Our Community: Make a wish, help fulfil a dream

You can make a blue wish this month and help children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses experience their dreams.

The B.C. and Yukon chapter of the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada Pacific has partnered with Blue Cross in support of Children’s Wish Month (#ChildrensWishMonth).

Until March 31, British Columbians can donate $5 by texting BLUEWISH to 80100 to help raise funds to fulfil the wishes of children.

“We are incredibly grateful for the support we receive from the public to help grant the wishes of our deserving children,” said Jennifer Petersen, chapter director of the foundation. “Behind every wish and wish family is a community of giving people and organizations who support the joy of a wish, and we simply couldn’t do it without them.”

Pacific Blue Cross and Canadian Blue Cross organizations have been supporting the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada for 27 years. They have provided travel health insurance to 12,500 Canadian children, who ordinarily would not be able to qualify for travel health insurance because of their illnesses, so they can travel without fear of costly health setbacks.

“We are honoured to be able to support the foundation as part of Pacific Blue Cross’s share-the-care community outreach,” said Jan K. Grude, chief executive of the insurance company.

“Through their dedication, the B.C. and Yukon chapter have granted wishes to thousands of children over the past 30 years, and each wish granted is magnified by the happiness it brings to so many people.”

The $5 donation will appear on the donor’s next cellphone bill.

For more information, go to childrenswish.ca.

Hunt for eggs and help hospital foundation

Looking for an egg-cellent activity for your children? Take them to the 17th annual Easter Egg Hunt for the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation on Saturday.

Hosted by local real estate agent Ron Neal and the Neal Estate Team, the event attracted more than 500 children last year.

They went away happy, finding more than 30,000 hidden chocolate eggs and other prizes. Organizers were also happy, raising more than $4,000 for the B.C. Children’s Hospital.

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Activities at this year’s event include face-painting, crafts and a visit by the Easter Bunny.

The Easter egg hunt starts at 11 a.m. and is over in the blink of an eye.

Children can enter a colouring contest ahead of the event — entries may be downloaded at ronneal.com and brought to either the office, 770 Hillside Ave., or the Easter egg hunt.

There is a suggested donation of $5 per child. Registration and activities begin at 10 a.m. at the south parking lot of Beaver Lake Park (at the filter beds). Come early to get parking or consider carpooling. For more information, go to ronneal.com.

Volunteers ready to work on tax returns

Need a hand to prepare your tax return? Individuals with modest incomes can request help filling out their returns, in a program sponsored by the Canada Revenue Agency.

Through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, the CRA has linked with community organizations for the past 45 years, training volunteers to complete basic tax returns.

The organizations hold free tax-preparation clinics where volunteers complete tax returns for qualifying individuals. Even for people with no income to report, filing an income tax and benefit return is important to receive certain tax credits and benefits.

“We encourage individuals who need help with their tax returns to use the volunteer program,” said Zubie Vuurens, the program’s regional co-ordinator.

“The service is free, and filing a tax return ensures they receive the benefits and credits they’re entitled to without interruption.”

Last year, more than 2,600 volunteers helped almost 110,000 individuals prepare and file their income-tax returns in British Columbia and the Yukon.

To determine if you are eligible for this service, or to find a free tax-preparation clinic in your area, call the CRA toll free at 1-800-959-8281, or visit cra.gc.ca/volunteer.

School offers free tuition for deserving student

A hair-design and esthetics school will offer $12,000 in free tuition to a deserving student in the trade.

Academy of Excellence, a school that has been graduating hair-design and esthetic/spa therapy students for more than 50 years in Victoria, has just announced it will offer a full tuition scholarship for the first time. The successful applicant can choose to apply the scholarship to either of the two disciplines.

“We have seen so many students who had struggled to get here,” said Lorie Chadsey, owner and school director. “This is a way to give them a leg up towards a great career.”

The school has three intakes a year for the 10-month course, with a maximum of 12 students in each full-time class, Monday to Friday. It also offers a 16-month course for three days a week, for those who need to keep working.

Application deadline is May 31. Completed forms can be dropped off at the school, 303 Goldstream Ave. For more information, go to academyofexcellencevictoria.com/training.

Invasive plants are target of weekend campaign

Luke Skywalker might battle his nemesis in a galaxy far, far away, but the Friends of Uplands Park need Star Wars fighters closer to home to remove alien invasive plants such as carpet burweed, bur chervil, ivy and Daphne at Cattle Point on March 27.

Training and tools will be provided for volunteers to help this natural wonderland of blue camas and rare wildflowers, one of Canada’s most endangered ecosystems, recover and survive.   

Refreshments provided to all Jedi who turn up.

The event runs 1 to 4 p.m. March 27 at the lower parking lot (between the boat ramps) of Cattle Point, off Beach Drive. For more information, contact (Commander) Margaret Lidkea at 250-595-8084.

School survivors get free dance tickets

Dance Victoria is giving away some free tickets to residential-school survivors.

Dance Victoria is presenting the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Going Home Star — Truth and Reconciliation, a ballet inspired by the experiences of First Nations residential school survivors, and based on a narrative by Joseph Boyden, a Giller award-winning writer.

The dance has been hailed by some as possibly the most important ballet produced by the dance company in its 75-year history.

The show is meant as a tool to open up dialogue, recognition and understanding about this dark part of Canada’s history.

To facilitate the message, Dance Victoria will give two free tickets to the show to a residential school survivor or to his or her immediate family members with every $74 it receives in donations.

There is an online donation form, with contributions acknowledged with a tax receipt and in the art organization’s 2016/17 house program.

Tickets to the show are $29 to $89. It runs 7:30 p.m. April 1 and 2 at the Royal Theatre, 805 Broughton St. (at Blanshard). For more information, go to dancevictoria.com/support-us/rwb-ticket-donation.

Walks and talks aimed at diabetes patients

Got Diabetes or pre-diabetes? Get informed and get healthier at Walk & Talk, a program offered by the Canadian Diabetes Association, which starts March 29.   

This program consists of eight weekly talks followed by a walk. Health experts  cover a range of diabetes-related topics, from foot care, to the glycemic index, to general motivation and more. The program is geared for those with diabetes, prediabetes and caregivers.

“We are very excited to be able to expand this program to reach more people living with or affected by diabetes,” said Penny Murray, branch co-ordinator for Vancouver Island. “This program is a great opportunity for people to learn more about diabetes-related topics, connect with others and get out for a walk.”

The walking portion of the program is suitable for all fitness levels and will include a choice of easy or more challenging walks, led by volunteers.

The program is possible thanks to funding by the Victoria Foundation and three venue partners: Cedar Hill Recreation Centre, Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre and Tall Tree Integrated Health Centre in Cordova Bay.

The program is free, but participants must register online, email penny.murray@diabetes.ca or call 250-382-5454, ext. 222. For more information, go to diabetes.ca/WalkandTalkVictoria.

Dementia facility adopts innovative philosophy

A Nanaimo non-profit organization is hoping to raise $2 million to build a community in a new dementia-care facility opening next April.

Nanaimo Travellers Lodge, a non-profit organization and registered charity, is building, and will operate, the new Eden Gardens. The provincial government is financing the majority of the project, with Island Health providing the facility’s annual operating costs.

The new facility will adopt the Eden Alternative Care philosophy, which combats the three hardships of an institutional environment — loneliness, boredom and helplessness. Residents will reside in communities that enable them to live with dignity and freedom in a social and safe environment .

The complex will have six communities, each consisting of two neighbourhoods, each with 11 private rooms with bathroom, plus communal living and dining rooms. The goal is to provide a more home-like environment rather than the traditional, institutional environment.

The facility will also offer community day programs to 130 people with dementia, as well as bathing programs to 25 individuals residing in the community.

The charity is in need of major gifts that will help them achieve their goal to deinstitutionalize the building and incorporate the programs. For more information, go to nanaimotravellerslodge.com.

Victoria student picked for international science fair

A Grade 12 student from Victoria is one of eight young scientists selected by Youth Science Canada to represent our country at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May.

Nathan Kuehne, 17, a student at Glenlyon Norfolk School, is no stranger to competitions. He won a Gold Medal Excellence Award at the Canada-Wide Science Fair in New Brunswick in 2015. He created an at-home diagnostic test for patients suffering from phenylketonuria, a rare genetic disorder. He also was the top overall winner at the Vancouver Island Regional Science, held in Victoria last April.

The Intel ISEF is the world’s largest fair and takes place May 8 to 13 in Phoenix, Arizona. For more information, go to intel.com/content/www/us/en/education/intel-education.html.

Camosun will honour top alumni

Camosun College is seeking nominations for its annual Distinguished and Promising Alumni Awards

The Distinguished Alumni Award honours extraordinary alumni who graduated more than 10 years ago. Nominees demonstrate exceptional service to their community, provide outstanding contributions in their field, and offer inspiration to those around them.

The award carries a $1,000 fund to be directed toward a Camosun project or student bursary of choice.

The Promising Alumni Award recognizes outstanding alumni who graduated within the past 10 years. Nominees show career accomplishments with a clear prediction of future success and a commitment to others in their community.

The award carries a $500 fund to be directed toward a Camosun library purchase of choice. Recipients of both awards will be announced at the school’s graduation ceremonies, June 16 and 17.

Nominations close March 3. The nomination form can be found at camosun.ca/about/alumni/alumni-award-nomination-form.html.

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