At Jane-Finch, entrepreneurial spirit lives on

Preparing for a business seminar at the Jane-Finch Mall, York student Lawrence Krimker was dressed nattily, wrote columnist Joe Fiorito in the Toronto Star March 22. He is, after all, a man of business; to dress carefully is to show respect for one’s clients. He wore a crisp blue shirt with white cuffs and white collar; his silver-blue tie shimmered in the light; his watch sat proudly, squarely, bigly on his wrist. He attends the Schulich School of Business at York; on the side he runs a window-cleaning company, and he distributes advertising and promotional material. He is 20 years old. The seminar was for a handful of young, would-be entrepreneurs from the Jane-Finch neighbourhood. Krimker planned to do a little motivational speaking and provide information about a government program that offers $3,000 grants to students who want to create summer businesses. For some reason he could not make his computer slide show connect to the big-screen monitor, so, like any good businessman, he improvised – he put his laptop on the boardroom table and called everyone to gather round. He asked the would-be entrepreneurs to introduce themselves and to talk about their goals.

After outlining their presentations, Fiorito wrote: you could tell Lawrence was impressed. This is not the Jane-Finch you hear about in the news. This is the real Jane-Finch.

York nursing students paying the price of college strike

Students have had enough of the college strike, reported The Barrie Examiner March 22. Not only has the two-week-long strike halted classes, the effects have also carried into their personal lives. “I don’t appreciate my life being affected like this,” said Amber Blake, sounding discouraged. Blake is in her second year working on her bachelor of science and nursing with York University, of which Georgian College is a host facility. Blake is finding it difficult to teach herself the course while juggling family responsibilities. “We’ve only received minimal guidance for assignments but we’re also being encouraged not to hand in assignments,” Blake said. “My biggest concern is I’ve attended post-secondary education for three years and two of them here. I’ve got thousands of dollars in debt and I’m paying child-care costs for three children.”

Professional athletes confirm York researcher’s take on fitness

In a story based on a new study by Joe Baker, professor in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, professional athletes confirmed his conclusion that specializing a young child in one sport in hopes of becoming a star often has the opposite effect, reported Hamilton Spectator March 22. “It’s really rare to find someone who specialized [and who made it],” said Baker, whose eye-opening yet somewhat predictable study is being published in September. In other words, science is now joining common sense in suggesting too much of any one sport is bad for kids. Many would say this should be obvious. “For a lot of kids, [hockey] has become an 11 or 12 months a year sport,” says Hockey Canada manager of player development Corey McNabb, who sees some short-term gains but plenty more long-term problems. Former Toronto Maple Leaf and now hockey analyst Mark Osborne agrees. He played 14 years in the NHL despite taking summers off the ice as a kid and playing baseball, basketball, tennis and volleyball. He quickly points out even the pros take a break. “Getting away from it emotionally and mentally is as big as anything, just to come back fresh,” he says.

Baker says some of those child athletes might make it. But they are the exception. Far more will burn out and drop out of sports as soon as they become old enough to make their own choices. This becomes a serious problem with the potential for long-term health issues. Children may suffer other problems too, when the small circle of friends they’ve been hanging out with all the time suddenly disappears. “That has major social consequences,” Baker says.

The York study won’t win universal support. Most clear-thinking parents are going to nod their head and realize their instincts were right. They’ll do what they’ve always done, encouraging their kids in hockey through the winter, but then driving them to soccer or baseball practice all summer while the hockey gear gets a bit of a rest. Others will say they agree with the premise for the most part, but argue they’re the exception because that’s what their child wants. He or she wants to play year-round, so they’re just facilitating that. And ,of course, there will be those who think this study is a load of you- know-what. If early specialization was good enough for Tiger Woods, it’s good enough for little Johnny.

Baker says the latter two groups follow that thinking at their peril. He and McNabb are quick to point out their findings don’t mean anyone should avoid summer hockey or basketball camps or leagues entirely. In moderation, they’re useful learning tools and healthy diversions. It just suggests that giving your kid a good break from their game and some exposure to other sports is at least equally as important.

Fear of flying best treated in groups, says York psychologist

Rudolph Philipp, a Toronto psychologist and instructor in York’s Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, says fear of flying is an emotional condition that should be treated through gradual exposure to and knowledge of planes, reported the Alberni Valley Times (Port Alberni, BC) March 22. “The thing is that a person who is very afraid of flying and gets on a plane and doesn’t have any knowledge of what’s going on will listen and look for any little thing that might mean they’re going to crash,” says Philipp, a part-time professor at York University who specializes in behaviour modification. “This type of fear, fear of flying, is probably best (treated) in groups and definitely needs the availability of a person with knowledge of flying and safety, and also the ability to take a plane on a kind of a graduation fight course to actually put everything you’ve learned into practice.”

York student is new Miss Universe Canada

York student Alice Panikian of Toronto was anointed Miss Universe Canada 2006, defeating 48 other hopefuls Tuesday night at the Casino de Montreal, reported CanWest News Service March 22. The 20-year-old takes over the tiara from Natalie Glebova, who went on to win the Miss Universe pageant in Thailand last year. “It’s surreal. I think I’m dreaming,” Panikian said, checking her pulse. “No, no, I’m not.” The judges rated the young women on poise, confidence, intelligence, physical fitness, and beauty as they modelled in swimsuits and evening gowns and made impromptu speeches. Glebova said Panikian, who also took the Miss Photogenic prize, will give Canada a strong candidate for the Miss Universe crown for a second year in a row. “She’s gorgeous. Absolutely stunning,” the past queen said. The title of Miss Universe Canada allows the winner to travel the world in defence of a favourite cause. For Panikian, it will be HIV and AIDS prevention in Africa. “[AIDS] is very preventible. With education we can save a lot of lives,” she said.

MuchMusic plays York graduate’s first music video

In a story about Pearl Avenue, a CD by a local singer/songwriter, The Peterborough Examiner reported March 22 that the song’s video, which is being played on television’s MuchMusic, was directed by York alumnus Dustin Parkes, who was making his debut with the video.

Las Nubes partnership blossomed, says Daugherty

The plump packet of Las Nubes coffee is much more than a mouthful. It’s a collaboration of York University, Timothy’s World Coffee, the Tropical Science Center (TSC) in Costa Rica and a local farmers’ cooperative, reported the Toronto edition of Metro March 14. Eight years ago, Dr. Woody Fisher, a prominent physician in Toronto, donated the Las Nubes rainforest in Costa Rica to York University. Howard Daugherty, professor of environmental studies at York, now oversees a research and conservation program on-site in Las Nubes and offers a field course for students.

It was an old friendship between the two that sparked the idea. “Dr. Fisher had gone on eco-tours of Costa Rica, visiting national parks,” Daugherty explains. “Twenty-eight per cent of territory in Costa Rica is national parks – the highest in the world. At the same time, outside of the parks, the rate of deforestation was one of the highest in Latin America. He saw the juxtaposition of destruction and protection, so he bought the land.” After some legal difficulty with the property, it was Daugherty that advised Fisher to donate Las Nubes to York University in 1998, establishing the Fisher Fund to raise money for research and conservation of the rainforest. By January 1999, after the fund received its first donation, work had already begun in Las Nubes and “steamrolled from there.” “It blossomed into a partnership between the University, the Tropical Science Center in Costa Rica, a local farmers’ cooperative and a corporate partner,” Daugherty said.

Timothy’s World Coffee offers Las Nubes coffee in its shops throughout Canada – a joint effort with the TSC in Costa Rica and local farmers who receive a premium price for their coffee production. It also serves as a research site for Daugherty’s two-week field course. The program typically fills with York’s environmental studies students, but opportunities remain open to students from other programs and even other universities. Senior students have also completed their master’s theses in Las Nubes. But if you’re not a student, it’s not a problem. Volunteers can sign up to work in coffee production, tree nurseries or local schools, with basic accommodations provided by local families. Daugherty says three volunteers visited from Spain last year and stayed for six months. With more applications than spaces for the field course, Daugherty says selection goes beyond a grade average. “We want to hear what the students expect to learn, but more importantly, what they expect to contribute,” he says. “To the research, to the other students, to the locals. Their role is to benefit the community as a whole.” In exchange, Daugherty says students have often received “a life-changing experience.”

On air

  • York alumna Rachael McAdams and Philip Silver, dean of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts were featured in a report on the opening of Accolade on Sun TV (CKXT, Toronto) March 21.

  • Dance students Celine Marks, Kim Floyd and Jamesy Patrick of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, joined FM 89.5 CIUT’s Evi-dance host Ted Fox on March 19 to talk about the York Dance Ensemble and its upcoming performance during the Fine Arts Festival.