Climb For Change welcomes Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation to its community
Imagine you’re 16 years old. You’ve had your fair share of trouble with the law – drug and alcohol addiction, crime, abusive relationships, trauma, depression or poverty are no stranger to you. You’ve either dropped out of school or been kicked out. You’ve got nowhere to go. Your only guidance comes from the streets. What now?
What if there was an alternative full-time school program that focused on those youth that have quite literally fallen through the cracks? A program that provides care, support and encouragement and builds long-standing, trusting relationships with these youth so that they can make better choices and discover their full potential...
Enter Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation (Take a Hike), a charity based in Vancouver. Thanks to this organization, at-risk youth in Vancouver are getting another chance. Founded by two high-school teachers, Tim Gale and Conrad Cone in 2000, Take a Hike is now an established full-time program at John Oliver Secondary School, combining academics with outdoor adventure-based learning, therapy and community involvement.
Executive Director, Jaydeen Williams, shared with me that “a lot of times when teens get to age 16, and they’ve been seriously in trouble, they’re written off.” She explains that “given support and encouragement combined with the connection to the outdoors, any youth has the opportunity to be amazing and reach his or her potential.”
“Our students build trusting, long-term relationships with our staff – relationships based on care,” Jaydeen says. “Our program is very tough – at the beginning, there is a lot of resistance from the teens, but over time, they realize that we’re tough with them because we care. They realize they can do better and they start building confidence.”
The students spend one full day per week in nature, and participate in outdoor adventures that require increasingly complex skills. Three times per year they are also part of larger expeditions such as trekking the West Coast Trail. In addition to this and the classroom work, the teens receive regular therapy sessions and are involved in community work.
Take a Hike now has over 300 alumni who have successfully graduated from high-school. The current $400K annual budget, half of which comes from private donations, allows for two classrooms, which is approximately 44 youth per year. The majority of the administrative costs are covered by the board members directly, which means private donations go pretty much entirely to running the program.
Expansion plans are under way, which will hopefully see another high-school location for Take a Hike in Vancouver by fall 2013 and a couple others in BC communities in the near future.
Take a Hike Foundation welcomes volunteers to do their charity adventure challenges in benefit of the Take a Hike program – give Jaydeen a call and start your campaign! The organization has already received funds from a Mount Everest fundraising climb, and currently has several teams out fundraising through the Mt. Semour Snowshoe Challenge which is taking place as part of Take a Hike’s key yearly fundraising event tomorrow, February 26, 2013 at Mt. Seymour.
Check out the Take a Hike program clip and 10-day Take a Gike Canoe Expedition on Bowron Lakes: