Lifestyles

The Way I See It: Athletes provide inspiration

Congratulations to Sonja, Josh, Kevin and Justin for your tremendous participation in the Paralympics and the Olympics. We are so proud of all of you!

I am very interested to see the domino effect of the success of these fine athletes and how their success will inspire children, youth and adults to try new sports, to improve their skills and to challenge themselves.

For folks like myself where competitive sports are not on the agenda, healthy living and participation in a variety of activities can be. In this wonderful adventure of life I am at a place in my development as a human being where staying healthy is becoming more of a focus. I admit I have taken my good health for granted and have developed some poor habits which I am trying to correct. I love doing weight training but I don’t want to pack it around all the time, so a shift is needed. The visual of the bar bells or pounds of butter are very helpful in thinking of making a change and lightening the load.

Playing together as a family is such a great way to be together, whether riding bikes, walking the neighbourhood with your pets, hiking our beautiful parks or playing at the beach, there are so many ways to enjoy warmer weather physical fitness. When the lads were young and we played every day we weren’t discussing our health benefits, it was about having fun and being together. I packed around balls, Frisbees, bats, gloves so if we had time and were near a park, we were ready. Now my darling and I enjoy kayaking, walking the dog, golfing and other fun activities.

There are many great organizations within our community that help to support an active lifestyle and also our community agencies that help to support individuals and families in other facets of their lives.

The United Way needs our support and it has been a challenge this year to raise the funds needed. There are many competing places for our donation dollars and so we look to see where we can have great bang for the buck and I really believe the United Way does that. When we help one person in a family, we help the whole family. Their services have a great domino effect for community services, as those United Way dollars may fund a service that isn’t able to get other support, or it may top up support and make the difference from a service being offered or not.

I was very disappointed to see the agency in Vancouver take advantage of its funders and not making best use of their dollars. I have worked for 37 years with non-profits either as a staff member, volunteer or board member and I have seen amazing ability to stretch the value of a dollar. NGOs are master budgeters, are brilliant at engaging volunteer hours, goods in kind, and donations to be able to provide services and to make best use of their dollars. That's why the United Way agencies can be such a great investment. They may be volunteer driven agencies and they still need dollars for their budgets.  Just because people work in the "helping or community support" professions doesn't mean they aren't entitled to make decent wages; have the supplies they need and the surroundings to support their work. Getting good people to stay in these fields is important as it is in as any business.  I also personally believe when our Non government organizations are run and accepted as a "business" we see the real costs of the services and the real costs of the benefits. It is much cheaper to invest in prevention then in a hospital stay.

And that hospital stay takes me back to my opening comments about staying active and healthy so I can stay out of hospital.  The healthier we are the less dollars for over taxed medical system. It also feels like we have more control then when we take charge of our health. So much of this is common sense healthy diet, exercise, positive socialization, safe housing, sleep, are some that will aid in our "good health". We can all define that for ourselves and what we want the next years to look like.

I think playing is a big part of that, so enjoy this lovely weather and our many choices, and go play.

That’s why the United Way agencies can be such a great investment. They may be volunteer-driven agencies but they still need dollars for their budgets. Just because people work in the “helping or community support” professions doesn’t mean they aren’t entitled to make decent wages; have the supplies they need and the surroundings to support their work. Getting good people to stay in these fields is important as it is in as any business.

Michele Blais is a longtime columnist for The Morning Star, appearing every other Sunday. She has worked with families and children in the North Okanagan for the past 27 years.

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