2014 Annual Report – Education and Health

Nancy Simms
National Chairperson of Education and Health
2014 Annual Report

Sub-committee Chairpersons:
• Wellness and sickness/disease: Debbie Samson
• Literacy and continuing education: Barbara Thuen

It is truly amazing that although both education and health are covered under provincial jurisdictions and every province is different in these areas, members across Canada are united in their dedication to the highest quality of learning and well-being for all. This report is a wonderful example of members praying and working together to make the world a better place for all humanity.

Catholic education
Members were involved in the Catholic schools as teachers, teachers’ aids, trustees, volunteers in reading programs and more. They volunteered at sporting events, fundraisers, breakfast and lunch clubs and social justice clubs. Councils provided Catholic school tuition for families in need and presented bursaries and scholarships. They sponsored Catholic school graduations, gave awards for student essays and distributed monthly CWL newsletters to high schools. Councils promoted Catholic education throughout the country and where needed, they took action to keep government funding in place for Catholic schools.

Members volunteered as coordinators and teachers of catechesis and Rites of Christian Initiation (RCIA). Other councils presented one year CWL memberships to women who went through the RCIA program.

Councils provided financial support for the St. Francis Xavier University’s Extension department for a leadership program for aboriginal women and to the Coady International Institute.

Literacy and continuing education
Councils had speakers on literacy and adult reading programs. Many members were involved in working with immigrants and teaching English as a second language with many being trained literacy tutors. Councils collected literacy items and donated them to communities in need and/or sponsored individuals to work within these communities. In support of Resolution 2013.01 Building Relationships and Partnerships with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, many councils investigated ways to contribute to First Nations education as a means to build bridges between communities.

Scholarships and bursaries
Councils promoted scholarships and bursaries at all levels. Recipients ranged from elementary to high school to college and university students. Students were recognized for their achievements in religion, academics, performing arts, leadership, literacy, personal growth and more.

Wellness and sickness/disease
Councils across Canada participated on the Bell Let’s Talk website and educated themselves in various ways on the stigma of mental illness and how to counteract this stigma. Councils promoted organ donations and many reported an increase in members participating in blood donations through the Partners for Life program of the Canadian Blood Services. Workshops and guest speakers covered a wide spectrum of topics including nutrition, exercise and stress reduction to improve health, dialogue for ageing, heart disease, cancer prevention, hospice and palliative care, bullying, pro-biotics, various types of cancer, lupus and other chronic illnesses, a “Woman Care” program, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, weight loss programs, shingles, foot care, Parkinson’s disease, crisis intervention and suicide prevention, grieving, mental health, at home program for seniors to remain in their homes, health care directives, schizophrenia, cardiopulmonary resuscitation procedures, lice, pap tests, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, food allergies, flu shots, autism, Alzheimer’s, dementia, hearing loss, diabetes, chlorine in public water works, the Ebola crisis, midwifery and other health issues brought forward in resolutions. They also learned about the obesity epidemic through the movie Fed Up.

Members wrote letters to the federal government giving support for increased and standardized palliative care and hospice in Canada. Councils educated themselves on monosodium glutamate in processed foods, adding expiry dates on prescription labels, pharmacy dispensing fees and labelling of genetically modified foods, as well as the possible benefits of green tea. Councils set up medical information tables in their church halls.

Members volunteered in hospice. Members and councils financially supported the building of new hospice facilities. They volunteered and financially supported local Kiwanis care centres, Canadian Cancer Society, MaterCare International, CNIB, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Canadian Diabetes Association, The Arthritis Society, Wheelchair Foundation and the Kidney Foundation of Canada as well as supported and volunteered at many other health events within their provinces. Members belonged to the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada and shared its information with others.

Councils brought Christmas cheer to hospitals, canvassed for health-related charities and participated in fundraising runs, walks, relays and Zumbas. One council reported working vigorously to keep a dialysis unit open at a local hospital, while other councils raised funds for defibrillators in their churches.

Environment
Councils used innovative means to be good stewards of the environment. They went paperless and sent all information via e-mail. They recycled, reused and composted. One council reported operating a thrift store, and members carpooled to meetings, conventions and workshops. Councils were involved in “Adopt a Block” and community clean-up days, promoted Earth Day, World Water Day, World Food Day and Waste Watch. They met with government on the environmental effects of mining practices, and had speakers on fish safety following the Japanese nuclear reactor accident and genetically modified foods. Members wrote many letters to government regarding the environmental effects of e-cigarettes and flavoured tobacco.

Members educated each other on natural remedies and treatments that could minimize chemicals in the environment, and many councils promoted “scent free environments”. Councils avoided using Styrofoam or paper dishes and some members recycled plastic milk bags to make sleeping mats for people living in developing countries.

Genetics
Although some provincial councils reported no action was taken in this department, others reported that members attended talks on bioethics and genetic engineering. They kept up to date with genetic technologies and how they correspond to Christian principles. Some councils watched the video Cutting Through the Spin on Stem Cells and Cloning.

Resolution 2011.01 Prohibition of Practices re Human Reproductive Materials was adopted as part of a resolution at the 2014 General Assembly of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations in Fatima, Portugal, thereby encouraging all 66 member countries to urge their governments to prohibit practices of alteration, manipulation and treatment of human reproductive material that result in the destruction of human embryos.

Activities undertaken
Chairpersons of education and health on every level worked diligently towards promoting and inspiring all members to continue educating themselves and others. They strove to encourage healthy living―physically, mentally and spiritually. It was a challenge to uphold the right to quality palliative care until natural death, but members stood strong together proclaiming, We Have Seen the Lord!