Developing the young athlete research panel

Is weightlifting and other resistance training dangerous for my son? Is my daughter’s gymnastics causing the delay in the onset of her puberty?Why is it so expensive for us to participate in community sport? Are the logistical and emotional hassles of being a “sport family” worth the time and trouble?Parents whose children are enrolled in sports activities – from Little League to elite level – ask a lot of questions as they and their families get deeper into their sport.A group of Brock University researchers have been studying the answers. They presented their findings and experiences at a panel celebrating Ontario Research Week in early April.Resistance is not futileBareket Falk, a pediatric exercise physiologist who researches the impact of exercise on children’s bodies, says there’s a common misconception that resistance training stunts their growth.“During the Olympics, we see sports such as wrestling or weightlifting,” she told the audience. “Usually those guys on the podium, especially the gold metal winners, are relatively short; people say it’s because they’re doing all this lifting.”Falk explained that, during exercise, muscles actually release growth hormones while glands in the brain discharge growth-related hormones. The “shortness” of weightlifters is an advantage in the sport rather than the result of training in that sport, she says.Falk also warned people not to draw conclusions from “anecdotal” reports regarding injuries arising out of resistance training but to look at “prospective studies” that follow a group of healthy children and adolescent athletes, and assess their injury rate over time compared to a group of healthy adults training in the same intensity.“If you do that, you’ll see that the incidence of injury in children and adolescence is lower than it is in adults,” she explained. “Resistance training, if performed properly, is safer than most other sports.”A later leap into pubertyKinesiologist Nota Klentrou also notes that many female gymnasts are relatively short compared to other girls or young women their age. And, unlike their male counterparts, they reach puberty at around 14 years of age, much later than usual. However, this isn’t the case with rhythmic gymnasts, who are much taller.Again, like in Falk’s research, “I do think – and I dare to say – it is mostly selection,” Klentrou told the audience.“Actually, this is the case in a lot more than just gymnastics,” she said. “I have to say that, in almost 90 per cent of sports, having a male type of body in a little girl is advantageous, because they are lighter and have lower body fat.”The likely cause of delayed puberty is under-nutrition, where the young athlete expends more energy than they take in from food, leading to an energy imbalance, she said.Klentrou explained that, since the primary female sex hormone estrogen plays a role in bone development, there is concern that late puberty prevents estrogen levels from being high enough to develop bones properly.But she said high-impact exercises, such as jumping, provides “mechanical loading,” a process in which body movement stimulates cells called osteoblasts deep within bones to form bone.“So, do young female athletes compensate for a lack of estrogen? Absolutely they compensate, and even more,” she told the audience. However, repeated injuries combined with under-nutrition may lead to chronic health issues if not addressed.Have money, will play but at what cost?Researchers on the panel, held in St. Catharines April 2, also explored the financial and social implications of how community sports are set up.PhD candidate Paul Jurbala, who is also CEO of the sport consulting business communityactive and volunteer chair of a non-profit called Community Sport Councils Ontario, quoted a 2004 national survey in which 58 per cent of youth and 18 per cent of adult volunteers participate in community sport in Canada.“Collectively, this is the biggest place outside school where kids are instructed by adults,” he said. “And those adults, in this case, are volunteers for the most part.”Despite the importance of community sport being a “key part of Canadian identity,” most of the more than 30,000 sport organizations in the country have no staff, have difficulty finding and retaining volunteers, and are funded only by membership fees.As a result, it’s becoming more expensive for families to participate in clubs, especially in the face of “fairly stagnant middle class incomes,” said Jurbala.He gave the example of a 2012 Hockey Canada survey, which found that the average family was paying $3,000 to $3,700 per child, depending on age, to play hockey through a club.And other costs – physical, emotional and relational – need to be taken into consideration, says Dawn Trussell, assistant professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies.“Anyone in sports knows that when a child signs up, the family signs up,” she told the gathering. “My research is focused on what’s happening in the car, at the dining room table. All of these things, in turn, actually impact what happens on the field.”There can be a lot of time pressures put on the family – with many mothers clocking up to 20 hours a week for their children’s sports – which may cause stress in the parents’ relationship, especially in dual-income households, she said.Also, if parents are coaches and children are on the team, the result could be rebellious behaviour from the children and greater pressure or higher expectations on children’s performance. Athletic siblings, whether in the same or different sport, could be jealous of one another and engage in sibling rivalries, Trussell said.But Trussell outlined a host of positive impact on sport families. These include: family members spending quality time with one another; the opportunity to facilitate the children’s physical and social development; older siblings taking on a “mentoring” role; sport families creating a sense of community; and a model of “giving back” to society. read more

Children in JK and SK at different stages of development Brock researcher

Developmental psychologist Caitlin Mahy is studying the differences between four and five-year-olds, and how they think and respond to different situations.Most four-year-olds in Ontario will be starting a journey that hopefully will continue for many years to come: full-time school.All-day junior kindergarten is still relatively new, a concept that Brock developmental psychologist Caitlin Mahy says has many benefits but also needs careful practice. Traditionally, children began their schooling with kindergarten at the age of five years.At the core of Mahy’s research observations is that one year makes a monumental difference.“There’s this huge transition between four-year-olds and five-year-olds in things like memory, social understanding, and self-regulation,” says Mahy. “Four-year-olds are going to struggle with a lot of skills that five-year-olds aren’t going to struggle with.”And that is something teachers and parents, who might be tempted to view all kindergarteners as being similar, need to understand and adjust for, she says.“We’re putting these children in kindergarten for a full day and we expect them to understand other peoples’ minds and remember to do things on their own,” explains Mahy. “Yet they’re really going to struggle with these abilities, especially compared to five-year-olds, who at least have some of those basic skills.”The assistant professor in the Department of Psychology identifies three basic areas in which four-year-olds are different than their senior kindergarten peers.One is “false belief” understanding, where a person is able to recognize that other people can have beliefs about the world that are different than his or her own.Mahy refers to a laboratory test for children called the Sally Anne task. The researcher tells the child about a character who puts a marble in a basket and then goes away. Another character comes in, moves the marble from the basket to the box, and then leaves.The researcher then asks the child the key question: When the first character comes back, where will that character look for the marble?“What we found is that a lot of four-year-olds, when asked where will she look, will say, ‘In the box,’ because that’s where the marble is,” explains Mahy. “Four-year-olds have trouble understanding that the first character holds a false belief about where the marble is.“By the age of five, most children know that the marble is in the box, but also that the first character will think that the marble is in the basket because she didn’t see the movement of the marble from the basket to the box take place.”Mahy gives another example of a child who loves cookies and has a friend who loves broccoli. It will be hard for the four-year-old to understand that the friend loves something different than his or her own preference, cookies.A second area of difference between four- and five-year-olds is in self-regulation, where a person is able to control his or her responses to stress, emotional expression, and other behaviours.“In the classroom, this may look like, ‘sit in a circle, don’t yell out an answer, wait your turn,’ all these kinds of rules that involve children controlling their own impulses. That’s a big challenge for four-year-olds,” says Mahy. “Five-year-olds haven’t fully mastered that by any means, but they are so much better at it.”Thirdly is the issue of “prospective memory,” or remembering to carry out what you had earlier planned to do, such as pick up a bag of milk on your way home from work.This ability is often over-estimated in younger children, says Mahy. She refers to a friend whose four-year-old son was expected to hand in a notebook to his junior kindergarten teacher at the beginning of the day and collect the book from the teacher at the end of the day.Not surprisingly, the teacher seldom received the book. “For teachers, it may be a lack of awareness of the limitations of four-year-olds because teachers are used to dealing with five-year-olds,” says Mahy. “I think there’s an assumption that four and five year olds are all kindergarteners, they’re all similar, but really, in their cognitive abilities, they’re different.”And four-year-olds have a hard time following through on rules, despite the fact that they know the rules, says Mahy. They also may need more time to transition from recess to the classroom, as they are slower to inhibit behaviours, such as running or playing, that were appropriate on the schoolyard, she says.Mahy urges teachers and parents to understand that four-year-olds are not going to be at the same level as five-year-olds and that there’s huge individual differences between children of the same age group.She describes a number of strategies that help four-year-olds to practice certain skills. One is the game Simon Says, where children are instructed to pat their head, touch their toes or perform other tasks only when the leader says “Simon Says” or do nothing if the leader fails to say “Simon Says” before the command.Another is to post prominent visual cues to remind children to do certain things, such as a big sign or a brightly coloured bottle in the bathroom to remind children to wash their hands. “Be patient, take time to explain things, explain what you wanted them to do versus what they did, model the behaviour you want to see,” says Mahy.September 2015 marks the second year of full-day kindergarten, which Ontario’s Ministry of Education describes as being the “next step in our plan to help our kids get a better education in kindergarten through Grade 3,” says the ministry’s website.“It helps kids get the best possible start. We’re helping make things better for students from their first day of school to their last – and every day in between.”Then-education minister Kathleen Wynne (now Ontario’s premier) introduced a bill in 2009 establishing full-day kindergarten, with a five-year rollout plan.Dr. Caitlin Mahy is looking for children ages 3 to 7 to participate in research studies on children’s development. Learn more about getting involved. Read more about Dr. Mahy’s research.To hear about the current research studies, contact: or 905-688-5550 x6089 read more

Applied Linguistics hosting research day

Applied Linguistics is hosting a research day this week for students and faculty to showcase their research.The Department of Applied Linguistics Research Day will include a poster session, snacks and informal discussion. The event is Tuesday, April 12 from 3 to 5 p.m. on the sixth floor of the Plaza building. Everyone is welcome.For more information, contact Veena Dwivedi at or 905-688-5550 x5389.

SIU clears officer in Steve Mesics death

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit says there are no grounds to lay criminal charges against the Hamilton police officers who shot and killed Steve Mesic last June. In the report released Wednesday, the SIU sheds new light on the events leading up to Mesic’s death. But as Melissa Raftis tells us, some of those who knew the former steelworker best, say they’ve lost faith in police.The SIU’s report says when he was shot and killed, Steve Mesic was advancing toward two Hamilton police officers holding a shovel over his shoulder like a baseball bat. Police had been called to the Linc near Upper Wentworth June 7th for reports of a man walking into traffic. After losing sight of him, police found Mesic trying to pry open the backdoor of a townhouse with a shovel. At the time they didn’t know it was Mesic’s own home. After asking him what he was doing, the SIU says Mesic aggressively walked toward the officers, ignoring their calls to drop the shovel. Eventually crossing the fence between them within striking range. SIU Director Ian Scott writes: “In my view, the subject officers were justified in their use of lethal force. By the time Mr. Mesic was on the same side of the fence, the option of pepper spray was not feasible due to the imminent threat Mr. Mesic represented to the two subject officers.”“I have absolutely zero faith in policing system now. Nothing.”Mesic’s friend Steve Close says police could have defused the situation. Even though the SIU’s report says the officers didn’t know Mesic had apparently attempted suicide earlier in the day by walking in front of a bus on the Jolley Cut.Close: “He definitely didn’t deserve to die the way that he did. He needed help. He didn’t need a bullet, or five bullets or 8 bullets these cowards, I’m going to call them cowards put into his back or wherever they put it to him. He didn’t need to do that.”Hamilton police and SIU haven’t said where Mesic was struck or how many bullets were fired. Only that he was hit by at least one bullet from each handgun.Chief Glenn de Caire issued a statement saying police cooperated fully with the investigation, and will continue to train officers to de-escalate critical incidents like they have for years.But even though the SIU has reached its conclusions, close says he refuses to let Mesic’s story be forgotten.Close: “Rest in peace brother. Hope you’re good man.”Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina released a statement Wednesday saying his heart goes out Mesic’s family and friends. We spoke briefly with Mesic’s mother who says there has been no justice for her son. In an email, Sharon Dorr, Mesic’s fiance, says she needs a couple days to digest the news and will be releasing a statement on Friday. 00:00:00 | 00:00:00::Projekktor V1.3.09 read more

Boy reunited with parents after theft

A Niagara Falls couple is breathing a sigh of relief but is still in shock after their car was stolen with their two-year-old son in the back seat. The theft prompted a call for help from both Niagara police and the OPP.Cindy Csordas has the details. 00:00:00 | 00:00:00::Projekktor V1.3.09

Bosma Day 14

Today a Hamilton courtroom saw a photo police took while they were trailing Mark Smich in May of 2013, shortly before he was arrested for the murder of Tim Bosma. Smich was arrested almost two weeks after his co-accused, Dellen Millard.Mark Smich lived at his mothers house in Oakville, just north of the QEW off Dorval drive. His girlfriend Marlena Meneses also lived in Oakville, in an apartment building on Speers road and those are the two addresses the couple were at most days as they were trailed by a Hamilton police surveillance unit. Marlena Meneses is expected to testify during this trial. Police snapped the picture of the two after they started following Smich on May 14, four days after arresting Dellen Millard.On May 22nd on orders, the surveillance team grabbed Smich as he was walking his bike up Dorval drive on the median near the QEW. He was thrown to the ground and arrested for murder. The officer testified Smich then yelled several times to Meneses, who was also under arrest, “don’t tell them anything, babe.”Court also heard more about operations at Dellen Millard’s hangar at the Waterloo airport. Millard took over the aviation business when his father died and got rid of all fourteen employees but one who was known as a mechanic at the local autoparts store. He spoke to an employee there daily and in the days after Tim Bosma’s disappearance, ordered a tool for removing windshields and a tool for sanding metal.Court heard from its bookkeeper, that in its final years Millard air only had expenses, no income. The bookkeeper for Millard air is still on the stand, she worked for Dellen Millard’s father until he died and then for his son. Her husband was the Millard air IT and security technician he is also expected to testify. read more

Women with PhDs reach pay equity with men but big gaps remain

GUELPH, Ont. — A new University of Guelph study says the wage gap has closed between women and men with newly earned PhDs.The study, which focuses on gender equity in the labour market, found that both male and female doctoral graduates earn about $70,000 annually during the first three years after convocation.Prof. David Walters says this is the first time that he has seen “no discrepancy in earnings” between men and women in Canada.The authors attribute the equal incomes to strong collective agreements and proactive labour policies in the sectors PhD graduates gravitate toward, such as academia and government.Published Monday in the journal Higher Education Policy, the study analyzed data from Statistics Canada’s sweeping 2013 National Graduates Survey, which surveyed trades, college and university graduates three years after graduation — before factors such as maternity leave start to influence results.However, the study also shows that the lower the level of education, the bigger the gender pay gap, and that on average only PhD graduates achieved income equity.The gap is greatest among employees in the trades, where on average women earn $32,500 and men earn $40,500 — 25 per cent more.Lead author Anthony Jehn says men tend to go into higher-paying trades, such as pipefitting or plumbing, whereas women lean more toward hairdressing or cosmetology.More than one-third of all male graduates majored in the more lucrative fields of math, engineering or computer science, versus five per cent for women, helping explain the income disparity among bachelor’s and master’s degree holders.Jehn says a “culture of gender inequality” in some male-dominated fields discourages women from entering. His findings show that greater pay equity exists for those who can afford to invest in education, a problem he says compounds class divisions along gendered lines.The Canadian Press read more

US officials OK railroads plan for northern Idaho bridges

BOISE, Idaho — BNSF Railway’s plan to build two bridges as part of a second railroad line in northern Idaho to accommodate increased train traffic and future growth meets environmental requirements, federal officials said Thursday.The U.S. Coast Guard issued a final environmental assessment for the bridges across Lake Pend Oreille and Sand Creek at Sandpoint, finding no significant impact.An environmental group said it was disappointed the Coast Guard didn’t do a much lengthier environmental review called an environmental impact statement, saying an increase in crude oil and other hazardous materials crossing bridges could put the lake and residents at risk.The Coast Guard is involved because the structures are over navigable waters. Idaho officials, which have authority over the lake bottom, have already approved the bridges.Specifically, the approval allows BNSF Railway to build the two bridges that are part of a new line that will parallel an existing rail line already running through the area.The company has received permits from the Coast Guard and plans to start preliminary work on the bridges this week, BNSF Railway spokeswoman Courtney Wallace said.The company said its trains and tracks are part of a critical supply chain transporting goods both east and west. However, the area is a bottleneck with trains up to 1 mile (1.6 kilometres) long waiting their turn to cross the bridge over Lake Pend Oreille that handles both east- and west-bound trains. That can also cause delays for motorists blocked by stationary trains at railroad crossings.“You’ll have delays with trains holding into Montana and into eastern Washington,” Wallace said.The trains carry all manner of goods, including autos, clothing, coal, crude oil, grain, soybeans, wind turbines, airplane fuselages and more. Amtrak passenger trains also pass over the bridges.Currently, federal officials say, capacity through the area is 79 trains per day, while the average is 60 trains per day.Federal officials say adding the parallel line won’t increase rail traffic volume because there are other single sets of tracks constraining the system. But Wallace said the railway is always looking at improving efficiency.Some area residents, including Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad, have voiced concern with increased train traffic and the potential for a derailment involving trains hauling hazardous materials. Jennifer Stapleton, Sandpoint’s city administrator and spokeswoman, didn’t return a call from The Associated Press on Thursday.The Idaho Conservation League backed the more thorough environmental review before the Coast Guard announced its decision.“Lake Pend Oreille is a crown jewel of the Gem State so ICL is concerned with the potential effects this massive expansion of rail infrastructure could have on our lake, our water and our way of life,” the group said in a statement.Steven Fischer, a district bridge manager for the U.S. Coast Guard, didn’t return a call from the AP.The 148-square-mile (383-square-kilometre) Lake Pend Oreille is 1,150 feet (350 metres) deep. It is Idaho’s largest lake and offers a variety of gamefish for sport anglers.Keith Ridler, The Associated Press read more

The Latest New iPhones expected to echo last years models

SAN FRANCISCO — The Latest on Apple product event (all times local):10 p.m. MondayApple is expected to unveil three new iPhone models that are so similar to last year’s lineup, they may be upstaged by details about the company’s upcoming video service.The company will show off its latest iPhones Tuesday at its headquarters in Cupertino, California. But the buzz surrounding its bestselling products has waned, as have sales, in the absence of compelling new features.The research firm IDC estimates iPhone shipments plunged 25% during the first half of this year. That has put more pressure on Apple to generate revenue from a services division that will soon include a video service called Apple TV Plus, which the company may also describe in more detail Tuesday.The Associated Press

SNCLavalin settles shareholder class actions in Ontario and Quebec to pay 88M

MONTREAL — SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. says it has agreed to settle two class action lawsuits filed on behalf of shareholders in 2012 over allegations of misleading investors about its activities in Libya.The company says it will contribute $88 million to the settlement of the cases in Ontario and Quebec.The agreement is subject to court approval.The lawsuits were among the consequences of alleged payments made by SNC-Lavalin to members, associates and agents of the Gadhafi regime to secure contracts for infrastructure projects in Libya.The law suits were filed on behalf of SNC shareholders after its shares plunged in 2012 after the company announced an investigation into millions in undocumented payments and said its 2011 earnings would be less than expected.The company says it has since initiated a series of significant changes and enhancements to reinforce its ethics and compliance procedures.Companies in this story: (TSX:SNC) read more