The Prince Rupert School District (SD52) can add another award to its growing mantel.
Shortly after Hartley Bay School won the national Jack Layton Award for Youth Action in Sustainability in October, the 2015 Premier’s Award for Innovation was presented to district principal Linda Hikida and her team who spearheaded the After School Sports and Arts Initiative pilot project the past few years, which became an ongoing program of the Director of Agencies for School Health throughout the province.
“It’s a grant that we receive from the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, and it started out as a sports-only program in 2012,” said Hikida last week.
As a pilot district, Hikida helped offer after-school sports programming for vulnerable youth, or any student who would rather stay at school to play some hockey, curling, or some of the more expensive sports, rather than go home right at 3 p.m when the buzzer rang.
“When the program first started our mandate was to teach eight different sports over six months and teach the skills for basketball, field hockey [and more],” she said.
After every session, the instructors would ask for feedback from the students and discuss possible points of frustration like missing a goal or losing a game.
“It was very successful. We had a program at every elementary school for one day a week and one at the middle school,” Hikida added.
The next year, the program expanded to include the arts as well as sports, as not every student was chomping at the bit to grab a hockey stick or kick a ball. Artists such as Jason Watts and Nicole Best Rudderham, as well as a photographer, were hired with the available funds.
“What we were trying to do was get kids to not have to go home and watch television or play video games, but to be involved and develop their social skills and develop their fine motor skills,” said the district principal.
“I was amazed at how very popular the arts program was … Two years ago it stopped being a pilot and it was a grant that was going to be coming every year. They basically divided the money down the middle and you can spend $25,000 on the arts program and $25,000 on the sports program, so it’s very equal … We have lineups for kids to get in the program.
“We have different people in our support union that run the program and they’re the people that have made the program what it is. At the middle school, we have Sonny Henry and Jane Collins and they’ve been working at it from the outset. At the elementary schools we have Fernando Soares and Teresa Cuzner and then we have Robyn Martin, Carmen Hansen, Sara Hill and Amanda Salm,” she said, adding that First Nations artist Nakkita Trimble also took part, completing paintings of housefronts, totem poles and more with the kids.