Orléans youngster promotes healthy living
Eleven-year-old Sarah Horton wants residents of Ottawa to avoid her grandfather’s fate and live a healthy and active lifestyle. The young Orléans resident, who will attend Garneau high school this fall and plans to become a paediatrician someday, has proposed the city adopt an Ottawa Health Day. Armed with a PowerPoint slideshow complete with a heart shaped apple logo and a tagline that read “Health Day, Everyday,” Horton visited City Hall to present her idea to both Orléans Coun. Bob Monette and chief medical officer Dr. Isra Levy.
Horton said she came up with the idea of a day dedicated to reminding people about healthy living following her grandfather’s death a few months ago. According to Horton, he had a cardiac condition and lived an unhealthy life and his heart eventually “gave out.”
“I want to show people they can live longer by eating an apple instead of a chocolate bar,” she said.“Most people think healthy food – ick – but it can be fun and tasty.”
“You’re on to something,” Levy told Horton when she finished her brief presentation.
He explained enjoyment is an important component when it comes to food and moderation makes a difference.
“It’s okay to have alfredo,” he said, referring to Horton’s current favourite dish.“It’s okay to have foods you enjoy in moderation. It’s about a balanced package with exercise.”
In recent years the public has been concerned with tobacco use and alcohol, Levy continued, but nutrition is also an important and current issue.
Canada already has a national health day on May 12, which is Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Nightingale was a nurse in the mid 1800s who eventually oversaw the welfare of British soldiers. Established in 1981, Canada Health Day is sponsored by the Canadian Healthcare Association and the Canadian Public Health Association who have worked in partnership to make this annual event a national celebration of health care in Canada.
Meanwhile, on the world stage, the World Health Organization (WHO) celebrates a global health day in April. Next year’s theme will focus on urbanization and health. With the campaign “1,000 cities – 1,000 lives,” events will be organized worldwide calling on cities to open up streets for health activities.
While Ottawa doesn’t have a day dedicated specifically to health promotion, Levy indicated Public Health offers a number of programs that touches on healthy eating, physical activity and even school programs. The information, he said, is on the city’s website.
“It’s easy to be healthy everyday if you think about it,” Levy noted.
Monette, meanwhile, plans to communicate Horton’s idea to emergency and protective services as well as the mayor.
As for Horton, she indicated she thinks everyone should eat healthy foods.
“I hope people won’t die like my grandfather did,” she said.
To see programs offered by Ottawa Public Health, visit http://ottawa.ca/residents/health/ index_en.html. For more information on World Health Day or to register an activity, visit http://www.who.int/world-health-day/en/.
Ottawa’s chief medical officer Dr. Isra Levy (left) and Orléans Coun. Bob Monette (right) present 11-year-old Sarah Horton with a certificate following her presentation about creating a health day in Ottawa.