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Take a Hike Youth at Risk ProgramJune 14, 2012

Author: Webmaster


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

Supported by the Vancouver School Board and the Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation, the Take a Hike program has been helping at-risk youth in Vancouver since 2000 to positively change their lives.  The program is located at John Oliver Secondary School and runs two classrooms of 20 students each; one grade 10/11 classroom and one grade 11/12 classroom.  The staff team of seven consists of two teachers, two youth and family workers, two therapists and an adventure-based learning specialist.  The Foundation's volunteer Board of Directors is currently comprised of 11 business leaders in the Vancouver community who each make an annual gift – a true testament to their belief in the program.  $2.5 Million has been raised to date to fund Foundation and program operations,  two full-time clinical therapists, all adventure-based learning equipment and activities, a meal program and scholarship and mentorship programs for the students.

Take a Hike recognizes that not every student fits into the mainstream school system.  Students struggling with issues that have inhibited their success in school such as drug and alcohol addiction, physical and mental abuse, criminal activity, low self-esteem, depression, and/or trauma can often slip through the cracks. Through Take a Hike, barriers to learning are minimized, personal issues are addressed, and students achieve a greater level of social, academic and personal success.

Following the same academic calendar as the mainstream school system, students in the Take a Hike Program are engaged through the following four components:

Adventure-Based Learning (ABL): An ABL Specialist guides students through outdoor day trips and multi-day expeditions using physical activities to help youth develop self-directed goals, trust, communication, teamwork and problem-solving skills in a safe, supportive environment.

Therapy: Two clinical therapists are devoted to the program to provide youth with individual, group, and family counseling in both outdoor and traditional office settings.

Academics: At the beginning of the year, the Take a Hike staff meet with each student to assess their academic level and work with them to plan a path that leads to graduation.  The outdoor trips also serve to reinforce academic lessons.

Community Involvement: Every student in the Take a Hike program performs a minimum of 60 hours of community service each year to demonstrate to that, as members of a larger community, they have a responsibility to others and that their help is needed.

Last month, we proudly announced our partnership LIFT Philanthropy Partners who have committed a three-year venture philanthropy investment to expand the Take a Hike program to reach additional at-risk youth across British Columbia.  With the additional resources and infrastructure this partnership affords us, we are looking forward to working with interested communities and School Districts to replicate Take a Hike’s success on a much broader scale.

To find out more about Take a Hike, or to inquire about expansion opportunity in your community, please contact:

Jaydeen Williams
Executive Director, Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation


Student Quotes

“Even though I was last on every single hike I found out I could push myself much further than I thought I could.  Now I know that I have never given a hundred percent in anything until this trip.  Before, every time I tried to quit smoking it was so hard.  This time I quit no problem and I am looking forward to using this experience to quit other drugs.”

Grade 11 Student, September 2011, 7-day expedition, Chilcotins

“The skills I have learned will help me in both the future and the present.  Without this school I would literally be sitting on the curb doing nothing but asking for change.  I’m proud to say I’m a graduate of Take-A-Hike.”

Grade 12 Student, May 2011, 10-day expedition, West Coast Trail


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