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This article was published 12/7/2007 (3993 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Only one student in his six years as principal at the school has started studies toward medicine, Belmore said.
But this fall, Children of the Earth will launch a partnership with the Pan Am Clinic, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, and the University of Manitoba that could be unique in Canada — a medical internship at the sports medicine clinic and credit course for dozens of aboriginal high school students.
Starting this fall with 20 students entering Grade 9, a group of COTE students will intern at the Pan Am Clinic over their four years of high school, being mentored by doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists and technicians trained to handle state-of-the-art medical equipment.
"Having it directed toward the aboriginal population is phenomenal," Belmore said.
COTE is a Winnipeg School Division high school in the heart of the North End, which emphasizes aboriginal culture and heritage along with core subjects.
"The future success of the province of Manitoba depends on how the aboriginal population performs," Belmore said. "These kids have to become productive members of Canadian society.
"We're hoping to plant the seed early, that goals like these are attainable, that they are capable, no matter where they come from."
Dr. Wayne Hildahl, the clinic's CEO, said his entire staff is excited about the project and eager to work with the students.
"Let's take this whole field, being a doctor, being a nurse and de-mystifying it," said Hildahl.
He said there is a crisis looming because of a shortage of qualified health-care professionals.
"We've got this huge untapped resource of an aboriginal population, with really bright kids. Why don't you combine a need in health with a need in education? Everyone wins," Hildahl said.
Grade 9 would offer students introductory sessions at Pan Am throughout the school year.
But when this first group of students moves on, grades 10 through 12 would be half a day every six-day school cycle, with students receiving a credit each year for the internship. Each school year, another 20 Grade 9 students would start the program.
And both Belmore and Hildahl emphasized the students would not be at the clinic doing odd jobs — they'd be learning from and observing the professionals, as they treated patients, conducted lab tests and operated sophisticated equipment.
With patients' consent, Hildahl said, students could follow a patient through diagnosis of injury, treatment and rehabilitation.
Belmore said COTE will need help from governments and local foundations to fund the students. They'll need appropriate clothing, transportation, food and academic support.
"We're talking staffing positions to support the academic aspirations of these kids," he said. A small high school, COTE offers core subjects, but medicine requires students take chemistry, physics, pre-calculus and other subjects that will cost money to provide, he said.
"For a lot of them, role models are definitely missing from their lives," Belmore said. "They're not being read to, they're not being academically challenged until they come into school.
"This is just a start — this has to go back even earlier, into elementary school," Belmore said.