Our Community: New playground at Cecilia Ravine

Children checked out a larger, more accessible playground at the official opening celebration of Cecelia Ravine Park’s improved park area last week.

Located between Burnside Road and the north side of the Selkirk Trestle, the park is a migratory bird habitat and home to the Burnside Gorge Community Centre.

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Improvements include new green space, improved outdoor fitness area and an upgraded, multi-use pathway to allow pedestrian and cyclists better connection to the Galloping Goose Regional Trail.

A parking lot and a public washroom have also been added. Other facilities include a basketball court, bike-skills park and trails.

In 2016, the City of Victoria purchased an adjacent property to add an additional 0.22 hectares to the park.

For more information, go to victoria.ca/parkimprovements.

Firefighters give $25,000 to VGH pediatric unit

Patients of the pediatric unit at the Victoria General Hospital presented firefighters with a thank-you card and a drawing in appreciation for a $25,000 donation made to the Victoria Hospitals Foundation on Thursday.

The donation by the Professional Firefighters of Greater Victoria Community Foundation is part of a 10-year, $250,000 pledge made by the firefighters in 2011 to support the pediatric unit.

The Victoria General Hospital sees 98 per cent of pediatric cases on Vancouver Island.

“It’s heartwarming to meet some of the children our pledge has helped,” said Brian Swanson of Saanich Firefighters Charitable Foundation.

“The equipment we are funding allows children and their families to overcome critical health challenges and go on to live full and healthy lives. We are proud to do everything we can to help our local hospital provide the best possible care, right here at home.”

Members of the foundation serve in Saanich, Oak Bay, Victoria and Esquimalt fire departments. Throughout the year, they raise funds through community events such as Rock and Roll for Little Souls, Ribfest, Fashion Inferno and Sausage Fest.

“We are grateful to our community for supporting our events year after year. We are stronger together, and together we make a difference for health care in our community,” said Swanson.

The firefighters aren’t finished. Their next gift will be to the foundation’s latest campaign, You Are Vital: Pediatrics, to fund 40 new monitors for life-saving neonatal and pediatric care at VGH.

Following the cheque and card presentations, the youngsters got a chance to have fun, exploring a fire truck and meeting the firefighters.

For more information on the You Are Vital: Pediatrics campaign, go to victoriahf.ca/vitalkids.

New online tool for lifeline project

The Canadian Blood Services celebrates National Blood Donor Week by launching a new online tool for anyone whose life has been changed by blood products to share their reasons for joining Canada’s Lifeline and help patients.

“Each year during National Blood Donor Week and on World Blood Donor Day, June 14, we celebrate and thank donors for their generosity and commitment to patients,” said Rick Prinzen, Canadian Blood Services chief supply chain officer and vice-president of donor relations. “Blood donors are a vital link in Canada’s Lifeline and more donors are needed to maintain a strong and consistent supply of blood and blood products. We encourage Canadians to visit our website and share their reasons for donating. Hopefully, it will inspire their friends and family to join them.”

Visitors to the site can submit their reasons for donating blood or plasma, register as a stem cell or organ and tissue donor, volunteer or donate funds.

Canadians are also invited to use social media to post their reasons for being a donor, tag their followers and encourage them to do the same using the hash tags #WhatsYourReason, #NBDW2019 and #WBDD.

An app called GiveBlood can be downloaded for those interested in offering donations. You can also phone 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283) or book an appointment through the website blood.ca.

Documentary explores the opioid crisis

Get an understanding of the agencies battling on the front lines of Vancouver Island’s opioid crisis through the locally filmed documentary, A Just Society, Thursday at First Metropolitan United Church, 932 Balmoral Rd.

Filmmaker Nick Versteeg interviewed more than 30 people who have experienced homelessness and drug addiction. He conducted his interviews at Our Place in Victoria, plus facilities in Duncan and Ladysmith.

The film is presented by Our Place Society and hosted by First Metropolitan United Church.

“It was a challenging film to piece together,” said Versteeg. “The stories are heartbreaking, but also inspirational when you see people receiving the unconditional help they need.”

A panel discussion will follow the viewing with B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Versteeg, and Our Place CEO Don Evans.

Admission by donation. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the documentary starting at 7 p.m.

For more information, go to ourplacesociety.com.

Help family in battle of rare disease

Help support a young family whose four year-old daughter is battling a rare disease at a Charity Car Wash at Campus Honda, 506 Finlayson St. Sunday on June 23.

Charleigh Fales’ journey started eight months ago, when she had her first unexplained seizure.

After a battery of tests, it was revealed that she had CLN2 Batten Disease, an extremely rare fatal genetic disorder.

Charleigh is the only diagnosis in British Columbia, and 13th child in Canada.

The prognosis is grim, with most children dying between six and 12 years of age.

Charleigh suffers countless, painful seizures a day and is being supplemented through a feeding tube.

Enzyme replacement gene therapy called Brineura has been shown to slow the disease.. This treatment is new, but clinical trials have shown promising results. The drug is administered bi-weekly through a portal, straight into the brain.

The treatment costs $750,000 US per year.

The family also has a GoFundMe page.

The car wash runs noon to 3 p.m. June 23. For more information, go to gofundme.com/f/ charleighsjourney.

Cyclist will be spinning for a cause

A Colwood resident will be spending 13 hours pedalling a spin bike to help raise funds and awareness for hospice care on Vancouver Island, Saturday in the lobby of the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre.

Graham Hales is already training hard for this year’s Cycle of Life Tour, an almost 200-kilometre ride in July.

“You may not believe this, but I am taking off this week to rest up for the event,” said Hales. “If I’m suffering on the bike, or don’t think I have anymore to give, I will think of the people that are in hospice. On the ride, I will be thinking about a dear friend who I lost last year to ALS.”

The B.C. Transit driver and part-time spin instructor will also have a second bike set up so that friends and co-workers can join him.

In the Cycle of Life Tour, 125 riders from across Vancouver Island will ride nearly 200 kilometres to raise funds for hospice care on Vancouver Island. The event provides financial support and raises awareness for hospice care across Vancouver Island.

For more information, go to cycleoflifetour.ca.

The play is the thing at St. Luke’s

St. Luke’s Players Community theatre is looking for volunteers to help with productions in the 2019-20 season.

Positions open include set decor, set painting, costumes, backstage crew and assistant stage managers.

It doesn’t matter if you are experienced or new to theatre. Call 250-884-5484 or email at stlukespplayers@yahoo.ca.

For more information, go to stlukesplayers.ca.

Cemetery cleanup, open house and tour

Discover the history of the interesting people buried on the grounds of St. Luke’s Church’s at its Cemetery Tour, Open House and Cleanup Morning, Saturday, June 22.

Pam Gaudio will lead a guided tour starting at 10 a.m.

Even if you don’t have connections to this cemetery, a visit will show its connection to Cedar Hill, Lake Hill and Gordon Head pioneer families.

The church will also be open for self-guided tours .Light refreshments will be available.

The event runs 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at St. Luke’s Cemetery, 3821 Cedar Hill Cross Rd. For more information, go to stlukesvictoria.ca.

Consequences when you catch a critter

The Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary Society wants to remind the public of “critter catching consequences.”

Collecting live reptiles and amphibians, collectively known as herptiles, not only threatens the individual creature, but also the entire population.

Over the years, well-meaning citizens have brought numerous reptiles and amphibians to the centre due to concerns about their welfare or just wanting to be able to visit them later.

Many think they are like a pet that can be named and visited, but in general, native wildlife does not thrive in captivity.

Staff have to work hard with limited resources to care for the animal and, at times, it might have to be euthanized.

Herptiles are generally prey animals and assume you are a predator about to eat them. The stress and trauma inflicted on these animals in captivity is tremendous.

While they acknowledge that it is wonderful to be able to show visitors native animals up close, the sanctuary is not a zoo or rehabilitation facility.

It does not endorse the collection and keeping of native animals from the wild.

It is actually against the law, as outlined in the Wildlife Act, and you can receive a fine, no matter how well-intentioned you are.

If you have illegally collected an animal without a permit, please return it immediately to where you found it. Animals already have everything they need exactly where they are and generally do not benefit from our interference.

If you find an injured animal, the best option is to contact the B.C. SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre in Metchosin.

For more information, go to swanlake.bc.ca.

Donated empties will help Our Place

Bottle Depot has selected Our Place as Charity of the Month.

In June, deposits on empty, recyclable beverage containers donated to the charity bins at Bottle Depot’s three main locations — 655 Queens Ave., 4261 Glanford Ave., and 3961 Quadra St. — will go directly to feed the community at Our Place.

If you have two or more bags stuffed with empties that you want to donate, call Bottle Depot at 250-727-7480 and they will pick them up.

“With summer upon us, Our Place is experiencing high numbers of people looking for a freshly cooked meal and a safe place of sanctuary,” said Don Evans, executive director of Our Place.

“The support of Bottle Depot to make extra donations this simple is fantastic.”

For more information, go to ourplacesociety.com.

Rhythmic gymnasts raising money for competition

Members of Victoria Rhythmic Gymnastics will be joining Team Canada at the upcoming World Gymnaestrada competition in Austria, starting July 7.

The team of girls and ladies have set up a Facebook fundraiser and a GoFundMe site to help raise money to offset the cost of attending the event.

For more information, go to Facebook or GoFundMe.

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