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Martha Batke discovered Take a Hike at a pivotal point in her life. Struggling with the format of the mainstream school system, Martha was skipping classes and was on the verge of dropping out of Kitsilano High School in her 10th grade. As a result, she fell through the cracks of the mainstream school system and began to look for alternative options.
Her research led her to a life-changing opportunity to step out of her comfort zone into a program – Take a Hike – that uses the outdoors, adventure, and support for mental health and wellness. emotional to involve vulnerable young people in school.. Despite her apprehension and self-proclaimed lack of athletic ability, Martha took a leap of faith.
Since 2000, Take a Hike has pioneered alternative models of secondary education, combining intensive and ongoing clinical counseling, adventure-based learning, outdoor experiences and a tight-knit community to support vulnerable young people in Colombia. -British. In partnership with five public school districts across the province, the program equips young people with the skills and resilience they need to graduate from high school, build healthy relationships and take their own path to success. The program has transformed the lives of hundreds of young people in British Columbia like Martha, and their families, resulting in a 97% graduation rate among its 690+ youth and alumni, 14% above the rate. graduation from ordinary public education in 2019.
âTake a Hike helps vulnerable young people who are afraid, who are angry, who are hurt and who have fallen through the cracks of the system. They don’t trust anyone, they don’t feel safe. Take a Hike hugs them, provides them with clothes and food, and builds them up through outdoor adventures and confidence exercises, âMartha shares.
At the heart of Take a Hike’s success is a unique program structure. Every aspect of her model is built on a foundation of secure and caring relationships, inclusive environments, responsive strategies, and high expectations for student success. It is through this model that Martha found herself. Thanks to counselors and teachers who always go above and beyond, Martha’s outlook on life and the world has changed dramatically.
Prior to joining the program, Martha had never left the Vancouver city limits. Thanks to Take a Hike, Martha was able to experience rowing in Deep Cove, climbing the Grouse Grind, mountaineering in Pemberton and much more. It gave her access to a whole different world, only an hour or two from home.
Take a Hike has also helped her build a strong set of core values. It taught him strength and resilience in the face of adversity; how to develop meaningful and trusting relationships and relationships with peers and teachers; and discipline in his quest for success. âYou wouldn’t recognize me after my two years there. I went from wanting to blend into the walls to avoid people to a very outgoing and confident young woman, âsays Martha.
Now Martha lives in the Kootenays, a mother of three, and has operated a farm on her property for five years. In addition to valuable life skills, the program gave Martha a deep appreciation for nature that she retained into adulthood. Because of her experience with Take a Hike, Martha has made it a priority to connect with her community through activism and volunteering, working with local food security projects and community halls.
Take a Hike has continued to grow, expanding its services in communities across British Columbia and delivering long-term programs with the support of donors and partners like Coast Capital, to reach and empower students across the province. . Martha also hopes to give back to the foundation directly by giving and volunteering at the Take a Hike’s West Kootenay location so that she can help make a positive impact on young people to reach their full potential.
As her children approach school age, Martha wants programs like Take a Hike to be a standard option, as she firmly believes that students from all walks of life would benefit. âTake a Hike is what school should be: it’s a healthy, responsible, respectful and rewarding interaction with the world.