Making Room for Nature: Eco-villages and the Room for the River Projects, Wet Infrastructure Planning Course, Day 4

By Andrew Sgro and Christopher Yuen

Andrew Sgro and Christopher Yuen are students in their final year of Ryerson’s Master of Planning program.  Andrew is focused on feasibility, large-scale infrastructure, and real estate and their potential for improving the places we love.  Christopher’s research interests include transportation planning and multi-functional infrastructure.

Today began with the Lena Maria docked in the Dordrecht, famous for its preserved medieval city centre. We began our day by heading to Culemborg, a municipality approximately 15 minutes south of the city of Utretch.  In Culemborg, we had the opportunity to tour the EVA Lanxmeer Eco-Village, a neighbourhood built to enable closed loop ecosystem services as much as possible. As this community is situated five meters below sea level, water management is essential to the functioning of the area.

Water table meter within the community for public education purposes.

Water table meter within the community for public education purposes.

The initial concept for the eco village was developed by the EVA Foundation with the assistance of the municipality of Culemborg. It is suited within an environmentally significant location as it sits near the town of Culemborg’s drinking water supply. The design of the community was specifically created around protecting and enhancing the site’s environmental features.

Stormwater and greywater is managed internally within the neighbourhood.

Stormwater and greywater is managed internally within the neighbourhood.

The community contains schools, homes, offices, and senior housing providing for an intergenerational mix and uses. Community gardens are located throughout the development with each household contributing their up-keep and finances.

Homeowners are obliged to contribute financially laboriously to the upkeep of community gardens to a mutually agreed upon aesthetic.

Homeowners are obliged to contribute financially laboriously to the upkeep of community gardens to a mutually agreed upon aesthetic.

 

M. Shouten explains the design and function of the Nijmegen Room for the River Project.

M. Shouten explains the design and function of the Nijmegen Room for the River Project.

In the afternoon, we travelled further east to Nijmegen, a city near the Netherland’s border with Germany.  Here, Mathieu Schouten, landscape architect with the municipality, presented on Nijmegen’s Room for the River project. The Nijmegen Room for the River project is one piece of a 2.4 Billion Euro project to re-design the Rijn River system to manage flood risk in the face of climate change and the increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather.

Above, the island in the image was previously a part of the main land mass above it before the secondary channel for the Waal river was dug.

Above, the island in the image was previously a part of the main land mass above it before the secondary channel for the Waal river was dug. Image source: (http://www.ruimtevoordewaal.nl/en/visuals/panoramic-photos)

The public engagement, planning and approval of this project took 7 years and construction continues today.  The entire project, including the cost of the re-location of 50 homeowners that had to be expropriated, cost 360 Million Euros.

Water levels at the time of our visit were very low.  The channel is capable of  accommodating flows nearly to the level of the dike where a person is cycling in the photograph.

Water levels at the time of our visit were very low. The channel is capable of accommodating flows nearly to the level of the dike where a person is cycling in the photograph.

This project involved the creation of an artificial secondary channel for the Waal River to accommodate up to 1/3 of the volume of the Waal river at a time of high water flow.

Exploring De Biesbosch, Wet Infrastructure Studio Planning Course, Day 3

By: Greggory Hanson & Trevor Empey

Greggory Hanson: An Urban Planning Masters student with keen interests in urban systems and transportation. Research focus is predominantly in active transportation and stormwater management.

Trevor Empey:  Trevor is a highly engaged, Urban Planning Graduate Student who has a strong interest in environmental planning initiatives and for the development of healthy cities as urbanization continues to explode.

SURP Grads and Undergrads receiving field information from Prof. Lister

SURP Grads and Undergrads receiving field information from Prof. Lister

It isn’t all about big impressive concrete infrastructure in the Netherlands! Sometimes, a perspective and appreciation for the way nature manages water can yield just as impressive results without all the fanfare. Our studio appropriately visited De Biesbosch National Park right after visiting one of the Netherlands largest scale hard infrastructure investments, the Oosterscheldekering, or the Easter Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier. The national park, just on the outskirts of Dordrecht, is one of many ‘Room for the River’ sites aimed at managing river based flooding. We were immersed in the history of the site through a presentation in the museum on site, and a tour of the artificially natural floodplain that spans the majority of De Biesbosch. The site itself is located at the outflow of the Wall River which flows into the Rhine/ Meuse Delta. De Biesbosch National Park is a perfect example of the triple threat that the Dutch face (subsidence, increased outflow, and sea level rise) and what a fitting way to approach this triple threat than to return to natural solutions!

Map of Naturalized Biesbosch

Map of Naturalized Biesbosch

History

Originally marshlands, De Biesbosch, or a forest of rushwoods in English, was created after  a large flooding event which occurred during the early 15th century. This flooding event caused the breach of several dikes which were poorly built and maintained and after an extended period of time, an estuary system became to be known as De Biesbosch. Overtime, land reclamation occurred through the use of polders, a traditional Dutch water management technique, where a predominant agricultural land use dominated the landscape.

Paradigm Shift

After a few recent scares resulting in the National ‘Room for the River’ project, the Dutch decided to approach De Biesbosch with a different mindset, one where natural interventions and solutions to flood mitigation and water management would be incorporated. The reclaimed land was returned to an artificial natural state that would flood in situations where the rivers swelled. This represented a paradigm shift that was replicating itself all across the Netherlands. The Dutch realized that allowing the natural systems to operate the way they historically have been meant that they could guide and anticipate flooding situations as opposed to the traditional approaches of raising dikes and building large infrastructure. Because of this change in thinking, The De Biesbosch National Park is a flagship example of the Dutch new wave of water management!

Landscape Architect, Robert De Koning, with Prof. Liste discussing the use of willows as as a natural flood mitigation strategy used in De Biesbosch.

Landscape Architect, Robert De Koning, with Prof. Liste discussing the use of willows as as a natural flood mitigation strategy used in De Biesbosch.

Constant visual reminders of the high water mark shown by the defined colours of bricks.

Constant visual reminders of the high water mark shown by the defined colours of bricks.

Exploring Rotterdam: Boats, Bikes, and Basins: Wet Infrastructure Studio Planning Course, Day 2

By: Cate Flanagan and Keira Webster

Cate Flanagan and Keira Webster are in their final year of their Master’s of Planning at the Ryerson University School of Urban and Regional Planning. They are passionate about active and sustainable transportation, building urban resilience, and all things environment-related.

The Netherland’s second largest city, Rotterdam, is home to 584,000 inhabitants and the biggest and busiest port in Europe. Rotterdam, meaning “dam on the Rotte” is situated along the New Meuse river, the primary channel in the delta created by the rivers, Rhine and Meuse. On the morning of Tuesday October 4th, we enjoyed a breezy boat tour exploring the old port of the city experiencing part of what makes Rotterdam a cosmopolitan urban centre.

Not only did we have a great view of Rotterdam’s modern architecture from the boat – including de rotterdam (the tallest building in The Netherlands) designed by Rem Koolhaas and the erasmus bridge designed by Ben van Berkel – but also were able to experience some of the inner workings of the old port from the moving of shipping containers to the dredging of the channel floor (pictured below).

Dredging of the channel floor in Rotterdam (Grant Mason/2016)

Dredging of the channel floor in Rotterdam (Grant Mason/2016)

Our team was fortunate enough to meet Anna Loes Niellsen, the director of DeFacto Architecture + Urbanism and key player in the world water industry. Her firm has worked on extensive flood risk and delta plans for countries ranging from the United States of America to Bangladesh, in addition to multiple projects in climate adaptation, waterfront planning, and parks. Her informative presentation emphasized one main point: “to design, you must understand how the natural systems fundamentally work”, a key lesson for Toronto and our compromised hydrological systems.

The afternoon brought a myriad of educational moments in both green infrastructure and cycling etiquette as we explored Rotterdam’s Merwevierhavens (M4H) neighbourhood. M4H was created as a district for the fruit import industry in the early years of the 20th century. Since then, the technology and energy sectors have occupied the site followed by the recent influx of artists and designers to the area.

The bike tour focused on smaller scale urban blue and green infrastructure. Notable stops along the tour included lunch at the urban farm Uit Je Eigen Stad, the adaptive reuse of a stormwater tank for the ballet, and a rooftop park above a “big box” retail boulevard.

Multi-purpose rooftop park situated above retail street (Cate Flanagan/2016)

Multi-purpose rooftop park situated above retail street (Cate Flanagan/2016)

The bike tour concluded outside M4H at the Rotterdam water square, Benthemsquare (Benthemplein). Pictured below, the water square – designed by Dutch landscape architecture firm, De Urbanisten – makes water the primary feature of the space. The multipurpose public space serves as a school-yard and recreational space during sunny days, and an urban reservoir during storms. Runoff from the city streets are channeled into the square’s basins and is held there until it can be gradually drained into Rotterdam’s larger water management systems.

Benthemplein water square acts as a multi-functional place for stormwater management and public activity (Grant Mason/2016)

Benthemplein water square acts as a multi-functional place for stormwater management and public activity (Grant Mason/2016)

Sources:

Eupedia. (n.d.). Rotterdam Travel Guide. Retrieved from Eupedia: http://www.eupedia.com/netherlands/rotterdam.shtml

Green, J. (2014). Detours Obligatory: Rotterdam’s Water Square. Retrieved from The Dirt ASLA website: https://dirt.asla.org/2014/03/13/detours-obligatory-rotterdams-water-square/

Rotterdams Collectief & Tapan Communicatie. (2014-2015). M4H – Development Strategy. Retrieved from Dutch Urban Solutions website: http://www.dutchurbansolutions.com/xxl—m4h-development-strategy

Beautiful Amsterdam, TU Delft, and Massive Infrastructure: Day 1 of Wet Infrastructure Studio Course

By: Grant Mason & Lara Hintelmann

Grant and Lara are in their final year of the graduate planning program at Ryerson University. Lara enjoys exploring new places and learning about how culture and physical landscapes impact each other. Grant enjoys discovering and documenting the beauty in our urban environments and recognizing the ways culture is reflected in architecture. They are both passionate about urban resilience and building healthy sustainable cities.

Leaving Oosterdok in the early afternoon on the Lena Maria, we sailed through the canals of Amsterdam. Taking in the beautiful architecture and getting a feel for the city, we quickly realize two things: the Netherlands is a nation of cyclists and two, it is a nation that lives comfortably with and around water. Upon reaching the countryside, the latter becomes very apparent. Everywhere you look there are straight canals cut into the land. Add in some windmills, grazing cows, and cyclists, and the result is a very romantic and picturesque landscape.

Travelling on the Lena Maria.

Travelling on the Lena Maria.

As lovely as they are, these canals are not built for aesthetic purposes. Rather, they play an important and integral role in the Dutch landscape. Centuries ago land was creating from the then marshy land by a process called poldering: farmers would dig ditches and build dikes around a plot of land, and windmills powering screw-pumps would carry out the drainage process. As a large majority of the Netherlands is below sea-level, this has been the method used to produce land that is dry. Many of these windmills are still operating, though the majority have been replaced with modern electric pumps.

In the early evening we arrive in Leiden, located some 40km from Amsterdam. It is our first opportunity to take out the bikes in the Netherlands and explore, which proved to be quite the introduction to the country. In random bursts of sheet rain and downpours, we cycle through the city centre to experience the carnival that is in full swing. It is the celebration of Drie Oktober – celebrating the end of the Spanish siege of 1574. We hop on “The View of Leiden”, a ferris wheel that gives a wonderful view over the city and the festivities. Despite the down pouring rain, people are still on the rides and enjoying the fun atmosphere.

Docked in Leiden, ready to take out our bikes to explore the city.

Docked in Leiden, ready to take out our bikes to explore the city.

The following morning we get fully immersed in the Dutch culture of “living with water”. To start off our day we visit TU Delft where we listen to a presentation about initiatives in the Netherlands to combat, and also work with water. Projects here are geared towards finding ways to integrate stormwater and flooding, rather than combat and expel water. A major component of stormwater management is the holding, and slowing of water. In many cases the Dutch have engineered their public spaces to act as temporary reservoirs in the event of a storm. More water held in a park means less water to flood basements and homes. This is only one example of the technology being utilized to manage the growing risk of flooding.

Visiting TU Delft, inside the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment

Visiting TU Delft, inside the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment

 

After this introduction, we have a visit at Deltares, an independent institute for research in water specifically flood risk and adaptive delta planning. Here we are introduced to the Delta Flume – a 300m long flume capable of generating 4.5m high waves. This facility tests full scale effects of extreme waves, useful for flood defence designs and related research. We also take a tour of the hydro facilities and then visit the impressive Deltares interactive data research laboratory (iD-lab). During crisis and disaster situations, this lab uses real-time information to track flooding. Tailored visualizations are created to show the effects of a flood on infrastructure and demonstrates the linkages between stakeholders. The iD-Lab combines expert knowledge and open data to analyze cascading effects.

The Delta Flume at Deltares. Source: Dutch Water Sector, September 2012

The Delta Flume at Deltares. Source: Dutch Water Sector, September 2012

Our last stop of the day as at the Deltapark Neeltje Jans, where we take a walk over to the largest storm surge barrier in the world – the Oosterscheldekering. This experience highlights the history of the Dutch struggle against water.

As Toronto experienced Hurricane Hazel in 1954 that saw much devastation to the city of Toronto, the Netherlands experienced a terrible disaster as well in the 1950s. This storm and resultant flooding claimed the lives of 2,000+ people. This demonstrated the risk and cost of living below sea level, and forced the Dutch to upgrade their protective measures against future storms. The Dutch now face a triple threat in regards to water: sea levels are rising, increased precipitation and melt causes the river levels to rise, and historical poldering has desaturated the land, causing subsidence. In response, the Delta Works Commission was created to develop measures to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again. This particular project that we visited is the largest of the 13 Delta Works series of dams and storm surge barriers. This is an immensely impressive undertaking, which sees the delta – a stretch of 9km – cut off by 3 sections of sluices (62 gates in total). These gates close in the event of a major storm surge, but remain open the rest of the time to allow the extreme tides of the Lower Schelt estuary to move in and out. It took a decade to construct and is designed to last 200 years. Before the Oosterscheldekering, the chance of flooding was once in 80 years and now it has been reduced to once in 4000 years.

Visiting the Oosterscheldekering. Walking along one of the 62 gates that make up the 9km long storm surge barrier.picture5

Visiting the Oosterscheldekering. Walking along one of the 62 gates that make up the 9km long storm surge barrier.

Educational playground at the Deltapark Neeltje Jans.

Educational playground at the Deltapark Neeltje Jans.

Ending this outing we came across an interactive playground that aimed to teach children about water and flooding. Children here learn at a very young age about water – living with water is very much part of the culture and it is evident everywhere we go.

 

After this day of learning about how the Dutch interact with their landscape and take measures to fight climate change, and the ever present threat of the sea, we understand a little bit more of this place and gain a great appreciation for their boldness and ambition.

 

 At the Deltapark, view from the Oosterscheldekering. The Dutch are world  leaders in managing water.

At the Deltapark, view from the Oosterscheldekering. The Dutch are world  leaders in managing water.

Reading Week Aftermath

As the last bit of your reading week comes to a close, you begin to wonder what you actually accomplished this break. So before you let the guilt and dread sink in, let me reassure you that you will be okay. Yea you could tell yourself that you could have done better and that you should have known better. But really, you knew better and chose to ignore that little voice in your head that told you to work. So I am here to give you a quick list of sure fire ways to get you on the right track. Now, I’m no guru – yet – but I have been practicing what I preach and so far, it’s going pretty well.

1. Make Your Bed.
Yes your mom has been telling you this for years but there is real logic to this! I cannot state it better than the U.S Navy Adm. William H. McRaven who said in his speech to the University of Texas,

“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed”.

Also BuzzFeed never lies.

2. Dress for Success
Success means something different for everyone. If it means sweatpants, a 3 piece suite or a onesie than go for it. But generally, dressing like an “adult” makes you act like an adult. For me, it’s a pair of jeans that an “adult” gave to me and a plaid shirt which means business. Research has been done to prove this overused phrase so you can train you body to believe it too.

This also includes not dressing at all. When you want to succeed in getting a good night’s sleep, research suggests sleeping naked is the way to go. Now semi-nude is my preference but it’s important to find yours so you can get the most out of your beauty sleep.

3. Don’t Forget Your Squad
After a week of socializing you might want to cut everyone off. And while I am extremely guilty of this, it does more harm than good. By cutting people off, we are at a higher risk of burning ourselves out. Our mind and body can only handle so much sitting, writing, typing and re-writing. So depending on how behind you are, try to maintain a balance. Learn to separate your friends from those you can get work done with, from those you cannot. Group studying/work sessions are a tried and true method and although they don’t work for everyone, they make you realize that everyone is on the same boat. So if it isn’t studying with friends, it’s grabbing a bite to eat with them or playing games – tag used to be all the rage back in the day.

4. Get Your Heart Pumping
Sleep schedule a hot mess? Can’t stop thinking once you get to bed? In the height of guilt and dread from not getting our work done, we spend more time worrying than doing. So if you find yourself unable to focus and relaying the same thing again and again in your head, then go for a walk. A walk to the fridge is one of my all time favourite activities. In it I get exercise, adventure, nutrition and appreciation.

5. Realize You’re Human

“I am a human being, and thus nothing human is alien to me”- Terentius Lucanus

This is one my favorite quotes and it was introduced to me by Dr.Maya Angelou in her recording of I Am Human. I highly suggest listening to her yourself. In it she explains the quote very eloquently and makes you realize you can achieve greatness. Think of someone you idealize, or want to be like. Now, realize you have in you the same components as they do. If you know your biology and human history, it isn’t a far fetched idea. Genetically, we aren’t very different. Rather, it is our genetic codes that are turned on or off or non-existent or in a different place that make use unique. These codes can be turned on or off due to many factors so technically, yes, I have in me the same components as Drake and I too can go from being an underdog to the 6 God in my field. So can you.

So my point is simple. You are at a time in your life where the little things count. The little things, truly depending on your program, can make or break you. So don’t let them break you. Strive for greatness because it is achievable. It has been done countless times before you, and will continue to happen around you and after you.

“If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better” – U.S Navy Adm. William H. McRaven

If nothing else works, remember Jeb Bush. Just a simple twitter search of his name will show you how he epically failed in the U.S elections. After 2 generations of his family being Presidents of the United States, his story would have made it a trilogy. Luckily, the trilogy ended humorously

What Does it Take to be a Public Health Inspector?

It’s quite an honor to become a public health inspector. After all, it’s like being a superhero – the public doesn’t care for you until something goes wrong.
There are downfalls as well. You’ll never go back to eating week old takeout without thinking about the risk, going to swimming pools that smell so strongly of chlorine and lastly, but certainly not least, watch submissively as a stranger coughs openly into the air. Along with these and a few other downfalls, there are so many more rewarding aspects of being a PHI. So this blog is here to help you become one.
I have taken it upon myself to ask other PHI’s what they would like to tell students and what they wish they knew when they were students themselves. I took what they had to say and comprised a shortlist, to help you get your foot in the door.

1. Stay positive. This is especially true when applying for summer positions that you think will make or break your career. It’s all about timing really and if you are ready for that practicum. For those of you in the fast-track program, time is not on your side but, your faith should be. Faith in your abilities is key as your unique background gives you a significant advantage. Even if it has nothing to do with public health, your maturity and experience in the game we call life is what sets you apart.

2. Don’t be desperate. This was repeated so many times that you might as well engrave it into your minds. PHI’s can smell desperation a mile away and unfortunately students often can’t help exuding the odor. Be confident in your ability and know your worth.

3. Communicate, communicate and while you’re at it, communicate some more. Do you know how to communicate? If you don’t, then learn. Communication is 90% of what PHI’s must do. Written, verbal, non-verbal, formal, informal, it all counts. It isn’t as hard as it sounds either. It just takes practice. Trust me, this process is sweaty, takes a lot of handshaking and courage. It will take a lot of practice but it won’t only help you in your professional career, it will help you in your personal life. As a professor of mine once said, it’s harder talking to your family about public health. So take chance, go out there, meet new people and soon you’ll be able to communicate with the best of them.

4. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Now this saying is repeated all the time. And it is true, to some degree. “Putting a face to the name” is very important to PHI’s as it’s a small community. And as one mentioned “they are all getting old so you have a better chance!” Now, knowing the community of PHI’s won’t help you on your board exam but it will when you’re looking for those beautiful summer practicums. So go to networking events – and this word is ecstasy business but frightening for science students – , go to conferences

5. Take advantage of your opportunities. You’re attending such a diverse school that wants you to be more involved, why not take advantage of it? Yes you have school, jobs and families but just going to your class isn’t enough. From going to seminars, workshops, volunteering, you have so many opportunities to add the words “interpersonal, “interdisciplinary”, and of course, “communication” skills to your resume – and really mean it.

So I really hope this helps and I will leave you with some more last minute tips:

Learn about the health unit you are applying for. I was asked specific questions like what cities are in the region and why I want to work for this region in particular.

Think about your goals. There is so much you can do with the knowledge you’ve acquired. If you want to work in the private sector, some companies don’t require you to be certified so do your research!

Forget the competition and apply for the job. As one inspector said, even if someone is really qualified, we look at how they will fit into our team. Not everyone will have the maturity, the determination, or the communication skills that you possess!

Continuing the Conversation – Post #BellLetsTalk Day

Bell Let's Talk Ad with Howie Mandel: [On January 27 let's turn :( into :D]

Bell Let’s Talk Ad with Howie Mandel: [On January 27 let’s turn 🙁 into :D]

Here I am, a few days after Bell Let’s Talk Day wondering what happens now? Does the conversation just suddenly end because there isn’t a corporation telling us to talk about mental health? Will everyone’s mental health problems just disappear now that everything has blown over? As a person who has various mental health disorders, I both appreciate and hate Bell Let’s Talk day.

I can appreciate it because Bell encourages people to talk about mental illness in order to eliminate the stigma associated to it. Which other major corporations are doing that? Bell started this initiative back in 2011 and since then they have raised over $100 million. The concept behind it is pretty simple, for every tweet that uses the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, share of the image on Facebook, and text message or mobile/long distance call made by Bell users Bell on January 27, will donate 5 cents to mental health initiatives.

Bell Let’s Talk day empowers those like me to share their story with others. I have seen my social media flooded by people coming out about their experiences and it feels like a victory. It helped to solidify that I wasn’t alone because there are other people going through similar things. I say similar because people believe that we’re all the same and we’re not. You can’t tell me that everyone with breast cancer had the same experience. It’s the same thing as any medical condition, we may have the same mental health disorders but the way we live through them are completely different.

I hate Let’s Talk Day because it limits us to one day a year, as it’s the only day I ever see more than a handful of people talking about mental health on my social media. It turns mental health into a fad, shining the spotlight on it then quickly casting it aside once again. The amount of tweets and posts filled with statistics and hallow promises to be there and “It gets better [heart emoji]”. It makes us ‘talk’ about it but is anyone really listening? The reason why I say hallow is because I’ve tried to approach some of these people who are seemingly supportive and I get the same responses. “Really, you’re depressed?” “You have social anxiety… but you seem really sociable” Do people actually know anything about mental health other than what is listed in the DSM? Unfortunately, I really doubt it.

Is texting, tweeting, sharing, and calling on one day going to change your life for the better? Let’s not kid ourselves, it won’t.

We can continue the conversation even without Bell and here’s how you can do it around campus.

 

The Storyteller Logo

The Storyteller Logo

The Storyteller

Okay, so the Storyteller is not technically affiliated to Ryerson but it’s too amazing a concept not to share. It is a online platform for people to share their experiences and the best thing about it is it’s available 365 days a year (I guess 366 this year). You can read other peoples’ submissions or you can share your own. Submissions aren’t limited to mental health and can be about any topic, in any form of media: stories, poetry, art, music, etc. As long as they aren’t racist, homophobic, transfobic, sexist, ablest, sanist, or discriminatory in any way they will be shared. If you want to read more about The Storyteller, I previously wrote about it here. If you want to go directly to the site click here.

Ryerson SMASH Logo

Ryerson SMASH Logo

Ryerson SMASH (Students for Mental Awareness, Support, and Health)

SMASH is affiliated to Ryerson. It is a mental health and well-being group created by students for students. It offers a supportive environment and increases mental health initiatives on campus. They strive to make Ryerson a safe environment so that we can openly talk about mental health. Check out their website here or click here to formally become a member to receive emails and updates.

Ryerson Mental Health Action Logo

Ryerson Mental Health Action Logo

Ryerson Mental Wellbeing

This website offers resources for not only students but also their families and faculty and staff. There are 24-Hour Crisis Service numbers on the website as well as the links to other services available at Ryerson like the Centre for Student Development and Counseling. For more information click here.

Welcome to the Centre for Student Development and Counselling

Welcome to the Centre for Student Development and Counselling

Ryerson Student Development and Counselling

Did you know that Ryerson offers free counseling services? Well they do. They’ll set you up with a triage nurse and from your initial meeting you can decide what the best route for you to take will be. There is one-to-one counseling as well as group counseling. For more information click here.

 

The NCLEX-RN Prep. Presentation by Dr. Pat Bradley

On Monday, January 18, 2016, I attended the NCLEX-RN Preparatory Presentation, hosted by RNAO (Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario), with Dr. Pat Bradley. The NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurse) examination is a license examination that nursing students take after receiving their BScN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing), in order to gain their professional license as an RN and be able to practice professionally. Once a nursing student has received their BScN degree and passed the NCLEX-RN examination, then – AND ONLY THEN – can they officially call themselves… a registered nurse. This is the professional title that hundred and thousands of undergraduate nursing students, at universities across North America, spend four good years studying and longing for. Being one of these students myself (and with the prospect of having to take this scary, scary exam in the next year looming over my head), I attended this event with the hopes of gaining some helpful advice, tips, and clarification.

The event was held at POD463A/B with Dr. Pat Bradley delivering the presentation. It was a quite a content-heavy and informative 2 hours (from 4pm – 6pm), where Dr. Pat Bradley picked apart the NCLEX-RN exam for a group of scared and equally eager third and fourth year Ryerson nursing students. Dr. Pat Bradley was thorough, helpful, and quite clear. Having a background as an NCLEX-RN item writer, faculty member of York University’s nursing program, and much experience in delivering similar preparatory presentations for the NCLEX across North America, she was able to clarify any myths, direct students to reliable study sources, and go over exam structure and content with great accuracy and honesty.

With many fourth years in attendance, students were very attentive, engaged, and involved throughout the event. Nerves were at an all-time high for every student in the room and the pressure was on for every professor in attendance to prepare their students for this “Be All End All” exam. Luckily for us students, we were given some extremely valuable information that will hopefully stick with us until it comes to Dooms Day… or in our case, NCLEX-RN exam day. If you are an upper level nursing student and were unable to attend this presentation, I will tell you some of the most valuable tips that the presenter shared with the attendees of this event.

#1: STUDY THE NCSBN DETAILED TEST PLAN FOR 2016. YOU MUST KNOW THIS PDF DOCUMENT INSIDE AND OUT. This document (here’s the link: https://www.ncsbn.org/2016_RN_Test_Plan_Candidate.pdf, you’re welcome) is your Holy Grail for this exam – it contains every component, every detail, every aspect about the NCLEX-RN exam so it’s safe to say that this document is not something you just “browse.” The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) are the people responsible for creating this licensing exam, and other licensing exam for alike nurses. They are the “Masters of NCLEX,” if you will. So they’re pretty much the most reliable source you can go to for any NCLEX-related information. Trust anything and everything they say – and this document says it all. Know it.

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#2: Despite the valuable nursing theory and community health concepts we learn during nursing school… this entire exam is completely BIOMEDICAL. This means that all those theories we learned, all of those community nursing concepts we learned, have an extremely slim chance of making it into this exam… and percentage of this type of content popping up is around 1% or less. This is highly in contrast with the past Canadian RN licensing exam (Canadian Registered Nurse Examination [CRNE]), which focused heavily on such content. There is significantly a lot more biological and physiological concepts on the NCLEX-RN, so make sure that you’re studying the right content. Refer to the NCSBN test plan for more specific detail on the concepts that will be tested.

#3: Due to the fact that the NCLEX being an American-based exam, any lab values or medication measurements on the exam will be both AMERICAN & CANADIAN values. This means that as Canadian nurses writing an American licensing exam, we are entitled to know and memorize both the metric and imperial measurement systems. This seems unfair and quite frankly, very annoying, but if we study well enough, we’ll probably thank ourselves for it in the long run. Therefore, on the exam, if it mentions a weight that’s in KGs (metric), you must also be able to convert that weight into LBs (imperial).

To all fourth year nursing students at Ryerson who are taking the NCLEX-RN in the coming months, I wish you all the luck in the world! Study hard, study well, and stay focused and motivated. You’ve almost made it. All you need is that license. Have confidence in your abilities and yourself; you’re going to be great registered nurses!

3 New Year’s Resolutions for Ryerson Students

It’s that exciting time of the year… the official last day of 2015! Tomorrow, not only do we welcome a new day, but a new year – the first day of 2016! 2015 has been such a big year for so many of us, and with the near year staring us straight square in the face, we look forward to making 2016 even better than 2015.

During this time of the year is when the infamous “New Year’s Resolutions” begin to be concocted. These New Year’s Resolutions are meant to outline our goals for the upcoming year, with the intent to stick by them no matter what. These resolutions are generally goals towards self-improvement. Some popular ones are include:

“Get healthier.”
“Save more money.”
“Stop procrastinating.”
“Cut down on coffee.”
“Sleep earlier.”

While the above-mentioned resolutions are wonderful resolutions, they are typically difficult to maintain unless you have discipline made of steel. Many of us are mere humans who make mistakes here and there that veer us off-track from our resolutions, and we find ourselves just neglecting and forgetting them altogether. In my opinion, New Year’s Resolutions should be two things: Specific and Realistic. They should be specific enough to fit your personal goals and aspirations, and it helps to really narrow your focus on what you can do to really achieve these goals. They should be realistic enough so that you’re not asking too much of yourself and you won’t be overly-stressed out or feel overly-pressured if unable to achieve them.

Therefore, with these criteria in mind, I have created for you a list of New Year’s Resolutions that hopefully resonate with you more and you are able to hopefully stick to in 2016:

3 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR RYERSON STUDENTS

1. DO NOT BE SO TRUSTING OF THE TTC OR GO TRANSIT
Think you can wake up at 7:00am because it only takes you 15 minutes to get ready, takes you 10 minutes to get to the station, and the train/subway/bus comes at exactly 7:30am every morning? Think again. If you’re a first year student who is still learning the ropes when it comes to commuting, and you currently have this mentality, you’re in for a rude awakening. The TTC or GO TRANSIT, although extremely helpful and necessary, have a knack for being quite unreliable when it comes to being on time. Don’t assume that you will have a smooth commute, free of delays or late arrivals each day. Do yourself a favour and wake up earlier in order to arrive at your station earlier so you don’t miss that 8am exam worth 40% of your grade. It may suck but you know what else sucks? Missing an 8am exam worth 40% of your grade because your subway was experiencing delays.

2. TRY TO AVOID THE TEMPTATION OF THE EATON CENTRE ASKING YOU TO BLOW YOUR MONEY THERE RATHER THAN GO TO CLASS
Going to school in Downtown Toronto is all kinds of fantastic – and also forces you to face all kinds of temptation. That being said, Ryerson University’s prime location gives you access to absolutely everything, including one of Canada’s largest and most popular malls, The Eaton Centre. There’s nothing more tempting than it finally being pay day, but you’ve got a class that day, and walking past Eaton Centre with “SALE” signs on the window. This kind of excitement is enough to get your blood pumping. But if you knew what was good for you, you’d repeat this mantra: “You don’t need another Roots sweater. You do need to pass this class. You don’t need another Roots sweater. You do need to pass this class. You don’t need another Roots sweater. You do need to pass this class.

3. GET OFF YOUR PHONE WHEN YOU’RE WALKING DOWN YONGE ST, YONGE & DUNDAS SQ – OR ANY STREET FOR THAT MATTER
It’s 2016 and communication and human interaction is at it’s highest. Unfortunately, the form of communication that 99.9% of the population resorts to nowadays any form that our cellphones allow us – SMS, iMessage, WhatsApp, etc. It’s hard not to have our phones in our hands, heads down, eyes on the screen, and responding to everyone and everything 24/7. When you’re a Ryerson student, this is especially difficult when you’re trying to get to class and having to weave through the hundreds and thousands of people in Downtown Toronto each day. You’re risk for running into things is already increased by going to school in Canada’s major city alone – you’re only increasing your own risk by texting while walking. Do yourself and others around you a favour – wait until you get to the SLC to reply to that text or check that email. Keep your head up when you’re crossing the Yonge & Dundas Sq intersection. Let’s start a new campaign this 2016: Ryerson Students Against Text-Walking. Let’s make it happen, people.

With that being said, I’m sure you can think of tons more. I sincerely hope you’ll take these three into consideration when coming up with your own New Year’s resolutions. Let us know how you get on throughout the year. If you stick to them and achieve your resolutions – fantastic! You’re on the road to success. If you slip up a little bit and veer off track – it’s never too late to get back on track! You, too, are on the road to success.

Most of all, I hope you have a wonderful 2016 filled with health, happiness, success, and love. Stay safe this New Year’s Eve and enjoy yourselves!

Happy New Year and let’s make 2016 a great one!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Faculty of Community Services Blog team at Ryerson, to you and yours!

During this holiday season, we hope that the ones you love surround you and you are enjoying some much needed relaxation. We hope that you are indulging in comfort foods of all sorts (i.e hot chocolate, freshly baked cookies, mashed potatoes, etc), taking the time to do activities you love, getting cozy in your bed, and taking advantage of some guilt-free Netflix binge watching session. Most of all, we hope that your holiday season is filled with joy, happiness, peace, and love.

Every year seems like it starts off by leading up to this time of the year – the Holiday season. It seems to be the most anticipated time of the year for a lot of people and the big questions is: WHY?

Some people celebrate this time of the year for religious or spiritual reasons. They take this time of the year to reflect on their religious and spiritual beliefs, and take this opportunity to celebrate and share their religious practices and beliefs with others around them. For these people, it’s a time of religious and spiritual celebration and reflection.

Some people celebrate this time of the year as simply a time of relaxation – a break (something a lot of students see the Holiday season as). The holiday season offers the opportunity to take some time off and not have to worry about work or school. It’s a stress-free time of the year that is intended simply to be a break from the chaos and busyness of every day life.

Some people celebrate this time of the year as a time of giving back. During this time of the year, various charities and non-profit organizations receive an abundance of donations from communities, to ensure that everyone is able to spend the holiday season with the thought in mind that there are others out there who care for them. It also reinforces others to think about those less fortunate than they are, and to be grateful and selfless with what they may have.

Some people celebrate this time of year to participate in the commercial aspects of this season. This means that some people simply like to take part in gift giving, Christmas and/or holiday parties, holiday decorating, etc. It’s a time of the year to enjoy the typical festivities that the holiday season has to offer.

You may fall into one of these categories – or perhaps you can relate to more than one of these categories. Regardless of whatever your reason for celebrating the holidays is, I hope that you’re safe and you’re surrounded by peace, love, joy, and happiness. I hope that this holiday season brings you cheer and gives you an opportunity to relax, reflect on this past year, and look forward to the new year ahead.

Once again – Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays from us to you.

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