Vancouver’s Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation is expanding its alternative education program to benefit at-risk youth in the West Kootenay region. Take a Hike is partnering with School District 20 (Kootenay-Columbia) to offer its adventure-based learning program for students in grades 10 to 12, starting in September 2013.
Participants in Take a Hike struggle with personal issues that inhibit their success in the mainstream school system, according to information on the foundation web page. Their issues may include drug and alcohol dependencies, legal troubles, and behaviours that often result in suspensions and/or long absences from the school system.
“Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation is thrilled to reach youth in West Kootenay who can benefit from our powerful program,” said Sheila Biggers, president and chair, Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation in a press release. “We look forward to continuing our work with the school district and community members to ensure the program and students are successful.”
Students are typically referred to Take a Hike by school counsellors, principals, teachers or social workers.
The program will introduce students to outdoor activities, such as hiking, kayaking, canoeing and snowshoeing which can help in developing valuable communication, problem-solving, teamwork and other skills. They may also help in dealing with personal issues in a supportive environment.
Take a Hike will provide a full-time therapist and a part-time adventure-based learning specialist who will work with the school district’s teachers and child and youth care workers to provide a holistic program for the students.
The goal is to enrol 15 youth for the 2013/14 school year, beginning in September.
“Take a Hike is designed to bring selected students back to learning through an exposure to nature, and the challenges and rewards it offers,” said Darrel Ganzert, chair, Board of Education, School District 20. “School District 20’s board and staff are very excited to partner with Take a Hike to help reluctant learners become more excited about their futures.”
Take a Hike relies on donations from individuals, corporations and foundations to support the program elements that fall outside of standard school district funding. The program at Kootenay-Columbia Learning Centre will be supported by a West Kootenay advisory committee that will lead the local fundraising efforts.
Since its inception in 2000, Take a Hike has engaged more than 300 at-risk youth in Vancouver. The program in West Kootenay is the first of several planned expansions as part of Take a Hike’s partnership with LIFT Philanthropy Partners. LIFT is a not-for-profit organization that invests in social change by increasing the impact and sustainability of organizations that deliver social impact. In April 2012, LIFT made a three-year commitment to provide Take a Hike with skills, expertise and resources to improve its operations and capacity to expand to communities across B.C. and Canada.
“LIFT Philanthropy Partners has been a key partner in keeping our expansion project moving forward. With the expertise and resources LIFT provides, we are much closer to reaching our goal of expanding the program to multiple communities,” said Biggers.