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Children Who Inspire ~ The Charity Group

I had so much fun with my last “Children Who Inspire” interview that I’ve decided to make it a recurring feature on the blog. I find it fascinating and inspiring to see how many children there are out there who are taking an active interest in making the world a better place, and I think it’s important to share their stories. This growing group of young change agents give me hope for the future and more importantly, inpsire me to want to make a difference with my actions.

I was excited to have the opportunity to interview a Canadian duo who are doing their part to give back. Jasmine (10) & Grace (8) are the co-founders of a local club called, The Charity Group. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because I had previously featured The Charity Group in one of my early posts, so I was excited to get a chance to see what they were all about. Here are their answers to my questions, along with some commentary from one of the parents.

CD: What made you want to start “The Charity Group”?

Jasmine – I had been collecting funds or food for my birthday for several years (i.e. 7th birthday – money was collected for CHEO; 8th birthday – money collected for Japanese Earthquake Relief; 9th birthday – collected food for Kanata Food Bank) with some success. One day I asked my dad how to do more. He mentioned that there were groups of people that raised money for charities and that maybe a way to raise or do more. I thought this sounded like a good idea and began typing a letter to start my own Group. I asked Grace to help out and we went from there.

Grace – It sounded like a good idea. Helping the neighbourhood and community is fun.

CD: How did you get others to sign up?

We made a sign up sheet with some cool visuals. We went around to specific kids in the neighbourhood (aged 5 to 12; and they had to be able to walk to our houses). We asked these kids to join; Grace and Jasmine each memorized a specific portion of their recruitment speech. Most kids were eager to participate and the age range expanded as other neighbourhood kids asked to be involved. Parents were also asked/encouraged to join as support and to assist in harnessing the kids’ energy.

CD: What has been your favourite experience with it so far?

The Cancer Carnival of 2012, by far. It was fun, we raised the most money of all our events, there were lots of activities, we met new kids and we had fun hanging with the other Charity Group members.

CD: What is next for your group?

We are planning on building bird houses/feeders for the Wild Bird Centre.
We have a Christmas Show to be done at a local Senior’s home for this holiday season.
We are designing a Hallowe’en Safety Brochure – that will be on the blog; and handed out to the neighbourhood.

CD: What advice can your give to other kids who want to start a similar project in their school/neighbourhood?

For a neighbourhood group:
a. Find like-minded people to help out.
b. Go out to recruit from the neighbourhood and ask your target group if they want to join.
c. Be ready for kids/people to say “No”.
d. Start with small projects and local, which can be very visible and easy to do- like cleaning the park
e. As you get momentum with finishing your initial, smaller, local projects, you may begin to “Think Big”. At this time, you will need to involve parents as support and to assist in logistics.
f. Be mindful of the school year – it is easier to get together in the summer, because there are less activities being done by group members. During school time, sports, dance, music, tutoring, other lessons, tournaments, competitions, family time may take away from when meetings or events can be held. Not everyone may be able to do or go to everything.
g. Send out communication to the group regularly (i.e. minutes from last meeting; follow up from ideas discussed). Be sure to include parent emails to this communique.

CD: What are your long and/or short term goals with your philanthropy?

Short Term
Keep on using birthdays to raise awareness of charities or events
Do annual cleaning of the neighbourhood play areas
Explore how to interact with community more (hospital visits or senior home visits).
Explore technology – use of blog, Youtube, making a video.

Long Term (5-10 years)
The girls were quite struck about what they may be doing when they were 16-19 years old! They both began thinking of jobs and or school.
The Charity Group may still be going – the hope is that younger kids would be continuing the torch – maybe two portions, an older and a younger group membership?
Exploring other options of doing more things outside of the Charity Group – like volunteering at a shelter.
Using work experience to spread the word – doing something with part-time work?
Continue to be involved with the neighbourhood, but looking to expand impact.

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I want to say a huge thank you to the girls for taking the time to answer all my questions and want them to know that I am inspired by what they are doing. My hope in putting this feature together is that it will inspire others to get their kids involved in making their community a better place to live. Great work, girls!!

Win 4-100 Level Tickets To See WWE Smackdown in Ottawa on Sept 10th!

The WWE is coming to town and I’ve got your hookup right here! I’m giving away 4-100 Level tickets to see WWE Smackdown Live at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, September 10th at 7pm.

WWE fans will witness a massive double main event as WWE Champion Randy Orton will put the title on the line against Daniel Bryan, while RVD will team-up with the ’World’s Largest Athlete”, The Big Show, and the ’World’s Strongest Man”, Mark Henry, in a six-man tag team match against The Shield.

Also in action:

World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio
Dolph Ziggler
The Wyatt Family
’Mr. Money in the Bank” Damien Sandow
and more!

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post, answering the following question: WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE WWE STAR (PAST OR PRESENT)?

Good Luck!! Contest closes Sunday, Sept 1st at noon.

Congrats to the winner, David Dickenson!!

My Social Capital Conference Experience; Or, How To Earn Klout About Sheep

Social Capital Conference

I recently had the pleasure of attending the 3rd Annual Social Capital Conference, right here in my hometown of Ottawa. Due to financial reasons, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it out this year, but then out of nowhere, my knights in shining armour from Chevrolet Canada stepped in and offered to pay my way to the conference. I have no idea why they did this but I am grateful beyond words for the experience.

While I enjoy going to conferences for the content they provide, the real reason I love them is for the networking and social interaction, and SoCap certainly did not disappoint in that regard. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to mingle with some of my favourite online personalities and got the chance to meet some amazing new people that I hadn’t interacted with before. I tend to ramble on and on, so I thought it would be best to bullet point my highlights from the conference for you:

* Not five minutes into my time at SoCap, I had the pleasure of meeting someone I really respect in the social media space, in Susan Murphy. You might remember her from such twitter handles as, @SuzeMuse and @icanhazpodcast, and she was even nicer in person than I had imagined.

* Gini Dietrich’s opening keynote was excellent and I especially appreciated that she went through her whole blog writing and publishing process, as it’s something I have been struggling with lately. Also, I’ve been lurking on her, Spin Sucks, website and the community engagement is incredible. They welcomed me in group form after my first comment and I will definitely be spending more time there.

* Danny Brown was incredible during his closing keynote, doing everything but performing a rap number for us. Although he was informative and witty, I think my favourite part was the video with Dino Dogan and him, which spoofed on Danny’s unusually high Klout influence on the topic of “sheep”. That video alone gave me a ton of ideas and was well worth the price of admission.

* One of my main goals at the conference was to learn more about how to shoot and create proper videos for my blog. Both roundtable sessions I attended provided more information than I was prepared for and the conversations have continued to this day. For that, I have to say special thank you’s to a few people. First, to Kat Inokai, whose passion and energy for what she does make you want to jump right in and get started. Next to Heath Horejda for his expertise and amazing tips on how to properly conduct an interview. Finally, to Anthony Wong at Do More Video, not only for helping me find the tools I need, but also for offering and providing guidance outside of the conference walls. You were all brilliant in your own ways and I learned a lot from you collectively.

* The first time I met the Cocktail Deeva, Dee Brun, I was a shy, red faced newbie at Blissdom Canada. She made me feel welcome and even wiped the nervous sweat from my brow before posing for a picture that I would use to brag to my bloggy friends back home. Fast Forward 7 months later and I am a smart mouthed Dad blogger who isn’t afraid to jokingly mix it up with her during her presentation. Honestly, this was my favourite part of the conference. The engagement and laughs during her session is what I am all about and I’m glad I chose that one. Also, for those looking for my nude Google+ Hangouts, I’m working on it…

*Finally, just getting to spend time with my friends, to talk about our lives, our blogs and our causes, is what made this an amazing weekend. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Engagement with our peers. This was my third conference this year and the value I have gained outside of the conference walls has easily been worth the price of admission by itself.

In closing, I just wanted to thank the organizers for putting on an amazing show. Also, a very special thank you to Chevrolet Canada for allowing me to take part in this incredible experience. I will absolutely be back next year! Also, if you are reading this, please follow all the wonderful twitter accounts I have tagged in this post. They are all amazing and insightful.

How Princesses Provided A Fairy Tale Ending For One Little Girl

Official Princess Parties

The opinions on Princess culture run from those who love everything about the fairy tale stories, to those who think princesses are ruining our little girls and driving us further into debt with all the commercialization. I have always been in the middle. I love how much my little girl adores the princess culture but I don’t think it’s turning her into anything more than a little girl who has found something she loves.

I had a change of opinion this past week, however, when something amazing happened. My friend Christine, who blogs for “Life on Manitoulin”, was forced to take an emergency helicopter ride with her 4 year old daughter, who was experiencing severe stomach pains. When they got to Ottawa and were released from CHEO, following the little one’s surgery, I got the chance to spend some time with them. Her little one, tough as nails by the way, started telling me all about her favourite princesses, as little girls do.

Christine had asked me if I thought we would be able to hire a princess on such short notice and seeing as how I am no stranger to hanging out with and writing about all things princess, I decided to try to help out. I called Official Princess Parties, a company that has already impressed me in the past, and I definitely wasn’t prepared for the kindness that followed.

I explained why I needed someone on such short notice and the owner mentioned that they were all booked up for the next couple weeks, but would send out a feeler to see if anyone was interested in the extra work. Not one minute later, while we were still on the phone, she had already received 3 messages back with people saying they wanted to help out. That would have been enough for me to sing their praises but the owner then mentioned that she wanted to provide this visit, to cheer up a scared little girl, on the house, and my heart exploded. Our princess showed up that night and had everyone mesmerized and smiling from ear to ear. She was perfect and it is exactly the thing that little girl needed at that moment.

Long story short, you can think whatever you want about the effects of princess culture, but this single event and watching the joy on that little girl’s face was enough to convince me of the overwhelming positives that can come from it. At the pace life is moving these days, sometimes it’s just nice to let kids be kids, and when it comes to princesses, I am fine with doing just that. Thank you to the amazing staff at Official Princess Parties for making this little girl’s pain a little more bearable.

Princess Funny Faces

Princess Beauty Julia

Princess Tiara

A Huge Father’s Day Giveaway, Courtesy Of Terra20

Terra20

I’m so excited to be partnering up with North America’s largest eco store, terra20, to bring you an amazing Father’s Day giveaway! They just recently launched their new Tech Zone, which features some amazing products from House of Marley. I have your opportunity to come home a hero this Father’s Day by offering you a chance to win a prize pack valued at $350, which includes the following:

House of Marley Chant Portable Audio System
House of Marley Chant System

 

Take your music with you wherever you go with the Chant portable audio system with Bluetooth. The built-in rechargeable battery and convenient 3.5mm input and included cable make it simple and easy to connect hundreds of devices and fire up your tunes whenever and wherever you need them. Designed and built with natural bamboo wood and durable canvas, recycled plastic, earth friendly metal plating and printing inks.

 

House of Marley Stir It Up Harvest On-Ear Headphones
House of Marley Headphones

 

The Stir It Up Noise-Isolating Headphones offer a real uninterrupted experience. You can hear the bass, the drumbeat and every colourful melody the way they should be heard. They have an on-ear design for exceptional comfort, with a frequency response of 15Hz – 22kHz and a 40-millimeter dynamic moving coil speaker drive for sound reinforcement. Designed and built with recyclable aluminum, FSC certified Beech wood, responsibly tanned leather and canvas. Fabric cord.

 

House of Marley Smile Jamaica Fire In-Ear Headphones with Microphone
House of Marley Ear Buds
 

With the Smile Jamaica noise-isolating earbuds, what you see is what you get. They have stripped the in-ear headphones down to their essence and built them back up using natural materials and recycled plastics. They have an in-ear design for deep bass, with a frequency response of 18Hz – 20kHz for authentic sound and a 8-millimeter driver, 16 ohms impedance and a dynamic micro speaker with neodymium magnet for sound reinforcement. Designed and built with FSC certified sapele and beech wood and recyclable aluminum. Fabric cord.

 

I know, I’m making uncharacteristic grunting noises right now. Ladies, as a husband, father and owner of these three items, all I can say is “Please win this for the husband or father in your life!” And, fellas, I won’t blame you for entering this one yourselves.

HOW TO ENTER

Here’s how it works. All you have to do is pop on over to terra20’s amazing online shop, find one thing you would love for yourself and leave a comment with the item and the link from the shop page. That’s it. I will draw a winner at 3pm on Friday, June 14th.

RULES & REGULATIONS

This contest is open to residents of Ottawa and surrounding area (If you can pick up the prize in store, you can enter). The winner must be able to pick up the prize pack at the terra20 store at 2685 Iris St. Ottawa, Ontario K2C 3S4. One entry per household. Good Luck!

You can also visit terra20 on Facebook and Twitter for more great deals and information on their product line.

Join Me At Terra20 This Weekend For Their TechZone Launch Event

Terra20 TechZone

Let me get this out of the way right off the bat. I am not Captain Eco-Friendly. I am also, however, not the opposite of that and am more than ready to start expanding my knowledge about the subject of eco-friendly products. In fact, blogging has opened my eyes to a whole new world of knowledge and passions, with this being one I am excited to further explore.

That’s why I was so excited to get invited to terra20 this weekend for the launch of their TechZone. In an effort to add something for the guys, the new department will feature products from House of Marley and I’ve been drooling over their catalog since I first saw it. That sounds corny, but just check it out for yourselves and you’ll know what I’m talking about. In fact, look at these two right now!

House of Marley Roots Rock Midnight Portable Bluetooth Audio SystemHouse of Marley iPod dock

Anyway, you are all invited to join me for the launch this weekend and I’ll hope you’ll stop by to say hello and check it out. Terra20 is located at 2685 Iris St in Ottawa. Here are some more details and I hope to see you there!

– Launch of terra20’s TechZone featuring House of Marley on May 25 from 9 am – 1 pm

– “TechZone,” features the House of Marley line of audio equipment, watches, and bags.

– TechZone includes a House of Marley listening station, as well as other innovative tech-related products.

– The TechZone also includes solar and crank powered products by Eton Corporation, tech accessories, and outdoor/emergency gear.

– Eton will also be represented during the event, and are offering a special gift with purchase—Free Blackout Buddy with purchase.

– Event features a charitable Caribbean-themed BBQ.

– LiVE 88.5’s David Schellenberg will be onsite for a live remote.

– Four Marley prize packs will be up for grabs.

– Representatives from Niko Organic skin care will also be at terra20 performing skin consultations for their men’s line, and Eton Corporation will also be on site demonstrating their solar and crank powered device.

You can also stay up to date on everything terra20 by following them on Twitter and Facebook.

Ottawa ComicCon Is Closing In!

Well, colour me geeked out and excited because Ottawa ComicCon is only a couple days away and I can’t wait to take it all in! I missed last year’s event due to a sweeping family illness but have created multiple backup plans for this year.

The 2nd Annual Ottawa ComicCon kicks off Friday, May 10th at 2pm and runs until 5pm on Sunday, May 12th. I realize that this is Mother’s Day but if the kids were to make Mommy a Princess Leia costume, she couldn’t possibly say no to at least trying it on, right?

Of the stars in attendance, I am most excited to see Gillian Anderson, Billy Dee Williams and of course, blogger, actor and father, Wil Wheaton. I was introduced to the blogging side of Wil Wheaton through his hilarious encounter with The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson, but it’s his love for table top games that has me following him. You know, online, not literally… I have every intention of challenging Mr. Wheaton to a game of CandyLand, in hopes of avenging my loss to Harlem Globetrotter, Buckets Blakes. I’ll keep you informed on the status of this challenge as the weekend rolls on.

Are you planning on heading down to the Ernst & Young Centre for the show? If so, let me know who you are most excited to see and why? You can get more info on the 2nd Annual Ottawa ComicCon by visiting their Official Website and don’t forget to tweet me @CanadianDadBlog while you are there so I can come and say hi! You never know who might show up…

Capt Caffeine 4

We Day Empowers And Inspires Our Youth To “Be The Change”

We Day

I’m going to do my best to accurately recap the events that were National We Day in Ottawa. Considering the magnitude of the event and effect it had on every single person there, I hope I can do it justice. We Day, for those of you who are not familiar, is an event from Free The Children founders Marc and Craig Kielburger, that inspires our youth to be the leaders in creating local and global change.

I spent the day, along with 5000 young adults who all EARNED their tickets to the event with community service, listening to incredible speakers like Martin Sheen, Spencer West & Rob Stewart, as they told their inspirational stories and encouraged the children to get out there and make a difference in the world, one small act at a time.

There were so many highlights from this event that it is impossible to list them all, so I’ll give you a few of my favourites. For me, it started in the backstage media room, where two very young activists anxiously awaited Free the Children founder, Craig Kielburger’s arrival, so that they could ask their questions and press him for knowledge about how they could make a difference. I hadn’t been there 5 minutes and I was already beaming with inspiration at how devoted they were to changing the world.

Next up was Ottawa native and double lung transplant survivor, Helene Campbell, who strode across the stage and spoke as if she had been doing it her whole life. If ever there was someone to channel when you feel like giving up, she absolutely fits the bill. My favourite part is when she challenged the now famous, YOLO slang, by offering up a much more suitable and inspiring term in Carpe Diem. It wasn’t the first time I teared up at the event and it wouldn’t be the last.

My most vulnerable moment came when young Molly Burke took to the stage. I thought I had done my homework on the speakers but somehow I had missed Molly’s bio and videos. Even typing this, I am welling up at how powerful her story of blindness and bullying was. Of everything I saw at We Day, Molly’s story affected me the most. Please take a second to watch a clip of her incredible story and share it with the children in your life.

While We Day is an event that was developed to inspire our youth to take action in creating change for our world, I can tell you first hand that the children are not the only ones affected. I spent a good portion of my day dancing, and wiping away emotional tears from not only the stories of the speakers, but also from watching how inspired all of the children in that building were. It wasn’t just those kids who experienced a change today, I felt it too. I am absolutely confident that my children are going to be raised as better human beings because I attended this event, and I will be forever grateful for that.

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite messages of the day, from Marc & Craig Kielburger. It’s not enough to wait for the change or follow the change, you have to go out there and Be The Change! That’s a message I will be passing on to my little ones as they grow into young adults themselves. The event was amazing, I met some really awesome people and leave you with a small sampling of the pictures I was able to snag. I highly recommend attending a We Day if your child ever gets the opportunity and please read up on all the inspiring things that Free The Children are doing to help out both locally and globally.

Photo Bombing Martin Sheen!

Photo Bombing Martin Sheen!

Hanging with Spencer West

Hanging with Spencer West

Blogger, Shannon's View From Here's daughter

Blogger, Shannon’s View From Here’s daughter

Blogger, Macaroni Kid Ottawa's son

Blogger, Macaroni Kid Ottawa’s son

Canadian Spotlight: My Interview With Kurt Browning

Kurt Browning 2013

When I found out that Investors Group Stars On Ice was coming to Ottawa’s Scotiabank Place (4pm on April 21st), my first thought was about how great it would be to be able to interview one of it’s stars, Kurt Browning, who is also a Canadian Dad and one of the best skaters that has ever come out of Canada. He is definitely the most entertaining figure skater I have ever watched and is actually the reason I ever got into watching figure skating in the first place. Honestly, he oozes Canadian in everything he does and I’m proud that he’s one of ours.

Kurt has always had a knack for entertaining crowds with his amazing routines, crazy footwork and infectious personality. Seriously, this guy seems to be always smiling and it’s something that I try to model my life after as well. Kurt was gracious enough to grant me the said interview and I have included his answers below. They are a mix of skating and fatherhood questions and it was an honour corresponding with him. I’ll be heading over to Scotiabank Place with my daughter today to catch the show and we are both very excited.

1. How do you feel about the state of Canadian Figure Skating at the moment and do you feel there is enough support from fans and government alike?

After the World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario it would seem that the fan base is strong for Canadian skaters and that the skaters themselves are doing very very well. With medals in 3 of the disciplines and even our lady skating to a wonderful standard in the short program shows a strong all round team.

2. Are there any charities that are close to your heart, and why?

I have never really supported one charity more than another actually. It seems that as a skater I have been pulled down certain paths by my career or by the people that I have met along the way.

3. How has fatherhood changed you and has it affected your skating, whether it be the types of routines you do or ability to train as much as you’d like?

Fatherhood has made training harder because I get caught up in lego or tag and sometimes don’t even make it to the rink to practice. Lego is really tough on training 🙂 On a more serious note I have made a few programs that were for my sons and will skate with them in a show featuring skaters with children this fall. My boys don’t really take serious lessons, but they can certainly skate and have fun on the ice.

4. What has been your biggest challenge as a father?

My biggest challenge has been my schedule. Because of what I do I have to travel to do shows and being away from them has been the toughest part.

5. Other than skating, what is your favourite activity to do with your kids?

Other than Lego, we enjoy video games and bouncing on a trampoline as well as playing in the snow in winter. My family in Alberta own off road vehicles and any visit out west is very high on their list of ‘cool things to do’.

6. If you could only choose one, would you rather be a friend or a hero to your children, and why?

I would be selfish and choose friend but maybe a bit of both would be great if it was not asking too much.

7. How hard was it to learn how to jump on hockey skates? Were you scared?

Jumping on hockey skates is super tricky but I have been skating on them since I was a kid and actually enjoy the challenge.

8. Often in sports, we talk about home ice advantage. Have you found that the quality of ice in different rinks around the world creates an advantage for the hometown skaters?

Actually, we very rarely train on the exact ice we compete or perform on so we hardly ever have an actual home ice advantage. It is mostly the fans that create our advantage when we compete.

9. Finally, what is next for you after Stars on Ice? Any plans to hang up the blades? Maybe a Major League Baseball career?

After Investors Group Stars On Ice I will switch back to fatherhood and enjoy a couple of weeks off before going to China and Korea for 3 weeks to skate more shows.

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I’d like to say thank you to Kurt for taking the time to answer all of my questions. It’s just one more reason why I love this space so much. The Investors Group Stars On Ice hits Scotiabank Place in Ottawa at 4pm on Sunday, April 21st and tickets are still available by visiting the Scotiabank Place website. Along with Kurt Browning will be other Canadian stars such as Patrick Chan, Joannie Rochette & Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. I hope to see you there!

Here’s Why You Never Insult A Member Of The Harlem Globetrotters {Video}

Canadian Dad Buckets Blakes

I had the special opportunity to interview Harlem Globetrotter, Buckets Blakes, leading up to their big show at Scotiabank Place on April 11th at 7pm in Ottawa. He was so much fun to work with and is amazingly talented, but didn’t necessarily like my line of questioning and we ended up facing off in a one on one challenge! Check out the video to see who won!

I can’t say enough good things about Buckets. He was down for everything I asked him to do and we had a great chat about his being a Dad as well. I’ll link up the full interview very soon but I hope you enjoyed my experience in the meantime! I would like to thank Amanda from Scotiabank Place and Troy Baker for shooting an editing the video. You guys are helping make lasting memories for me and I really appreciate it!

Cheers!