When Carol Yamabe Breitkreutz began working with Alberta Health Services in School Health Promotion, she couldn’t have predicted her involvement in a very exciting program created in Camrose—a place that changed the course of her own life as an alumnae of Camrose Lutheran College.
Young Medical Minds, created by Camrose doctor Chris Nichol, gives junior high students a chance to participate in a health care team that includes local healthcare professionals and students from Augustana’s after-degree nursing program. The team follows a fictional patient’s path after injury. The young students, robed in white lab coats, are treated as respected team members and given opportunities to voice their opinions on the case scenarios. Over the course of the six-week program, they work with a variety of healthcare professionals. Carol’s role, aside from attending these engaging learning sessions, is to ensure that students in local schools learn about this program and have a chance to participate.
Young Medical Minds is just one way that students have benefitted from Carol’s enthusiasm, dedication, and commitment to education and community. After attending Camrose Lutheran College in the 1970s, Carol became a teacher and wore a variety of hats in Camrose schools.
Carol is a lifelong learner. She developed an interest in Indigenous Knowledge over the course of her career and re-shaped her teaching practices by pursuing a relationship with the Samson Band Alternative School. “I learned a lot from their novel approach of using art as a starting point for all learning,” she remembers. Her approach to teaching centred on the thematic use of art, music, and musical theatre to enhance student growth and development.
Relationships are always key to this work, in Carol’s eyes. “A child must feel safe, affirmed and appreciated in order to be capable of learning. The personal connection between the teacher and the student enables learning.”
Today, her position with AHS allows her to put her networking and relationship skills to excellent use, and her participation in Young Medical Minds is only one example of her community involvement. She’s been instrumental in the formation of the Camrose Pride Community. Thanks in part to her efforts, the Pride flag was raised during Pride Week by the City of Camrose for the first time in February 2018.
Carol regularly hears from former students who want to share news of their accomplishments in education and careers—and to thank her. Her thirst for teaching and learning continue to inspire her to lead and serve in her community.