First Bell: Summer 2018

By Our Children

Playing along with Eddie the Cat

Nova Scotia’s Clean Foundation is taking puppet theatre to a whole new level. Based on Clean’s award-winning puppet theatre presentation Eddie and the Air Out There, the Foundation has now launched an interactive video game featuring Eddie and his friends.

Eddie is a loveable cat (puppet) and environmental superhero who is standing up for all the critters of the world and the environment they live in. The game teaches kids about the importance of energy conservation, the air quality health index, and the exciting world of renewable energy. Travel with Eddie and his friends on an adventure that includes music and interactive games. Depending on their age and reading level, kids can have the game read the story and instructions aloud, or they can select “Read to myself” mode. 

The game is free and accessible online at, and for mobile devices through the iTunes and Google Play app stores. Just search “EnviroEddie: Air.” 

The videos are also available at and come with instructions for teachers who want to use these curriculum-aligned materials to bring Eddie and his team of environmental superheroes directly into the classroom.

Like a trip to Lebanon without leaving Halifax

Savour a taste of Lebanon in the heart of Halifax at the 17th Annual Lebanese Festival. It runs from July 5 to 8 at the Olympic Community Centre on the corner of Windsor and Cunard Streets. It’s a five-minute walk from the Halifax Common, with free street parking.

Relax while enjoying authentic Lebanese food, traditional dance performances, and a live band. Take in the exhibits and shop for handcrafted work at the Artisan Gift Shop or visit Al-Arz Café, known for its coffee and baklava.

Admission to the festival is free, and there’s something for everyone. On July 5 at 7 p.m., the festival kicks off with a bang at the opening ceremonies. There will be never-before-seen dance performances, live music, and more.

Tickets to the annual raffle are available at the information booth from May 20 until the closing ceremonies on July 8.

Looking for an easy way to introduce your kids to local art, like this example by artist Steve Buckland? Try the IWK Kermesse.

Learn about local art while supporting IWK

Love art? Need a painting for that bare wall? Then take in the IWK Kermesse Art Show and Sale, May 17 to 26. There will be more than 100 original paintings donated by local artists for sale. 

As well, raffle tickets for several items, including a watercolour by Steve Buckland are available at the Biggs and Littles Gift Shop at the IWK. 

The proceeds from the art show and sale will support the IWK Auxiliary’s contributions toward providing care and comfort to patients and families at the IWK. The show and sale take place at the Chase Gallery, Nova Scotia Archives, 6016 University Ave. The opening reception is on May 17 and is open to everyone. The show continues May 18 and then on May 22 to 26. Admission is free.

Froogie keeps making healthy eating easier

A healthy eating app developed by researchers at Dalhousie University, with funding from Heart & Stroke and Canadian Institutes of Health Research, was recently named the recipient of a Gold Davey award for Health and Wellness. The WeUsThem app, Froogie, is aimed at children and families and helps them monitor daily intake of fruits and vegetables. Upon release, the app was featured in the “New and Notable” section of the iTunes Store and has more than two million views to date. 

Less than one in 10 Canadian youth are eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. The leading-edge research led by Dr. Sara Kirk of the Dalhousie Healthy Populations Institute helped WeUsThem design a fun, creative solution that ensures families maintain a healthy diet.

“I am thrilled the Froogie app has won this award. Healthy eating and active living are two of the most important things we can do to improve our general health and wellbeing. Eating more fruits and veggies is an easy change we can make for a big impact and the Froogie characters are a wonderful way to engage children and families in healthy eating,” Kirk says. “I love the creativity the design team at WeUsThem brought to the app and I’m so proud what it has achieved in such a short time since launch.”

“We would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Sara and her team for their dedication to developing this progressive technology to help children make healthier food choices,” says Charlotte Comrie, CEO, Heart & Stroke, N.S. and P.E.I. “Unhealthy eating is a leading risk factor for chronic disease in Canada and puts children and adolescents at risk for premature heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some types of cancer.”

Froogie ensures your child receives the proper nutrients on a busy day-to-day basis, while creating a rewarding experience. As users maintain a consistent healthy diet, new characters are unlocked. With a simplistic design, the Froogie app engages children and youth to track their own fruit and vegetable intake.

This is the second time a Davey award has been received in Atlantic Canada, both times awarded to WeUsThem. To see a video about Froogie, surf to:

Bring the kids down to Spring Garden Road

The sixth annual Spring Garden Road Area Children’s Festival takes place at Victoria Park in Halifax on Aug. 12 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  There’ll be lots of free entertainment and fun things to do, including performances by Razzmatazz at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Activities include face-painting, a petting zoo, bouncy castles, arts and crafts, live entertainment, treats, and more. Free for all! Keep checking back at as organizers continue to add to the entertainment line-up.

Oldfield part of Great Big Crunch

A great big crunch echoed through the halls at Oldfield Consolidated Elementary School this spring as 150 staff and students took a synchronized bite into local apples. They were among nearly 300,000 kids across Canada who took part in The Great Big Crunch.

This is the fifth year a Nova Scotian school has officially taken part in the event, which aims to bring focus to healthy food in schools.

The Great Big Crunch was started by FoodShare Toronto in 2006, with more than one million crunchers since it began. It’s an annual moment of “anti-silence” where everyone gets together and bites into crunchy fresh local produce at the same time. The goal is to engage students, families, educators, and communities in learning more about and celebrating healthy eating and access to healthy food for all.

Kellie West, the Principal at Oldfield Consolidated School, hopes the event helps raise awareness of the role of healthy eating in student health and learning.

“The Great Big Crunch is a fantastic opportunity to integrate healthy eating with school learning,” West says. “We were excited about the opportunity to celebrate together as a school community in the spirit of creating and supporting healthy school communities for student learning, health, well-being, and overall achievement.”

Only one-third of children between the ages of 4 and 13 are eating at least the recommended amount of vegetables and fruits daily. Margo Riebe-Butt of Nourish Nova Scotia says that impacts the health of our children and youth.

“We’re seeing incidences of nutrition-related chronic disease on the rise among children and youth at the same time our healthcare costs continue to rise,” Riebe-Butt says. “It’s not sustainable.”

Riebe-Butt thinks The Great Big Crunch is a fun, interactive way to bring schools and students into the conversation around healthy food in schools. 

“The event helps bring awareness of the importance of supporting healthy eating programs for children and youth among parents, educators and decision-makers,” she says.

Satya Ramen, food coordinator with the Ecology Action Centre, shares Riebe-Butt’s enthusiasm for the annual event.

“The Great Big Crunch works on many levels,” Ramen says. “It celebrates healthy food grown here in Nova Scotia that’s available year-round. Students can learn about where their food comes from and our food systems.”

Camper Amelia shows off her awesome boss character.

Rather than play video games this summer, build your own

Summertime and the livin’ is easy… fresh air, sunshine, corn on the cob, and playing video games?

What if, instead of playing games online, your kids could learn how to create their own computer games and apps? Instead of watching YouTube videos, they produced and filmed their own animations and films?

These are just some of the many creative ways to stretch imaginations at Artech Camps this summer. Kids and youth from five through teen years can attend week-long specialty camps in film, game design, computer programing, Minecraft and virtual reality.

Creating video games is not only fun, it’s fast becoming the newest, most dynamic form of expression. The planning and design that goes into game development inspires creative problem solving. It’s a process that engages and empowers young people to take on challenges and succeed. 

Likewise, the skills involved in film making (scripting, filming, acting, and editing) all provide avenues for personal growth, expression, acquiring valuable technology skills, and collaborating with others.

Find out more about Artech’s summer camps online at There is a scholarship program for youth and families that face medical, financial, or other barriers. All camps take place at the NSCC Institute of Technology on Leeds Street in Halifax. Phone 902-579-3317.