You might not have heard of it, but SHAD is something high school students should become familiar with, especially anyone interested in a post-secondary education.

The award-winning enrichment and entrepreneurship program for high school students has been running for more than 30 years, yet is widely unknown across Northern Ontario. Kyle Blaney was in Timmins last month, hoping to change that.

SHAD (not an acronym, but the name of a creek in Aurora where the first program took place) is a summer program for high school students in grades 10, 11, and 12. It takes place in 16 university campuses across Canada and is an opportunity for students to get a hands-on university experience while living on campus for four weeks. Students get experience in the STEAM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) and take part in hands-on learning activities. Business and entrepreneurship activities are also a key feature, with some students learning how go from writing a business and marketing plan, to developing a prototype for an innovative creation.

The program is broad and intense for students used to being at home. They live in university residences, just like first year university students. There, they get to experience a creative and challenging learning opportunity away from home and with like-minded peers from across the country. Kyle Blaney says the connections students make are unique and can be life-changing.

“It’s very powerful what happens when you’re in a group of like-minded peers for the first time,” he says. “You realize that you’re not alone in terms of being creative and curious and wanting to learn and [being] interested in what’s going to happen after high school.”

Blaney says it’s important to him, as Outreach Lead, to reach students up North. “We’re under-represented in this region,” he says, “and we’re hoping to change that starting in SHAD 2019.”

Blaney was all over Northern Ontario during his end of April visit. He went to high schools in Timmins, South Porcupine, Kapuskasing, Engleheart and New Liskeard. He’s also planning on visiting the Northwest Territories and the Yukon to talk to potential applicants. Blaney says a lot of students don’t know what they’re missing.

“We’re hoping that the first step is awareness of the program,” he says. “Once they’re aware, they can [learn more], understand what the students are experiencing at each of our different campuses and figure out if it’s something that’s going to work for them. If it is, we really encourage them to apply in the fall.”

Blaney says students in Timmins high schools were excited to learn about the program and the broad range of experiences it offers. Everything from outdoor camping trips to science experiments is offered with SHAD and Blaney says he’s hoping to increase exposure of the program so it becomes a part of the high school culture that every student is aware of for years to come.

Students in Timmins can apply for SHAD 2019 this fall and if accepted, they will joining the 17,000 SHAD alumni around the world. Even after SHAD ends, the experience still gives students the chance to draw from their network of SHAD contacts when they need support and advice in things like picking a university or post-secondary education. The culture of students that attend SHAD is as vast as the experiences offered.

“We want each campus to be a better reflection of the composition of Canada,” Blaney says. “So we want each campus that’s hosting the program to have students that are urban, rural, remote. Students from every province and territory. Students from very different socio-econimic backgrounds, from ethnic backgrounds.”

“It all helps every student there when they see how different people are yet still successful. It helps each student push themselves to be the best version of themselves they can be.”

SHAD varies from campus to campus. There are no marks or tests, but students can expect a range of daily activities, sometimes lasting from 8 in the morning to 10 at night. Guest speakers like CEO’s and experts in their fields will share their success stories with students. And there are hands-on workshops where students can build things and get their hands dirty.

Blaney says the experience is unlike anything students will have experienced before. They will form a tight knit community with like-minded peers that they otherwise would never have met. And they’ll gain a sense of independence being away from home for a month.

“[It will] help you figure out how to reach your full potential,” Kyle says, “how you can help change the world, how you can change things for the better. And you get motivated by seeing other people around you that are also interested in the same things you are. And you work together to build a better world.”

To apply for the 2019 SHAD program running next July, students can go to They can also get more information by emailing