Posts Tagged ‘health’

Community exclusion and ‘difficult’ patrons

October 5, 2015

In her first guest post, Sara started to discuss the relationship between well-being and community inclusion (or not), and the ‘reality’ that many non-profits feel under-equipped to deal some of their patrons who are experiencing mental health issues or are using drugs or alcohol. Today she continues her earlier thoughtful discussion, jumping into a Toronto organization’s survey of folks who have been refused service or have been banned from certain agencies.

In 2013, an organization called Rittenhouse completed a survey of 10 Toronto community organizations that work with these populations and found that 90% of the agencies used barring practices or restricted services as a response to client conflict. Restricting services or barring can involve asking someone to leave or preventing them from entering or accessing the service for any amount of time. Agency staff highlighted the issue that barring practices and service restrictions actually replicate punitive, exclusionary and stigmatizing approaches faced by marginalized individuals in other areas of their lives. However, data gathered through focus groups and workshops with these community organizations demonstrates that staff feel under-qualified to deal with the conflicts that arise in their spaces in non-discriminatory and supportive ways, while balancing the health, safety, and comfort of other clients and staff.

Frank Cotham at The New Yorker

Exclusion negatively affects health

Rittenhouse conducted interviews with another 30 people who identify as current or past drug users and have been barred from a community organization. Many participants reported that the service limitation impacted their access to support services, harm reduction services, and physical health services: 40% of participants reported feeling like the bar resulted in an increase in their risk of violence; 53% felt the bar resulted in an increase in their risk of contact with police; 40%  like they did not get enough chance to talk about what happened; 53% that agency staff did not understand them or their situation; and 53% reported feeling embarrassment, shame, and/or humiliation, among other findings. (more…)

Can 30 Minutes be Life Changing?

February 20, 2015


“This challenge has motivated me to get outside and do something every day. It was especially awesome convincing family members to go with me so it doubled as bonding moments.” Bethany M.


“It helped me discover the many ways I can dedicate at least 30 minutes in a day to my health even if it was only 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Thanks for helping me get back in motion!” Carol G.


“I lost 8 pounds this month and the 30 for 30 kept me SO motivated.” Dagmar K.


“I feel so much better every morning after I do my 30 minute Power Walk and I get way more done in a day. It was great fun and I’m SO full of Life!!” Rita R

So many stories and inspiration have come from the 30 for 30 Fitness Challenge.

Three years ago I quit a long term corporate career to follow my passion and launch my business, SO Full of LIFE Fitness and Wellness. I knew I wanted to connect with the community in a meaningful way but did not know where or how I was going to do that. I was honoured to be introduced to House of Friendship, a charity that aligned with my values and their mission statement “Building a healthy community where all can belong and thrive” resonated with me in a very strong way.

As my business was growing, time was not at a premium, but I wanted to lend my support to House of Friendship. So the idea of the 30 for 30 Fitness Challenge was hatched bringing my vision of changing lives out to the community. The challenge, introduced twice a year, has people register for $10 and commit to doing 30 minutes of heart raising activity for 30 days allowing 4 days of rest (on your honour and no homework is checked…wink wink). At the end of 30 days registrants have many opportunities to win great prizes including free personal training from yours truly!


What started as a way to get people active and raise money has turned into so much more. Many fantastic businesses in the community started donating amazing prizes and people began registering in order to make donations to support a great cause. Stories of better health, connection to the community and to family and friends have emerged. At the end of each challenge, participants can join together for a fun wrap up event and draw names for prizes. To date the Challenge has awarded over 50 prizes and raised over $2500 with a goal of $10,000!


Want to get in on the fun? Please email to get on the list for the next 30 for 30 Fundraiser starting June 1st, 2015. Who knows, you might get healthier, connect with friends and family, win great prizes and feel the joy in helping others in our community BELONG AND THRIVE.

Contact Sandra at for more information.

Building a Healthy Community Where All Thrive #12daysforgood

December 14, 2014

12 days for good healing

by Sandra O’Hagan Personal Training Specialist at SO Full of Life

Imagine for a moment what it might be like not being able to lift your arm or not being able to walk because your leg won’t move the way it should or hearing your own voice and the words are slurred. This was my reality five years ago after a spontaneous bleed in my brain caused me to lose functionality and left me dependent on others for care and support.

Being blessed with wonderful family, friends and neighbours I was able to fully recover and heal and ultimately return to a rewarding career. That would have been the end of my story except I felt this was a message that I needed to listen to.

There are so many in our community who are not so fortunate and suffer with health issues, lack of food, warm clothing, supportive family or even a roof over their heads. How would they recover from something so debilitating as a brain bleed or other health crisis?

We often take our health for granted until we don’t have it. What a gift it is to have options and choices in caring for ourselves and staying well. Thousands in our community are not so blessed.

12 days for good sandra o'hagan

I ultimately quit my job 3 years ago and started my health and wellness business and knew that I wanted to do more in the community. With that in mind, I became passionate about the work of House of Friendship and specifically their food hamper program. Upon learning that thousands of people, often gainfully employed, required this assistance, helping with deliveries and fundraising has been a gift for me.

I am honoured to be part of the 12 Days for Good Campaign and to contribute in my small way with HEALING and helping “BUILD A HEALTHY COMMUNITY WHERE ALL CAN BELONG AND THRIVE”.

Follow Sandra on Twitter as she shares health, wellness and her journey of good.

What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us. << TWEET THIS

Lost for words

June 25, 2012

Michael, the BSW student who is with us twice a week, had this to say recently about an experience he had on intake:

One day, while working behind the Food Hamper program’s intake counter, I met an older woman who I may never meet again. However, a mark was left and a burning memory remains.

Late in the afternoon, during an average, uneventful day, an ordinary looking, older woman came to the front asking for food assistance. I asked her name, entered it into our computer system, and up popped her profile. It was similar to all of our other program participants’ profiles except for one glaringly red difference. Up in the corner were the large red words, CANCER. Before I could confirm this with her she told me, “I have lung cancer.” Here I was with someone who not only required emergency food assistance but the food provided by the program was going towards supporting her recovery or, at the least, to help her cope with her poor health. This woman had to have been under an incredible amount of stress; emotional and mental stress in requiring the program’s help and physical stress due to her health. After she left some thoughts continued to stick in my mind. (more…)

Calling the Shots

January 17, 2012

Have you seen a poster like this around your office? Or have you seen it on a television commercial? It’s a popular piece of media to remind us one of the many ways we can prevent spreading illnesses such as colds and flu’s throughout the community.

However getting a flu shot is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of influenza to yourself, your co-workers, your friends and family, or anyone else you interact with throughout the day. Although the flu shot cannot protect you against the common cold, there are a number of benefits to getting immunized each year. (more…)