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When we associate texting with our health, the topic is usually bad news: texting while walking/driving causes accidents; constant texting causes carpal tunnel syndrome; texting too much damages personal relationships etc. etc. However, as the following studies show, texting has also proven to have distinct health benefits. In fact, mobile phones have found a place in the modern delivery of health care. It’s called Mobile Health, or mHealth, which covers any use of laptops, cellphones, tablets etc. in collecting patient data, monitoring patient health and delivering services.

Here are four ways that sending and receiving text messages can improve our health:

• An emergency room doctor at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island led a study that offered a violence prevention and intervention program via text messages to young female patients who’d experienced peer violence. The teens overwhelmingly agreed to the follow-up service, believing the supportive messages could help them avoid violent situations in the future, and they indicated they would recommend the service to other young girls at risk. The results of the study were released this past March, and the positive outcome has the hospital looking at ways to expand the service to reach out to at-risk male youths and non-English speaking teens.

• A University of Connecticut study observed positive results in HIV/AIDS patients who connected with their health care providers via text messages. Earlier this year, The Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention (a division of the university) released the results of a study in which patients who received text message “intervention” were found to be more likely to stay on track with their drug regimen and have better health than those who just saw their physicians for follow-ups every few months.

• Persons at risk for type 2 diabetes could benefit from text message reminders about their health, according to a University of Michigan study. Persons who signed up for and received regular messages about eating healthier, drinking more water, exercising etc. were more likely to lose some extra weight and live a healthier lifestyle, according to the study results released in 2013.

• Receiving a simple “how r u” on their phone from a loved one can be a much needed lift to someone who is isolated or feels alone, according to a University of California Berkley study that began in 2010. The project, led by a clinical psychologist, involved sending mental health participants regular messages asking about their moods, suggesting they think about positive things that happened to them and reminding them to take their medications. When the program ended after a number of weeks, several patients reported missing the regular connection. To someone who’s depressed or under stress, a concerned text message is a welcome connection and immediately makes them feel cared for – proving that through texting you really can “reach out and touch someone.”

Feel Good Messages

Downhome asked our facebook friends, “What’s the BEST news you ever received via text message?” Here’s what some said:

“I got asked to be a godmother for the first time.” – Chantal Oake

“Friend’s baby’s arrival.” – Fousty Touton

“‘I’m coming to get you’ – when I was stranded.” – Tracy Perry Stepanuk

“Pics of my grandbaby-to-be.” – Wendy Roenigk-Crane

“I am home safe.” – Deanna Dwyer
There are two main reasons to visit the Little, Big Bear Safari, located about 90 minutes from Moncton in Acadieville, New Brunswick. One, of course, is to safely view black bears as they roam onto the wilderness site. Another is to meet Richard Goguen, a.k.a. “the bear whisperer.”

“My husband has a gift with animals,” says Vivianne Goguen, who co-owns the attraction with her partner. The couple built an observation tower in 1998 with the intention of inviting the public to safely view and photograph black bears in their natural environment. But one bear had a slightly different plan. During construction, an orphaned cub wandered into the area and, as Vivianne puts it, “adopted” Richard. They aptly named the cub, which Vivianne says followed Richard around like a dog, “Pooch.”

“After a few years she had babies and we said, ‘Oh great, she’s going to become wild and that’s ok – but after a few weeks she brought her babies out and literally introduced them to grand-daddy,” says Vivianne. “She pushed them towards Richard.” Now 16 years later, the Goguens believe Pooch has passed on, but three generations of her descendants still visit the site very frequently and maintain the unusual bond with Richard.

Check out this shocking footage taken at the Little, Big Bear Safari. Richard enters the scene at 1:20.

While they do not guarantee sightings, Vivianne says their tour groups have missed out on seeing black bears only twice since opening to the public in 1998. Once visitors are safely inside the 26-foot-high tower, Richard lures the animals to the site with food. “We have the same permit as hunters – we have the right to leave little treats,” says Vivianne, adding, “but we shoot with cameras only.”

Local biologists have openly criticized the business, saying Richard’s close relationship with the bears is extremely risky – not only putting himself in harm’s way, but also anyone who may encounter one of these bears in the wild, outside the safety of the Safari. Vivianne maintains they have never had any complaints of that nature and believes the bears prefer Richard only. However, she warns, “We don’t suggest that people do that in their backyard. Don’t try to do this.”

To find out about other wild encounters available right here in Atlantic Canada, see the July issue of Downhome.

Editor's Note: Richard's interaction with black bears is extremely risky. Never, ever approach a black bear if you encounter one in the wild. To find out what to do if you do encounter a black bear, click here.
Family and Friends
By Ashley Colombe

A Newfoundlander living in Nova Scotia for the past 28 years, Lisa Braye’s ear is still fine-tuned to the sound of the Newfoundland accent. Whenever the 46-year-old hears that unique lilt roll off some stranger’s tongue, she says she just can’t help but ask, “What part are you from?” But one day last fall, Lisa’s favourite conversation starter wound up leaving her completely speechless.

On October 3, while enjoying a night out at a bar in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, Lisa overheard that familiar twang from a couple seated nearby her and, as usual, she began chatting them up.

As Lisa predicted, the couple, Shirley and Jeff Taylor, were from downhome.

“They told me they were from St. Anthony and then they asked me (where I was from) and I said, ‘well, I was born in St. Anthony actually, but I grew up in Corner Brook because I was adopted out,’” explains Lisa. Curious, Shirley asked Lisa how much she knew about her birth parents – which wasn’t a lot. Lisa’s adoptive parents, Gae and Rex Braye, knew only that her birth mother’s surname was either Grinham or Greenham and that Lisa’s name at birth had been Ivy; she knew nothing of her birth father.

After revealing those few pieces of information, along with her date of birth, Lisa says, “their mouths were open and it was just total shock.”

“(Shirley) said, ‘I would say 100 per cent but I’m not going to because I have to call her – but I’m 90 per cent sure that my best friend is your biological mother,” says Lisa, recalling the conversation that took place. The following evening, Shirley phoned Lisa and confirmed that her best friend, Liz Grinham, was indeed Lisa’s birth mother, and gave Lisa Liz’s phone number.

“Every emotion any person could ever have I had it that whole weekend – happy, excited, nervous, shocked – you name it,” says Lisa. Despite the emotional rollercoaster, Lisa quickly picked up the phone to speak to her biological mother for the first time.

“I felt like I had to call her because you hear these stories of adopted kids who hate their parents,” says Lisa. “So I called Liz to basically tell her that I didn’t hate her for giving me up whatsoever, that I had a loving family and I had a great relationship with them.”

A mother’s dream

That first telephone conversation with Lisa was overwhelming, says Liz, bringing back a flood of emotions from the heartbreak she endured the day after giving birth to her more than four decades ago.

“The nurse brought her in and she told me I had to feed her,” begins Liz, and for the first and last time, a 19-year-old Liz held the bottle of milk to her baby girl’s mouth. “Then the head nurse came in and told (the nurse) off because she gave me the baby – because I wasn’t supposed to see her.” After a falling out with her boyfriend, and having been turned away by her own parents, Liz, now 66, says she had previously signed documents that relinquished her parental rights. But Liz says those few precious moments with her infant daughter were enough to change her mind. Unfortunately, she was told, there was no going back.

But as the years rolled on, her baby girl was never far from her mind.

“On her birthday, the 16th of May, I used to go around the floors saying, ‘I wonder where she’s at, is she alright? If she had a good life and stuff like that – just mumbling to myself,” says Liz. “I never talked about her much, because it hurt too much.”

Liz later had three more children and in 1999, she and one of her daughters, Loretta, decided to search for the missing piece of their family; they quickly reached a dead end, though, told that nothing could be done until “Ivy” (Lisa) came looking for them.

Meanwhile in Nova Scotia, Lisa was becoming curious about her roots as well. Around the time she turned 40, Lisa says, she began pressing her adoptive mother, Gae, for more information.

“It just seemed like I was hurting her, so I said, ‘no, I’m not going to do nothing till she’s passed away and if it’s my loss than it’s my loss.”

In 2011, Gae passed away at 79 years of age. Lisa was planning to resume her search for her biological parents when she stumbled upon the Taylors last fall.

Together at last

With Lisa’s blessing, within a few weeks of finding each other Liz and Loretta were flying to Nova Scotia. The Taylors hosted the long-awaited reunion at their home.

“(Liz) was sitting at the kitchen table there and she didn’t know what to do, like I could tell she didn’t know whether to stay seated or stand or give me a hug or whatever,” says Lisa. “She just looked at me, and I said, ‘well would you like a hug dear?’ And she come over and grabbed a hold of me, started bawling her eyes out and just said, ‘Oh, I got my baby back in my arms again.’”

“We cried and we laughed and we did it all,” says Liz. “She’s still my baby to me.”
When word got out about the twist of fate that led to Lisa’s reunion with her mother, a flurry of media attention followed, with news stories popping up in both provinces. One of those stories reached the home of Wilson Osmond of Triton, Newfoundland – Lisa’s biological father.

The year that Lisa was born, Wilson says he moved to the mainland, where he settled down and started a family, including two daughters: Lori and Lisa (yes, another Lisa). He returned home to live in 2001.

Lisa and Wilson have since connected by telephone, and they’re planning their own reunion this summer.

“I feel great about it, yes I really do,” says Wilson, 68, adding he thought bout Lisa often throughout the years.

Since running into the Taylors last fall, Lisa’s family has expanded considerably. In addition to finding her biological parents, she’s gained four sisters and a brother – plus nieces and nephews.

“I’m going to have to start working two other jobs just to send Christmas presents,” says Lisa, laughing – but it will be more than worth it.

“It’s filled a void that’s always been with me, and I’m sure every adopted child has that void,” she says.

It’s going to be a whirlwind summer vacation this year for Lisa, who’s planned visits in both St. Anthony and Triton – but her first stop will be Corner Brook, to pick up her adoptive father, Rex, who plans to accompany her.

Rex says he plans to give both Liz and Wilson a hug when he meets them; after all, without them he never could have been Lisa’s father.

“We loved youngsters,” says Rex who, together with his late wife, had a hand in raising about 85 foster children who passed through his home. He believes if his wife were alive today, she would be pleased to see her daughter reunited with her biological family. “She would think it was wonderful,” says Rex, “because that’s the type of person she was.”
Whether you’re spending the weekend boating, camping or partying at the cabin, here are some tongue-in-cheek, but surprisingly practical, things to take or do to make the most of this May Two-Four. (In order of no importance.)

1. Pack several changes of clothes: rubber clothes, wool clothes, flannel clothes, summer clothes. Be like the Scouts, prepared for anything.

2. At least 5 tarps – one to cover the cold, wet ground; one to go over the tent; one for the cooking area; and two more to block the wind.

3. Deck of cards, to keep the youngsters from killing each other ’cause it’s too miserable to play outside.

4. Sunblock. Many May campers have been caught off guard by a sudden sunny break and come home looking like a lobster.

5. Lifejacket, seriously. And wear it. A seat cushion won’t save you from drowning.

6. Cell phone, preferably a smartphone so you can tell your whole social network if you get lost, or that you’re in the woods and forgot toilet paper #bummer.

7. Guitars, harmonicas, ugly sticks – if you can’t play them, you can use them as noisemakers to keep the bears away.

8. Garbage bags to put your sleeping bag in – to keep it dry at night.

9. Snowsuit to sit around the fire at night.

10. Newspapers – they make great fire starters and, if you’re stuck, toilet paper.

11. A shovel – in case it snows, and to clear a spot for your camper/tent.

12. Good quality fly oil to douse yourself in.

13. Coat hanger, to use as makeshift rabbit-ears antenna, a fire-proof handle for the camp kettle, a marshmallow roaster, or a slim hope of unlocking your car to get the keys inside.

14. Disinfectant wipes to wash off every surface of the cabin after you find out what rodents have been wintering there.

15. A hat that will keep your head warm and dry, and make you presentable for the trip back to civilization.

16. A bucket to carry water, to sit on around the fire, to hold the fish you catch, or to pee in if you’re that afraid to leave the tent at night.

17. An axe to chop wood, cut through ice, or pose with for “outdoorsy” photos for facebook.

18. Homemade bread and tea bags. You can’t start the day without a feed of toast and tea!

19. Disposable dishes and cutlery. The weekend’s too short to be doing housework.

20. Dry wood for the campfire or cabin stove – ’cause you won’t find a dry stick to burn in the woods in May.

21. Snowmobiler locater beacon – so rescuers can find you when the unforecasted overnight snowfall crushes you in your tent.

22. A can opener. There’s nothing more frustrating than when you break the tab-thingy off the can of sausages, beans, KAM etc. before you get it open.

23. Stick of bologna – walk softly over the marsh but carry a big stick!

24. Say “shag it” and rent a hotel room.

25. The best way to survive May 24 in NL? Spend the weekend with friends and family who you can count on for a good time no matter the location or the weather!

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From the Archives
The warm weather brings with it backyard barbecues, outdoor sports and other summer fun - but it also brings annoying insects. The following tips will help you avoid being a host to these irritating critters.

• Choose clothing carefully. You might like your bright orange T-shirt - but so do the insects that haunt your yard. Bugs are attracted to brightly coloured or dark clothing, so choosing a neutral colour in a light shade is a good way to prevent bites and stings. And the least amount of skin exposed, the better. Cover up as much as possible with loose-fitting clothing (mosquitoes can bite through tight clothes).

• Don't wear scents. Perfumes, scented lotions and washing with scented soap is an invitation for insects to pitch on and bite your skin. Don't bathe your infant with scented soap during the summer months, as it will make him or her a defenseless target for insects.

• Stay indoors during peak pest hours. Insect bites are a concern at any time of the day or night while you’re outside; however, there are certain times when you're more likely to be bitten. Stay inside just before sunrise and just after sunset - when insects are enjoying the cooler temperature.

• Remove standing water. Water dishes for pets, birdbaths and kids' water toys are a breeding ground for insects that lay eggs in wet areas. Change water in pets' dishes or birdbaths frequently; wipe down your children's toys and bring them inside after use. Poke a hole in garbage cans or other containers to allow water to drain out. Fill in any "swampy" areas of your property or grooves in the ground where water collects after rainfall.

• Avoid sweet drinks outside. Bugs are attracted to sweet things, so don't bring cola or fruit juice outdoors. If you do, be sure to check cups, bottles and tins before raising them to your mouth for a drink that might not be so refreshing!

• Keep bugs outdoors. If you plan on leaving doors or windows open to let the fresh air into your home, install screens to keep insects out. Make sure they fit perfectly and have no tears, as the tiniest gap can let bugs inside.

• Wear insect repellent. Always read the entire label, following all directions, before using insect repellent. Apply sparingly on exposed skin and on top of clothes. Do not spray on hands (especially on children) to avoid transferring to eyes, nose or mouth. Spray in well-ventilated areas to avoid inhaling chemicals. Do not use products containing the chemical DEET on infants; according to Health Canada, repellents containing less than 10 per cent DEET may be used on children aged two to 12 years, while individuals over 12 may use products with DEET concentrations up to 30 per cent. If using sunscreen as well, apply insect repellent last.

• Grow insect-repelling plants. If you have a flower garden, consider planting marigolds amongst the blooms. They're bright and beautiful - and they have a reputation for repelling mosquitoes.
By Linda Browne

Aside from friendly faces, national pride, love of hockey and ability to withstand the harshest of winters, Canadians are perhaps best known for their generous spirit. According to Statistics Canada’s 2007 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (CSGVP), almost 23 million Canadians, or 84 per cent of residents aged 15 and over, gave money to a charitable or non-profit organization (totalling $10 billion). During the same period, 12.5 million Canadians (46 per cent), volunteered with a group or organization (for a total of 2.1 billion hours – the same as working about 1 million full-time jobs). Here in Newfoundland and Labrador, around 90 per cent of the population made a financial donation to a charitable cause – the highest among the provinces and territories for that year, and above the national average of 84 per cent. If you’d like to get into the giving spirit, here are 10 ways you can help a cause.

Clean up and set sale. Next time you tidy up around the house, gather up all the stuff you don’t use anymore and hold a yard sale. Also, ask your creative friends – quilters, knitters, potters, jewelry makers etc. – if they’d like to peddle their wares for a good cause. Donate all profits to the charity, shelter etc. of your choice. You could even have a sale online using eBay Giving Works, which lets you donate anywhere from 10-100 per cent of the sale price of your items to the registered non-profit of your choice.

Do a good deed. If you don’t have surplus stuff, sell your services. Visit your neighbours or go door-to-door in your community and offer your help with yard work, household chores, grocery shopping, walking or bathing their pets, washing their cars, etc. in exchange for a donation to their favourite charity.

Show and tell. Get together with friends and make a “hit list” of local celebrities you know – everyone from musicians and magicians to clowns and comedians – and ask if they’d be interested in putting off a benefit show for charity. When booking a venue, ask if they would donate to your cause a portion of the proceeds from the evening’s door and drink sales. Advertise the show on social networking sites like Facebook and place fliers in coffee shops, stores and bulletin boards around town.

Take your fundraising crusade online. Websites like let you help your favourite cause with the click of a mouse. After you’ve signed up as a member, submit a proposal describing your fundraising project and ask your family and friends to vote for you. If your proposal receives at least 100 votes in 30 days, it will be given the green light. Supporters of your cause can make a secure payment directly on the site. GiveMeaning takes care of transferring the funds to the recipient charity and issuing tax receipts to eligible Canadian residents.

Be a conscious clicker. Free click donation websites let you help great causes without spending a dime. On these sites, click the donation button to see a page of sponsored advertisers. When you view their ads, advertisers make a small donation to charity. has a listing of free click sites and “bulk click donators,” which let you donate to several similar causes with just one click.

You can’t have fundraising without the “fun!” You can help lots of great causes simply by playing a fun game. For example, FreeRice ( is a game where you have to choose the correct definition of a word; for each right answer, the site donates 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Programme. FreePoverty ( offers a game in which you have to locate a random city or landmark on a map. Each correct answer equals a donation of 10 cups of water to those living in poverty.

Get physical. Consider taking part in a walk/run for charity. Many organizations offer these events each year that use the money you raise from sponsors to help their cause (e.g. Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s Run For the Cure, MS Society of Canada’s MS Walk, and Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

If you don’t got the money, perhaps you’ve got the time. If you have some free time, call up or visit a charity that supports your favourite cause and offer a helping hand. Many non-profits are relatively small organizations with a limited staff, so they may be able to use your help with anything from doing routine paperwork to tidying up around the office or picking up supplies.

Use your talents for good. Are you a computer wizard? Perhaps you’re a gifted writer. If you have a unique skill, chances are there’s a charity out there that could use your technical know-how. Offer to repair the charity’s computers free of charge, or write press releases for upcoming events or other announcements, or proofread any outgoing correspondence.

Give back. The next time Christmas or your birthday rolls around, ask for donations to your favourite charity in lieu of gifts. If you’re throwing a house party, tell guests there’ll be a “feel-good” fee to get in. Have a friend “work the door” and collect the donations as a cover charge to attend the party.

Our ancestors didn’t believe in throwing anything away if it could be put to new use. They called it being practical, today we call it recycling to save the planet. In the June 2011 issue, Robert O’Connor takes us on a tour of handmade antiques, and shows us how we can make our own recycled furnishings that may be admired by future generations. Here is one more unique recycled project.

LED-ed Stained Glass

Old leaded stained-glass windows can be reused as one-of-a-kind light fixtures, that provide more brilliant colours than can be made with modern methods. The window can be mounted over a coil of modern rope LED lighting. The LED light rope can then be plugged into an electrical outlet, providing a window of stunning rainbow light, on even the province’s more cloudy days.


See the June 2011 issue for seven more projects that turn things of old into new.

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