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Ottawa doctors help launch concussion guidelines for kids

CBC 

Kids and teens are the focus of a new set of concussion recommendations launched by emergency medicine researchers at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation. Existing guidelines focus on adults and sport-related injuries, but project leader Dr. Roger Zemek said there was a need for recommendations specific to the needs of those aged five to 18.

“Children and adolescents are actually at a higher risk of developing concussions than adults, and we also know that children are at a higher risk of having prolonged symptoms,” Zemek said.

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Charity Begins in the Warren Home

By Linda Poitevin, Ottawa Family Living Magazine

"I’m a strong believer in paying it forward,” says Spencer Warren. “When someone does something good for you, you should pay that forward. If everyone in the community lived like that, it would be so much easier.” While many of us try to walk this talk, Spencer has taken the idea and climbed to new heights. That’s because he isn’t just a believer, he’s a doer—on a grand scale. Spencer is the driving force behind multiple fundraising efforts on behalf of CHEO, including the Ottawa Children’s Gala, the CHEO Golf Tournament, and the CHEO Fun Day Barbecue. If this sounds like it keeps him busy, it does … especially when you realize he does all of it while holding down a full-time job at Hydro Ottawa (where he also acts as chair of the United Way campaign), teaching electrical engineering one night a week at Algonquin College, acting as the director of safety and security for his neighbourhood community association, and remaining a devoted husband and father. Oh, yes, and he’s just filed the papers to run for school trustee in the Catholic school board, too.

Spencer is the first to admit that it’s a lot to coordinate, and he’s quick to point out that he could never manage without the help and support of his wife Lisa, and their eight-year-old daughter Emily. In fact, it’s Emily herself who gets the credit for being the impetus for this family’s charitable efforts.

“When Emily was two,” Spencer explains, “we were playing at Midway and I was pushing her on the merry-go-round a little too fast, and she fell off and broke her arm.” Because doctors at CHEO thought the nerves may have been severed, Emily remained in hospital for almost a week. Tests ultimately showed the nerves were fine, but the experience had a profound effect on her parents. The staff was great, Spencer recalls, and he and Lisa wanted to give something back to the hospital.
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After some discussion, they decided to hold a golf tournament as a fundraiser. It started off with just friends and family attending the first year, and it’s been a sellout event every year since. (The sixth annual tournament is set for this summer.) Initially, funds raised went to CHEO’s Plan-It Safe, a program aimed at injury prevention. When word of the Warrens’ fundraising success began to get around, however, Spencer was approached by people from the Ottawa Think First chapter for help raising money for their injury prevention efforts.

That was when he came up with the idea of the Ottawa Children’s Gala—not just a gala to raise money for children, but one that children themselves would attend: a red-carpet, full-on gala with performances geared to kids. The event has been a smashing success for every one of its four years, and it has cemented Spencer’s place in the fundraising community of Ottawa.

“Ottawa is a really caring city,” Spencer says with obvious pride. “A lot of people in this city want to give back and help out.” He and Lisa have discovered unexpected benefits from doing these charitable events. For instance, they’ve had the chance to meet and become friends with likeminded people, such as high-profile community leaders Chris and Erin Phillips and Stuntman Stu. Such connections were difficult to make at the beginning, Spencer admits, but he now has people reaching out to him with offers of help.

Those offers are very welcome. Yes, Spencer and Lisa still run the golf tournament and the fun day on their own. Spencer says those are “easy” now that “they’re boilerplated and pretty much run themselves.” But he’s happy to have a team of volunteers to assist with the gala. “That,” he says with a laugh, “takes a lot of hours.”

For the first couple of years, funds raised by the Ottawa Children’s Gala went to Think First, but when the chapter was absorbed into the larger Parachute organization, Spencer dissolved the relationship and once again approached CHEO. He wanted the funds they raised to remain specifically targeted to injury prevention, he explained. He has since begun rebranding all of his charitable efforts under the name of Kids Play Safe, and this year he hopes to team up with other organizers of CHEO fundraising events to bring them under the same umbrella so that more funds are channelled into the preventable injuries program.

And where does family fit into all of this? Spencer’s wife Lisa is uncomfortable in the spotlight and prefers to remain in the background, helping out where she can and keeping the Warren family home life glued together. Spencer is not only respectful of Lisa’s wishes, but 100 per cent supportive of them. He’s also unstinting in his praise of her. “She’s been my rock,” he says simply. “Without her, I would never be able to do any of this—there’s a balance between family and the charities, and without her being supportive, it would never work.”

”"“Family is important to me,” Spencer goes on to emphasize. “I obviously have to juggle a lot, but at the same time we do a lot together that has to do with the charity events.” He also makes time for weekly date nights with his daughter, and he and Lisa are careful to make sure he strikes a balance between charities and family. They camp and cottage in the summer, while other family activities include movie nights with Emily and her cousin, time at the park, hiking and biking, and loads of barbecue and swimming time in the backyard. (By his own admission, Spencer is most definitely not a winter person.)

As for Emily, she’s made a full recovery and suffers no ill effects from her accident, though she’s quick to pull out the “remember that time you broke my arm?” line when she wants something from Spencer. Today she’s a typical eight-yearold, active in soccer and hockey, as well as in piano and swimming lessons. As she grows up, Spencer and Lisa hope she’ll want to be a part of the charity events and help share their safety message. “Emily is my life,” her dad says. “This was all created because of her, but I’ll never force it on her. I just want her to grow up having a strong belief in helping people.”

Indeed, Emily seems to be well on her way to helping out. While Lisa may avoid the spotlight, her daughter has no such qualms, and when Spencer takes the stage at events, Emily is right there beside him. She’s also taken it upon herself to police the community, asking kids without helmets if they need one and offering to help get it for them. “She knows that anything to do with wheels, she puts a helmet on,” Spencer says with pride. “We have the same rule for ourselves.”

With the example that’s been set for her, Emily should go far in helping others. Long before her birth, Lisa and Spencer talked about and dreamed of starting a charity; Emily’s accident simply provided the catalyst they needed to get started. In the years since, her father has been awarded the Ottawa Think First Community Award (2010), the Hydro Ottawa Living Our Values Award for Community Service (2010), and the United Way Community Builder Award (2013).

Spencer says people often ask him why he does so much for charity, wanting to know what’s in it for him. For Spencer, it couldn’t be more simple: “I do it because I’m helping people. I’m helping make a difference, and that’s rewarding.”

Contact Us

Kids Play Safe

509 Kilbirnie Dr,
Ottawa, ON, K2J 0H7

(613) 983-0661
info@kidsplaysafe.ca