Healthy Abbotsford Blog

Local Health Champion Runs for Her Family and to Cure Diabetes

Vanessa Kuipers and her Kids

Vanessa Kuipers with her kids Lexie and Owen at the end of the BMO Half Marathon in October 2011


Last week I had the pleasure to speak to an amazing health champion in Abbotsford, Vanessa Kuipers. A teacher and mother of two, Vanessa is part of Team Diabetes, a program of the Canadian Diabetes Association whose goal is to find a cure for diabetes and raise awareness of the condition.

In January of 2003, Vanessa’s family was devastated when her daughter was diagnosed in kindergarten with type-1 diabetes. After both her children suffered from the flu in late 2002, unlike her brother, Lexie just couldn’t seem to kick the bug. She suffered from many flu-like symptoms and had lost a considerable amount of weight before diabetes was found to be the cause. She now requires regular injections of insulin and continual monitoring of blood sugar levels to keep her alive and well. While learning a new way of life in caring for her daughter, the family suffered another tragedy when Vanessa’s husband passed away after a prolonged sickness in 2009.

Driven by a passion to cure diabetes and to be there for her kids for many years, Vanessa joined Team Diabetes and is now a healthy role model for her kids, her students and her community.

In August 2010, Vanessa participated in her first big event, a 10 km run in Reykjavik, Iceland. By raising $6100, Team Diabetes covered the cost of travel, accommodation and the entry fee to bring Vanessa to Iceland.

On her own and sometimes through group runs with the Running Room, Vanessa built up her fitness in preparation for the run. On the big day she kept her inspiration close to her by laminating a picture of her kids and wearing it on her shoulder. “With 500 meters left in the run I looked at the picture and found the inspiration to finish”.

Since her first run, Vanessa has continued to run with Team Diabetes in various local events, including completing her first half marathon in Kelowna in 2011. Vanessa is currently fundraising to represent Team Diabetes in future events including a half marathon in Brazil. Vanessa runs, not to be fast, but to continue to be healthy and support a great cause.

As a teacher, Vanessa makes an effort to inspire her students to be active by sharing her running stories and turning any lesson into an active game. She even took her grade 9 English class outside and used activity to demonstrate grammar principals, aka “Grammar Bootcamp”, a lesson her old students still talk about today.

At the end of our chat, Vanessa made a deal with her daughter, now 14, to run/walk together in Kelowna next year.

If you would like to donate to help Vanessa fundraise for her next event, click here to visit her personal fundraising page.

To learn more about Team Diabetes and how to get involved click here.


Organizing for a Healthy Home and a Happy Family!

When we think about healthy living we often consider the foods we eat and the amount of exercise we get. Far too often we don’t consider our surroundings and the impact our home environment can have on our health.   Have you every noticed that it’s alot easier to cook a healthy meal when you come home to a clean, organized kitchen?  Or go for a workout when all your gear is packed and ready to go?  Being organized directly impacts our physical and mental health.  

For some tips to get organized as a family and live healthy, check out this Healthy Abbotsford article in the myHealth section of today’s Abbotsford News.  Click on the electronic newpaper below and go to page A41.


Take part in Abbotsford’s World Diabetes Day Expo! Sat. Nov. 19th

Did you know that 9 Million Canadians are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes?  That’s 1 in 4 of us.  More than 20 people are diagnosed with the disease every hour of every day.

Abbotsford is taking part in World Diabetes Day by hosting a World Diabetes Day Expo on Saturday November 19th, 2011.  Come on down and check out a wealth of information on preventing and managing diabetes. 

Here’s the info:

World Diabetes Day Expo

Date: Saturday, November 19, 2011

Time: 12:30 pm to 4:00 pm

Location: Salvation Army Cascade Community Church, 35190 Delair Road, Abbotsford, BC

Keynote Speaker: Erica Sigurdson, professional comedian living with type 1 diabetes

Motivational Speaker: Chris Jarvis, Canadian rower and 2007 PanAM Games Gold Medalist


  • Footcare – Dr. George Duft, Podiatrist;
  • Emotional Well-Being – Bounce Back Program with the Canadian Mental Health Association
  • Free Admission, Light Refreshments & Door Prizes

Please wear Blue in honour of World Diabetes Day!

Click here to learn more about World Diabetes Day and Diabetes.


How to Read Nutrition Labels and Make The Healthy Choice!

Have you ever found yourself comparing two different brands of food and trying to decide which one is better for you? Understanding how to read and interpret food nutrition labels will help you make healthy and informed choices at the grocery store. Luckily, Health Canada has an online Interactive Nutrition Label to help you make sense of what’s in those packaged foods.

By clicking on the various sections of the label you can learn more about what each section represents and how to interpret information such as serving sizes, % daily values, core nutrients, nutritional claims and ingredients.

Click here to check out the Interactive Nutrition Label.

Interactive Nutrition Label


Healthy Living and Chronic Conditions – New at

The Healthy Abbotsford website has expanded to offer you even more national, provincial and local health resources.   This time to help you live healthy with chronic conditions, or prevent them all together.

Leading a healthy lifestyle can help you prevent and manage many types of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. To encourage a healthy lifestyle, organizations, such as the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society, offer wonderful resources and tools on healthy eating, physical activity and living tobacco free.   The Healthy Abbotsford website aims to bring this trusted information together in one easy to find location.  

In addition to information from leading organizations, the new Chronic Conditions section provides information on local community programs and events related to healthy living with chronic conditions. 

Click here to browse the new Chronic Conditions section of the Healthy Abbotsford website.

Senior Lifting Weights


November is Diabetes Awareness Month

9 million Canadians live with diabetes or prediabetes

Meet the people behind the numbers this November

Today, more than 9 million Canadians live with diabetes or prediabetes – a condition that, if left unchecked, puts you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This means that nearly 1 in 4 Canadians either has diabetes or prediabetes. More than 20 people are diagnosed with the disease every hour of every day. Across the country, the Canadian Diabetes Association is leading the fight against diabetes by helping people with diabetes live healthy lives while they work to find a cure.

This November in recognition of Diabetes Awareness Month, the Association is asking individuals to visit to see the stories of incredible volunteers, sponsors, members, partners, researchers and supporters – who are living healthy with diabetes, advocating for the cause and breaking ground towards a cure.

Join the Association in leading the fight against diabetes in your community by participating in a local Diabetes Awareness Month event or fundraising activity. Visit or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464) for more information.

Diabetes Awareness Month