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SaltWire Selects Aug. 5: Making hay, back-to-school worries, sisters share kidneys and rolling to the beach in Newfoundland

Sisters Heather Blouin, left, of Grand River, P.E.I., and Cheryl Castellani of Hammonds Plains, N.S., are pictured at the Victoria General Hospital in Halifax following a six-hour surgical procedure that saw Heather donate a kidney to Cheryl.
Sisters Heather Blouin, left, of Grand River, P.E.I., and Cheryl Castellani of Hammonds Plains, N.S., are pictured at the Victoria General Hospital in Halifax following a six-hour surgical procedure that saw Heather donate a kidney to Cheryl. - Contributed

These stories about Atlantic Canadians and their communities are worth your time today

Easing barriers to beach days

Three communities in Newfoundland and Labrador - Pasadena, Deer Lake and the Eastport Peninsula - are rolling out welcome mats to help everyone access their beaches. 

Specialized mats will provide access to the beach and water not just for people using wheelchairs, but also those with other mobility issues, such as those who use walkers, and even parents with strollers.

SaltWire's Diane Crocker discovered that the towns could apply for funding under the federal government's accessibility fund for the Mobi-Mats. 

Pasadena has also purchased two wheelchairs that make travelling along the beach easier, and they can go into the water. 

Recreation director Wanda Wight told Crocker that the purchases were a key piece of the puzzle to making the Pasadena's beaches accessible to all of its residents. 

“We’ve got lots of good comments and some stories on it,” says Wight, who added the mats have allowed some people to go to the beach for the first time in years.

Read the story and tell us how accessible beaches in your community are in the comments section below. 

The Town of Deer Lake has installed accessible mats at Deer Lake Beach that will enable people with mobility issues to access and enjoy the beach. - Contributed
The Town of Deer Lake has installed accessible mats at Deer Lake Beach that will enable people with mobility issues to access and enjoy the beach. - Contributed


Making hay while the sun shines

The air so heavy with water he almost could drink it, Angus Gillis chugged along on his half-century-old Massey Ferguson on Monday afternoon.

Speireag Hendra followed with a borrowed truck, leading in-laws and out-laws building precarious architectures on their homemade trailer from the square bales her husband left behind.

The Chronicle Herald's Aaron Beswick describes the process of learning how to cut, bale and store hay for a new farm family in Nova Scotia:

It’s hard to find a comparable milestone in an urban life with which to relate making your first cut of hay on your own land with your own equipment.

So just come along for the read with the understanding that Monday was a big day for Hendra and Gillis.

Come along for the ride.

Speireag Hendra and Angus Gillis with the last load of their first cut of hay on Monday. - Aaron Beswick
Speireag Hendra and Angus Gillis with the last load of their first cut of hay on Monday. - Aaron Beswick

Crayons, backpacks and masks? 

While provinces' plans for September differ, one thing that is common across the continent is some serious back-to-school worries about the coronavirus. 

How are parents and students in Atlantic Canada getting ready this year? 

Trying to stay calm, practising wearing masks and making tough decisions about what the right educational setting for their kid is, if they do have a choice. 

“I am nervous, but my son is very excited,” Jessica Gorrill of Kinkora, P.E.I., whose son is getting ready for his very first school year. “I try not to take away from that excitement with my own nervousness.”

Laura Churchill Duke spoke to children and adult about this strange and surreal back to school season for SaltWire.

Mason Diehl, age 8, Coldbrook, N.S. is ready to head to school in September. Teachers advise students to start practicing wearing masks now, ensuring students know how to take it on and off properly. - Contributed
Mason Diehl, age 8, Coldbrook, N.S. is ready to head to school in September. Teachers advise students to start practicing wearing masks now, ensuring students know how to take it on and off properly. - Contributed

Rare gift

Some gifts go beyond what money can buy. 

A Nova Scotia woman says she owes her life to her sister on P.E.I.

Almost 30 years after being diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, Cheryl Castellani, 53, of Hammonds Plains, N.S., says she owes her life to her sister, Heather Blouin, 47, of Grand River, P.E.I.

On July 23 at the Victoria General Hospital in Halifax, Castellani received a healthy kidney from Blouin. 

Castellani struggles with her emotions as she describes what her sister’s gift means to her.

“I get to thank my donor and show my donor how much this is appreciated," an emotional Castellani told The Guardian's Dave Stewart

“What I do with my life will always be in the best interest of what she did for me. It’s overwhelming when I stop to think about it. When I sit and think about it, I really do lose it.’’

The fact the sisters were a match for the transplant was rare enough in itself. Click/tap here to read more.

Cheryl Castellani, left, of Hammonds Plains, N.S., and Heather Blouin of Grand River, P.E.I., are not only sisters, they really are the perfect match. On July 23, Heather donated a kidney to Cheryl. - Contributed
Cheryl Castellani, left, of Hammonds Plains, N.S., and Heather Blouin of Grand River, P.E.I., are not only sisters, they really are the perfect match. On July 23, Heather donated a kidney to Cheryl. - Contributed


App time?

Will you be downloading the federal government's contract tracing app?

Here's SaltWire's editorial viewpoint on the question. What's yours? Tell us in the comments below.

 - Reuters
- Reuters

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