Kingston’s RIOT continues to expand its youth outreach involvement with the local community

The Kingston Research Information Outreach Team (RIOT) has previously engaged in many outreach opportunities highlighting various aspects of cancer (ie. prevention, biology, treatment, local research & career opportunities), including through interactive workshops for elementary students at the Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Regional Science Fair, and hands-on activities for members of all ages of the Kingston community at Science Rendezvous. Over the past few months, RIOT has expanded its outreach involvement to include additional organizations of the Kingston community, including the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston & Area, and the local chapter of the Girl Guides of Canada.

RIOT members had the unique opportunity to lead interactive, hands-on activities for participants (aged 5 – 10 years old) of a Girl Guide Summer Day Camp at Carruthers Point in early August 2016. As part of this workshop, the girls were exposed to a broad range of cancer-related topics, including prevention, probability, ongoing research approaches, and future job possibilities. Additionally, on Monday, October 3rd, 2016, a group of volunteers from Kingston RIOT ran an afterschool seminar for students in grade 8-12 at the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston & Area. During this hour-long session, students learned the difference between risk factors (ie. things that promote cancer) and protective factors (ie. things that prevent cancer). In an activity coordinated by volunteer Sarah Nersesian, each group of students was assigned a plastinated organ containing a tumour. Students had to identify the organ, show where it is located in the body, and describe the cancer. The samples used in this activity were graciously donated to Queen’s University to be used as teaching tools and were plastinated to preserve the integrity of the tumour. Students saw firsthand the kinds of tumours that Terry Fox had (ie. bone cancer and metastatic lung cancer) and learned the differences between cancer types (ie. primary versus secondary tumours and their different appearances). A career discussion led by member Maximilian Niit concluded the session. Students were excited to learn about the range of career opportunities available in the health sciences and which jobs best fit with their personalities.

Through these youth outreach sessions, we hope local students gained some appreciation for what cancer is, how it can be prevented, and how they can participate in the health sciences in the future.

This article was written by Catherine Crawford-Brown, a M.Sc candidate in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, and part of the Collaborative Graduate Program in Cancer Research at Queen’s University.