One of the highlights of being the program coordinator for PLANS* is the African Nova Scotian Health Sciences Camp. For the past two summers a fun-filled week for students of African descent in Grades 8-11 to learn more about the health professions and the opportunities available to them in post-secondary education has been coordinated. In collaboration with a number of departments across the Dalhousie University campus, these students participate in hands-on activities to give them a real sense of what it would be like to be a student in medicine, nursing, or occupational therapy – just to name a few.
This year we had over 50 applications from students across the province. From this group of amazing candidates, 20 students were selected representing all regional school boards as well as the French board. Three counsellors were hired, each studying health or science at the post-secondary level. The group stayed at LeMarchant Place, the newest residence on Dal’s campus and ate at the dining hall in Howe Hall. It was a fantastic week, but don’t take my word for it – here is a post from one of our campers!
My name is Nikita Morris and I am 16 years old. I attend CEC (Cobequid Educational Centre) in Truro and I am entering my grade twelve year. I didn’t even know this camp existed until my math teacher approached me in the halls at the end of the day. I was hurrying off to get to my bus when she stopped me and asked me if I would be interested in applying for the African Nova Scotian Health Science camp. At first I didn’t really want to go. I expected it to be like the last camp I went to – boring, strict counselors, nobody becoming actual friends, and not really learning anything new.
I was completely wrong about this camp. I finally stopped complaining and just went. I’ll admit that it was probably one of the best things I’ve experience in my life so far. I learned a ton of new things, like how to extract the DNA from a banana, how to give a tooth a filling, I learned what occupational therapy is, and the things they did in physiotherapy plus a whole lot more. The camp counselors, Liette, Karissa, and Nii were so nice and weren’t strict unless it was necessary. Which was hardly ever. The first day of camp everyone bonded with each other and started talking to each other. One of my favorite things, besides how everyone got along, what I’ve leavened, and how cool the counselors were; was how they assigned us with a mentor. Not just a mentor for that session but a mentor for whenever we had a question about university or college, or how to apply for a scholarship. The mentors really listened to what you had to say and they even gave good advice. I really do plan on keeping in contact with my mentor this upcoming year.
There was never a dull moment at the camp and I loved every second of it. The thing that surprised me the most was how confident I was. Normally it takes me a minute to get used to people but not here. Everyone was so welcoming. We had a variety show and I actually got up and danced in front of people, which is something I hardly ever do. This camp really helped me with my confidence. I was always comfortable with talking to adults and shy talking to people my age. Being at this camp really helped me with being comfortable with talking to anyone. I wish I could’ve stayed in the camp forever but I have to keep moving forward and continue to experience new things. My next steps are to graduate high school and go to university to study psychology. Though I’m interested in working in film I also want to study psychology. Who knows, maybe I’ll do both.
Anyone thinking about attending this camp I’d tell them to go for it. I’d tell them how much fun it is and the different types of health sciences that you learn and how much they’d most likely love it. It’s good to try new things and meet new people. It’s also fun staying in residence and getting free food. Aside from that I’d say how nobody is judgmental and they’re very welcoming. You never know, this may be the best thing you’ll experience all summer.
For more information on this program please visit our PLANS webpage or contact Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Promoting Leadership in health for African Nova Scotians – PLANS – aims to increase the representation of African Nova Scotians in the health professions through strategic recruitment, support and education in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Professions. For more information contact Michelle – email@example.com