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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Kawartha Lakes - Rethink Poverty !

Kawartha Lakes Rethink Poverty Video Challenges Myths

“There’s definitely a lot of stigma attached to being poor....People jump to conclusions, that because you don’t have a lot of money, you must be lazy.”
Stevi’s voice is strained, as the single, working mother discusses a myth about poverty she has heard many times. Stevi’s situation is one of three local stories featured in a new ‘Rethink Poverty’ video, produced by the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit and designed to raise awareness about poverty in the region. Also profiled in the video are ‘Jeff’ and ‘Shay’, a couple trying to get their family off Ontario Works, and ‘Pam’, a mom who talks about her working family’s struggles to make ends meet.
In the video, Stevi discusses the challenges of growing up as a self-described “poor kid”, and facing financial hardships as a young adult. She soon realized the need to return to school to improve her education and chances of finding work. Now holding down a job, Stevi describes a simple satisfaction others might take for granted.
“I feel so good to be able to cash a paycheque and take my kids grocery shopping,” she says. “That sounds like such a simple thing to do, to be able to let [my son] decide what he wants for dinner and go home and make it for him...”
Stevi’s words, and those of the others in the Health Unit’s Rethink Poverty video, are meant to show local residents that poverty – and the myths around it – are still major problems in the City Of Kawartha Lakes. By the Health Unit’s own estimate, 10 per cent of children in the City of Kawartha Lakes live in poverty. The Health Unit also calculates the cost of a Nutritious Food Basket for a family of four is $170.86 per week. Given these costs, Health Unit staff worry that people on limited incomes may find it difficult to afford healthy foods when they may have little money left over after paying for rent, clothing, utilities and other essentials.
image Retink Poverty Poster  Low income Families Do Without Basics

“The Rethink Poverty video helps to give a voice to people in our community who struggle to make ends meet,” says Elsie Azvedo, a Registered Dietitian with the HKPR District Health Unit. “By letting them tell their stories, we want to dispel myths and show that poverty is not a choice, but a reality for many families in our community.”

The new video is part of the Rethink Poverty: Change Minds, Change Lives campaign (www.rethinkpoverty.ca) launched by the Health Unit. The video, below, along with other resources, is available on the Health Unit’s YouTube channel www.youtube.com/hkprdhu, and is also being shared on DVD with community agencies in the area.
According to Health Canada, income is the main factor that affects people’s well-being.
“In general, higher income means better health,” says Azevedo.
As the costs of rent, food and electricity continue to rise, she fears local families on social assistance or in minimum-wage jobs will feel a financial pinch that negatively affects their health.
“We know eating healthy foods is very important, but what if you cannot afford to buy even the basics at the grocery store?” Azevedo asks. “The same goes for sports and physical activity, which help children be healthier and more confident. Buying equipment or paying fees to get your child involved in an organized sports or recreation program is not even on your radar if your main concern is trying to pay for a roof over your head.”

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