Take a Hike Expands to Nanaimo, Vancouver Island

In an expansion milestone the adventure-based and mental-health focused Take A Hike program will open their first classroom on Vancouver Island beginning September 2019, in partnership with the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District.  

The Nanaimo classroom marks the non-profit’s sixth full-time classroom in operation and one of two new classrooms opening in 2019, increasing the program’s capacity to 120 vulnerable youth province-wide. “We are excited about expanding our program to the Island and thrilled to be opening this classroom within 9 months of starting conversations with the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District,” said Gordon Matchett, CEO of the Take a Hike Foundation. “I’m inspired by the leadership in Nanaimo. There is so much support there and they understood from the outset what it takes to meet the needs of students who require something different. They’ve already taken many progressive steps with their other programming- it’s a school district that really knows how to engage vulnerable youth.”

With only one-third of children and youth in BC receiving the specialized mental health treatments they need and the number one determinant of student mental health being school connectedness,Take a Hike’s proven model engages youth in school through the outdoors and adventure, and treats mental health issues while they work toward their Dogwood Diploma.  With an average 88% graduation rate and a holistic offering cultivating resilience, agency, and transferable skills, Take a Hike sets students up for success long after they graduate high school. 

Scott Saywell, Superintendent and CEO of Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District said, “I’m a great supporter of alternate education and I’m constantly on the lookout for evidence-based programs that use effective ways of engaging vulnerable youth. Take a Hike’s unique model of land-based learning combined with full-time mental health supports meets a critical need in our community for early prevention and intervention.” 

The Take a Hike Foundation are ready to scale their program and are in conversation with three additional school districts on Vancouver Island whose students could desperately benefit from the program- the only barrier to expansion is funding. While the Foundation continues to work with the provincial government to secure additional funding they have not yet received sustainable long-term support and still rely on the generosity of individual donors, including people giving $25 a month to those giving $100,000 a year. The Take a Hike Foundation is actively seeking support and community investment in the program.

Ten-day spring backpacking expedition along the West-Coast trail

Ten-day spring backpacking expedition along the West-Coast trail

Sevan Kadian