Movember is a term that was coined in 2004, though the first events with this name did not begin until 2007. Movember is a movement designed to bring awareness to men’s health issues like prostate cancer and mental health issues. There is an advertisement for this organization on the north-east corner of Church and Jane, which you may have seen. With the focus of this month being on mental health in men, it is a good time to brush up on the services available to us in Weston.
Within Weston itself, there are no mental health services that pop-up on Google, but this does not mean that residents do not have a need for it. Mental health issues like depression and anxiety are on the rise, especially with adolescents. According to the CAMH website, 34% of high school students report feeling moderate to severe levels of psychological distress, which is a symptom of anxiety and depression, and by the age of 40, 50% of people will have had or have a mental illness. Many people who experience these illnesses do not seek help as they either do not have access to it or are worried about what those around them may say, as there is a large stigma surrounding mental illness. This month is a good time to remind ourselves and those around us that mental illness is normal and that we are loved.
Looking online can provide those with mental illness with good coping techniques, but it is best to see your doctor if you feel you may be suffering. There are options. Some services in the area surrounding Weston include Etobicoke Psychological Services, The Etobicoke Children’s Centre and the Family Association for Mental Health Everywhere (FAME). Students can also turn to guidance counsellors within their school, as they can be given the accommodations they need. If you or someone you know is suffering from mental illness, there are options for you to get the help you need.
Just in time for Thanksgiving, the TTC is giving Weston something to be thankful for. As transit goers may have noticed, the TTC has been rolling out a few changes in the past month to make service more accessible and reliable, and will be continuing this Thanksgiving long week-end. In September, they implemented the new numbering for express routes, changing the existing numbers (like the 195 Jane Rocket and the 54E Sheppard Express) to 900 numbering, to make it easier to identify these routes and to add consistency. They have also added green badges on express bus stops for this same purpose.
Rolling out this weekend is the addition of three new routes: the 952 Lawrence West Express, the 989 Weston Express and the 929 Dufferin Express. Though no bus stop lists for either of the routes that run through Weston have been released yet, one can, based on other express routes, make the assumption that these busses will stop at all major intersections. The 952 will run between Lawrence station and Pearson airport. The 989 will operate only during morning and afternoon rush hours. Both routes will have updated schedules as well to make the routes more consistent and accommodate for the new express busses.
These express routes not only help residents in the area get to work faster and easier, it will also hopefully stop the bunching of the 52 busses and bring more people into the neighbourhood. This also allows for an easier commute for students who take TTC, in particular, Weston Collegiate students who commute from Rexdale for the IB and SHSM programs offered. Though this will not ease congestion on the road, it will ease congestion on busses, allowing for a more comfortable commute. There are plans for future upgrades to the system, but already we are seeing big steps forward for our little part of the city. Further information can be found on the TTC website.
Following up with my last story on the Ontario health education curriculum, there has been an update. The Ontario Government has now launched their website to consult with parents about different curricula throughout Ontario. Their website states that they will be addressing concerns such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs, job skills, specifically relating to skilled trade and coding, teaching students valuable life skills like financial literacy, use of technology in classrooms, improving standardised tests (ie. EQAO), a new health education curriculum as well as developing a Parents’ Bill of Rights. The health ed curriculum has been a hot topic of debate since it was implemented and more recently when it was rolled back to 1997 by the Ford Government. Some parents welcomed this return to the old curriculum because they felt that it would be best to tech students certain aspects as home, when they feel appropriate, while others saw this as an attack on student knowledge and a return to the stone-age, so to speak. This web page allows for every voice to be heard, but not only about health education.
STEM programs are growing in many schools and there are summer and march break camps being offered in this field, as many people feel this is the future of the job market. They are also asking for feedback on managing cellphones in classrooms, which is an increasing phenomenon among students; it seems that every other child at the age of 6 or higher has a cellphone or tablet and nearly every student in middle school has one somewhere on their person. The most intriguing issue that they are looking to address and get feedback on is the addition of skills like financial literacy into the curriculum. This could be as basic as teaching students the value of money to something as complicated as investing or doing your own taxes, which can give students more confidence when faced with these important decisions.
You can participate by following the link https://www.ontario.ca/page/for-the-parents. Open submissions are open. You can choose to fill out a private online form through their link or email your submissions to [email protected] with the subject line “Provincial Consultations” by including your name and attaching your submission as a PDF or Word Document. There will also be an online survey and a telephone town hall to come.
School is back in session, and these first few weeks have surely been hectic as parents and students get back in the groove of the scholastic year. Teachers have also had to get back in the swing of things with not only new students but a new curriculum, or should I say old. Before this school year started, the Ford government rolled back the sex ed curriculum to that of 1998, scrapping the 2015 version for a “new” version that is to be released in the future, once more consulting is done with parents and teachers. The old curriculum fails to include conversations about cyber bullying and consent, among a few other things. Curriculum nights are coming up for most schools, it may be worth having a chat with your child’s teacher and asking them what they intend to teach. TDSB and TCDSB trustees have made statements that they will be following the 2015 curriculum, but it never hurts to be certain about what is being taught.
Children today are not children from twenty years ago. They are surrounded every day by technology and media, much of which we as adults have a hard time sifting through. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media sites are easily accessible, especially when it appears every other child has a smart device. If the Ontario Government feels it is essential to roll back changes, it may be time to have a serious look at what our children are being taught and put in our two cents. You can access both versions of the curriculum on the government of Ontario website or through a simple google search, if you would like to have a look for yourself.