athens, Greece, the Games are currently running through to July 4, where more than 7,000 Special Olympics athletes from nearly 180 countries are competing in 22 Olympic-type sports - the largest international multi-sport event of this year. At 146 members strong, including 106 athletes and 40 coaches and mission staff from across the country, Team Canada is anticipating great things in Athens.

One of the goals of the Special Olympics program at Games time is to offer many non-sporting opportunities for the competing athletes. Diverse areas like health care, leadership training, legislative self advocacy and employment, is where Special Olympics takes a leadership role. One of many of those in the health care sector is the Healthy Athletes Program. This is a vital opportunity designed to improve the athletes' health and fitness by receiving a free health examination and they are also provided with health-related advice that will help them develop good living habits and improve their own health situation. The Healthy Athletes Program is made up of six disciplines including Fit Feet, Fun Fitness, Healthy Hearing, Health Promotion, Opening Eyes® and Special Smiles®. With Healthy Athletes, Special Olympics is the largest public health organization specifically for people with intellectual disabilities.

The Special Olympics is a worldwide organization that improves lives every day of the year. From its starting days in the mid-1960s backyard of Eunice Kennedy-Shriver to today, the Special Olympics have evolved to a globally unifying movement offering opportunities to over 3 million athletes with intellectual disabilities from all over the world. They continue to reinforce the athlete’s self-esteem, their health, their special abilities, and become active and useful members of their societies.

Please visit SIRC for more information on the Special Olympics.

Online Resource:
Special Olympics Canada

Photos courtesy of Special Olympics Canada
Photo 1: Team Canada in Athens
Photo 2: The 4x100m women's relay swim team (L to R) Justine Morrier, the 15 year-old from Ste Jean-sur-Richelieu, Meagan Michie from Metcalf, Ontario, Erica Buehlow from Brighton, Ontario, and Robin Crandall from Niagara.
Photo 3: Sara Albers and honourary athlete Darryl Sittler.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's all in the wrist!

It all starts with complaints of an aching wrist, hand or forearm. Then there is a feeling that the hand is going to sleep, or there is constant pain in the palm. This could all be as a result of pressure on the nerve that innervates the hands and fingers. The anatomical compartment where the tendons, nerves and arteries go through the wrist to reach the hand is called the carpal tunnel. From athletes to trades people, overuse of the hands by putting in long hours on the tennis court, golf course, on the bike (holding on to the bars), or anything that requires repetitive and strenuous motion can lead to “carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).” Classified mostly as a sports injury, in fact CTS can happen to anyone when the repetitive stress conditions are right including excessive computer use, electricians, bricklayers, meat cutters, seamstresses and carpenters.

Essentially, the structures in the tunnel run out of space - like too much data through a bandwidth, or six lanes of traffic merging into three. Something has to give, and in this case, the median nerve becomes inflamed and it starts sending messages of pain and discomfort. Attending to this syndrome immediately will prevent going under the knife. Some ways to treat carpal tunnel syndrome include:
  • Avoid and/or limit repetitive wrist activities
  • Wearing wrist splints to alleviate pain and discomfort
  • Using NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to reduce pain and inflammation
However, if conservative measures do not heed positive results, then surgery might be the only solution where the scar tissue will be removed from the carpal ligament to free up some space in the very narrow tunnel. The traditional invasive carpal tunnel release surgery requires the dissection of the layers of the palm and a lengthy incision, while the new advancement called Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release (ECTR) uses an endoscopy or an arthroscopic device resulting in a much smaller incision size. Other benefits to the patient include:
  • Reduced pain after surgery
  • Less scar tissue
  • Quicker resumption of normal activities
  • Better cosmetic result for patients.
Please visit SIRC for more information on carpal tunnel syndrome.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sport Tourism Leads The Way

The fastest growing segment in the tourism industry is definitely sport tourism, since hosting events is the perfect way to drive visitors to a town whether it is from across the province or around the world. From Little League tournaments to World Championships and beyond, cities are finding ways to host events like never before so that their hotel rooms are filled, facilities are utilized, restaurants are busy, and shops are active with visitors buying souvenirs.

Canada is passionate about sport and has been welcoming the world for many years with such events as the Olympic Games, FIFA World Cups, and many more. One of the key objectives of the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance (CSTA) is to market Canada internationally as a preferred sport tourism destination.

Cities like Kamloops, British Columbia, who hosted the 1993 Canada Summer Games, have used that legacy to continue to host events (national and international) and even turned their marketing campaign up a notch, and use the motto: “Kamloops: Canada’s Tournament Capital” Their experience in hosting successful events and working with key stakeholders in the city, insures that their events are well run and organized.

There is no convincing necessary on why the Niagara region of Ontario is a prime destination, as Niagara Falls is the “seventh natural wonder of the world” and one of Canada’s top vacation destinations. The Niagara Sports Commission has one of the greatest back drops in their backyard, and they can no doubt leverage this when bidding on events as their mandate is to foster economic and community development through sport. Wisely they have also chosen to focus on promoting and enhancing the opportunities for accessible sport through their newly launched Niagara Accessible Sport program.

The pie is large as sport tourism is the swiftest emerging sector in the global travel industry generating up to $6 billion annually, with Canada working hard to get its share!

Contact SIRC for more information on sports tourism!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Have Your Say!

Sport Canada, a branch of the Department of Canadian Heritage with the Government of Canada, works to help Canadians participate and excel in sport. Their mandate is to strengthen the involvement that sport has in developing the image of Canada, with respect to identity, culture and society, as well as to develop Federal sport policy in Canada, provide funding to programs in support of sport, and administer special projects related to sport.

The policy that governs sport in Canada is now up for renewal. The federal and provincial/territorial Ministers responsible for sport have agreed to go to the Canadian people for their opinions. Now is the time for interested Canadians and sport communities to contribute and to help build a sport policy that reflects the sport they want in Canada. The vision embraced by the policy will lay the foundation upon which Sport Canada will focus their efforts over the next ten years to improve sport in this country.

SIRC, the Sport Information Resource Centre, is working in cooperation with Sport Canada to conduct an electronic survey to collect the opinions of sporting Canadians for the renewal process. The best part is, it does not matter how you contribute to sport - athlete (recreational, club and elite), coach, administrator, physical education teacher, event manager, athletic trainer, sports commentator, researcher, business owner, fitness industry specialist, parent, grandparent, fan –the list goes on. The survey is open to every segment of Canadian society as it seeks to involve all those who do, and those who do not, currently consider themselves a part of either the sport community or the sport system, yet have the potential, the experience and the desire to contribute.

Think about your own experiences with sport, and now think about what you have to say about those experiences. Completing the Canadian Sport Policy Renewal Electronic Survey by June 27, 2011, will insure that the federal, provincial/territorial Ministers responsible for sport have heard the concerns of the nation. It’s your turn to be heard Canada. Take a few minutes to do the quick survey now, tweet that you’ve done it, and pass the link on to all your social and sport contacts.
For more information on the Canadian Sport Policy Renewal process contact SIRC!

Friday, June 10, 2011

“Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.”

There is no doubt that water is essential for life considering that 60-70% of our bodies is made up of water. Consuming just the right amount of water is paramount in not only regulating body temperature, but building new cells, eliminating waste and playing its’ part in producing energy.

But can you ever have too much of it? The simple answer is yes, especially if you are working out or competing in endurance type events. Over-drinking especially during exercise can lead to hyponatremia, a condition in which the sodium concentration in the blood drops because there is too much water in the bloodstream and an inadequate excretion of water in urine. Basically, the sodium in the body gets diluted. (Hypo means too small; natremia means sodium status.)

A lot of distance and endurance events, including triathlons, ultra-distance and marathons, are almost always concerned with dehydration of their participants, and therefore have water stations located at various distances throughout the course. Research shows that unless you are sweating profusely, and feeling moderately thirsty, that the athlete should actually bypass some stations and not get caught up in over hydrating as this can lead to hyponatremia. Unfortunately, it is the inexperienced and novice that tend to overdo the fluid intake and are most at risk.

Some of the symptoms of hyponatremia can include:
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Unable to urinate
  • Confusion and lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle weakness, spasms or cramps
  • Seizures
  • Coma and death (in extreme cases)
Hard to believe, but even water can be considered a poisonous substance when over-consumed, just like any substance that can throw the water-sodium balance off-kilter. Finding the water balance for each participant is key and also requires practice.

For more information on hydration for endurance events, please contact SIRC.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cycle Safe!

Amongst the many things that spring brings in Canada, cycling on the roads is one of the most popular. And with the outrageous prices of gasoline, more and more people are taking to two wheels to go to the store, to work, to their friends, and to the park. However, it’s no secret that there is significant risk to a cyclist on the roads today. No one is paying attention the way they used to and that includes both drivers and cyclists. Drivers are distracted like never before, and cyclists will always take the brunt of that collision. In the same vein, drivers aren’t mind readers, and long gone are the days when the cyclist actually uses those arm signals, once even taught in school, to advise nearby cars of their intent to turn.

A lot of cities in Canada are set up with dedicated bike lanes right in the downtown cores, as well as for commuters. Cities like Victoria, British Columbia have the dedicated and scenic “Galloping Goose Trail” that many a cycling commuter can use year round to get downtown. In Toronto, a city filled with people, cars, bikes, and pedestrians, the bikes lanes currently in place seem to be merely a suggestion.

Education, respect and cooperation are going to go along way with those who need to share the road. Groups trying to get the reminder messages out include the Ottawa-based Citizens for Safe Cycling (CfSC) group which promotes safe and efficient cycling in Ottawa by advocating:
  • Acceptance of the responsible cyclist as a legitimate road-user
  • Education of all cyclists to improve their riding and traffic skills and also of other road-users to help them accommodate cyclist traffic as part of their normal driving skills
  • Improved engineering to facilitate cyclist traffic such as proper traffic control systems, adequate lane widths and sufficient, secure parking
  • Legislation that is effective and properly enforced
  • Representation of cycling issues to all levels of government
The Canadian Cycling Association, the national governing body for competitive cycling in Canada, even has a voice when it comes to the education of recreational cycling and they have developed the CAN-BIKE cycling safety program which provides a nationally standardized set of courses that can be taught through a variety of organizations who are interested in education, safety and health, for the 14 million cyclists in the country.

For more information on cycling safety tips, please contact SIRC!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

One Stop Shops for Digital Solutions

A case no longer needs to be made for why an organization should be using social media as part of their business plan. We all know that embracing the medium means that customer engagement will improved significantly while allowing for direct customer and member communication and increasing the speed of feedback and results.

With an unquestionable increase in the business usage of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr or YouTube, just how much thought is put in to the actual planning for these tools. Besides having a well designed website that is user friendly and easy to navigate, a lot of attention should be paid to the creation and strategy of the content on the website and to making sure the right messages are getting through as quickly as they need to, given our society’s propensity for immediate feedback and results (and we don’t mean sports results!).

This past week SIRC attended a few excellent presentations on social media in the Sport Alliance Ontario building in Toronto, by companies that are providing one-stop digital shops for amateur sports organizations – large and small.
  • CanSport LIVE, lead by Chief Executive Officer Kevin Albrecht, has a talented and knowledgeable team that can quickly develop a website for any sporting outlet whether it is an amateur sports federation, club or league. They will also help streamline all those daily digital processes that are so time consuming to organizations yet so valuable, as well as provide video content and generate revenue from national advertisers. Rugby Ontario and the Ontario Soccer Association are already benefitting from the services of CanSport LIVE.
  • Echinda Solutions, based in London, Ontario, assists sports organization by also focusing on the right message, using the right technology, with the right budget at the right time. From website design to data management to e-commerce and online support, Echinda Solutions also wants to insure that an organizations website is a huge part of the overall communications, marketing and sales plan. Two of their sport partner’s websites are the Hockey Night in Canada’s Play On and Ophea.
Contact SIRC for more information on social media!