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Celebrating Heroic Acts with Keara Manrique

Alongside the problem solvers, wonder seekers and world changers we endearingly call nerds, we’re sharing stories of essential workers: the smart, driven, compassionate people who make up the fabric of our neighbourhood.

Pediatric nurse Keara Manrique pushes her daughter Luna, almost 2, on a swing at Creekside Park in late July. The park is busy, but everyone respects the guideline to stay 6 feet from other families and groups as much as possible. Most adults wear masks. We are in Phase 3 of our pandemic plan in BC: parks are open and more people are reconnecting with the outside world. Keara and Luna, still wide-eyed with wonder, have just visited Science World for the first time since it closed in March.

“I’m always thinking about how to keep my family safe,” Keara says. She is used to hospital-grade cleanliness from her job. “Today at Science World, it was great. I felt safe.”

It’s Keara’s day off and Luna’s first visit under the dome. They spent much of their time in Eureka! Gallery, chasing balls that fly through a maze of pneumatic tubes and land around them like soft hail. Now, as Luna crosses the playground of Creekside Park, she pushes her feet into the soft rubberized surface of the ground and notices how it’s different from the grass.     

Keara reflects on how the last few months have changed her day-to-day procedures at work. “It’s been a lot of learning,” she says. “And it can be stressful. But there’s been a lot of great policy change that has been very effective so far.”

These policies are what inform Science World’s new procedures, something that caught Keara’s attention immediately: a limited number of people, physically distanced in masks, and plenty of hand sanitizer used diligently.

As we settle into Phase 3, Keara says balancing our socially safe activities with safe time spent alone is difficult but crucial. “Being away from friends and family has been the biggest challenge,” she admits. “But you do the risk benefit analysis.”

And right now, the risk is great. Especially for older adults, racialized communities, and people who live with chronic conditions. It’s no wonder then, that the World Health Organization calls the individual efforts to keep our community safe “heroic acts.

That’s why Keara is so grateful to do work that serves the community. “My favourite part of my job is meeting families.”

Science World has recently made a bold declaration: we believe now, more than ever, that the world needs more nerds. It’s a celebration of people like Keara and her colleagues whom she describes as, “genuinely kind people who really care about their jobs.”    

Keara says she’s nerdiest about child development, and gestures to Luna. “She’ll be well into adulthood until her brain is fully formed. But she’ll have to make adult decisions long before that.” 

During the pandemic, her enthusiasm for the human psyche extended to the adult brain too. One gift from this time is that she and her friends talk about mental health more often. “Checking in to see how someone is doing mentally has been normalized,” says Keara. “And that’s a very good thing.”

The world needs more people like Keara.

As we call on our local community to fund the future, we’re sharing the personal narratives of the heroes who keep us safe. Please donate today, so Science World can be here for the next generation of people who care about science.