Injury rate cut in half at revamped school playgrounds

The number of children’s injuries has been cut in half since playground equipment at schools throughout the Toronto District School Board has been replaced with newer, safer equipment, a study has found, reported Canadian Press in a story run by the Toronto Star, The Toronto Sun and Broadcast News May 24. The results, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal Tuesday, are being hailed as vindication for the Toronto school board, which took a lot of heat from the public when it began removing playground equipment five years ago due to safety fears.

“Kids fall off equipment onto hard sand or concrete, and they get head injuries and that can be really, really serious,” said Alison Macpherson, a co-author of the study and a professor at York University’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science.

In 2002, the year following the installation of new equipment, the number of injuries tumbled by 550, decreasing from 2.61 injuries per 1,000 students per month before the old equipment was removed, to 1.68 per 1,000 students per month after safer measures were taken. The study suggests up to 40 per cent of hospital visits from playground injuries are for fractures and 17 per cent require hospital admission, the second highest reason for children being admitted next to traffic collisions.

“We want to make sure the equipment that they fall off of and the surface they fall onto will be as safe as possible. That means that surface will absorb the impact, and the fall height will not be above a level that could lead to disastrous consequences,” Macpherson said.

Being Canadian is not a handicap

Take one part rock ‘n’ roll publicist, one part international sports agent, two parts author. Add five parts Canadian business booster and 10 parts tech-finance wizard. Pour the above ingredients into one body and soul and whom do you get? None other than Leonard Brody, venture partner with Vancouver’s GrowthWorks Capital Ltd., began a National Post profile May 21. A graduate of Queens University, York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and Harvard’s Private Equity Course, Brody began his career at a senior publicity post with the music company MCA (now Universal) promoting the likes of Alanis Morissette. Then he moved on to establish Prodigy Athletes & Artists, representing the cream of North American soccer talent in Europe. But on March 1, 2000 – when he brokered financing for Onvia Canada’s initial public offering on Nasdaq for more than US$240-million – he knew he’d found his groove.

In addition to his success in sports, entertainment and technology, Brody is the co-author with David J. Raffa, his close friend and fellow venture capitalist, of a new book: Everything I needed to know about business … I Learned from a Canadian. Profiling 16 remarkable Canadians, including Jim Pattison, Moshe Safdie, Jeff Skoll and Paul Tellier, Brody’s new book is a testament to the breadth of Canadian business success. “Once I decided to make my life in Canada, it meant standing up to point out how good we are,” he said. That’s why Brody began writing. His previous book, Innovation Nation, focused on Canadian excellence in the tech world. Canadians are so good, he says, yet we have so little awareness of our own triumphs. “We provide less than three per cent of global GDP, but we’re the number three nation in the production of technology.”

Doctor-lawyer-gadfly vs. Canada’s medical system

Dr. Jacques Chaoulli, a family physician, has never lost his distaste for Canada’s publicly financed health care system. He has taken what was once regarded as a nuisance case, challenging the constitutionality of the system all the way to the Supreme Court, reported The New York Times May 21. He argues that regulations that create long waiting times for surgery contradict the constitutional guarantees for individuals of “life, liberty and the security of the person,” and that the prohibition against private medical insurance and care is for sick patients an “infringement of the protection against cruel and unusual treatment.”

“His argument is credible,” said Patrick Monahan, dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. “The issue of waiting times does raise constitutional issues.”

Co-CEO roles are rare, and for good reason

Richard Leblanc, professor of corporate governance at York’s School of Administrative Studies, says sharing power at the top depends on the personalities of the co-chief executive officers, reported The Globe and Mail May 23 about the risks of two people doing the top job. “A natural tendency for a CEO is to run the company and not to share authority,” Leblanc said. “You probably don’t find many of them who want to share the limelight.”

AIDS quelled powerful voice of Zimbabwean writer

She was known as a woman for Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city, as well as its finest female writer. Yet Yvonne Vera spent 10 years in Canada fast-tracking academia at York University to attain a BA (1990), MA (1991) and PhD (1995) in record time as well as coming to understand that her real vocation was as a writer, reported the Toronto Star May 23. With that came another tough lesson she needed to write from her troubled homeland of Zimbabwe, and that meant leaving her husband and her marriage behind in Toronto. But it was to Canada – and to the Richmond Hill apartment of her husband John Jose – that she returned last year; and it was here, at York Central Hospital, where she died April 7 of complications from AIDS.

Vera was 40, the author of five novels and a collection of short stories, a popular speaker at many European conferences and book fairs, and the recipient of a slew of awards, including the Commonwealth Writers Prize for the Africa region in 1999 and, just last year, the Swedish PEN Tucholsky prize recognizing a body of work dealing with taboo subjects.

James Houston, the man who invented Inuit art

Publisher Douglas Gibson paid tribute in the Toronto Star May 22 to James Houston, the Toronto-born artist, author and pioneer who almost single-handedly created the international Inuit art market, who died in Connecticut on April 17 at age 83. Douglas remembered: “When James Houston received an honorary degree from York University in 2001, as his publisher I was asked to summarize his career for the lunchtime crowd of special guests. ‘James Houston,’ I began, ‘is the most fascinating group of people you will ever meet.’”

Open house gives residents look at subway-extension plan

The Spadina subway extension is one step closer to conception, reported the North York Mirror May 20. Phase 2 of the three-part project was completed with a public open house Tuesday at York University.The Toronto Transit Commission is in the process of collecting data for an Environmental Assessment that will be completed by the fall. Ted Spence, senior policy adviser and executive director of institutional research and analysis at York University, said the University has been working with the TTC to find the best possible route. “We very much need a subway to York Region,” he said. “It really is the gateway to the 905.”

Vaughan wants to build soccer stadium

Vaughan is taking a serious look at building a soccer stadium on city land to replace the scrapped York University project, Mayor Michael Di Biase says, reported the Toronto Star May 23. Last week, Vaughan’s committee of the whole endorsed a motion authorizing the city to meet with federal and provincial officials in the hopes of building a 15,000-seat venue. The politicians will request that $35 million in funding pledged to the York project be shifted to the Vaughan venue. The proposed stadium would be located at the Vaughan Grove Sports Park on Martin Grove Rd. south of Highway 7.

On air

  • Steve Gaetz, education professor and Chair of the homelessness conference at York University, was interviewed about affordable housing, funds for social programs and conference recommendations, for pieces that aired May 20 on CBC Radio’s “Here and Now,” “Ontario Morning” and CBC Television’s “Canada Now.”
  • Thabit Abdullah Sam, professor of Middle East history in York’s Faculty of Arts, discussed the current state of Iraq on CTS-TV’s “Michael Coren Live” in Toronto May 23.
  • Fred Fletcher, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, said one of the arguments in favour of prolonging this Parliament is to give the Liberals a chance to reveal some of the shenanigans involving the Parti Quebecois in the sponsorship scandal, on “The Bill Good Show,” a call-in show on Vancouver’s CKNW-AM May 20.