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Musicians tune up for health group

Saturday 27 March 2010

Kingston This WeekFrom Canada's Kingston This Week:

Musicians tune up for health group

Posted By Emma Taylor

One kind deed deserves another.

Karen-Michele Kimmett got some help from the Health Pursuits Reading/Study Group a while ago and decided to give back the best way she knows: through music.

The artistic director of Canta Arya School for Strings was injured in a hit-and-run accident and has had to deal with the repercussions from her injuries for years. She found some relief, however, through the efforts of the Health Pursuits group, after meeting with Diane Dawber, one of the founding members of the group.

Canta Arya School for Strings members
Canta Arya School for Strings members (l-r) Malaya Taylor, Elliot Tan and Natasha Klink, performed at a fundraising concert to benefit The Health Pursuits Study Group at St. James Anglican Church.
Photo: Emma Taylor

"The things that have come out of this group have been really helpful, and when she asked me to help I thought this was a good thing for us to support," she said.

Kimmett decided to assist the group with a fundraising musical concert, held recently at St. James Church Anglican Church.

Performers included Adrienne Shannon, music and digital media co-ordinator at St. Lawrence College and Queen's University piano instructor; Barbara Szarek, soprano; Kate Gurnham, soloist; Ali Pfaff, pianist; David MacLean violinist, and Luke Quattrocchi, guitarist.

The Health Pursuits Reading/Study Group started in Kingston in 1996 with five teachers, each afflicted with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and chemical and food sensitivities. The aim of the group was to gather as much information as they could to find out what they could do to help themselves.

"We're mostly people who don't have satisfactory explanations for what their problems are," says Dawber, who suffers from fibromyalgia and chemical sensitivities. Over the years, she has been able to improve her overall health using based on the research the group has done.

"My stamina and tolerance have improved hugely, and this (hosting the concert) would have been impossible for me in the past," she explains.

Dawber says that the group has spent $250,000 within the first six years on different nutrients and vitamins, trying to find a way to improve their quality of life, but there was little improvement.

Yes, a quarter of a million.

"Amazingly, [the figure] is correct," Dawber explains. "If you multiply the first 12 members by an easy $3,600 a year, by six years, you come up with more than enough. Even now that we can target the vitamins and minerals we need much more accurately, it still usually costs up to a couple of hundred dollars a month for many members. We certainly had an urgent motive for finding a better way before we all went broke."

Now, she says, the group aims to help others use their resources more efficiently, "so they don't lose it all trying to get well, as so many do."

The members continued researching and reading books on diet, exercise, nutrition and environment, and found they had more success figuring out their individual needs with Dr. Lendon Smith's book, Feed Your Body Right. They used his book to develop The "Lendon Smith" Test Kit, which involves smelling the pure form of a single vitamin, indicating the person's level of supply.

Their extensive research also led them to publish the Health Pursuits Workbook: What's Helping You Rise, and A New Spin On the Rotation Diet, a book Dawber said is a much simpler take on other forms of the rotation diet.

In 2008, the group was subject of a short study by the University of Toronto Medical School and the Environmental Health Clinic at Women's College Hospital in Toronto, who found Health Pursuits unique because they were the only support group who had developed a model that actually improved their health.

A The Globe and Mail article published in May 2009 generated a lot of interest in their group and resulted in a lot of visits to their website at

The group has a distribution list of over 100 people, most from the Kingston area, but they also have members from across the country.

Health Pursuits does not receive formal funding and relies on the money generated from the $20 membership fee, small donations and volunteers to cover costs. The money raised from the concert ticket sales will be used for books and supplies for other support groups and the development of further tools and strategies.

This year the group has a special project in mind.

"We want to start a subsidized exercise class that helps people regain mobility progressively and safely," says Dawber.

The article originally appeared here.


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