In April, our Casual Friday donations went to the “Kids in the Canyon” program. This experiential, education-based mentoring program is open to all Central Falls High School students, including those with mental health concerns. It offers students a chance to do something most people never experience – hiking the Grand Canyon.
Students must show initiative to undertake the 5 day hike over 40 miles of challenging terrain. They must attend weekly meetings, train on Saturdays, and perform community service, too.
Weekly meetings ensure the students maintain their grades, attend classes, and show proper respect towards their teachers. Students also learn about the history of the area, its geology, safety issues, and the demands of hiking one of the world’s largest canyons.
Students must show they’re emotionally stable and physically strong enough to tackle this challenging journey. Many students in the program have never been out of their neighborhoods, never mind on an adventure such as this, and it involves plenty of work to prepare.
The program is about more than just the hike. This is a systematic program designed to stimulate positive change. By challenging students with a tough goal, instructors hope the students will also discover something about themselves.
Of course, students learn the necessary skills to manage a challenging hike, such as CPR, first aid and survival skills. However, the emphasis is more on personal transformation. Instructors emphasize goal setting, health, nutrition, fitness, and wise decision-making skills. Critical components of the program’s training include social and emotional well-being.
Hiking preparation courses show students that achieving goals requires work and sacrifice. Training early Saturday mornings in both indoor and outdoor venues is certainly part of that learning experience. Students do various hikes, run obstacle courses, and may also do low or high rope course to build their strength.
Students must also participate in community service and volunteer activities. This might involve letter writing to local and national businesses to raise money, wrapping presents for community events, picking up garbage from public areas, or any number of other duties. The program believes community service is vital to the health and development of youth.
Successfully completing the hike requires plenty of work, but students who complete it also say it is well worth it. Many say it transformed their life and taught them what they can accomplish with perseverance, determination and a clear goal. It propels many forward in their life towards education, improved health, and closer relationships with friends and family.
This past month, our employees donated $150 towards Kids in the Canyon, and the agency matched it, totaling $300. Emotionally and physically strong youth have a better chance of forging a positive future for their communities and themselves. The program runs from September to June. You can find out more at kidsinthecanyon.tumblr.com.