Industry News

Help is Here: YYC Acupuncture Relief Project (YARP)

by John Stan | Aug 29, 2013

The following article has been written by Eastern Currents' customer Vanessa Ebertz.


In June 2013, Calgary and Southern Alberta experienced the worst flooding in Province history. Over 100,000 people were displaced as evacuation notices went out, and as many as 2700 people currently remain displaced due to the water damage their homes encountered.  It is estimated that 14,000 homes were damaged by flood waters, and resulting mould contamination with many needing to be torn down and rebuilt entirely. The city was shut down, and power was out for many days causing further spoilage of food in both homes and restaurants.

YARP Images set 1In the days after the rain finally stopped in Calgary, the power was out and no businesses were open. It was eerily silent on what would have otherwise been a busy day in the downtown core. In the neighborhoods that surround the Bow River, people clad in rubber boots and mould masks were busy digging out their basements, pumping river water and sewage out of their homes and hanging anything they attempted to salvage in the trees and fences around. Appliances of every type were on the street for garbage pick-up; washers and driers, fridges and freezers, TV’s and stereos. Mattresses, furniture, flooring and copious amounts of wet drywall lined the streets in these neighborhoods leaving no room for traffic to get thru as dumpsters were brought in by the city to collect all of these damaged goods that sat in the middle of many streets.

In the midst of the devastation there was definitely some positive human connection happening. Once people had finished dealing with their own homes, they went on helping their neighbours; and people in the outlying areas were marching in with boots, shovels and masks going from home to home asking what residents needed them to do. Vendors who were able to provide food and drinks did so to the communities they could reach. Suddenly the emphasis, which once was on monetary profit, shifted to helping each other get the food and shelter that they needed. Strangers opened their homes to house evacuees, and people did whatever they could to participate in helping others in their communities. There was even a “laundry fairy” who did the laundry of people who needed it. The stories of humanity in this time are endless and awe-inspiring.

Watching this, it was clear that there was a very beneficial service Registered Acupuncturists could provide to help alleviate the stress that our communities suffered as a result of the flood, and thus, the YYC Acupuncture Relief Project (YARP) was born. On June 29th, 2013 YARP’s doors were opened at the Bowness Community Association, which also served as a community support center where people came to get supplies, food and water as they cleaned up. The first patients were perhaps a bit skeptical, but felt such a relief from their recent trauma, that after their treatment they quickly spread the word and more and more people began seeking our help. Feedback after their treatments included: “this is the best I’ve felt since this whole thing started”, “the headache I’ve had for weeks is now gone, thank you!”, “my jaw and neck haven’t been this relaxed in a long time”, and “are you open tomorrow?”. It is very rewarding to see people’s Shen return from that scattered place they came in from.

Soon after the initial clinic began, mobile tents began providing treatments; first in the Inglewood area, then in High River followed by Siksika Nation, Turner Valley and the Sunnyside Farmer’s Market. The mobile clinics have faced many weather related challenges – being closed down due to tornado warnings one weekend, and further flooding. All obstacles aside, in total nearly 1000 free treatments have been provided thus far and approximately 20% of people are returning for more treatments.

Moving forward with the relief project requires acquiring more permanent spaces for our mobile clinics which are a work in progress, as many areas south of Calgary are still getting public spaces cleaned up and decontaminated. YARP’s goal is to provide treatments as long as people need them and to keep the project running well into 2014 as the recovery phase will be lengthy. YARP emphasizes supporting these communities in the long haul of the recovery phase, and most people seem comforted by this.

Of course this disaster relief project would not be possible without the kind donation Eastern Currents has made with a generous supply of needles and sharps containers at start-up, and continuing on as the project remains fruitful. YARP has further been sponsored by the Alberta College and Association of Acupuncturists of Alberta and supported by both the NADA Association and Acupuncturists Without Borders. A special thank you goes out to Carolyn Mandrusiak who came out to Calgary to offer a specific flood relief NADA training for our volunteers. Abba Anderson in Missouri also deserves a big thank you for guiding YARP from the Acupuncturists Without Borders end of things. The executive team members of YARP also deserve enormous credit for their tremendous efforts: Michelle Golany, Jean Chow, Heather Thompson, Margaret Kennedy, Dr. Tanya Kelloway, Dr. Andrea Hejtmanek, Jessica Manchuk, Dr. Aysha Fizell Nuttall, and Trayah Zinger. And finally, we cannot forget to be most thankful for the 70 volunteer acupuncturists who responded to the request for assistance in this project. All of their help will be needed, and much appreciated as the project carries on. It has definitely been a display of how vibrant the acupuncture community is in Alberta, and the nature of the flood relief project is not only helping heal our communities, but is strengthening acupuncture as a profession at the same time. And it is a beautiful thing!



Further information regarding the current locations and hours of YARP Clinics can be found on the YYC Acupuncture Relief Project Facebook page. Coming soon: YARP Website for further info for volunteers and the public.



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