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Participants in this year's Biomedical Youth Camp at Bannatyne campus. // Photo Garrick Kozier

Hands-on biomedical camp inspires youth

July 28, 2014 — 

CBC News reported on the U of M’s annual Youth Biomedical Camp, now in its eighth year. The story focused on participants and volunteers, including one who was back after attending the very first camp in 2007.

According to the story, Peter John (P.J.) Homeniuk “is paying that opportunity forward by volunteering at the camp, hoping to inspire someone like him.” He also starts as a pre-med student at the U of M this fall.


More participants at the Biomedical Youth Camp. // Photo Garrick Kozier

Hominick said he didn’t expect the one-week summer camp experience to lead to his future.

But that’s exactly what Dr. Francis Amara hoped when he founded the camp, he told the CBC. The associate professor of biochemistry and medical genetics in the College of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, is also the director of the Biomedical Youth Program and the Inner-City Science Centre.

The camp ran all last week at the Bannatyne campus and hosted 16 Indigenous high school students from various Northern communities, including Thompson, Churchill, The Pas, Norway House, Pine Falls, Hodgson (Pegius), Nelson House and Pelican Rapids.

The free educational day camp also hosts Grades 4 to 12 students from inner Winnipeg who may not otherwise have the financial means to attend summer programs. This year there were 120 participants.

The budding scientists had the opportunity to attend up to 10 of the 19 workshops scheduled for the week. Activities included: using microscopes to analyze proteins and extract DNA; learning how to test for Lyme disease; and using medical simulation technology to replicate real-life medical procedures and emergencies. There was also a special session on the topic of adolescent diabetes.The camp participants experienced a typical day through the eyes of a doctor, researcher, scientist, or health professional, by carrying out various hands-on activities in real labs at the U of M’s Bannatyne Campus.

Brian Postl, dean of Medicine, said that the College of Medicine is always excited to engage inner-city and First Nations’ youth with programs like the science-focused summer camp.

“Each year we welcome these young minds to our campus with the hope that we can help shape their future goals; perhaps, after attending the camp, they will consider a post-secondary education and a career in the health or science fields…. Their potential is without limits.”

“Hopefully, [the students] will lead with example upon returning to their schools or communities and share their new found or reaffirmed excitement for science,” added Amara.

P.J. Homeniuk had his own take on the experience. “Having this kind of opportunity to open a door and walk through it is so very lucky for someone like me.

“No matter where you live, your ethnicity, you can achieve something if you just work hard for it.”


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