Kids learn to make healthy life choices from Rockin' Docs
Inspiring Alberta's doctors of the future.
By ROSS NEITZ
More than 50 children are getting a valuable education this summer about the health-care system and their own personal health, as part of the Rockin’ Docs summer camp at the University of Alberta.
Rockin’ Docs is a free summer camp hosted each year by volunteer first-year medical students from the U of A’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. The camps are held for two weeks, aimed at inner-city or lower-income children who normally wouldn’t get the chance to enjoy a summer camp.
“It’s a week of science- and health-related learning with lots of physical activity,” says Jennifer Weekes, one of the co-ordinators of Rockin’ Docs. “We try to go through all the body systems and give the kids a taste of what the profession of medicine is like. We also bring in some of the doctors here to talk to them and demonstrate some of the equipment.”
“The doctors love it,” adds Shauna Regan, a fellow co-ordinator. “One of them told us it was the highlight of their summer each year.”
The activities at the camp are designed to be informative, hands-on and memorable for the kids. They learn about a variety of medical topics such as neurology or cardiology, but are also taught more basic concepts such as the importance of washing your hands, wearing protective sports gear—such as a helmet—and eating healthy food.
The hope is that the lessons learned at the Rockin’ Docs camp will stick with the kids for the rest of their lives. The camp co-ordinators say it’s not just the kids who are learning.
“It’s a really good way for us as medical students to learn how to work and communicate with children in different settings,” says Regan. “We have to frame the conversations in a different way and find engaging ways to work with the kids—not just lecture them.”
And though it’s far too soon for the children attending the camp to seriously consider their future career, the Rockin’ Docs co-ordinators admit it would be great to one day see a former camper follow their footsteps into medicine. For now, they’re simply happy to plant a seed and hope it grows into something more.
“The kids always really enjoy it,” says Regan.
Adds Weekes, “Really we’re just looking to get the kids interested in science and medicine and let their interests grow.”
Rockin’ Docs is sponsored by the Medical Students’ Association, TD Bank, Save-On-Foods, No Frills, Pita Pit, Panago, Imperial Oil and the Alberta Medical Association.