Trinity School of Medicine is an institution with a culture of service and community engagement. And while many of the outreach opportunities are provided by the school itself, so many are grass roots student organizations. Kid Companions is a fantastic example of this sort of proactive community service, showing that Trinity students are already walking the walk of bedside manner and taking the initiative on their own to keep the humanity in medicine. Read on to see, once again, why we're so proud of our students as they are today, and the doctors they will become.
On Saturday, 18th February, twenty-eight members of Kid Companions, decked out in brand new vests with their tagline – “Kid Companions: Serve with a Purpose,” took the trip to the St. Benedict Children’s Home in Georgetown. The group, having been established in February 2016, continued what had now become a tradition, the carnival. Co-president Shirley Samuel explained that the group chose to "up their game," which, in the case of a carnival, was literal. “This time, we did something different,” she explained, “we brought them dinner: chicken, veggies, and rolls. We also introduced a photo booth, where the pictures of the kids are taken, printed and returned.” She was happy that they will be able to see photos of themselves and hoped that maybe, a picture wall could be established at the St. Benedict Children's Home.”
Beyond those additions, there was face painting, pin the tail and an array of tossing games, each modified to accomodate the special needs of many of the school's residents. To receive a gift, each child had to present four tickets from games played. “What we are doing is making sure that they are not trying in vain,” one student intimated, “They know that they can get a prize and they are ready to work for it. That gets them more excited and they begin to ask and calculate the number of tickets needed to get a prize, and if they see someone with a certain prize they like, they ask, they plan, and modify their strategies with the games. It’s fun to see the kids enjoying themselves. It’s a little challenging but they’re having a blast.”
Beyond the carnival itself, students brought gifts provided by Trinity's Canadian Medical Students Association’s 2016 Christmas toy drive. To these were added bags of candy for each child at the end of the event.
When questioned about the significance of activities like a carnival for the children of the orphanage, group members were quick to weigh in. “It is extremely important for these children to participate [in events like these]. Inclusive programs help with socialization, and we try to offer them stimulation, support, and companionship, person to person.” Another student added, “It’s important that everyone feels welcome, let them feel equal. We can adapt the games for the children's specific challenges and needs, help them feel fully apart of the event, and not have them on the sidelines.”
As mentioned earlier, Kid Companions is a great example of the student driven outreach on campus, and a great example of the culture Trinity tries to engender. The benefits to the future doctors are tremendous, from bedside manner to the regular exercise of empathy in action. Akulia Edwards expounded, “As medical students, we learn that at the end of the day, that it is important to still be a human being. I’ve been in doctors’ offices where I couldn’t connect with them. I think that it is important that besides just studying and reading Sunday to Sunday, we step outside and remember that we're ultimately going to be interacting with people. It’s a particularly good practice to work with children with disabilities. It teaches a specific kind of patience, it shows you a different side of life that perhaps, you had taken for granted.” Pausing to look at the attendees, she added, “There’s no better reward than a genuine smile.”
By the same token, Sister Nyra-Ann Pajotte, in charge at the facility, added, “I think a carnival like this helps the children a great deal, especially to socialize and to share with others; and I’m so happy that the students are able to do that for them!” Not to be left out, ten year old Kiara Wyllie, the eldest of three sisters living at the Home, readily volunteered her sentiments. “I am enjoying myself very much. I really love the ‘go fish’, the ‘water balloon toss’ and the ‘pin-the-tail’ on the lion. I won over twenty tickets so far, and I’m winning them fast too! I love the gifts I get when I hand in my tickets.” She made sure to show that she was able to call students by name. “I really love Shirley and my companion today, Costa! They make me feel really happy. When I know they are coming I feel great!”
The day was rounded out with a steel pan performance by adolescent Anisha Sutherland, another resident of the Benedict Children's Home. The children shared their evening meal, and the event came to a close.
To find out more about Trinity School of Medicine, subscribe to our blog above or reach out via the contact field on the top right. To learn more about Kid Companions and see additional pictures from the event, you can visit their Facebook group here.