Before the new school year revs up in about six weeks, Take a Hike is looking for new or gently used gear and outdoor clothing for Trail’s adventure-based learning program.
“This is a pretty comprehensive list of things we’re always looking for,” says Jaydeen Williams, program director for the Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation. “Either new or used, but in good condition.”
Quality rain or winter jackets, fleece and wool sweaters, snow pants, polypropylene or wool based layers and long sleeved shirts are in high need as well as gloves, mittens, toques and wool socks.
Outdoor clothing must be waterproof and in good condition, added Williams.
Bigger ticket items the program seeks include high volume single kayaks, mountain bicycles and parts, cycling helmets, gloves, waterproof hiking boots and gym or water shoes.
Anyone willing to purchase new or donate is asked to contact Williams at 604.710.1677 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Charitable tax receipts are available.
At risk students living anywhere in the West Kootenay can have the chance to succeed and graduate through classroom support, physical challenges, volunteerism and one-on-one therapy with Take a Hike, which is run in the Kootenay Columbia Learning Centre (KCLC).
A good student isn’t one that only excels in the classroom but one that also excels outside of the classroom says the Foundation’s Matthew Coyne.
“In our short two years, the Take a Hike program has had a meaningful impact not only on the lives of our students, but for the community as well,” Coyne explained. “Our program helps our students understand that they are part of a larger community and they have a responsibility to give back.”
But alternative education comes at a cost.
The Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation has to fundraise more than $100,000 annually to keep the local program up and running.
The non-profit partners with School District 20 for certain associated costs, and even though the ministry recognizes the graduation certificate, the province doesn’t chip in any extra. Meaning, expenses fall to the foundation – and that’s where local communities can help.
“This is a collaborative approach in which we provide the optimal environment to create positive change, establish academic success and enable our students to realize their full potential and discover a brighter future – a future they deserve,” Coyne said. “It is really a partnership with the community as it’s the community that supports the program and provides opportunities for our students.”
Take a Hike is not funded by the Ministry of Education, he clarified. “Nor do we charge any type of tuition fee for our students to participate. There is zero-barrier to entry for our students.”
Various local companies and organizations have generously donated to the program, however the foundation is actively seeking to develop community partnerships that will alleviate its cost of the program and ensure long term sustainability.
“What’s exciting is there are lots of opportunities for local businesses to get involved and we can help activate the partnership to provide value and benefit for their involvement and support,” noted Coyne.
A group of local ambassadors are being assembled to build awareness of the program, one of whom is longtime KCLC supporter Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson.
“Words can’t express how I feel about this program,” she said. “For me personally, it’s seeing the growth in a young man or young woman that is reaching heights they never thought they could achieve. The end result is they are going out into the world and making a difference. It’s unbelievable what these students have overcome, and the fact that we have five graduates this year is phenomenal – that says everything about this program.”
The school district provides a teacher, a child and youth care worker, some equipment, access to a van and certain food items, said SD20 Superintendent Greg Luterbach. “Take a Hike provides a full time counsellor, and part time adventure-based learning specialist in addition to supplies, food, equipment and transportation.”
He says Take a Hike is highly beneficial to the community and through foundation resources, the program has been enhanced by further counsellors, expertise, and money for outings and trips.
For information, visit takeahikefoundation.org.