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Combining Summer Camp Fun With Medical Education

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

Think back to your summer camp days; did they include hours of running around, swimming, skating, and playing games? If you went to overnight camps, maybe they included bonfires and nighttime activities? I personally remember going to art camps and doing arts and crafts to my heart’s content—those were the good ol’ days. 

I’m too old to be a part of summer camps now, but I can work in them. This is exactly what I did this summer: I volunteered at the Little Medical School (LMS), a summer camp that provides children with an opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a healthcare professional. I loved it so much that I wished I was a little kid so I could sign up myself! But since that’s not possible, I instead had a blast working with LMS and its director of operations, Layal Bou Abdo.

I had the opportunity to chat with Layal about her achievements with LMS, and what it’s like to run a business. Layal had worked as a nurse for over 15 years and decided to start LMS with her partner when they first moved to Canada four years ago. Here’s what we talked about:

HC: What is Little Medical School?

Layal: “Little Medical School is a pioneer and leading developer of a specialized health education curriculum for children 4-16. It embraces a wide variety of educational programs, including but not limited to medicine, nursing, pharmacy, nutrition, dental care, veterinary, and wilderness medicine. Every child has once dreamed of being a doctor, and our exciting and interactive curriculum ignites this passion in the world of healthcare careers. We encourage children to role-play and learn about being medical professionals, and we are very passionate about what we are doing. All of our activities are hands-on with children getting to practice using real tools that healthcare professionals use.” 

HC: How did you start with LMS?

Layal: “We came across Little Medical School when [my business partner and I] were looking for a business opportunity. We both come from a health background and love working with kids—we couldn’t find a better fit than Little Medical School.”

HC: You had a career in nursing, but decided to start and run Little Medical School; why the switch?

Layal: “My nursing licensing process required lots of time. I wanted to find something that remains within the field while at the same time helping me integrate well into the Ottawa community, and be a good citizen. What I am doing now is as rewarding as bedside care, and this is what gets me motivated every day!”

HC: What sets LMS apart from other similar organizations?

Layal: “There are many STEM programs out there. But LMS is unique and very niched. We are the only organization that provides health education to children with hands-on experience.”

HC: How have you been involved in the community?

Layal: “Our programs and camps are offered to children in Ottawa. We work with schools, community centers, and not-for-profit organizations to make our programs accessible to all children in Ottawa. Every year we offer one free program to twelve kids from underserved communities.”

HC: What was the biggest challenge you faced when working on LMS?

Layal: “To sell the first class. As newcomers, we lacked knowledge of the Ottawa market and it took us a long time to figure out how and where to access communities and build relationships with them. After four years, we have accomplished a lot, and we still have a lot to achieve.” 

HC: What are three things you would tell your younger self before she embarks on the Little Medical School journey?

Layal: “1. Starting a business is hard, harder than I ever imagined,

2. COVID is coming, and it will impact your business idea,

3. Patience is key, it may take a long time to see great results. Trust yourself.” 

HC: Knowing what you know now, would you still decide to start LMS?

Layal: “Of course. Every business has its ups and downs. We learned a lot and we are so proud of where we are right now. This is because we believe in our mission.” 

HC: What’s the best thing about working on LMS? What keeps you going through the hard days?

Layal: “My favourite moments are seeing the reactions on the faces of the kids when they start using their medical tools. It is so empowering.  Also, it’s fascinating hearing them tell what they learned to their parents. I am a very determined person, and I think that my perseverance and my commitment are fueling this business, especially during the pandemic.”

HC: What’s one thing you can take away from working on LMS?

Layal: “Integrity is the most important factor in any success story.”

Working at LMS was the highlight of my summer. Not only was I able to be a part of a wonderful team, but the work itself is also fulfilling. Helping teach children about health and science and seeing them become even more fascinated with topics that I’m very passionate about is incredibly rewarding,. Little Medical School is the perfect place for anyone who loves medical science, children, and teaching!

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for flow and clarity.

Sally Adil

U Ottawa '25

Sally is a third year Biomedical Science student at uOttawa. When she's not studying, she's reading romcoms and watching k-dramas.