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Our Community: Diabetes project wins student national science fair award; Ukrainian concert pianist performs

A Brentwood Bay student took home the Platinum Award at the recent 2023 Canada-Wide Science Fair awards in Edmonton.

A Brentwood Bay student took home the Platinum Award at the recent 2023 Canada-Wide Science Fair awards in Edmonton.

Andrei Marti, 13, a student at St. Michael’s University School, won the top award in the Best Junior (Grade 7/8) division in the category of “discovery” for his “Sweet Scores” STEM project.

Andrei was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was five, but loves to play soccer at a competitive level. During practice, he found that fluctuations in his blood sugar affected his ability to play at an optimal level.

For his project, he used himself as a test subject, using his glucose monitoring device to uncover how ­different foods affected his blood sugar. After ­ingesting three different groups of foods — simple sugars, ­complex carbohydrates and proteins — he concluded that protein was the best food for maintaining his blood sugar.

In the project he recorded his blood sugar 30 minutes prior to and after his soccer practice to determine which food group was best for him.

“The name of my project was a play on words — ‘sweet’ is for my blood sugar level and ‘score’ is a ­reference to soccer. It was probably the shortest name of a project in the whole competition,” he says.

Andrei says going into the competition, he didn’t think he had any chance at winning since there were so many other interesting projects.

“I think what set mine apart was that I have Type 1 diabetes and live it every day, so there is a personal connection. Also I believe that my project has the potential to have real-world applications — and to help others who live with diabetes.”

An active ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, he aspires to be a doctor or researcher so he can one day help others with the disease — or help find a cure.

Along with the Platinum Award, he earned a gold medal in the Junior Category and was the Challenge Award winner in the Junior Category for Disease and Illness. He received a $5,000 scholarship to the ­­University of Alberta as well as a $4,000 scholarship to Western University.

The Canada-Wide Science Fair is the country’s ­largest annual youth science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) event co-ordinated by Youth Science Canada.

Some 396 student finalists showcased a total of 340 projects at the fair, which attracted 7,000 in-person ­visits to the Edmonton Convention Centre in two days and more than 10,000 online visitors.

>>> Grants from United Way

United Way Southern Vancouver Island has announced grants for 63 agencies and 77 programs — plus five Youth in Action micro-grants — for the year beginning April 1.

The grants, ranging from $15,000 to $50,000, will go toward programs and projects for seniors, families, mental health and addictions, diversity, equity and inclusion and support for Indigenous communities.

“Each organization we’re supporting with a grant is part of an intricate network of local agencies doing amazing work to make our region healthier, safer, and more inclusive,” said Erika Stenson, executive director of United Way Southern Vancouver Island. “The grants allow agencies to keep doing the indispensable and often invisible work that addresses social challenges and supports the community.”

Grant recipients were selected through a process that included staff analysis of each application, as well as a detailed review by panels of volunteers with subject area expertise and/or lived experience within each focus area.

Recipients will be required to provide annual updates, a final report and program outcome data at the completion of the granting term.

Last year, the organization supported close to 63,000 individuals on southern Vancouver Island

• For more information, go to

>>> Strathcona reaches out

The Strathcona Regional District is looking for area residents with disabilities, disability advocates and ­support workers, as well as people who reflect the diversity of the region, to join a new Strathcona Accessibility and Inclusion Committee.

The regional district is forming a joint regional ­committee, in partnership with its member ­municipalities — the City of Campbell River, Village of Gold River, Village of Sayward, Village of Tahsis and Village of Zeballos — as well as the Vancouver Island Regional Library, school districts and other public-sector organizations.

The committee is expected to provide advice on ­identifying and removing barriers to accessibility and inclusion throughout the region, and guide the ­development of an Accessibility Plan that will serve as a road map toward accessibility and inclusion.

The committee will include seven to 12 voting ­members representing partnering organizations, the public, businesses and community interests in the Strathcona region, and aims to include at least one Indigenous member and one district director.

Advisory committee applications will be accepted until Friday, June 23.

• For more information, or to apply, email [email protected], 250-830-6711 or go to

>>> Ukrainian pianist performs

Anna Sagalova, a concert pianist who fled Ukraine for Canada with her young son after the Russian invasion, will be giving two fundraising concerts on Vancouver Island on June 25.

Sagalova will be at Knox United Church at 235 Pym St. in Parksville at 2 p.m. and St. Andrew’s United Church at 315 Fitzwilliam St. in Nanaimo at 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 25.

Admission is by donation. Proceeds from the concerts will go toward the restoration of the Kharkiv I.P. Kotlyarevsky National University of Arts in Karkiv, Ukraine, where Sagalova holds the position of associate professor.

>>> Christmas Child campaign

Operation Christmas Child is holding a bottle drive at New Life Community Fellowship, 3900 Carey Rd. (at Tillicum Road) 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 17.

• For more information, contact [email protected] or 778-967-3517.

>>> Pit cook celebration

Journey Middle School recently hosted a Pit Cook on May 18 to celebrate the success of its Grade 7 students.

A traditional pit cook involves digging a pit in the ground, which is then lined with stones and sand. A fire is lit and the heat creates an underground oven.

Pit Cooks has been a cooking method for many ­Indigenous cultures around the world, including the Coast Salish peoples. The school is located on the ­traditional territory of T’So-uke First Nation.

Students were able to learn about Indigenous art and gardening, take plant walks and cook bannock and salmon by the fire.

According to the school, this land-based learning promotes cultural preservation, environmental stewardship and holistic education.

• For more information, go to

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