Trail school chosen for new program

Trail Middle School have been selected by the LIFT Philanthropy Partners vto host the Take a Hike program.

Teachers in School District 20 could soon be telling their students to take a hike.

A ground breaking program only offered in the Lower Mainland has chosen Trail as the first feather as it looks to spread its wings over the province.

On Monday night SD20 director of student support services Kim Williams said the city—and Trail Middle School—were selected by the LIFT Philanthropy Partners, a legacy of the 2010 Winter Games, to host the Take a Hike program.

The Take A Hike program is an alternative education program that engages at-risk youth through a unique combination of adventure-based learning, therapy, academics and community involvement.

The announcement was over one year in the making, said Williams, and Trail was selected out of a pool of applicants from across the province.

“To have an opportunity to bring this expertise in, with the financial backing, and 12 years of expertise, it is great news,” she told the SD20 board of trustees on Monday night.

For the last year the district had been laying the groundwork for the establishment of the program, piloting adventure-based learning activities last spring in the school, acquiring equipment, and assembling the proper staff to deliver the curriculum.

This year, when the district hired staff for the school, they did it with the idea in mind they were going to offer components of the program at Trail Middle School (TMS). With approval, the Take a Hike program now adds an adventure specialist and a full-time paid therapist (by the Take a Hike Foundation) to the staff and the 15 Grade 10-12 students enrolled at TMS in the program.

The money will come from two places: The Take a Hike Foundation itself, as well as the LIFT Philanthropy Partners. Over the next three years, LIFT will provide professional services, management expertise and other in-kind contributions to further develop Take a Hike’s operations.

The program is offered to youth with few remaining options and enables them to positively change their lives. Established in 2000, the ultimate goals of Take a Hike are to minimize barriers to learning, address personal issues, and help students achieve a greater level of social and academic success.

“Over the past 12 years, Take a Hike has helped at-risk youth in Vancouver change their lives, complete high school and develop employment skills,” said Sonja Jensen, president, Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation, in a press release.

Take a Hike partners with the Vancouver School Board to operate an alternative education program for at-risk youth at John Oliver Secondary School.

The Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation, with the support of individual, foundation and corporate donors, raises $300,000 annually to fund the Take a Hike program.

LIFT selects not-for-profit organizations, such as Take a Hike, which have a direct and positive effect in the areas of literacy, skills development, sport and physical activity.

LIFT evolved from 2010 Legacies Now, a not-for-profit organization that leveraged the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to create social and economic benefits for B.C. communities.

Members of the Take A Hike Foundation will be in SD20 in October and will meet with the board Oct. 24.

The full program will likely be ready for implementation at TMS in January.