By: Christina Torrealba (she/her), Graduate Student in Community Health and Epidemiology
From July 10th-13th, Promoting Leadership in health for African Nova Scotians (PLANS) and Keknu’tmasiek Welo’ltimk (KW) hosted the Health Sciences Summer Camps for youth in grades 8-11. The camps are intended to increase interest in the health professions for African Nova Scotian/Canadian and Indigenous youth through interactive programming, hands-on activities, and personal and cultural development. The second instalment of our Summer Camp Stories Series features Mary Lukindo and Mercedes Stemm, camp counsellors and organizers of this year’s summer camps.
Mercedes, the Medical Sciences Indigenous Student Advisor, has been working with KW since 2019: “I’ve been eager to be a part of the summer camps since then,” she says. As a camp counsellor, Mercedes enjoyed seeing all the different possibilities for campers, “I think as a counsellor we can see things that campers themselves do not see yet,” she says. One of the major camp highlights for Mercedes was seeing the students grow over a few days at camp. “Some students came super interested in a certain program, and then were exposed to so many others, changing their mind on what they were deciding to pursue,” she says, “for other students, they learned about so many programs that they didn’t even know existed.”
Mary, the PLANS Program Assistant, also attended the health sciences summer camps as a camper back in 2017. “I feel like as a camper the program seemed very seamless and fun,” she says, “five years later, being on the organizing side of the table, I truly have a chance to appreciate the time and effort put into making these camps the success they truly are.” For Mary, one of the highlights of this year’s summer camps were the hands-on activities demonstrating techniques across different fields including nursing, occupational therapy, and bio-medical technology. “I really want to appreciate all the effort our facilitators put into making the sessions engaging for our students,” Mary says.
Mary and Mercedes both found the connections that they made with students to be very valuable. “It was so great getting to know the students on a personal level,” says Mercedes, “I also really enjoyed that KW and PLANS students were able to work together; they got to learn about each others’ cultures, and hearing the conversations between them was so wholesome.” Mary agrees, saying that the summer camps are always a delight. “It is always a great time to connect with our students and our community,” Mary says, “I am hoping that we have even more continuous programming so our students keep coming back and staying in touch until they themselves are in the health professions.”
Stay tuned for future instalments in the Summer Camp Stories Series, and read Part 1 here.