Acclaimed local education program starts second year
This week’s return to classes is especially good news for participants of a local alternative education program. Students and staff of the Take a Hike West Kootenay program are eager to embark on the second year of an adventure-based learning journey that mixes traditional classroom time with a unique blend of outdoor education, therapy, and community involvement.
“When I joined Take a Hike it didn’t take me long to figure out this program was about more than just getting kids outside. For me, it was about getting back on track,” said Decca*, a West Kootenay Take a Hike student. The program has enjoyed 14 hugely successful years in Vancouver and an equally impressive expansion to the West Kootenays last September.
Following in the Vancouver program’s footsteps, Take a Hike West Kootenay introduces students to outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, canoeing and snowshoeing, and will support students in developing valuable communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills.
“School opening is such an important time for our at-risk youth to reconnect with staff and peers and re-establish a positive support network following the summer,” said Nathan Robinson, District Principal of Alternate Programs at the Kootenay-Columbia School District.
The full-time program enrolls students from Trail, Castlegar, Rossland, Fruitvale, Robson Valley, and Montrose. It supports students facing issues that have inhibited their success in the mainstream school system including drug and alcohol addiction, physical or mental abuse, criminal activity, low self-esteem, depression, and trauma. The program’s distinctly holistic model offers them innovative ways to work through their problems.
“Being in a new and novel environment provides an opportunity for personal growth where new challenges can be met with creative solutions,” said Andy Holmes, Adventure-Based Learning Specialist at Take a Hike West Kootenays. “Being away from electronics and the clutter of everyday life can create a clarity that participants rarely see in their daily lives.”
The West Kootenay class embarked on their first day-trip on the Kootenay-Columbia trail in Rossland in early October 2013, and since then have spent time connecting to nature in various locations across the West Kootenays, including a four-day expedition to Whatshan Lake Retreat in December 2013. This upcoming school year they are planning to hike in the Monashee and Selkirk Mountains, and paddle the waterways that transect them.
* Name has been changed.
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About Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation
Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation offers an alternative education program that engages at-risk youth through a unique combination of adventure-based learning, academics, therapy, and community involvement. The program is offered in Vancouver, West Kootenay and Burnaby to youth in grades 10-12 who have few remaining options and enables them to positively change their lives.