This is an inspiring story of a great teacher, Jeff Horvath creating an amazing program for students from the Stoney nation who attend Canmore Collegiate. The SAGE (Stoney adventure group experience) program gives these young students a chance to succeed and pursue their dreams by helping them understand themselves, their culture, and their possibilities. They do adventure activities (rock climbing, sea kayaking, etc.) with Jeff and the support of Outward Bound. Jeff is also at the school with them on a daily basis and is a guide and mentor as they work at school and life. This is all possible because extra funding came from a donor and through events like Night of Lies – the creation of Wade Graham and some friends. Night of Lies has donated over $23,000 to SAGE over the last two years.
A couple of months ago I met with the group when they were doing some team-building through theatre improv with Colin Funk. I heard stories of how powerful this program was in keeping them in school, in helping them have hope, and in developing their skills to navigate school and other challenges. They were proud of what they were accomplishing and they also realized how lucky they were to have such a great program and important guide in Jeff. This is one key new approach to supporting success for aboriginal students in our schools. I also believe there is something for us to learn from this program about serving all students. It’s power is the level of engagement for students through an experiential and individualized approach to learning that address their needs as a whole person. Who wouldn’t want that?