Awesome Educational Experiences Outdoors

Mr. Nic Mills,CW Jeffreys CI teacher and associate YW Advocate correspondent

DSC_0148-PANOFor Community ChangeIn 2013 C.W. Jefferys C.I. started a new program, RE.A.CH. for Community Change. The program is a 3 week summer school with students earning a phys. Ed credit while learning camping and canoeing skills, and taking part in rock climbing and mountain biking experiences. The program culminates with a 6 day back country Canoe trip in Algonquin Park. The program was a huge success, developing pro social skills and positive relationships between students, police officers and TDSB teachers.

The 2014 Program Was EnhancedThe program was enhanced in 2014. The Equity Department and the family of school superintendant Jacqueline Spence helped with additional funding for the second semester of the School year. The RE.A.CH program added a High Ropes Assistant Instructor component to the previous year’s program and ongoing leadership training throughout the semester. 21 students from C.W. Jefferys and Westview S.S. were selected to receive this training and become student leaders / mentors for the 2014 summer program.

New Student Leaders and Other Staff AddedThe 2014 Summer program was similar to the 2013 version with the addition of the student leader / mentors, and the addition of 2 scout leader volunteers, an additional police officer, a Paramedic from Toronto EMS and two certified canoe trip leaders. This past summer the program had more participants and was able to provide an all girls canoe trip experience.

Academic Credits and Summer Employment were ReceivedDSC_0019 The senior students received a credit for the Semester 2 high ropes and leadership training, and a 2nd credit for the summer program. The program participants also received a Phys Ed credit for their participation in the program. Most of the leaders were able to take advantage of the Youth Opportunity Fund’s summer employment program and were paid for 2 of the 3 weeks of the summer (July) potion of the Program.

Significant Funding Received for The Coming next 2 School YearsThe RE.A.CH. program is looking forward to the 2014 ~ 2015 school year and the 2015 Summer program. Mr. Mills, the teacher in charge of the program, applied for the Vital and Safer Communities grant from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. The grant application was successful and the Program received $34,000 in funding for both the 2014 ~ 2015 and the 2015 ~ 2016 school year.

Outdoor Education Sites to be VisitedThis funding will further enhance the RE.A.CH. program’s ability to develop character and pro social skills in our youth, and to build powerful and positive relationships between youth and a variety of adult leaders / mentors in the community. The funds will be used to take students to Outdoor education sites on weekends through the school year, and provide some additional training to ensure that the program is as self sufficient and cost effect as possible for the next few years.

Partnerships with new Community Agencies are Being PlannedPlans are underway to build more partnerships with community agencies and service providers (Across Boundaries, Scouts Canada, 31 division and others) to further enhance the number and scale of adventure based experiential learning opportunities for youth in our community. If there are any individuals or businesses in the community that would like to help expand and enhance the program, we are always looking for volunteers and monetary support or equipment donations.