While many teenagers spend the summer being care-free, a dozen from the West Island are learning hard lessons about life and death.

Fifteen students who want to work in the medical field are taking part in a pilot project at the West Island Palliative Care Centre.

Noah Newbarth has learned about doing rounds, and how to take care of patients with dignity and respect.

"It helps you understand what the patient is going through. Whether or not you're in palliative care it's a good skill for a doctor to have," said Newbarth.

The course is the first of its kind in Canada, and many of the teens really did not know exactly what was in store.

"I thought everyone would be sick, not lively, but that's really not true," said Madison Schachter.

Niech'Elle Simone Skeete has also enjoyed meeting patients getting palliative care.

"It's not because people are at the end of life that they don't want to talk about everyday things. Everyone is still mad at the Habs or whatever. They're still people, they still know what's going on," she said.

Among those lively patients is Flo. The 92-year-old spent Thursday chatting with the students about her life, raising her family, and her job working at the Lachute Watchman newspaper.

"They've got a lot to learn but we can also learn from them. It can work both ways," said Flo.

Amy Schecter said after just four days, she is learning quite a bit from the patients at the centre, especially "to really enjoy life. As cliché as it may sound life is super important. Live it, have fun with it, and do your best."

The West Island Palliative Care Centre hopes to expand the project next year by offering one course in English and another in French.