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Take-a-Hike Youth at Risk Foundation – a SVP Vancouver success story

Posted by SVP Vancouver
Take A Hike Participants at Elfin Lakes
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Clara Hughes with TAH participants.

Over our 14 year history, there have been numerous stories of success amongst our many Investees. From 2004 to 2007, SVP was involved with the Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation (TAH). I am writing to share some background on this SVP success story, particularly for those who were not Partners during this time, and to highlight the airing of a documentary Clara’s Big Ride on CTV this Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m.  Clara Hughes is an ambassador and big supporter of TAH and is helping draw attention to mental health issues, which research suggests is incubated in many cases during adolescence.

Founded in 2000, TAH was specially designed to address the learning, academic and social/emotional needs of struggling youth. Based at John Oliver Secondary School, TAH provides an alternative education program that engages at-risk youth through a unique combination of outdoor experiential learning, academics, counseling, and community involvement.  It targets high-risk youth aged 16 to 19 and helps them graduate from high school while developing the positive behaviours and attitudes they need to become healthy, productive citizens. Since its inception, Take a Hike has engaged more than 350 at-risk youth and provides program elements that fall outside standard school district offerings, including outdoor expeditions, adventure-based learning, and access to a full-time therapist.

SVP became involved with TAH in 2004 when it had a volunteer board, but no staff, and was funding 20 at risk youth per year. During SVP’s three year engagement, an Executive Director was hired, the program was expanded to 40 students, the organization’s profile within the community increased significantly, and the funding base increased four-fold. Many SVP Partners continue to be involved with TAH: on the board, as advisors, and as regular donors. In other words, SVP and our Partners helped put TAH on a successful path to scalability and sustainability, which of course is core to our Foundation’s mission.

Based on the proven success of TAH in Vancouver, the program has now expanded to two new communities. In September 2013, TAH expanded to the West Kootenays to reach at-risk youth in Castlegar, Fruitvale, Robson Valley, Rossland, Montrose and Trail, and this past fall, TAH expanded to Burnaby.

TAH is thriving with the continuing support of SVP Partners and ambassadors, like Clara Hughes, who is bringing awareness to important issues affecting us all, but particularly vulnerable, disadvantaged children and youth.  I encourage you and your family to watch Clara’s Big Ride this Wednesday night on CTV at 7:00 p.m. to be inspired and spark an important conversation about mental health.

Tanya Oliva, Executive Director SVP Vancouver

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