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Researcher digs deeper into the provincial overdose crisis
Okanagan College Media Release

A renowned researcher in the field of substance use is coming to Okanagan College next month to share her perspective on the challenges of dealing with what some are calling the worst public health crisis in the province’s history.Cheyenne Johnson Feb 2018

Cheyenne Johnson, Director of Clinical Activities and Development at the British Columbia Center on Substance Use and the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse,
will present “Beyond opioids: the overdose crisis—how did we get here?” in the lecture theatre at the Vernon campus on Friday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. The talk is open to the public and is part of the Science in Society Speaker Series. 

There were more than 1,400 deaths related to illicit drug use in British Columbia in 2017, compared to 993 the previous year
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Johnson, who is also the Director of the BC Center on Substance Use Addiction Nursing Fellowship, will provide a broad overview of the current overdose crisis and will also focus on the key gaps to improving the substance use system of care in BC. Key topics discussed will include stigma, science and social policy.

Addiction, especially opioid addiction, doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach. Most chronic diseases don’t,” says Johnson. “Harm reduction is the foundation of all substance-use care. It is the lens through which we provide programs, policies and services, such as needle distribution, safe consumption sites, overdose prevention and education.”

In her current position, Johnson oversees the development of provincial clinical care guidance documents and dissemination, including evidence-based clinical guidelines, practice support tools and policy briefs. She is also actively involved the BCCSU’s interdisciplinary program of research related to substance use, bringing to bear her substantial experience in clinical trial operations (Johnson is a Certified Clinical Research Professional with experience in more than 20 addiction medicine, HIV/AIDS, dermatology, and ophthalmology clinical trials) as well as her background in health professions education, coordination and integration of care, and knowledge translation.

Johnson holds a Master’s of Public Health from SFU and a Bachelor of Nursing Science from Queen’s University. She joined the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in 2013 as a Clinical Research Nurse, where she went on to be the Inaugural Nursing Fellow of Canada’s only addiction nursing training program, the St. Paul’s Goldcorp Addiction Nursing Fellowship.

Admission to the lecture is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For advanced tickets call the Okanagan Science Centre at (250) 545-3644 or visit okanagansisss.wordpress.com
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Presented jointly by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre, the Science in Society Speaker Series is sponsored by the Vernon Atrium Hotel and Conference Centre, Starbucks Coffee, Save on Foods, and the Vernon Morning Star.

 


OC Women in Trades Training to host Salmon Arm info night
Okanagan College Media Release

Frances Sadowick Feb 2018An opportunity to test-drive a career in the trades put Frances Sadowick on the path to a career she loves and helped her build the confidence to pursue it. Later this month, the College is hosting an open house inviting women to follow in Sadowick’s footsteps and learn about opportunities to train for a future in the building trades.

Okanagan College Women in Trades Training (WITT) is hosting a free public open house on Wednesday, Feb. 28 from 5-6 p.m. at the College’s Salmon Arm Trades Centre, located at 5450- 48th Avenue in the Salmon Arm Industrial Park. Participants can tour the shop, chat with WITT team members and get the details about the upcoming Gateway to the Building Trades for Women program intake which starts in Salmon Arm on April 9.

It was precisely this 12-week exploratory Gateway to the Building Trades for Women program that provided Sadowick with her introduction. That led Frances to enrol in a trades foundation program to continue her education, earn ITA certification and find employment in skilled trades.

Sadowick was selected and sponsored by Okanagan College WITT in September 2016 to participate in the Gateway program in Salmon Arm. She credits the program and her instructors with helping her build the confidence to continue on with her training.

“I was not feeling confident in myself and was hesitant about using the tools but my instructor would notice I was nervous and would make me feel better about trying it,” explains Sadowick.

While in the Gateway program, she had an opportunity to observe Plumbing and Piping students and learn about the trade. It was a moment that sparked an interest in plumbing that would prove to be life-changing.

As soon as her Gateway program wrapped, she applied to, and was sponsored again, by Okanagan College WITT to enrol in the Plumbing and Piping Trades Foundation program. Sponsorship included full tuition, textbooks, personal protection equipment and tools required for the program.

The experience has paid off for Sadowick. She is now applying her skilled trades training in industry, working full time in Penticton for RPR Heating and Air Conditioning threading gas pipe on a commercial project.

“I’ve found my confidence in the workplace and am excited for my future working towards a Red Seal ticket,” she explains. “I’m creating a brighter future for myself and my son.”

More information about the upcoming Gateway to the Building Trades for Women program in Salmon Arm in April is available at www.okanagan.bc.ca/wtti
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Leading the charge: College students start up solar powered social enterprise
Okanagan College Media Release

A pair of Okanagan College Business Administration students have joined forces with Civil and Mechanical Engineering students to launch a new project that will help people power up their devices on the go, while also providing a conduit for giving back to the community.Project ReCharge Feb 2018

Project ReCharge, a new initiative by Enactus Okanagan College, focuses on developing products that integrate the power of solar technology into our everyday lives. The idea for it was sparked by Kelowna’s Nick Gallant and Cooper Simson, both fourth-year Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) students, and Josh Wiebe, a second-year Civil Engineering Technology diploma student. The team’s first product, a solar powered phone-charging table, will be unveiled to the public at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 22 in the courtyard at the Kelowna Campus.

“We want to break down the stigmas about solar energy and brighten the community’s imaginations as to the possibilities that solar energy can provide,” explains Gallant. “Our hope is that by showing this technology is affordable, practical and durable that it will start to be utilized by schools, hospitals, restaurants and other public places and institutions to save energy while making people’s lives easier.”

Taking the project from the idea stage to the real-world opened up opportunities for other OC students to let their talents shine.

When their initial designs seemed promising, Gallant, Simson and Wiebe reached out to the College’s Mechanical Engineering program for input. Students James Van Maren, Kyle Smid and Shane Valcourt stepped forward and quickly plugged into the project, applying their knowledge to rigorously test both the principles and the technology behind the group’s prototype.

Only a few months later, the project is already off to a bright start.

After the installation of their first table at the Kelowna campus this week, the group has been given the go-ahead to have tables installed at the College’s campuses in Penticton, Vernon and Salmon Arm later this spring. But even before those tables see the light of day, the group will have another chance to share their idea with the world when they pitch it at Enactus Western Canada Regional Competition in Calgary March 1-2.

The trio from OC will go up against teams from colleges and universities across B.C. Alberta and Saskatchewan. They’ll be vying for the top spot in the Scotiabank EcoLiving Green Challenge, which invites students to put forward their most creative socially-focused business ideas that advance sustainability in Canada.

They’ll also be competing for funding that could help them grow the project and bring their products to market sooner. Project ReCharge was announced by Enactus Canada as one of 13 finalist schools that will compete in Calgary for a $20,000 grant aimed at turning projects into viable social enterprises.

Gallant is quick to point out that the project couldn’t have powered up as rapidly as it has without the guidance of mentors along the way. Okanagan College School of Business Professors Dean Warner and Mark Ziebarth serve as the faculty advisors to the ReCharge team, and the group has also received feedback and encouragement from Dr. Kyleen Myrah.

“We couldn’t be more excited to take this project, scale it up and turn it into a social enterprise that will bring real benefit to people in the community,” notes Gallant. “We see this as a chance to model for others a business that blends sustainability and innovation, all with a focus on being a good corporate citizen.”

“This project is the embodiment of an OC education, where we bring the real world into the classroom and our students – in this case Engineering and Business students – apply their lessons learned, and take them back into the real world,” says Ziebarth.

Regardless of the outcome of the competition, the project’s founders are feeling charged up about the prospects of this technology and its application in the community.

Their experience with Project ReCharge has inspired Gallant, Simson and Wiebe to start a solar installation and distribution business in their spare time. Their business, Central City Solar, was recently accepted into the Venture Acceleration Program at Accelerate Okanagan, which the group hopes will help them carve out a niche in the region’s booming green technology sector.

 


Nominations open for 2018 Okanagan College Alumni Awards
Okanagan College Media Release

DAA YAA 2017The Okanagan College Alumni Association (OCAA) is now accepting nominations for the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award and Young Alumni Award.

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes an Okanagan College (OC) or Okanagan University College (OUC) alumnus for their demonstration of excellence in the areas of leadership, environment, business or industry, public or community service, arts or support of the College. The Young Alumni Award celebrates the same outstanding contributions of an alumnus who is under the age of 35.

“We rely heavily on community members to nominate their OC and OUC alumni peers or colleagues that make a difference in their industry or community,” says Kara Kazimer, President of the OCAA Board of Directors. “These awards give us the opportunity to formally recognize those that are making a real difference and accomplishing some truly amazing things.”

Grace Greyeyes, who completed Practical Nursing training at the College (then B.C. Vocational School) in 1968, as well as additional Arts courses in the early 1990s, was the recipient of last year’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Award-winning country musician Ben Klick, who completed the Audio Engineering and Music Production program in 2014, was honoured with the Young Alumni Award last year.

All members of the Okanagan College Alumni Association are eligible to be nominated for the Distinguished Alumni or Young Alumni awards. Nominees must have completed a certificate, diploma, degree, apprenticeship program or have completed a minimum of 30 academic credits at OC or OUC.

The deadline for nominations is Wednesday, March 14. Nominations may be made by completing an online form at:www.okanagan.bc.ca/DAA-YAA
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The 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award and Young Alumni Award will be selected by the Alumni Association Board of Directors and presented at the Association’s annual general meeting in September.

Profiles of previous years’ recipients can be found at www.alumni.okanagan.bc.ca/alumni-awards
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OC research project unites outdoor play experts overseas

Led by Okanagan College, a troop of educators and policy-shapers from across Canada are headed to Scotland this month to learn how to better plan and incorporate outdoor play into children’s early educational experiences.Beverlie Dietze - web

Dr. Beverlie Dietze, the College’s Director of Learning and Applied Research and a recognized expert in outdoor play curriculum for children, is co-organizing the six-day event that will connect Canadian researchers, early childhood education professionals and policy leaders with experts in outdoor play in Scotland. Dietze and group will spend February 18-23 in Glasgow and surrounding areas, sharing their experiences in advancing outdoor play in Canada and soaking up key learnings from their counterparts in Scotland. 

“There is a growing interest in the topic of how to design, develop and incorporate outdoor play into early childhood educational curriculum, and Scotland has a reputation for having done it well,” explains Dietze. “We’ll be meeting with 25 professionals over the six days – learning from their research and experience, and sharing what we have learned as well.”

There is an established and growing base of research demonstrating that outdoor play carries a host of cognitive, emotional, social and other benefits for youth, Dietze points out. 

Over the past several years, with support from the Lawson Foundation, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and a mounting number of private sector partners and community organizations, she has advanced outdoor play research in the Okanagan, along the way introducing many families to the concept of unstructured outdoor play – and its benefits. In October, Dietze hosted a series of workshops that allowed children to discover the creative joys of playing with loose parts. The sessions were also a chance to collect feedback on a unique outdoor play space proposed within the New Monaco master planned community currently being developed in Peachland. 

The enthusiastic responses from families and educators have inspired Dietze to continue to explore new and innovative ways to grow this line of research in Canada. This month, that means journeying across the Atlantic.

Why Scotland?

“From a policy perspective, Scotland is further ahead than Canada in this area,” notes Dietze. “We are still working to integrate outdoor play into curriculums in a substantial and well-thought out way here in Canada.

“I expect this dialogue will generate some helpful insights into how we can continue to advance research and make informed recommendations to policy-makers about the benefits of outdoor play and the role that it could – and should – have in and out of the classroom here.”

Dietze also expects it will have some immediate and practical benefits for the educators in attendance.

“For the Canadians attending, it will be an invaluable opportunity to take the lessons learned and incorporate them into their programs, their practice, right away, if they choose.”

She also sees it as a platform for spreading national awareness and inspiring others to lend their experiences and brainpower.

“We want to help build a more connected community of educators and policy-makers in Canada, and opportunities like this for dialogue on an international level are an important way to do that.”

The six-day session will be co-hosted by Inspiring Scotland, a group that brings together individuals, communities, organizations and government to drive social change in Scotland.

Non-profit sees big economic benefits in green child care centre
Okanagan College Media Release

Penticton’s newest child care centre is beginning the new year on a bright note with another influential community organization backing the project.

The Southern Interior Development Corporation (SIDCO), an arm of Community Futures Okanagan Similkameen, announced a gift of $5,000 to Little Learners Academy on Okanagan College’s Penticton campus. SIDCO donation Feb 2018

“A child care centre right on campus is a wonderful expansion of the College’s offerings for students,” says Clee Roy, General Manager of Community Futures. “We are excited about the big picture of what this project means for the students and parents in the local workforce that will benefit from it.”

According to Roy, SIDCO supports projects that create long-term economic and social development in the region and the new centre does just that. 

“Providing access to child care gives parents opportunities to pursue education for skills training or continue to participate and gain valuable experience in the work force,” he explains. “Not only will this centre give youth a high-quality education, it will help provide skilled labour and fuel businesses in our local economy.”

SIDCO was also attracted to the project for its cutting-edge sustainable construction techniques.

“Green technology is part of our mandate,” adds Roy. “Having this innovative building right in our backyard continues to elevate our region as a leader in sustainability.”

Roy is referring to the recent accreditation of the facility as a Passive House child care centre, the first of its kind in Canada. In addition to meeting the rigorous Passive House energy-efficiency standard, the centre is built to LEED Platinum standards with the goal of meeting net zero energy, making it one of the most energy efficient daycares in the country.

It is not the first time SIDCO has come to the table to support an environmental initiative at the College. In 2011, they contributed a major gift of $25,000 to the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence, another campus building that has received top nods for its sustainable building technologies and use of renewable energy.

“Our goal in building Little Learners is to provide flexibility and peace of mind for parents to pursue educational or career opportunities,” says campaign chair Mary Ellen Heidt, who also sits on the College’s Regional Advisory Committee. “It’s very encouraging to have support from an organization that sees the project as an asset in shaping the future of our community, and we are very grateful to SIDCO for their contribution.”

Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Foundation continue to fundraise for the project. To learn more or make a contribution to the campaign, visit okanagan.bc.ca/give