Let’s Celebrate Canada Day and 4th of July

Hi, it’s Heather from Skate Helper.  I hope you and your families are safe and well.

To my Canadian and American customers

I am looking forward to the reopening of your ice arenas and getting kids and families back on the ice.

If there has ever been a Canada Day and Independence Day to celebrate it’s this one for sure. After all, 2020 hasn’t been a great year for anyone on the planet. Sure, we can still fire up the grill and figure out where to watch fireworks from a distance, but most of us could really use a good celebration with our extended family and friends.

Gratitude

We have so much to be grateful for. Both Canada and the US are two of the most beautiful countries in the world. We share one of the world’s longest, unprotected border. As both countries are focused on past transgressions, I believe we will make positive change. We know we can all be better, kinder more inclusive people.

We are in this together

We can do so much in our own communities. It’s time to participate and get out into your community, say hello to your neighbour and help make the change.  2020 has definitely taught us that we are in this together.  We need one another more than ever before.

Canadians and Americans love the same sports, movies, music and freedoms. We cherish our freedom to choose where to live, where to worship, how to dress, who to love, where to go to school, and where to work. Hopefully, one day soon we will be back travelling freely within our two great nations.

As we celebrate our countries birthdays please take time out to connect with your family, friends, and neighbours in your community.

We are stronger together!  Stay Safe and Be Kind.

Happy Canada Day and Happy 4th of July

From Heather at Skate Helper.

 

Emergency Preparedness

Hi, it’s Heather from Skate Helper.  I hope you and your families are safe and well.  This week’s blog is about emergency preparedness. Every year people go through some kind of natural disaster and are forever changed. This pandemic has made me realize that I will never take my freedom for granted again. After weeks of isolation so far, it’s been fine. My family is adjusting to home schooling and working from home.  The pandemic is certainly not a disaster in the sense that we still have electricity, we have our home, we have the internet and we have time lots of time.

Emergency Preparedness List

Many of us are spending that time going through old files and papers. Clearing the clutter from our homes.  My friend Terry found an Emergency Preparedness list that I had sent her in 2006.  I got the list from the City of Delta in BC where they had posted their emergency preparedness list broken down into 26 weeks.  This is a handy list and have put it down below. We are living in a time where fire and floods happen regularly and many of us need to be prepared for extreme events like earthquakes, hurricanes or tornados.   Preparing your family for an emergency is an excellent teaching exercise for everyone.

Action to Take

Week

  1. Get a portable container with a lid to use as an emergency kit. A plastic storage bin or garbage can work well, particularly one with wheels. Choose an accessible location for the container near an exit, and label the container. Make sure all family members know what it will be used for and where it is.
  2. Stock your kit with a three-day supply of water and include extra water if you have pets. Each person needs four litres of water a day – two for drinking and two for food preparation and hygiene (wash hands regularly).
  3. Arrange an out-of-area phone contact person, and keep this information and other emergency phone numbers written down carried in a wallet or with your cell phone. Make sure all family members have these numbers. Have phone charge battery and cords.
  4. Stock your kit with several varieties of canned meat and dried fruit. Include a manual can opener and scissors. Add, granola bars and nuts, juice crystals and juice boxes. Refresh food every 6 – 8 months.
  5. Get a portable radio and extra batteries. You can consider a portable generator.
  6. Learn about hazards in your house and your community. Secure appliances and heavy furniture and shelves. Move beds away from heavy mirrors and windows.
  7. Give every family member a specific safety task to do in an emergency. For example, one person should be in charge of turning off the electricity. One person to collect the emergency container. One person to take charge of the pets.
  8. Stock your kit with large garbage bags.  They can be used as ponchos, ground covers or blankets. Get a few solar blankets. Add plastic bags, dishes, cups, and cutlery.
  9. Add books and toys if you have young children. Get a survival book. Add dried soup, crackers and peanut butter.
  10. Practice emergency drills. If you are not at home pick a community meeting place where you will head to if you are not at home. Identify, escape routes from your home.
  11. Add flashlights, with extra batteries, candles and waterproof matches.
  12. Check your insurance policies and take pictures of your possessions and your identification.
  13. Have cash in your emergency container.  If the electrical grid is down you won’t be able to use debit or credit cards.
  14. Prepare a first aid kit for your container and also one for your car. Include prescription medicines, extra eye glasses, bandages, sterile gauze pads, tape, scissors, tweezers, antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide and over the counter pain meds.
  15. Add a change of clothing for each family member. Include warm clothing, heavy work gloves, and sturdy shoes.
  16. Add additional can food like chili, stew, baked beans and fruit.
  17. Enrol each family member in a first aid course
  18. Add personal toiletry items like toilet paper, handy wipes, hand sanitizer, rubber gloves, soup, toothpaste, toothbrush, sanitary supplies etc.
  19. Add evaporated canned or powdered milk and cereal.
  20. If you have an infant include supplies like formula and diapers
  21. Have a bucket with a tight-fitting lid that can be used as a toilet. Use this bucket to store an axe, folding shovel, and rope.
  22. Make sure you have a pocket knife or swiss army knife that has a number of tools.Include a whistle, flares, spare set of house and car keys.
  23. Keep a leash and pet food close to the emergency container.
  24. Add sleeping bags and blankets to your kit.
  25. Water purification tablets and a water purification water bottle is handy.
  26. Assemble important documents like wills, insurance, medical records, passports, in a fireproof/waterproof container. It might be nice to have a family photo album in your emergency container.  Refresh and revise your emergency container every year.

Fingers crossed that you will never need to use it.  Emergency preparedness is never a waste of time. Always wash your hands frequently throughout the day.

Stay safe and healthy,

From Heather at Skate Helper.

 

My NEW To Do List

Hi it’s Heather from Skate Helper and like most people I am ready to get back to business and get out into the world.  While social distancing will be with us for a while, I’ve been thinking about all the things I look forward to doing when the lockdown eases.  I hope this list will get you thinking about what you would like to do.

Stay Positive

Many of us have felt trapped in our homes working, helping our kids with online schooling, playing games, rearranging the furniture, gardening, going for walks and zooming with friends. Over the past few months, we’ve have been challenged mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually and financially. My family has worked hard to stay positive and feel grateful for what we have.  One topic that we all love to discuss is travel. From planning a road trip to the Maritimes, to imagining Christmas in Hawaii it’s these travel discussions that have really helped us stay hopeful and positive about the future.

I urge you to come up with your own post-pandemic to do list. Some questions to ponder are below.

  1. Where do you want to visit and when will you go?
  2. Who are you excited to see and spend time with?
  3. Will you re-evaluate your career, where you live, your relationships?
  4. What really matters to you? What do you miss?

There are so many benefits to visualizing a positive, exciting future. By embracing an optimistic, positive outlook you will be better equipped to handle stressful situations, which ultimately reduces stress. This is an extraordinary time that allows you to ponder your post-pandemic “To Do” list.

Stay Safe

Heather at Skate Helper.

Small Business Tips During Self Isolation

Hi, it’s Heather from Skate Helper. Like most small businesses, mine too has slowed considerably. Normally, during this time of year things are slow but never this slow. Governments have offered funding and that will help but there are other things small businesses can do during this time.

What can you do?

One thing I’ve done is contact my accountant to review taxes and cash flow. I also contacted my insurance provider to see if my policy includes anything in terms of lost income or business interruption insurance.

Communicate with your Customers

I’ve reached out to all my customers to check in and see how they are doing. I gave them an update of where I’m at with my business and when I’m hoping to resume at a normal pace. I think now more than ever you need to be transparent with your customers and your employees.

Marketing and Social Media

I’m looking at my marketing and social media strategies. Now is great time to hire a freelance social media person or website consultant. I believe you need to continue to put your brand and message out there and align your company with your values and beliefs.

This is a perfect time to look at revising your website, start a blog, add new pictures to your photo gallery or Instagram. Refresh and update anything older than a couple of years. When are you ever going to have this much time to really think hard about your business and what changes you may need to make?

Prepare an online marketing strategy so you stay connected with your customers throughout this time. In my industry, direct mail still works really well. I plan to mail brochures to every ice arena in North America.

Explore Options for Government Funding

Be sure to talk to your suppliers and lenders and look into applying for any government funding that may be available to you.

Research your Industry

Now is a great time to do any research or reading on your industry. Find out what your customers are doing. Connect with them through Facebook and Instagram. Find out how they are coping during this unusual time.  Be proactive not reactive. Is there another area where you can expand?  Is there another service you can offer your customers?

We are at a time where innovation and creativity will guide society to change the way we do business. I’m sure the government leaders will be looking at innovative ways on how government services are structured and delivered. So many areas need to be reviewed. The old “normal” way of doing things may not work anymore.

Our New “Normal”

Once we get through this, I hope businesses keep the plexi-glass shields up, keep educating people to wash hands and sanitize regularly. Keep up social distancing until a vaccine is available. Keep working together, caring about one another and helping one another get through this.

Stay safe and be kind.

Heather at Skate Helper.

The Ripple Effect

Hi, it’s Heather from Skate Helper. For me, every day seems like Groundhog Day and that’s a good thing. I don’t want anything to change my family’s routine until the curve is flattened and we are allowed to get back to business. I truly believe we will get through this.

Random Acts of Kindness

In the last few weeks, like many people, I’ve been struck by the random acts of kindness happening all over. One person’s act has an amazing ripple effect of spreading positive energy out into the universe.

I was recently inspired by Facebook posts. My friend Suzanne is sewing cotton masks at her home and will be donating them to her local hospital’s emergency dept. My other friend Sarah posted that her husband’s company is now manufacturing plastic face shields for local hospitals. My friend Randy put up positive signs in his living room window.

Random acts of kindness are everywhere. I see inspirational rocks when I walk through my neighbourhood. That inspired my daughter to paint several rocks of her own with messages and place them to be enjoyed by others.

It makes walking everyday fun and seem like a treasure hunt. Many people are banging pots and pans thanking hospital staff, first responders and essential staff during shift changes. Acknowledgement is very powerful!

How to Start a Ripple Effect

The social isolation may last well into the summer. Below are some suggestions that will put positive vibes out into your community and start a ripple effect.

  • smile and say hello to people out walking – at least 2 metres away of course
  • connect with old friends, check in and see how they are doing
  • continue to donate blood
  • donate to the food bank
  • order take-out when you can from different local restaurants
  • choose to support any business that is open during this time
  • write thank you letters and mail to hospitals, police stations, fire departments, grocery stores, gas stations, politicians, etc
  • bake cookies or muffins and give to elderly neighbours who may be stuck inside
  • pick up garbage in your yard, or in your neighbourhood

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”    Desmond Tutu.

Stay Safe and Be Kind.

Heather at Skate Helper.

My New Normal

Hi it’s Heather from Skate Helper. Like many small businesses my business has slowed considerably and understandably so. My manufacturer is closing temporarily and my customers have done the same.

I would like to say to all small businesses have faith and believe these difficult times will come to an end. Now is the time to focus on your health, your family and to be kind.

My husband Tony and I are at home with our two kids and like many families are trying to stick to a schedule and stay positive.

We decided that Tony should be the only person to go out and grocery shop. We have a dog Fritz who helps us remember to relax, and live in the moment. We take long daily walks and have kept busy planning meals and cooking together. The snow is melting so the bikes will be coming out soon. The basketball hoop is up in the driveway and the yoga mats are ready to go in the basement. Online schooling looks like it may be more of an option now so that helps parents everywhere.

Have Faith

This isolation is economically hard on everyone. For me, it has forced us to slow down and think about what is really important.

I have faith in government to figure this out. Many are unemployed and in need of financial assistance and I believe the government will find solutions. We could not stay in our homes and be safe if it weren’t for all the health care workers, first responders, essential service workers and all the workers whose services we perhaps took for granted in the past. We need to acknowledge all the workers that continue to do the critically important work that make our lives as normal as possible.

I think it’s important to remember that the World Health Organization says those who become infected generally experience mild illness and recover in about two weeks.

We Are In This Together

Tough days ahead for sure, but remember that you are not alone in this. Everyone is being affected in some way.

I want to thank all of my customers and the businesses that I work with. I look forward to working with you again when we are back up and running at our usual pace. We are all in this together and we will get through this together.

Stay Safe and Be Kind.

Heather at Skate Helper.

Creative Ways to Stay Busy

Right now, it’s mandatory that we slow down and relax. Staying at home and spending time with family will make all of us reflect and think about what is important.

To help navigate these unfamiliar circumstances and take everyone’s mind off the hourly news updates, we suggest tapping into your creativity. You don’t have to be creative, it’s fun, and may help you and your family see the world in a different way.

I have a nine and fourteen year-old and here’s how we are being creative in our home.

  1. We brainstormed what things we would like to do over the next few weeks. In ten minutes, we came up with 53 great ideas. Remember that brainstorming is all about generating ideas, so no idea is a bad idea…anything goes.
  2. We are meal planning and cooking together. We never had the time to do that before. My son and daughter have baked brownies together and want to bake more regularly.
  3. Each of us are writing in our journals daily. We want to capture how we are feeling and what we are doing each day.
  4. We set aside time everyday to read.
  5. We are walking for at least an hour every day. Walking in nature is a great way to recharge, get exercise and appreciate your surroundings.
  6. We listen to our CD collection (yup we still have them). My kids are interested in learning about The Jackson 5, The Beatles, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen. They are interested in what concerts we’ve attended and leads to great discussion.
  7. We’ve started playing cards after dinner.
  8. We dug out the Monopoly, backgammon, chess and crib boards.

When you actually have the time to slow down and think about what you would like to do there are loads of ideas. Make lemonade out of lemons.

Stay healthy and be safe.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

From Heather at Skate Helper.

 

Who is Making Ice Skating more Accessible?

Conway Arena

There are many barriers to ice skating whether it’s cost, mobility issues or just being afraid to try it.  For many people ice skating is just something they read about or see when they watch television.  Today, more and more arenas are offering adaptive skating programs. Once such arena is Conway Arena in New Hampshire where the Adaptive Adults Skating Program uses the skate helpers regularly.

First Stride Program

The Chicago Blackhawks introduced their First Stride program two years ago and the results have been amazing.  Their goal is to offer every school within a two-mile radius of the Fifth Third Arena the chance to come and learn how to skate and also learn in the classroom about S.T.E.M ( Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).  Over 113,000 kids go through the program every year.  For many families skating and hockey is just not available or affordable. The Blackhawks offer skate helpers to those kids who may feel scared their first time on the ice.

The Adaptive Sports Program at Franciscan Children’s

This program provides children with special needs the opportunity to participate in sports and active recreation in a fun and safe environment. The Program promotes the learning of new skills, social opportunities and moderate to vigorous physical activity to maintain and improve health and fitness. The program takes place at the Boston Bruins Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, MA.

Lern more about this adaptive sports program by watching here:

My first winter in Ottawa

New to East Coast Winters

My family and I decided to move from Richmond, BC to Ottawa, ON this past summer.  We moved 13,000 pounds of stuff across the country. So far Ottawa has been very pleasant. Summer and fall were beautiful and now we are emersed in winter.

My kids are excited about the snow. I bought a parka at Costco, snow tires are on, and my skates are sharpened. Winter is lovely if you dress for it- ( I say this now without having experienced minus 20 or freezing rain) – but winter is a season that should be embraced and enjoyed.

The Rideau Canal

My family and I will be enjoying  the Rideau Canal with our skates and skate helpers. I’m just getting back into skating so I will use two skate helpers stacked together to get my balance and gain my confidence on the ice. We are all very excited about outdoor skating.

The Rideau Canal is Canada’s largest outdoor skating rink and is nearly 7.5 kilometres or 5 miles long. The naturally frozen canal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is usually open January to March. It’s free, just need to bring your own skates or rent them from a hut along the banks.

Another skating spot we will try within a 45-minute drive from Ottawa is a 3-kilometre ice trail through the forest in Gatineau. There’s a heated building on site where you can lace up your skates, and rest areas along the trail where you can sit back and enjoy the scenery, birds and squirrels. https://www.patinageenforet.com/

The Bentway

The Bentway is another great location for skating, it transforms into a uniquely urban winter wonderland with the opening of the 220 metre skate trail open seven days a week from 12 – 9 p.m.

An on-site winter village will offer hot chocolate and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages for skaters and spectators, while warming stations will help visitors get toasty before getting back on the ice.

Can’t skate? No problem! The Bentway will offer recurring free skate lessons for kids and adults. On-site skate rentals are available daily along with skate helpers.

The Bentway Skate Trail continues from January 6 to February 17, 2020 with amended weekday hours.

I look forward to discovering outdoor skating in Ottawa and Toronto this winter season.

Enjoy your winter  – get out and move!

Happy Trails from Heather at Skate Helper.

Girl skating with the skate helper skating aid

The Chicago Blackhawks Fifth Third Arena Fest features new Skate Helpers

The Chicago Blackhawks know how to treat their fans. They spend a lot of time in the community connecting with them. The Chicago Blackhawks also purchased a number for Skate Helpers for fans to use who don’t know how to skate.

Upcoming events include The Chicago Blackhawks and Fifth Third Bank inviting fans and community members to “Fifth Third Arena Fest,” which is a celebration of the new partnership with the team’s official practice facility and community rink. The event will be
held on Monday, May 6 from 3-6pm. This family fun event will include skating, games and giveaways.

In June, the Blackhawks will host HockeyFest – Game On! , the world’s largest street hockey tournament, on the United Center campus parking lots from June 22-23, 2019. With more than 30 divisions ranging across age, gender and skill level, hockey players
of all ages, including adults, are invited to participate.

The 12th annual Blackhawks Convention, presented by Magellan Corporation, will be held from July 26-28, 2019, at the Hilton Chicago (720 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago). The event, which has sold out every year, will feature both current Blackhawks players
and alumni throughout the weekend and include numerous autograph and photo sessions, Q&A panels, exhibits, interactive games and much more. Blackhawks players, coaches, executives and alumni are expected to attend.