Cockburn recalls a painful moment

Karen Cockburn is returning to the scene of her most numbing experience, said a Canadian Press story Aug. 10. She’ll go for Olympic trampoline gold for Canada on Aug. 20 in Athens, where she was badly injured in a competition last March. “I was off-balance and got lost in the air,” she recalled before flying to Greece on Tuesday. “I came down wrong and my left knee smashed into my left cheek. I had a concussion and scratches on my face. I still don’t have feeling in my [left] cheek. It’s still numb.”

It was a rare accident for an athlete who is usually perfect. The second-year York University economics student is the reigning world women’s champion. When trampoline was first added to the Summer Games program as an official sport in 2000, Cockburn won a bronze medal. This time, the five-foot-three Toronto native is considered the favourite for women’s gold in Athens after winning four World Cup meets this year.

She isn’t paying much attention to the “gold medal hope” tag that the media has attached to her. “I don’t really feel a lot of pressure or anything like that,” she said. “Being the world champion, I knew there would be expectations.”

For Cockburn and Mathieu Turgeon, a York kinesiology grad (BA ’03) who is Canada’s entrant in men’s trampoline, competing at the Olympics holds special significance because trampoline is not a part of the Pan Am Games or the Commonwealth Games. “This is the only time we get to see and compete at the same time with athletes from other sports,” Cockburn said. “It’ll be a great experience.” The article appeared in newspapers across Canada, including The Spectator (Hamilton), The Toronto Sun, The Windsor Star and The Vancouver Sun. 

York helps promote human rights for people with disabilities around the world

Thanks to a $1.2 million-grant from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, a York University-based group of international researchers is pressing ahead with plans to develop a system for monitoring and promoting human rights for people with disabilities around the world, reported the Australia-based News-Medical.Net Web site for medical research news. The group is led by Marcia Rioux, director of York’s Graduate Program in Critical Disability Studies, and Bengt Lindqvist, former United Nations special rapporteur on disability. “People with disabilities have been traditionally marginalized in society,” said Rioux. “We need to look at disabilities as a rights issue and a consequence of social, legal, economic and political barriers.”

The SAD state of the stock market

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the views Aug. 11 of a trio of visiting scholars, including one from York, at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, on the impact of “seasonal affective disorder” on investor behaviour. Sometimes called “winter blues”, SAD is a form of psychological depression related to the amount of daylight at different times during the year. The researchers contend there’s a correlation between the length of daylight – sunny or not – and stock market returns. “Experimental evidence from psychology shows that depression lowers the propensity for risk-taking,” explained researcher Mark Kamstra, a finance professor in York’s Schulich School of Business. The item was also distributed by the Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News service.

Arthur Black turns to Ellen Bialystok

Former CBC Radio personality Arthur Black used widely publicized research by York psychologist Ellen Bialystok, distinguished research professor in the Faculty of Arts, to buttress an essay on Canadian small-mindedness for the Vancouver Island News Group newspapers Aug. 10 .An excerpt:

“Ralph Klein, if you’re reading this, go out and brand a steer or something, because you don’t want to hear what I’m going to say next.

“It’s about the results of a recent York University study on bilingualism. The study shows that speaking a second language actually improves the brain. Researchers tested the mental skills of bilingual speakers of Cantonese and English, Tamil and English, and French and English. The bilingualists consistently outperformed English-only speakers. Ellen Bialystok, a researcher at York, explains that speaking a second language actually produces physical changes in the brain – pumping more blood to carry more oxygen. ‘Being bilingual is like going to a brain gym,’ she says. 

“So do English-Canadians embrace the principle of Official Bilingualism – which amounts to a unique, government-sponsored opportunity to enrich our lives and broaden our horizons? Nah. We bitch and whine about ‘the Quebec conspiracy’ and the immense burden of having to confront a few French words on our Corn Flakes boxes every morning. Come on, Canada, stretch a little.” 

On air 

  • York student senator Shamini Selvaratnam talked about student concerns over possible future tuition fee increases on “Omni News: South Asian Edition”, on Toronto’s Omni.2 TV channel Aug. 10.