Students invited to Take a Hike

Program at learning centre combines nature and education.

Being a teenager can be tough, and for some, finishing school may seem an insurmountable task.

Enter the Take a Hike Program.

For the first time since its inception 13 years ago, the unique Vancouver-based program is extending a hand to students outside the Lower Mainland by choosing School District 20 (SD20) to partner with and build on the educational and adventure-based project.

Take a Hike, a program specifically designed to address the learning difficulties, social and emotional needs of at-risk youth, will be offered to students in grades 10 -12 at the Kootenay Columbia Learning Centre (formerly Trail Middle School) this September.

Education is primary, however the program offers a unique approach to delivering lessons.

“This program meets a need,” said Darrel Ganzert, SD20 chair. “Take a Hike is designed to bring selected students back to learning through an exposure to nature, and the challenges and rewards it offers,” he said.

Ganzert explained that the group of students, selected on certain criteria, will start the program with day long outdoor experiences, such as hiking in the West Kootenay, and expand the ventures to extended periods of time in the wilderness with teacher and therapist support and supervision.

Take a Hike is committed to providing 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 learning program.

“What the program has found is that the kids who are particularly weak attenders end up wanting to be there. And those moments, spent on week-long camping trips end up being great learning experiences that are positive.”

The Take a Hike Program began in the Vancouver school district with a goal to engage at-risk youth with alternative educational opportunities which combine outdoor activities such as hiking and snowshoeing with the development of communication and problem-solving skills.

The program will focus on youth aged 15-19, with a purpose to assist students who have been unable to achieve success in mainstream classes to develop the positive behaviours and attributes they need to become healthy, productive citizens.