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Medical students at the University of British Columbia can opt for a projects and electives with the RBS through the FLEX program (formerly the Self-Directed Practicum Option course) where students are given time to pursue projects within the community or in research. Students are supported by the guidance of the RBS FLEX committee.

To date the participating FLEX students have assisted in the development of the RBS manual and curriculum, editing and revising the activity book (My Bear Book) that the Kindergarten children use throughout the year, and developing the reflective writing component for the adolescents.

If you’d like more information on the FLEX, program, please contact us. If you’re ready to participate, you can register here.

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Christine Wang, Kay Fung, April Lu (2013-2014)
Canadian Federation of Medical Students Student Initiative Grant
UBC Social Accountability and Community Engagement (SACE) Fund

Kay Fung
College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) Medical Student Scholarship 2015
Larry A. Green Visiting Scholars Program 2017

Isabel Chen
YWCA,The Young Woman Distinction Award 2014
Crofton House School, Junior Alumnae Achievement Award 2018
California Academy of Family Physicians Resident of the Year Award

Cristian Vadeanu
DASH Inquiry grant 2015

Jennifer Ji
Vanier Canadian Graduate Scholarship 2018

Mary Zheng
YWCA Young Women of Distinction nomination 2018

Victoria Baronas
Vanier Canadian Graduate Scholarship 2016


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Spring 2019: Arman Singh and Arjun Arora

Spring 2018 – Ongoing : Jennifer Wildi, Gabby Levesque (Kelowna), Darren Guenther (Kelowna)

2018 – Ongoing : Nancy Li (Vancouver), Bhavan Panghali (Kelowna)

2016 – Ongoing : Cheryl Gascoyne and Paul Abraham

Winter 2018 : Valerie Ward (Prince George)

Summer 2018 : Ceilidh Matthews

2017 – 2018 : Amy Plessis (Kelowna),Thomas McFarland (Kelowna)

Spring-Summer 2017 : Ceilidh Matthews, Mary Zheng

2016-2017 : Carolyn Norton

2014 – 2015 : Rachel Liu, Cristian Vadeanu, John Peel, Julia Zazoulina, Andrew Purssell, James Dueckman

2013 – 2014 : Kay Fung, April Lu, Christine Wang


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Isabel Chen

FLEX Committee Co-chair & Mentor, Co-founder and Vice President

Isabel Chen brings a strong passion for health equity and human rights to the program. While completing her BA and MPH degrees from Yale, she focused on the social determinants of health among underserved populations. She has spent years studying the systemic barriers to thriving communities and organizing social advocacy programs for health care access. Isabel is a board certified Family Medicine physician in Los Angeles and serves on the Boards for the California Academy of Family Physicians, the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine and the Beyond Flexner Alliance. She has held prior Board roles with the Canadian Commission of UNESCO, the American Public Health Association & the Federation of Medical Women of Canada.

Kay Fung

FLEX Committee Co-chair & Mentor

Having grown up in the Greater Vancouver region, Kay graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Nursing before moving to Alberta to work as a registered nurse. She returned home for medical school and graduated with her MD degree in May 2016. She completed her residency is family medicine. She is currently a locum family physician with an interest with working with marginalized and underserved populations. Being a passionate advocate for children’s health (and being a big kid at heart herself), Kay became involved in the Reading Bear as part of a self-directed project alongside two other second year medical school students. She is currently a member of the Reading Bear Society Board of Directors and the Co-Chair of the FLEX committee.

Andrew Deonarine

FLEX Research Chair

Andrew joined the RBS advisory board committee in 2013 and has been advising SDPO and FLEX medical students in the development of the analysis platform for the adolescent reflective writing component of the Reading Bear program. He will be completing his residency in clinical informatics at Harvard University with the funding from Friedman Award for Scholars in Health. Clinical informatics involves physicians developing software systems such as electronic medical records, databases, artificial intelligence, and decision support systems to help improve the practice of medicine. Andrew hopes to gain experience in this new subspecialty and bring that experience back to Canada to improve health care on a national level, and meet the health challenges of the futures.

Janet Greenman

Content Expert

Dr. Janet Greenman is a general pediatrician. She completed medical school at the University of Calgary and a pediatric residency at UBC. She has had a variety of practice experiences, including the University of Virginia’s general pediatric clinics and a private pediatric consulting practice in the suburbs of Toronto. Before moving back to Vancouver, she worked in Illinois in a community clinic for medically underserved patients. During that time the pediatricians started the Reach Out and Read program at the clinic. She is currently the associate director of the UBC pediatric residency program, and practices in the Pediatric Residents’ Continuity Clinic, the RICHER pediatric program in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside and in a private practice. Early childhood development and health, and the impact of social determinants, including literacy, on health are among her areas of interest.

Linda Siegel

Content Expert

Dr. Linda Siegel is the Dorothy C. Lam Chair in Special Education and a Professor in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special Education at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. She has conducted research on early identification and intervention to prevent reading problems, dyslexia, reading and language development, mathematical concept learning, mathematical learning disabilities, and children learning English as a second language. She has been the President of the Division of Learning Disabilities of the Council on Exceptional Children. In 2010, she was awarded the Gold Medal for Excellence in Psychological Research from the Canadian Psychological Association. In 2012 she was awarded the Eminent Researcher Award from the Learning Difficulties Association of Australia.

Trevor Newton

Treasurer and Secretary, FLEX Mentor

Dr. Trevor Newton is an emergency room physician and past director for ten years of the emergency department at Langley Memorial Hospital and currently works at UBC Urgent Care Centre. He is a graduate from the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine (1987) and CCFP (EM) certified. On a daily basis in the emergency room, Trevor witnesses the detrimental impact of poverty and low literacy on child and family health. He is a strong supporter of medical student education via ongoing ER and RB mentorship.

Joanne Roussy

Co-founder and President, FLEX Activity Supervisor

Dr. Joanne Roussy is the Founder and President of The Reading Bear Society. She holds a PhD in Nursing from The University of British Columbia (1999), as well as an MSc and BSc from l’Université de Montréal. She is a lecturer at UBC Medical School, a family volunteer at Canuck Place, a mentor and co-founder of Mom2Mom. For the past 31 years, she has worked in the field of women’s and children’s health in clinical, academic, and public health settings with a focus on social justice and equity.

Victoria Baronas

Director, Student Representative

Victoria graduated from UBC in 2013 with a BSc (Honours) in Pharmacology, and soon after began the MD/PhD program at UBC. Throughout her years as an undergrad, Victoria has worked with marginalized youth as a volunteer at the BC Children’s Hospital, as well as having spent a summer in Uganda volunteering at an HIV/AIDS organization. In addition, her belief in the importance of education has driven her to teach science experiments to elementary students and pharmacology classes to university exchange students. These experiences drew Victoria to work with the Reading Bear, which seamlessly weaves the power of education with social empowerment of underprivileged kindergarten students in Vancouver. She is excited to continue to grow her role in this organization as the Director of Students and Board Member.

Thomas McFarland

Student Funding Support

Being born and raised in Ottawa, Thomas spent most of his life skiing on green hills and hiding from the blistering cold. He attended the University of Ottawa for Biomedical Sciences, but enjoyed spending more of his time skating on the Rideau canal, biking, sailing, playing basketball and guitar in a local band. British Columbia has been a new adventure for Thomas, as he has loved the opportunities that he has been able to pursue while in medical school. Thomas admits that the best part of his week is spending time with children during Teddy Bear Clinic visits with the RBS. He mentions these visits keep medical students in the community, and remind us so much of why we love to help others, especially the ones that are most fun – children!

Amy Plessis

Student Support Kelowna

Amy is currently studying medicine at the University of British Columbia, Kelowna site. Prior to medical school she was working towards her Bachelor in Microbiology at UBCO. She has always had a passion for working with children; for the past six summers she has worked at a daycare. She was excited to learn that she could continue working with children alongside the Reading Bear Society and helped bring the Reading Bear Society to Kelowna in 2017. She loves how the Reading Bear Society has allowed her to combine her passion for children with her passion for overall health. She is excited to see the Reading Bear Society expand in Kelowna and reach more children over the next few years!

Paul Abraham

FLEX Mentor

Growing with the Reading Bear Society has been one of the highlights of Paul’s medical school experience. He has always had a passion for education and feels fortunate to be able to share in this experience with the organization. As a first and second year FLEX student, Paul worked on a number of projects aimed at quality improvement and curriculum development. In addition, he has recently taken on duties as the Chair of Students who oversees the various volunteer groups within the organization. It gives him great pride to impact this segment of society as it has provided him a glimpse into its inner workings. Paul looks forward to continuing his above roles and providing additional insight experience as a member of the FLEX committee.

Lynn Miller


Dr. Lynn D. Miller is a Licensed Psychologist (Colorado) and an Associate Professor Emeritus in the Education and Counseling Psychology and Special Education department at UBC. She started her career as a classroom teacher, and then worked as a school counselor K-12. At UBC for 17 years before retirement from academia, she conducted research on models of anxiety prevention programs in schools, including FRIENDS, Taming Worry Dragons, Skills for Social and Academic Success, Cool Little Kids, as well as an enhanced program for Aboriginal children. As the Myrne Nevison Prevention Research Professor, she also investigated anxiety at the entry to school in grades kindergarten and one. She completed her terms as President of the Anxiety Disorders Assoc. of Canada, 2010-2013, and as the President of the International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors (2004-2006). She provides training to teachers, parents, and mental health clinicians across North America.

Dr. Marie-Paule Redelmeier-Schutze


Dr. Redelmeier was born and raised in France. She moved to Vancouver 20 years ago and worked as Research Scientist at UBC in the department of Pathology and at BC Cancer Agency in Advanced Therapeutics. She is currently Instructor in the UBC Medical School program. Mother of 2 children, she has volunteered at Minerva in the “Learning to lead” program for young female students and is currently mentoring moms at Mom2Mom. She is a strong believer of the positive influence of mentorship community programs and is delighted to join RBS as advisor for the FLEX team. Dr. Redelmeier received her PhD in Immunology from Pasteur Institute in Paris and was a postdoctoral fellow at Scripps Research Institute in molecular/cellular biology in La Jolla.

Adele Diamond


Dr. Diamond is the Canada Research Chair Tier 1 Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of Psychiatry at UBC. Her work integrates developmental, cognitive, neuroscience, and molecular genetic approaches to examine fundamental questions about the development of the cognitive control abilities that rely on the prefrontal cortex. Dr. Diamond received her BA from Swarthmore College Phi Beta Kappa in Sociology-Anthropology and Psychology, her PhD from Harvard in Developmental Psychology, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale with Patricia Goldman-Rakic in Neuroanatomy.

Christine Wang


Christine Wang first joined Reading Bear Society as a SDPO student in January 2013. She was Chair of Volunteer Recruitment 2014 – 2016 and Chair of Students 2015–2016. Christine is now a Family Medicine resident in Edmonton, Alberta.

Colleen Dickie


Colleen Dickie has worked for the Vancouver School Board for 17 years. Starting as a Community Schools Coordinator, Colleen developed a passion for integrating community into programs. Now, in her role as the Supervisor for Early Learning, Colleen continues to partner with many community agencies to enrich the early learning programs in Vancouver. Colleen works to introduce and promote early literacy, social responsibility, and physical literacy to children and families.