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Training medical masters

Wellness Institute day camps teach kids about health care

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Ella Russell (right) checks Mikita Beliakou’s heart rate during a Medical Masters camp relay race at Wellness Institute.

PHOTO BY JARED STORY Enlarge Image

Ella Russell (right) checks Mikita Beliakou’s heart rate during a Medical Masters camp relay race at Wellness Institute. Photo Store

Seven Oaks General Hospital (SOGH) has a few Doogie Howsers in its halls this summer.

Wellness Institute, the hospital’s medical fitness facility, runs 18 summer day camps for children under seven different themes, including Medical Masters, where kids aged eight to 12 are introduced to a variety of health care professions and activities.

"Whether or not we have budding nurses or doctors on our hands, I think it’s a really positive way the hospital and Wellness can highlight the different health care professions," said Karin Whalen, director of community services at Wellness Institute.

"It shows them what kind of positive things health care professionals do for individuals in our community, whether it’s coming in for an X-ray or getting casted or basic first aid, they see all types of different things and professionals."

The weeklong Medical Masters Camp, which runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., is offered twice each summer, with this year’s sessions already past (July 14 to 18 and August 11 to 15). In addition to learning from medical professionals, the kids also take part in daily physical activity.

"A part of their day is doing fun things, maybe an organized game or using our gymnasium, doing some type of physical activity," Whalen said.

"We believe in healthy mind, healthy body, so that’s incorporated into every camp. Even if you’re signed up for a Krafty Kids camp (a creative camp which includes such activities as painting and cooking), half of that camp is a physical activity component and part of that physical activity component is using our therapy pool."

Tylan Yestrau, 11, participated in Medical Masters for a second straight year. While Yestrau’s not sure if he’ll one day pursue a career in health care, he said the camp is well worth it.

"It’s really fun here," Yestrau said. "We go to the gym every day at 11. We have pretty good games and in this camp we’re doing Medical Masters so we learn about pharmacy, we learn about rehab, a lot of cool stuff."

SOGH public relations manager Toby Maloney said Medical Masters is also enjoyable for the medical professionals at the hospital.

"It’s fun for our staff here, because other than our emergency, we don’t really do any pediatrics," Maloney said. "They (SOGH staff) like their jobs, so they’re interested in talking. Yesterday, I heard staff talking in diagnostic imaging and they were as excited as the kids."

Maloney said Medical Masters helps to demystify what a hospital actually does.

"On TV, it’s all about surgery and things in emergency, but most of what goes on in a hospital is more about direct care with the patients. These people do outpatient rehab," said Maloney, pointing to the SOGH physiotherapists and occupational therapists leading camp participants through various activities.

Medical Masters costs $155. Registration for the camp, and all Wellness Institute camps, opens on April 1 at www.wellnessinstitute.ca or by calling 204-632-3900.

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