Take a Hike program eyes School District 20

SD20 is at the top of the list for a new program that helps youth-at-risk who are not able to cope in regular high school classes.

The Kootenay-Boundary school district is at the top of the list for an innovative new program that helps youth-at-risk who are not able to cope in regular high school classes.

The Vancouver-based Take a Hike Program is a unique program specifically designed to address the learning difficulties and social and emotional needs of youth, and now it wants to expand the program, with School District No. 20 (Kootenay-Boundary) as its first choice.

Run as a partnership between the Take a Hike Foundation and the Vancouver Board of

Education, the program received endorsement from the SD20 board last week as director of student support service Kim Williams sought their support to pursue arrangement of another partnership.

“I will let you know now that we are their number one choice,” she said. “And we live in the absolute ideal area to run this program. We have the access to the outdoors, but we also have the staff — the level of competency of the staff throughout this area is outstanding.”

The signed letter from the board to the Foundation would allow SD20 staff to further explore the opportunity to bring the program in, allowing them access to all of the necessary financial paperwork.

The Take a Hike Foundation has identified the cost of the development of the program over three years, with the Foundation providing 50 per cent of the expected costs from $75,000 for year one to $25,000 for year three.

The costs do not include the teacher and the child and youth care worker required for the program as it is expected staff would already be provided to support students already in alternate education programs. The other half of the cost would be borne by SD 20, costs that would be partially covered by “in kind” allocations — such as educational supplies — and community partnerships.

The program focuses on at-risk-youth aged 15–19, grades 10–12. The purpose of the program is 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.

It is a three-year program, drawing on the principles of experiential learning that students learn and grow best through first-hand experiences and that there is a need for balance between academic requirement and adventure-based activities.

The adventure-based component uses outdoor and adventure-based activities to enhance established academic and personal objectives. Students are guided through simple group and individual tasks to situations requiring more complex skills.

The adventure-based activities offer things such as canoeing, hiking, backpacking, orienteering, camping, snow shoeing, rope courses and trust experiences. Group and individual counseling is used to provide students with opportunities to learn new coping skills.