Beautiful green fir tree branches close up. Christmas and winter concept. Soft focus, macro.

President’s Message

By Katrina Breau, VAD President

The Power of Kindness

The end of daylight Savings Time brings about reduced light and shorter fall and winter days, these changes may increase Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression triggered by the changing of the seasons and reduced light. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate our moods, it is believed that the reduction in our light exposure may affect our body due to decreased Serotonin levels. Along with this, we may experience a disruption in our Circadian Rhythm or what is referred to as our “biological clock” and a disruption within our body’s level of melatonin (a hormone that helps to regulate our sleep) which may also contribute to our mood-altering affects. Symptoms may arise and reoccur every year at this time such as feelings of depression (poor self-esteem or hopelessness), more intense mood changes, troubles sleeping, greater urge to isolate oneself, and heightened anxiety. Within society we may see these disabling effects impact the whole population over the first week as we adjust our systems to the new times.

Yet for those of us living with disabilities a whole list of unique challenges arise that the general population may fail to see or truly understand. The season changes bring colder temperatures and additional mobility challenges as snow appears. Recently, I was asked to share these challenges with different media in the Edmonton area as the snow removal budget was being addressed. The changes of temperature and weather creates additional winter accessibility barriers for many of us as we experience increased difficulty with mobilization along sidewalks, crossing streets, intersections and alleyways that aren’t cleared. We as people living with disabilities may feel an increase in isolation during the months ahead due to frustrations in navigating the terrain around us and the additional restrictions placed on transportation challenges or limitations of not having the needed warm clothing or the additional funds to offset these expenses.

This year could have an improvement over these challenges for us mentally if we as a community reach out to check on our friends providing that social warm fuzzy uplift so many of us need. Take time this year to pare up with a buddy/friend to keep each other engaged socially with emotional encouragement by phone or virtual tea. Always remember that we at Voice of Albertans with Disabilities are here to also help when you need a warm fuzzy moment, or if you need assistance to overcome these challenges, we have many organizations we partner with to put additional tools in your toolbox.

I would also recommend that you speak to your local MLA to communicate the truth of the challenges in your local area as winter approaches. Change can only happen when we bring light to the situation. Let’s continue to share our true needs and support each other as we travel this life journey.

This is also the month we wish to truly say “Thank You” to all our drivers that aid us in participating in society by aiding our transportation limitations. I myself do not drive due to my health restrictions and am extremely grateful for every ride I am offered. My life is truly changed through the gift of transportation. If you are able to aid others through these next months with shovelling or transportation or even just to check in on your neighbour and friends, Please do! Let’s work to reduce isolation in the community. We are all blessed by your kindness.

Your President, Katrina Breau