Trail mother of three young boys, Melissa Gresley-Jones, has turned the challenges of the COVID lockdown into a positive outcome for vulnerable youth in the West Kootenay Take a Hike program.
When COVID-19 hit, like many people, Gresley-Jones found herself in a new and challenging situation — parenting three boys aged 8, 7 and 4 — while trying to manage full-time work from home and help her children complete school work.
To maintain her mental health and well-being, she used the outdoors and exercise, completing over 30 hikes in five months with her family. She also accepted a challenge issued by Drea Dokuchie, owner of Trail’s The Nadi Tree yoga studio, to do 25 push-ups every day for 25 days to raise awareness for mental health.
It was during her daily push-up challenge Gresley-Jones heard a radio ad for Take a Hike Foundation’s West Kootenay program which operates in partnership with the Kootenay-Columbia school district.
After researching the foundation, Gresley-Jones decided she wanted to turn her push-up challenge into a fundraiser to support the program’s vulnerable youth in her community.
“Supporting youth is so important, and I think even more so with the mental health impacts of COVID, “said Gresley-Jones.
With the summer drawing to an end and her 39th birthday approaching, Gresley-Jones conceived the idea for a “39 chin-ups for 39 years” fundraiser on Facebook, and challenged her family and friends to donate $39, or whatever they could afford, to Take a Hike.
Gresley-Jones’s efforts paid off, raising $1,200 in just four days.
All funds raised will stay in the local community to support vulnerable youth in the West Kootenay Take a Hike program, through its unique combination of clinical counselling, outdoor education, community involvement and academics.
“We’re so grateful to Melissa, not only for choosing to support our West Kootenay youth with a financial donation, but also for helping to raise awareness for the Take a Hike program, and the importance of mental health,” said Karen Waldal, the program’s community engagement manager.
“We hope her efforts inspire others to explore the positive impact that the outdoors can have on mental health and well-being.”
Based in the Kootenay Columbia Learning Centre, located in East Trail, Take a Hike West Kootenay has operated in partnership with School District 20 (Kootenay-Columbia) since 2013.
To learn how to host your own fundraising event for Take a Hike, contact Emily Fergusson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the West Kootenay Take a Hike program or to make a donation, call 250.364.1889 or visit the website at www.takeahikefoundation.org.