Outdoor learning and enveloping supports help youth overcome challenges

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An organization that works with youth with social, family and educational issues continues to expand its services on Vancouver Island.

The Take a Hike Foundation was launched in Vancouver over twenty years ago.

It started working in Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District in 2019, expanded to Cowichan Valley School District in 2020, and is launching a pilot program in Saanich.

The foundation recently received a $ 5,000 grant from Mid Island Co-op.

Charlene Smith, director of philanthropy on Vancouver Island for the Take a Hike Foundation, says an education system designed for the majority sometimes leaves vulnerable people behind.

She says they are working in partnership with school districts to provide alternative approaches where needed.

Smith says that through a comprehensive alternative to mainstream education, they are helping these young people find their way by immersing them in the classroom of the natural world and integrating clinical therapy supports to aid mental health and well-being. students.

She says they use a four-pillar approach that connects young people with a mental health specialist, a teacher, a youth and family worker and an adventure specialist.

It involves outdoor adventure-based learning and therapy activities, individualized learning plans, and community participation and engagement.

Smith says the program operates five days a week, just like a regular classroom, and students “spend a lot of time sharing together.”

The Take a Hike Foundation says 70% of young people participating in the programs report improvements in their mental health and well-being despite the ongoing pandemic, and 81% report an increase in resilience and personal skills, especially l self-management, relationship skills, and understanding their emotions.

The program has a 93 percent graduation rate.

Doreen Gatt, Board Member of Mid Island Co-op, says she is delighted to “support the great work the Take a Hike Foundation is doing with the youth of our community” and is proud to help Take A Hike to continue his programs.

  • Take a Hike started in Vancouver in 2000 and has grown to 2 other programs in Delta and Burnaby serving youth in grades 10-12.
  • In 2019, it expanded to Vancouver Island with a program in Nanaimo that quickly expanded to serve grade 8 to 12 youth who live in the communities of Nanaimo and Ladysmith. It now serves up to 30 young people.
  • In 2020, Take a Hike expanded to Cowichan Valley and Duncan, serving up to 20 youth in grades 10-12.
  • From 2021, it has opened a pilot program in Saanich which will be ready to enroll students next year.


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